[Foundation-l] Resolution:Licensing policy and the projects' autonomy

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Sun Apr 15 21:28:34 UTC 2007

On 4/15/07, Kjetil Ree <kjetil_r at yahoo.com> wrote:
> In a discussion at the Norwegian (bokmål) Village
> Pump, a nowiki bureaucrat and meta admin claims that
> Resolution:Licensing policy is not binding.

Lets add some context to understand the scale of the issue here:
Since the 2007-01-01 nowiki has had 30 images uploaded locally which
are still around.


> He is also
> saying that the Foundation can not dictate our
> editorial policy.

I believe that foundation does not have much interest in dictating the
nowikipedia's policy. However, the Foundation in it's role as the
steward of the no.wikipedia.org domain name and as the non-profit
sponsoring the Wikipedias does have certain responsibilities.

I would hope that no one in the nowiki community would expect that the
foundation would sit idly by if the nowiki community voted to delete
the encyclopedia and only distribute pornography. :)  An extreme
example... The chartered mission of the Wikimedia foundation includes
the production and promotion of free content, so the foundation is
still obligated to act to make sure it is fulfilling it's mission in
that space.

The foundation has spent a lot of times thinking about these issues.
You can learn more about the reasoning behind the board licensing
policy from Kat's February post on the foundation's behalf:


I highly suggest pointing people to this.

> I personally find such arguments
> puzzling, as it seems pretty clear to me that the
> resolution is binding, and that the board indeed can
> decide that we aren't allowed to use NC- and ND
> licenses. Is he right?

As the legal owners of the equipment which provides the service the
foundation can certainly establish such rules.  Directly dictating the
behavior of the projects will not scale, however, so what the
Foundation has directed the projects to do is establish a local policy
which conforms with both the letter of the foundation's directive and
with the spirit of their decision making.

If a community is unable to come to an agreement around such a policy
in a reasonable span of time, the Foundation will probably disable
local uploads on that project.

Given the small number of local uploads on nowiki already, I don't
think much argument for harm could be made for disabling local
uploads... and in fact, disabling local uploads might be a pretty good
step forward for the project.

> A somewhat related discussion: nowiki has a couple of
> hundred images uploaded back in 2004 and early 2005
> without proper sources or attribution of the author.
> We take such matters very seriously now, but back
> then, nowiki's image use policy wasn't especially
> strict on such matters.

Enwiki and, to a much lesser extent, commons have gone through things
like this as well.

>I have suggested a cleanup
> project, where every user should check his uploads
> from 2004-05 during the next couple of months, and
> give them proper source information.

This is similar what other projects have done. It has been reasonably
successful.  I'd be glad to help you find some folks who could run
bots to automatically notify uploaders.

> The same user is
> opposing this proposal, claiming that our current
> image use policy and rules about sources do not apply
> retroactively, and that starting to mass-delete images
> without a source will be disrespectful to the users
> active back then, who were following the rules at the
> time (well, actually the lack of rules).

The line of reasoning I would suggest is: If at one time policy did
not require articles to be spelled correctly, would it be
disrespectful to go and spell check previous articles?

It is important that the Wikipedia legal content and in conformance
with the free-content mission to the greatest extent possible.
Obtaining source information is one way most projects achieve that.

> I claim that
> it is the uploaders' responsibility to make sure that
> their uploads are ok, but he claims that it is the
> users who want to delete (or points out that a image
> is unsourced) who need to prove that the image is a
> likely copyvio. Who is right?

It is the *project's* responsibility to make sure the content it
distributes is okay. Without the source information the project can
not reasonably satisfy its responsibility without deleting the media.
Only the uploader has a reasonable chance of having this
information... so we ask the uploader.  If they are unwilling or
unable, we should give the images a little time so that people who
know about the subjects can make a determination or find
replacements... but at the end such images must go away.

I think that the nowiki community should decide how to conduct its own
cleanup. As long as the end result is within the overall mission, no
one who isn't directly involved should care too much about the means.

More information about the foundation-l mailing list