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

Robert Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Wed Mar 28 23:05:51 UTC 2007

Gregory Maxwell wrote:
> On 3/28/07, Robert Horning <robert_horning at netzero.net> wrote:
> [snip]
>> There are also several Wikibooks that discuss learning foreign
>> languages, and I think it is very reasonable to use flags of the
>> countries where those languages are spoken as elements in the cover
>> images of those books.
> [snip]
> I want to make sure I understand what you are saying, without getting
> into the nitty-gritty of flag image licensing, or how someone could
> match flags to languages in an NPOV manner, either of which could be
> an epic conversation by itself...
> Are you saying that you think it is acceptable to compromise the
> wholly free content status of a wikibook in order to incorporate
> non-free decorations?
No.  I don't mean to go that far, and the number of exceptions can be 
kept very minimal.  Flags of various political jurisdictions are an 
exceptional and very narrowly focused type of image (assuming that you 
rendered the image of the flag yourself and are not talking about other 
copyright complications) and there are certainly restrictions as to when 
they can be used and how.  There certainly are reasons why these images 
may not be on Commons and require exceptions on an individual project.

Again, if you are talking about if this should be allowed within the 
Wikibook community, that is something I can debate there.  I am giving 
the kinds of images that have been suggested as needing fair use, and 
what is currently permitted within Wikibooks... or at least what has 
been used by Wikibooks content developers.

As far as jepordizing the free content status of the Wikibook, how is 
that again?  Fair use is fair use.  If you can use some content under 
fair use principles, then downstream users can also use that fair use 
content under the same principles.  Richard Stallman said as much on 
this very mailing list (though admittedly a few years ago).  You can 
have fair use content mixed with GFDL'd content.... but it must be used 
in context and other fair use restrictions.  The main issue is not 
jepordizing GFDL'd content but making situations where people in one 
country can't use that same content somewhere else.  However, there is 
content (like a swastika or a burning of the Koran) that simply would 
cause problems no matter where you go or what you do.  Or pictures of 
public nudity.

This is not a simple cut and dried argument here, and has been pointed 
out, even banning fair use entirely does not kill all of the problems 
with trying to decide if an image is legal to use or not.  Obviously 
with flags it is very close to that border as to if copyright even 
applies on self-generated works.

-- Robert Horning

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