[Foundation-l] Board meeting in Rotterdam later this week

Delphine Ménard notafishz at gmail.com
Sun Jan 14 22:30:17 UTC 2007

On 1/14/07, David Strauss <david at fourkitchens.com> wrote:
> I don't think you understand my position. I'm not arguing for an
> elimination of policy catering to non-U.S. countries. I'm arguing for a
> separation between languages and legalistic policy. We would have guides
> for editors from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. Such a guide would
> not be specific to the German Wikipedia.

The guide, I think, is a good starting point. However, we should not
be imposing any kind of "licence" or "legal trick" or whatever you
want to call it to wikipedias in one specific language which have
chosen not to use these licences or tricks. This has to be a two-way
street. That the Foundation issues a clear policy about what is
acceptable and what is not is one thing, and yes, I believe it is

That some language based Wikipedias agree to make these rules narrower
to comply with the laws of the country in which the Wikipedia is most
likely to be read/used etc. is, imho, the problem of the community of
those wikipedias and their call.

> Plenty of people in Germany edit the English Wikipedia. The current
> language-country ties don't account for those scenarios.

I have said it many times on this list, and I say it again. Any user
who thinks he is above the laws of his own country is doing so at his
own risk.

Let me try to give an example.

Imagine that German law declares that stroopwafels are illegal.
Talking about them, praising them, showing them, is illegal. Of
course, US law thinks stroopwafels are just great.

As a result, we could assume anything related to stroopwafels would be
banned from the German wikipedia and allowed on the English one.

If a contributor lives in Germany, he is subject to German law. Of
course, technically, the contributor *could* (in the sense they have
the possibility of) upload pro-stroopwafel material in the English
Wikipedia and say "but it's allowed in that wikipedia".

However, making such a document public is illegal in Germany.  The
contributor is responsible for making it public, against the laws of
the country he/she lives in. Hence also "suable" under the law of the
country he lives in.

To summarize, people should always:
- forget the idea that internet is a lawless zone
- observe the laws of the country they live in
- observe the laws of the US, where the servers are.

That's for the user.

Now, for the projects.

We could argue that since the German Wikipedia is hosted on American
soil, it could display tons of stuff about stroopwafels. However,
whatever you will say, the German Wikipedia does have a public that is
primarily located on German soil. So there's a big chance that the
people who are going to reuse the content are Germany-based. Promoting
stroopwafels heavily in the German Wikipedia could be a liability,
even for an American based web-site, for users reusing, but also for
the website itself, at least on German soil.

In the past, legality of content has been measured against the primary
audience of a website. See the Yahoo! lawsuit in France about nazi
material on Yahoo! Auctions.

I therefore believe that allowing communities to voice their concerns
and apply restrictions in their own Wikipedia according to a
country-language relationship is only fair.

However, I also believe that we have a responsibility to make people
aware of the risks they are taking by uploading material that is
"illegal" in their countries, even on a website where those are
"legal". Without going all the way to nazi stuff, this could apply for
things not so dramatic, such as Fair use material.

It's a difficult balance to find, but one we should be able to find by
educating our users as to how they can reuse our content, as you
suggest, and responsibilizing our contributors ("you are responsible
for the stuff you upload/write on Wikipedia, man!").

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