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

Robert Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Wed Mar 28 16:28:38 UTC 2007

Pedro Sanchez 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.
> No, only for content claimed to be fair use but which actually is not.
> The resolution explictly acknowledges that projects can host fair use,
> but only if they develop an specific policy and show that an image is
> covered by it.
> So if it's claimed to be fair use, and it actually qualifies for fair
> use, content won't be removed.
I'm arguing here that it is being used to advance the cause of those who 
desire all fair use eliminated, even if that isn't the intention, and 
the interpretations of this policy are beginning to have some wide 
ranging impact on individual projects.
>> I don't know if this was the
>> intent, but on at least en.wikibooks, the most active bureaucrat there
>> has demanded that all fair use content be eliminated from Wikibooks. And
>> has used this policy to strength his own counter claim that we should
>> never have allowed fair use onto that project in the first place.
> Each project can take its own decisions. But arguing in general is no
> good, can you provide specific examples of images you think they are
> needed, and that fair use is justified, so we can analyze the
> justification?
This isn't just arguing about specific images about if the fair use is 
allowed or not.  This is a call to completely eliminate all fair use on 
Wikibooks until the policy permitting it is established, and only 
allowing fair use after that policy has been accepted.... with a threat 
that such a policy would never be developed anyway.  It is also a call 
to completely eliminate every single fair use image that currently 
exists on Wikibooks based completely upon this new policy from the WMF.  
I am arguing that such a radical change is not the intention and that we 
need to step back and come up with something a little more reasonable.

I guess I'm also saying that if this is the intention of the WMF to 
force such radical elmination of current fair-use images in those 
projects that havn't yet formalized an EDP, that some reasonable time 
ought to be granted to projects to decide the fate of these images.  
Giving us a deadline for deletion of images to be March 23rd  of this 
year just doesn't seem to me as reasonable... or even to have 
established a policy by that date when we just found out about this 
foundation policy in the first place.

BTW, if you want to read what I think are reasonable images where fair 
use should be allowed, see 

The policy that I was trying to draft on Wikibook was to permit very 
specific categories of images, and all other fair use was to be 
eliminated.  If you wanted an additional fair-use category of images on 
the project, the policy needed to be explictly ammended as a policy 
change.  If you want me to show you a specific image to argue and debate 
over, I can, but that is not why I'm bringing this issue to the 
attention of those who read this mailing list.  I should note that the 
alternative policy is to simply ban fair use altogether, not to expand 
and allow much more premissive fair use.
>> With statements like "By March 23, 2008, all existing files under an
>> unacceptable license as per the above must either be accepted under an
>> EDP, or shall be deleted." seem to imply that unless you have already
>> "approved" an EDP (whatever that means.... and the process of approval
>> is certainly vague here) that all fair use can be retroactively deleted.
> It means each project has 1 year to develop its exemption policy, and
> check that images will be covered under it. There¡s plenty of time to
> work on it.
I read it originally as March 23rd, 2007, and I'm pretty sure that is 
what was being interpreted elsewhere.  That is a more reasonable 
deadline to review this concept and establish such policies.  As one of 
the admins who will have to somehow implement this policy on a local 
level, this is a concern to me.  I certainly hope that the arguments and 
discussions on writing this policy don't take more than a year to 
develop, but I've seen some policy discussions go on that long before.  
What will happen when this deadline is reached will be interesting.

With two competing policies on Wikibooks at the moment and strong 
defenders (and admins) advocating each policy, this may not be something 
so simple to resolve.... particularly when there doesn't seem to be too 
much middle ground here.  And those advocating a ban on fair use have no 
incentive to give up their position as a delay until 2008 is sufficient 
to achieve their goals.

-- Robert Horing

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