[Foundation-l] Copyright deposits are mandatory (was Re: GFDL and relicensing)

Anthony wikimail at inbox.org
Mon Nov 26 02:45:09 UTC 2007

On Nov 25, 2007 8:50 PM, Andrew Whitworth <wknight8111 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > The sad thing is, it's actually illegal to publish Wikipedia in the
> > United States *without* depositing a copy with the Library of
> > Congress.
> What exactly constitutes "publishing"?

In the US, at least as used in Title 17, "publication" is defined at

"distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by
sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending"?
 For Wikipedia I'd say generally no, but I guess it could be argued
yes. (*)

"The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of
persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or
public display, constitutes publication."  Hmm, in the case of
Wikipedia, I think that's true. (*) Copies *are* distributed for the
purpose of further distribution.  But on the other hand: "A public
performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute
publication."  I've heard it argued before that distribution over the
Internet is more adequately defined as a public performance/display,
which is defined as:

"To transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the
work [...] to the public, by means of any device or process, whether
the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or
display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the
same time or at different times"

I think I'm going to adopt that POV.  Running a website is not
publication, it is public display. (*)

> I wouldn't say that we publish
> anything, and the WMF's traditional stance as an ISP and not a
> publishing house confirms that.

I've mostly heard that in the context of a misinterpretation of
section 230 of the CDA, which does not say that an interactive
computer service is not a publisher, it says that they shall not "be
treated as" a publisher ("of any information provided by another
information content provider").  But this law provides an exception
for "any law pertaining to intellectual property". (*)

Reading the case law regarding section 230 seems to follow this line
of reasoning. (*)

> Even in the cases where people print
> Wikipedia articles, or Wikibooks pages or whatever for personally use,
> is that considered "publishing"? I guess I could use a little lesson
> in the terminology.
For personal use, I doubt it. (*)  For sale, "rental, lease, or
lending", I guess so. (*)

(*) Use the preceding information at your own risk.  I have basically
no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to this stuff, I'm just
trying to take a guess and hopefully someone more knowledgeable will


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