[Foundation-l] Banning Fair Use (was Re: Foundation Licensing Policy)

Robert Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Wed Mar 28 15:52:57 UTC 2007

Kat Walsh wrote:
> On 3/28/07, Robert Horning <robert_horning at netzero.net> wrote:
>> As I feared would be the case, this new foundation policy has become a
>> call to arms by deletionists to institute a massive removal of all fair
>> use content on all Wikimedia projects.  
>> -- Robert Horning
> No, it's not a call to ban all fair use. But it *is* certainly a call
> to minimize it as much as possible and to treat it as inferior to free
> content -- and an individual project is more than welcome to decide
> that it does not want to use fair use at all. If Wikibooks does not
> need it then by all means it should remove it; most of the Wikibooks I
> have seen don't need non-free media as illustration, but perhaps there
> are others that do. (And looking back now Greg has posted -- going by
> the subject matter of the book is an interesting idea.)
> Actually I find that people have been reading all sorts of things into
> the resolution -- I have been throwing up my hands in frustration at
> some corners of en.wikipedia proclaiming that because fair use was not
> banned entirely it must mean we wanted more of it. The policy should
> not actually be much of a change of anything, just set out a bit more
> formally.
> The basic idea is that this is what we have adopted as the definition
> of free content; projects should treat everything else as very much
> inferior to it, and use things outside that definition only where it
> is not reasonably possible to avoid it.
> -Kat
There are several Wikibooks users who indeed want to keep fair use, and 
I believe this should be something that can be resolved through the 
normal policy building process that already exists within the Wikibooks 
community.  The problem I see here is that radical solutions are being 
suggested on the authority of this new policy, and I want reassurances 
(like you have done here) that this is not intended to be a massive 
change of existing polices and content.  Certainly not giving license to 
eliminate thousands of images (as do exist on Wikibooks) that are 
currently available only under fair-use terms, and have been selected 
for deletion by only a small handful of individuals acting on the 
authority of this policy that has been put forward by the WMF.

I agree that if we as a community want to move toward eliminating fair 
use, that we can come and decide that for ourselves and move in that 
direction.  I am of the philosophical camp that some fair use ought to 
be permitted and that there are legitimate reasons for including it in 
our projects, but such fair use ought to be significantly restricted and 
encompass what is legally permissible even in countries that don't have 
fair-use legislation or comparable legal concepts.

I do agree with the general philosophy that more free images ought to be 
sought after, and that Wikimedia project contributors ought to find 
illustrations either in the public domain, available under free content 
licenses, or be able to generate those illustrations themselves when 
possible.  I don't think this is always possible, and that we can find 
some reasonable exceptions that most people can live with that don't 
compromise the basic values of trying to create content that meets the 
basic philosophical principles of the GFDL and other free content builders.

--Robert Horning

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