[Foundation-l] foundation-l Digest, Vol 44, Issue 105

Thomas Dalton thomas.dalton at gmail.com
Fri Nov 23 15:10:19 UTC 2007

> Remember that copyright law only protects particular expression of
> ideas, and not ideas or information themselves. In the event that the
> initial user objected to the reuse, he (or anyone else) could revise
> the passage in question so that it retained the same ideas or
> information without reproducing the expression protected by copyright.

If the contributions in question are extensive, that involves
rewriting whole articles - ie. we lose enormous amounts of content.

> This is only one reason it seems unlikely that a Wikipedian would
> simply sue us (or the other French resident)  rather than seek (or
> help in) the removal of the content that he or she believed could not
> be reused under the new license.  I hope you're not assuming that
> French or German Wikipedians are more likely to seek destruction of a
> project instead of our willing compliance to their demand for removal
> of content composed under (an older version of) GFDL.

Like I've said before, it only takes one. I can imagine there being
one, or even a few, people that feel that Wikipedia migrating to a new
license is in some way "evil" and would sue on principle. The vast
majority would be much more reasonable, sure, but a court case is a
court case, regardless of how many plaintiffs you've got.

> Since I've been involved in a wide range of actual copyright cases, I
> think I have a pretty clear idea of what makes such cases come about.
> It seems to me that it is relatively easy to avoid copyright
> litigation, even in France or Germany, even if we assume that French
> and German law would not recognize the validity of license migration.
> The notion that is being floated here, that license migration would
> make various language Wikipedias somehow "illegal" in France or
> Germany strikes this particular lawyer as rather science-fictional.

So we can be reasonably confident about winning any such cases. Are
you equally confident about being able to win full legal costs?

> > (The WMF actually has the same problem, but doesn't fall under French
> > jurisdiction, so it's not an issue.)
> The WMF certainly can be sued in France, and has been. (We won on
> procedural grounds, not jurisdictional ones. Had our only argument
> been that WMF "doesn't fall under French jurisdiction," we would
> likely have lost. This would have left the plaintiffs in the position
> of having to seek to enforce the judgment in an American court, but it
> is not obvious to me that such an effort would have failed.)

An American court would enforce a foreign law that doesn't exist in
the US? Maybe. I have very little experience of the American legal
system, however my experience of the US in general would suggest that
they wouldn't give a damn about foreign laws...

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