[Foundation-l] Live mirrors

Robert Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Wed May 30 20:10:58 UTC 2007

Sebastian Moleski wrote:
> On 5/30/07, Klaus Graf <klausgraf at googlemail.com> wrote:
>> I cannot see that blocking life mirrors is allowed by the GNU FDL:
>> "You may not use technical measures to obstruct or control the reading
>> or further copying of the copies you make or distribute."
> It certainly is. Wikimedia can freely choose who it will distribute its
> licensed content to. Users accessing Wikimedia sites with a web browser are
> fine. Live mirrors leeching bandwidth are not. There is nothing that
> mandates Wikimedia to distribute its contents to everyone for every reason
> for no price.
> Sebastian

I think there needs to be made a point here, that the WMF certainly can 
control to whom and for how much they want to charge for people who want 
to copy content from Wikimedia servers.  The GFDL explicitly permits 
even commercial projects and even for-profit corporations from making 
money off of content available under the GFDL.

The difference here is that the WMF can't tell you what you can and 
can't do with that content after you have received that content... 
provided you use the content according to the terms of the GFDL.  And 
even then the WMF has very little say in what can't be done with the 
content even if you breech the terms of the GFDL.... as the WMF doesn't 
even have a copyright on the vast majority (nearly all) of the content 
on Wikimedia projects.  They couldn't even be a party in enforcing the 
GFDL for 99.9999% of the content.  This is one area where the WMF is not 
as quite of a strong ground as the Free Software Foundation, as the FSF 
*does* own copyright on all of the "official" GNU software.  So it can 
enforce the GPL for software it has a copyright to.

In regards to "live" mirrors that are constantly sucking bandwidth off 
of the Wikimedia server farm, I would have to agree that this is a major 
problem and something that should be dealt with, both on a legal front 
as well as through technical means.  I would be curious about some 
comparisons of the bandwidth need of a *very* active Wikimedia 
user/administrator who is on-line nearly 24/7 vs. one of these mirror 
sites.  I think it would be easy for an active editor/user to suck at 
least 1 GB of data/day, but it would be along this order of magnitude of 
bandwidth.  It would be an interesting test to see how much it would 
actually come out to in practice.

Robert Horning

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