[Foundation-l] Bertelsmann publishes "Wikipedia Encyclopedia in One Volume"

Oldak Quill oldakquill at gmail.com
Wed Apr 23 10:28:12 UTC 2008

2008/4/23 Mary Murrell <mary_murrell at yahoo.com>:
>  Brianna Laugher <brianna.laugher at gmail.com> wrote:
>  >  2. How will this "make wikipedia material accessible to a wider range of readers" than wikipedia on-line? Can you be more specific about that?
>  Our mission is to "disseminate [our content] effectively and
>  globally". I'm not speaking on behalf of WMDE, but it's clear to me
>  that there are many people (and institutions) around the world who are
>  not comfortable with purely internet-based things. Books, they can
>  grok.
>  1. Free as in $19.95-a-pop beer, yeah.

You are free to take a selection of Wikipedia articles (or the whole
thing), copyedit it, format it, lay it out for print, print it, bind
it, source it to book stores, &c. This is a necessary (and intended)
consequence of the GFDL. If you did all of these things, producing a
1000 page book containing 50, 000 articles formatted and printed to a
high standard, how much would you charge?

I don't think anyone is under the impression that this is in any way a
replacement of the online, live (i.e. "real") Wikipedia. This is
merely reuse of Wikipedia content by an unrelated and independent
organisation. I would hope that the print encyclopedia clearly states
on its jacket what Wikipedia is and where the content came from.

>  2. And free as in anyone can use and re-use it? I hope so. However, can, say, Indian printers make even cheaper editions and sell them wherever they want in all parts of the world, even Europe?
>  It's not a silly question.  Books, publishers, and the structure of that business come with a lot of old traditions that aren't so easy to get around.

Absolutely anyone is free to take Wikimedia content and use it for
whatever purpose they want - including commercial use. The only
restrictions on this is that any derivative work has to be similarly
copy-left licensed (GFDL), and a few more things.

Because a big print house has decided to print Wikimedia content,
doesn't mean the license has changed. The license is inviolable - once
something is committed to the GFDL, it cannot be uncommitted. All
derivative work based on GFDL licensed content must be GFDL. It
actually says a lot about the way in which traditional print is
adapting to copy-left licenses. Many traditional print houses which
previously relied on restrictive copyright are now being forced to
cope with copy-left licensing as a consequence of the juicy fruits
borne by copy-left projects.

>  3. This is German encyclopedia--an important but hardly global language. It is a commercial endeavor by a publishing behemoth for a prosperous European audience.  Ideals of global distribution to those underserved by the Internet hardly seem to apply here.

German is the most widely spoken first language in the European Union,
and is second after English in terms of the number who can speak it.
It ranks as the 10th most widely-spoken langauge in the world and has
a place in most supranational and intergovernmental organisations. I'm
not sure why I'm defending a language, no matter how large or small...

Many people do not have access to the internet and many people prefer
print publishing. To name a few, this opens up Wikipedia content to
schools, older people (who may not have internet access, or who may
prefer print - no generalisations intended :)), libraries and anywhere
not immediately connected to the internet.

>  Perhaps the real value to wikipedians is the increased "branding" of wikipedia? I don't know, but I think this print projects feels like a diminution of wikipedia. ButI respect people's labor, always, and I don't want to denigrate that. I just wonder why this is any sort of priority to wikipedians.

I, personally, think the Wikipedia branding being associated with this
book is the most controversial part of the whole plan. Although the
articles may be sourced from Wikipedia, they are partial
representations of the original articles with strong copyediting. As
far as I know, Wikipedia has had no part in the process of selection,
copyediting, presentation, or preparation. My concern is that the
Wikipedia brand is associated with something that is not a Wikipedia
venture and we may bear responsibility for things we have not done to
the content. As another poster seemed to indicate, Frankfurter
Allgemeine made comments about Wikipedia betraying its ideals
associated with this project despite our lack of involvement.

Finally, you indicate that Wikipedians have laboured for the print
house - I don't think this is a case. I believe the print house has
simply taken Wikipedia content and done everything with it (hence, in
part, the price tag).

This is great for Wikipedia and can only help the project. It is
important to understand that due to the GFDL, there is (thankfully) no
need to consult Wikipedia to use its content or request permission;
and using/modifying Wikipedia content is free. That is kind of the
whole point of the entire copy-left venture. As I said, the only
potential down-side is the association of the Wikipedia brand with
something we played little part in.

Oldak Quill (oldakquill at gmail.com)

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