[Foundation-l] GFDL and relicensing

Mike Godwin mnemonic at gmail.com
Sun Nov 25 14:56:39 UTC 2007

Robert Hornung writes:

>  Not to be over critical here, but you weren't very clear in the  
> parts I
> was responding to that this was a discussion strictly about the GFDL.

Well, I wouldn't say that was an accurate statement either. What we  
have is three sets of stakeholders -- FSF, CC, and WMF -- trying to  
come up with harmonized license that would qualify as  (a) a revision  
of GFDL and also as (b) a revision of CC-BY-SA that would (c)  
facilitate the sharing of, inter alia, Wikipedia content.

>  At least you have a chance here, Mike, to respond to what I'm
> saying and trying to diffuse this, instead of trying to stop a  
> slashdot
> story that says "Mike Godwin, general counsel for the Wikimedia
> Foundation, suggests that Wikipedia may not be using the GFDL any
> more".  Gee, that would be a horrible headline, and one that I hope
> doesn't get written.

We've been saying from the beginning that we've been in discussions  
with FSF about a revised license.  The only relevant revisions FSF has  
authority to approve are revisions of GFDL.  Now, this topic is  
certainly complex, but I don't think this particular point is. I  
believe that most people who have been following the topic have  
understood this point, especially given my statements early on that  
FSF must approve any revised license that we've been talking about.

Slashdot doesn't concern me that much, since if they're linking to a  
journal article, it means we'll have been talking to a journalist who,  
presumably, will talk to sources at FSF as well.

> Mind you, I'm glad that you are involved with the Free Software
> Foundation in terms of trying to address problems that Wikipedia users
> (and other Wikimedia users) are having with the GFDL.

Thanks.  I think the problem here has not been how I've been  
representing the issue so much as how it has been reinterpreted by  
some I would like to call "the GFDL conservatives," who believe that  
any discussions that include working with Creative Commons are  
inherently suspect, since not all CC licenses are copyleft the way  
GFDL is.  But CC's goal was less to create a total copyleft regime in  
all instances than it was to give authors a new framework in which to  
decide more self-consciously which rights they want to free up and  
which rights they want to retain.  I think of CC as a descriptive  
language limited to rights in copyright.  What we're discussing is how  
to (a) evolve GFDL to better handle wiki content, and (b) how to  
express that evolved GFDL in CC terms.

>  Keep up the good work, and I hope that you can help make a
> positive difference here.

Thanks. Me too.


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