[Foundation-l] Fwd: [cc-licenses] The FSF On FDL Derivatives

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Wed May 9 21:49:12 UTC 2007

On 5/9/07, Andre Engels <andreengels at gmail.com> wrote:
> Derivative work is derivative work, no matter under what license. If
> an article with a GFDL image is a derivative of that image, then an
> article with a CC-BY-SA image is a derivative of that image too.

There really isn't any reasonable dispute over if an article which
combines images and text is a derivative at least not in the FDL
space.   Some people in CC land have been proposing that almost
nothing is a derivative of an image, and if they want to do that..
fine, but they should update the license to reflect that.

In theory, CC-by-sa and the GFDL could define derivatives differently.
If a license wanted to define derivatives less expansively than the
law it could do so... and if it wanted to be more expansive it could
also do so (although at that point it would be becoming more of a full
contract than just a rights release). Hopefully any license which
substantially redefined derivatives wouldn't use the word derivatives.
 ... because of jurisdictional issues, it's probably best to avoid the
word in any case as has been done in  GPLv3 draft.

In actuality, they both cc-by-sa and GFDL fairly similar language. The
words are different and by-sa includes more explanation, but they are
quite similar.

The difference is that at least on prominent board member of the
Creative Commons is suggesting that cc-by-sa is much more permissive
than a normal reading of the license text would suggest.  Because they
have the ability to revise the license, it's worth paying attention to
what they say. Meanwhile, the FSF has clarified that this isn't the
case for the FDL.

In any case, drama and dispute over this matter is making a mountain
out of a molehill:  Any inability to use by-sa images in a FDL covered
work is an unintentional side effect of the license conditions:

It is intended that you can't make a later version of a FDL work
non-free by enhancing it with works covered by a non-free license.
I.e. I can't take wikipedia, pay people to write better intros for the
articles and publish  GregsProprietaryEncyclopediaand tell Wikipedia
that it can't reabsorb my improvements.   I think most of us think
this is a good feature... or at least those of us who aren't producing
XsProprietaryEncyclopedia and who aren't advocating that Wikipedia
should be released as "public domain" ;)

Since the licenses are a blunt tool this is currently accomplished by
requiring that the derivative be distributable under exactly the same
license. It's not possible to do this for SA images, so there is a
technical incompatibility.  There is no serious philosophical or
otherwise intentional incompatibility causing this.  This is an issue
which can and should be fixed in a later version of the license(s), so
it's not one which we should worry too much about.

This incompatibility is also not a real issue unless a license holder
complains. ... and because the incompatibility is technical rather
than over a material difference, I don't currently see why someone
could complain unless they were just trying to cause trouble... and if
someone wants to do that there are plenty of other things they could
complain about if that was their goal.

Oh, an regarding "fair use" ... Truly "fair use" images have been
considered okay for the same reason that we allow them in our projects
at all: if they are honestly fair use they don't unfree the document
as a whole substantially, and they could only really be replaced with
nothing, in any case.

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