[Foundation-l] Clearing up Wikimedia's media licensing policies

Andrew Gray shimgray at gmail.com
Fri Feb 9 15:37:31 UTC 2007

On 09/02/07, Andre Engels <andreengels at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm sorry, but that does fly right in the face of existing laws - searches
> on both Wikipedia and Google tell me that legal abandonment of copyright
> only occurs when one explicitly confers material to the public domain. If
> you don't hear anything from the copyright holder in a reasonable term, that
> can be implicitly an acquiescence to your usage of the material. It does not
> remove any rights they have against others.

FWIW, UK copyright law recognises a defence of acquiescence, but you
need to show that the other party was *aware* of it as well as taking
no steps to stop it. This dates from 1906, but a ruling was made as
recently as 1996 - there, the copyright holder became aware in early
1993 that use beyond the license was being made of its material, and
the judge held that a defence of acquiescence could be made out from
at least the middle of that year.

(I am unsure what that translated to in practice - I'm trying to dig
up the reports, but suspect it was something along the lines of "you
can only sue for the first couple of months of infringing use")

It's a defence (like fair-use) for infringement, though, *not* a
release. And, of course, simply making your infringement public is not
the same thing as them knowing about it - you'd have to somehow prove
they were aware.

- Andrew Gray
  andrew.gray at dunelm.org.uk

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