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

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Sat Feb 10 07:56:33 UTC 2007

Andre Engels wrote:

>2007/2/9, Andrew Gray <shimgray at gmail.com>:
>>On 09/02/07, Andrew Gray <shimgray at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>(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")
>>Aha, found it. Reported in the Times, Dec.02 1996:
>>"The owner of copyright in films who was aware that one of its
>>licensees had plans to broadcast the films outside the area specified
>>in the licence agreement and had subsequently done so, but did not
>>complain or take any other action to stop them, had acquiesced and was
>>therefore not entitled to claim an infringement of copyright."
>I do not have the actual judgement, but it seems to me from this quote that
>the effect of the acquiescence was not equivalent to the material being in
>the public domain. Only the given copyright infringement ceased to be
>enforceable. If someone else took the same films, or even if the licensee
>were to use them in a way covered neither by his original license nor by the
>acquiesced-to announcement, normal copyright protection would again prevail.
>For the OrphanWiki this would mean that if one could make a sufficiently
>strong case that the work's owner had known about te copyright infringement
>for a certain amount of time without trying to take action, it could
>afterward remain on the OrphanWiki, but there is no reason to assume that
>copyright protection would be diminished or removed beyond that.
Thanks for the comments.  I couldn't find the case that I was thinking 
of involving Scientology.  Since I am proposing that works would remain 
in OrphanWiki for at least three years unless a real owner shows up we 
would have plenty of time to sort out what to do after that period.

I would in fact be delighted if the owner showed up.  In reality 
anything included in the project would be there because we don't expect 
anybody to show up.  The legal rights may belong to one or more people 
who haven't got a clue that they have them. 

Such a project may tread on legally uncertain ground.  Strict criteria 
would be needed for determining what would be included.  Most important 
wuld be the research that the proposer(s) has made to track down the 
rights owner.  This metadata would also be a part of the wiki so that 
anyone can help with the research.  That way the research becomes part 
of the record, even if we decide that the material itself does not meet 
our standards for inclusion.  This could be useful for those operating a 
different and unrelated project to ours who want to make a decision 
about the risk of including the material on their own site. 

If the OrphanWiki site becomes popular enough the site could become a 
standard place to stop in attempts to track down rights owners.  Perhaps 
too we could get it to the point that iincluding material or metadata in 
OrphanWiki would defeat any claim that the owner didn't know about the 

The mission of making materials free is bigger than just repeating 
material that we know to be free.  We want free outputs.  The freeness 
of inputs or intermediate processes is far less important.


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