[Foundation-l] What's wrong with CC-BY-SA?

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Sat Dec 1 23:17:46 UTC 2007

On Dec 1, 2007 9:50 PM, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell at gmail.com> wrote:
> 1)  Laurence Lessig has posted multiple times claiming that it is
> acceptable to take illustrations licensed under CC-By-SA and produce
> combined works which are not freely licensed. For example, if I wrote
> a since instruction book and created illustrations on how to safely
> use a bunsen burner a commercial textbook publisher could use my
> illustrations in their textbook without giving anything back the the
> world of free content.

And this has exactly been our interpretation of the GFDL -- this is
why we permit combining GFDL works with media under any license
whatsoever (limited only by policy), because we regard the media and
the text to be "separate and independent" as per the GFDL.

I believe what is needed is a new, strong copyleft license for
"embedded media", which is unambiguously explicit about the
consequences of embedding a photo into an article, or a sound clip
into a video. I've already talked about this with Larry and other CC
folks, and would be happy to see you join these conversations.

> 2) The Creative Commons licenses come with misleading front cover
> text.

This is easy to fix. Do you have a document that enumerates the
changes you'd like to see made?

> So these by-attribution licenses don't actually provide attribution if
> a service provider specifies  so in their terms of service.

As far as I can tell it's pretty clear: The copyright holder
determines whether or not they want to designate someone else for the
purpose of attribution -- and a participatory website like a wiki can
_require_ such designation. Wikinews actually does: On the edit
screen, it states that you agree that your edits will be attributed
"to Wikinews".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Creative Commons added this
option specifically to _help_ wiki communities in making attribution
more manageable. They originally wanted to create a CC-WIKI license
for this purpose, but instead modified their existing licenses to be
more flexible.

It seems to me that CC has a history of addressing stakeholder needs.
If we were to adopt one of their licenses, we would instantly become
one of the most significant, if not the most significant, stakeholders
-- and I do believe our concerns would be taken very seriously, as I
think they already are.

I really hope that your response to this decision will not be
antagonism but engagement and feedback. There's basically, as far as I
can see, two likely outcomes:

- The Wikimedia community will support an immediate switch to
CC-BY-SA, and the critics of the license will dig themselves into a
position of extreme antagonism, asking their contributions to be
removed, etc.
- The Wikimedia community will work together in trying to help
Creative Commons to improve CC-BY-SA, and then make the switch.

I would prefer the second scenario over the first; I do think you have
legitimate concerns that we should try to work on. Please help us to
make that possible.
Toward Peace, Love & Progress:

DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.

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