[Foundation-l] Licensing Policy

Klaus Graf klausgraf at googlemail.com
Tue May 22 13:33:07 UTC 2007

> Following a deletion debate on Commons [1], we are left with the
> problem whether or not Public domain images that are under other
> restrictions, such as coats of arms, are allowed under the Foundation
> Licensing policy. If I quote Erik Moeller, from another thread [2] on
> the mailing list:
> '[...]the licensing policy has been specifically formulated to avoid
> that problem. It requires content to be under a Free Content License,
> which is defined as "a license which meets the terms of the Definition
> of Free Cultural Works _specific to licenses_".[...]'
> However, since we are talking about public domain, this does not apply
> for this image, since public domain is not a license. This means that
> another section of the resolution applies:
> '[...] or which is otherwise free as recognized by the 'Definition of
> Free Cultural Works' as referenced above.'
> Which is not the case, this specific image is under more restrictions;
> see the deletion debate for details. Is this analysis correct? Or
> should we just treat public domain as a "free content license"?
> Bryan
> (cc'd to commons-l)
> [1] http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:SilaTonga.svg
> [2] http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2007-April/029468.html

I agree with en/Commons user Lupo who has, referring to the discussion at
"Now, the problem is this: freedomdefined.org states that a "free"
work "must not be covered by legal restrictions (patents, contracts,
etc.) or limitations (such as privacy rights) which would impede the
freedoms enumerated above." That would mean that we'd need to look
beyond copyrights, and that the foundation's licensing policy did not
consider COAs and the like "free" works, even if they were fine
copyright-wise, because their use is often restricted by other laws.
Ugh. Looks like the overarching "free culture" activism expressed at
freedomdefined.org has some rather drastic and unpleasant consequences
for us".

There is a non exhaustive list of non-free content (content which can
be used for any purpose) in the German Wikipedia at:


According to the free content definition we cannot show at commons
(nor in the local branches without EDP):

* pictures of living persons (because according to German law
commercial use is only allowed with the content of the person AND it
is strictly forbidden to manipulate pictures, decision of

* pictures of coat of arms which are used by an institution (because
there are non-copyright-restrictions in all cases)

*pictures of Geschmacksmuster-protected objects like cars

*the Olympic rings

and so on.

Klaus Graf

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