[Foundation-l] Re: GFDL compatibility (was: Copyright complaints)

Patrick, Brad bpatrick at fowlerwhite.com
Fri Feb 10 04:29:59 UTC 2006

I think all would agree a unified license would be the best.  I defer to
soufron with respect to the multilingual comparative approach you

My recollection from earlier discussions was that the biggest problem
with copyright was the anonymous images which are found by the bushel on
Commons.  Anonymous is an awful place to be in terms of protection.  But
there is very little to be done with that, I surmise. 

-----Original Message-----
From: foundation-l-bounces at wikimedia.org
[mailto:foundation-l-bounces at wikimedia.org] On Behalf Of Erik Moeller
Sent: Thursday, February 09, 2006 6:09 PM
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
Subject: [Foundation-l] Re: GFDL compatibility (was: Copyright

Gerard Meijssen:
> Hoi Brad,
> I appreciate that everything that gets uploaded is not by virtue of it

> being uploaded to a wikimedia project GFDL licensed material. Now the 
> crux to me is that when it is not, it is in essence in violation of 
> the terms of the GFDL license. If this is correct, the consequence 
> would be that material that is not available under the GFDL should not

> be included in a WMF project. Am I correct on this one ?

Our current practice as I understand it is:

- GFDL text can only be combined with text under licenses that are
explicitly compatible with the GFDL. We currently consider simple
attribution-only licenses to be compatible, while there is as of yet no
two-way compatibility to other copyleft licenses like the CC-BY-SA. 
Limited fair use quotations are considered outside the scope of
applicability of the license.

- GFDL text can be combined with images under any license which we
permit per project-level policy, e.g.., we consider it a policy issue,
not a legal one, to forbid images which do not allow commercial use. 
This combination of GFDL text with non-GFDL images is taken to be
covered by the aggregation clause (section 7) of the GFDL.

Since, with the exception of fair use images, all our allowed image
licenses are philosophically similar to the GFDL, we should strive for
explicit compatibility in the long run.

In addition, there is the practice of multi-licensing both text and
image contributions under the GFDL and one or more other licenses; this
is to ensure that external parties can choose which license to follow,
while all internal use is covered by the GFDL. This is not without its
problems, since in the case of text contributions e.g. under
CC-BY-SA/GFDL, it allows external parties to circumvent the copyleft
requirement by creating a derivative work under a license which is not
compatible with the GFDL.

Our biggest copyright black hole at the moment are fair use images on
en.wikipedia.org. However, we seem to be evolving towards the reasonable
practice of limiting fair use to an explicit whitelist of cases where it
is most defensible; on the English Wikipedia, this is currently:

Different language projects have different policies of fair use; some
follow their national laws (e.g. Polish Wikinews), others exclude it
entirely (German Wikipedia). There might be some which use US Copyright
Law as a basis since our servers are in Florida, and there are certainly
language editions which are fairly lax about image copyrights. I would
suggest an explicit cross-language survey of the issue to be conducted
by the Legal Committee.

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