[Foundation-l] RfC: Draft licensing policy resolution

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Mon Feb 26 16:41:40 UTC 2007

On 2/21/07, Brianna Laugher <brianna.laugher at gmail.com> wrote:
> Does this implu that the Board ultimately does discourage the use of
> such EDPs? At the moment the Board seems quite neutral on them, or
> even encouraging them to be adopted. I know I am not the only person
> who would like to see the Board *discourage* the adoption of EDPs, and
> even indicate a very slow movement towards banning them. And yes I
> know that gets enWP all huffy... but there are people there who
> dislike fair use too.

I think the recent example of the English Wikipedia using a "No free
image" template is exactly the direction we should go:


(Incidentally, a very similar system is used by the IMDB, except of
course they do not care if their images are freely licensed.)

I am willing to support a licensing policy that is more strict than
the current draft, i.e., which explicitly rules out the use of EDPs
for purposes such as portrait photos, and limits them essentially to:
- media about significant historical events
- "identifying media" such as logos, jingles, etc.
- excerpts of contemporary copyrighted works (low quality versions of
comic book characters, album covers, music samples, screenshots etc.)

I think we need to also have a vague "reasonable expectation" clause
in the resolution that clarifies that, if we can reasonably _expect_
that a free work will be made available, then a non-free one shouldn't
be used. This allows us to, over time, shift out more of the above
(especially the historical stuff, which I think we can definitely get
under free licenses in the not too distant future).

On the other hand, as long as copyrighted works are dominant in the
information society, EDPs are the main method by which we can
illustrate and excerpt contemporary cultural works. I do think this is
a significant part of the mission of the WMF, and that we should make
use of the few exemptions to copyright law that there are in order to
do it.

Characters from contemporary films or cartoons, for example, are not
going to become "free content" anytime soon. Even if we could
"liberate" them, this would hardly be our first priority. Those that
scoff at Pokemon or Star Wars screenshots should acknowledge that, if
we were to ban any such material from being illustrated, it would also
exclude the great masters of film, music and painting from most of the
20th century. We should not even try to discriminate here between that
which is "worthy" and that which is not; if the work is notable enough
to be described in an encyclopedia, it is notable enough to be

Moreover, experience has shown that trying to ban non-free content
completely tends to only lead to workarounds which are even worse
(e.g. people photographing 3D toys of a cartoon character, carefully
cropping out all the background, and proudly proclaiming that they now
have created a "free work"; logos being flatly claimed to not be
"copyrightable", etc.). So while I think we should promote free
culture as much as possible, and while I can support a licensing
policy which allows us a gradual shift towards that goal, I don't
expect it to be fully achievable unless there are radical changes in
copyright law throughout the world.

Peace & Love,

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

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