[Foundation-l] Fair Use (again)

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Mon Jan 29 20:51:26 UTC 2007

On 1/29/07, The Cunctator <cunctator at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 1/29/07, Brad Patrick <bradp.wmf at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > I wanted to simply state that I have been reading this thread with
> > interest.  When it comes to content, it is the editors and users and not
> > the
> > Foundation who decide what is on.  I don't presently serve as, and don't
> > intend to become, the central authority for what is and isn't acceptable
> > for
> > fair use questions. It is not a subject that is prone to sweeping policy
> > decisions, as counterexamples etc. abound.  Again, since the license is
> > the
> > key to the forward looking nature of the project (here en:wp) why someone
> > feels compelled to take the easy way out and {{fairuse}} image the heck
> > out
> > of articles out of a sense of obligation to "improve" it is beside the
> > point.
> >
> > The images are fair - not free - and that isn't the same thing.  You can
> > argue til the cows come home about any particular example.  People
> > do.  ;-)
> > But I would once again encourage anyone interested in the issue to ask
> > themselves first why the fair image *must* be there instead of a free one
> > (rare examples) and why it is not instead an easy way out in lieu of the
> > harder task of obtaining free images as equivalents.
> >
> > What happens in legal terms depends, of course, on the situation.  WMF has
> > no interest in fighting really hard for "fair use" in principle, since we
> > are all about free images where there is a choice.  Be honest - wouldn't
> > the
> > best Wikipedia be one with no strings attached, with content of equivalent
> > quality?
> My attitude is that Wikipedia should be pushing the copyright envelope
> (within reason, of course) on all fronts.
> All non-governmental content from the past century is covered by copyright
> (essentially).
> We should be expanding (and we are) the amount of content covered by free
> licenses (GFDL,CC-SA).
> We should also be demonstrating the importance of challenging the absurd
> life and strength of copyright laws by taking advantage of fair use when we
> can.
> Google is a great example of a company that by dint of its popularity gets
> to run roughshod over copyright restrictions that companies would squash if
> they weren't so reliant on Google.
> Similarly Wikipedia is now in the position of being one of the 800-pound
> gorillas.
> Wikipedia has the power to shape law because of its size and influence.

We're not an 800 pound gorilla; but we're much more than a dancing macacque.

I would like to second Cunctator's comments in general.  Specifically,
while I encourage the development of free content wherever possible, I
want to be realistic that there's a tradeoff between covering
something well and covering something badly but with entirely free
content.  I will always come down on the side of  a better
encyclopedia if an appropriate, legal fair use content add will better
Wikipedia noticably.

I had someone just last week suggest that we could find free
replacement images for a spacecraft which had been assembled and flown
in space already, both for the spacecraft under construction and for
the landing.  The only people who took and released photos of the
assembly who are known are the official space agency photographers
(not NASA, India's ISRO), and the landing took place several hundred
kilometers out to sea, with one Indian Coast Guard ship and some
helicopters in attendance.  How exactly are we supposed to go back in
time and convince a free-license photographer to go take pictures of
those events that already happened?  How do we convince ISRO and the
Indian Coast Guard to let them do it?

If we don't fight for the meaning and use of Fair Use, we both lose
content for ourselves, and lose content for the whole community at
large by not helping to uphold fair use vigorously.

If Wikipedia won't stand up for Fair Use, then it's a pretty sad
world.  We can be strident in supporting fair use, legal and proper in
supporting fair use, and still prefer and work to create free content.
 They are not mutually exclusive.  But those who say "oh, if we remove
it, free content of equal value will just sprint forth to replace it"
frustrate me to no end.  It won't, in a lot of cases, because it

Promotional photos of all types are generally accepted to be put out
there by people and companies to be reused.  The current paranoia
surrounding even those in Fair Use here is appalling.

-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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