[Foundation-l] GFDL and relicensing

Thomas Dalton thomas.dalton at gmail.com
Thu Nov 22 13:22:56 UTC 2007

> It would be very strange for anyone to make the argument that I, a
> lawyer whose career has mostly centered on preserving the rights of
> people who normally can't pay for their own lawyers, would argue that
> non-donaters don't deserve their legal rights. You must have a very
> odd impression of me. Are you familiar with my work?

It just seemed like a very odd comment to make. I still don't see what
people knowing about a fundraiser has to do with anything.

> >> Furthermore, I'm willing to bet that the set of contributors who both
> >> (a) insist on an old version of GFDL and (b) care about it enough to
> >> remove content if migration happens, and (c) wouldn't hear about the
> >> migration is a very, very, small set of contributors.
> >
> > It only takes one.
> It only takes one to do what, exactly?  To make a fuss?  We already
> have people who make fusses over all sorts of things. We generally try
> to accommodate complaints if they're reasonable.  But if someone meets
> criteria (a), (b), and (c) above, then, by definition, they wouldn't
> make a fuss (because of (c)).  If they learned about the migration
> later, why, then, we'd address their concerns and likely remove their
> content accordingly.

It only takes one for it to be immoral to take advantage of their
ignorance. "Don't be evil" and all that.

> >  Credit card companies have a list of people they need to notify. We
> > don't.
> Except that you seem to be saying we do.  Specifically, some people
> seem to be saying we (a) do have a large (impossible!) number of
> people to notify, and (b) we can't possibly notify them in a general
> way but must seek individual contact with them instead.

You missed the key work: "list". Both we and the credit card companies
have people the need to be notified, the difference is the credit card
companies have a list, we don't. How do you notify an anonymous
contributor, for example? (The other obvious question is how does an
anonymous contributor enforce their rights, so the GFDL may simply not
apply to anons, I really don't know how that would work out in court.)

> > You've yet to describe a practical way of removing content.
> I can think of a couple of ways.  So can you, I'm willing to bet.  I
> leave this as an exercise for the reader. (Alternatively, other folks
> can chime in here.)

No, really, I can't. I explained the problems with it, and they seem
pretty insurmountable to me.

> > You're the lawyer, but I'm pretty sure the law doesn't care what our
> > primary purpose is. We still have to obey it, even if it goes against
> > what we're trying to do.
> I'm not advising anyone not to obey the law.  As a lawyer for the
> Foundation, my job is partly to help the Foundation and the Projects
> achieve their primary purposes, and to suggest ways of doing so that
> don't create legal problems. I doubt anything I've suggested here will
> get anyone sent to jail or anyone sued.

It's that last sentence which concerns me. There is a difference
between something being illegal, and it getting you sent to jail or
sued. I, for one, am not comfortable with relying on people's apathy
to get away with breaking the law, however safe it may be.

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