[Foundation-l] Copies of Wikipedia's articles found on Knol

Mike Godwin mgodwin at wikimedia.org
Thu Jul 31 13:39:39 UTC 2008

Newyorkbrad writes:

> I'm also curious how the problem can run in both directions.  I can
> understand that one license would be more restrictive than the  
> other, such
> that material from project A couldn't be freely used in project B.   
> But the
> nuances of the license requirements must be subtle indeed if the
> incompatability runs both ways.  Not being a license terms  
> aficionado, I'd
> appreciate a layman's explanation of the issues.

Keep in mind that this is unexplored territory even for me, but I can  
give you my impressions of the problems I see with the three licensing  
options Knol offers.

1) With regard to CC-BY:

It's not a question of one license's being more restrictive than the  
other, exactly. It's that the Share Alike (SA) requirement, which  
makes the content truly copyleft, can't be added or subtracted in any  
straightforward way that I can see. (Note that for purposes of  
simplicity I am lumping together GFDL -- Wikipedia's current licensing  
standard -- and CC-BY-SA.  Their requirements are substantively mostly  
the same although formally different.)

How could you add SA, for example, without being the original  
licensor, for importing to Wikipedia? How could you subtract it  
without being the original licensor(s), for importing to Knol?

2) With regard to CC-NC:

That content flatly can't be added to Wikipedia, which expressly  
allows commercial reuse and derivative use.  And, with regard to  
importing to Knol,  how could you add the NC requirement without being  
the original licensor? Indeed, how could you add it at all if you've  
already granted, in effect, a commercial license by contributing the  
content to Wikipedia?

3) With regard to "All Rights Reserved," I think the problem of  
importing and exporting to and from Knol from Wikipedia is obvious.

> Can/should the issues be addressed by discussion with Knol before the
> problem grows more serious over time?

Well, the question here is whether Knol's backers are intending the  
results of their licensing options. I see no reason to think they  
don't intend those results.

Perhaps I'm wrong about this. If so, I think it might be worthwhile  
for someone to raise publicly the question of whether Knol's licensing  
options are intentionally incompatible with Wikipedia's.  I don't  
think it's optimal for the Foundation itself to do this -- it would  
sound like we're trying to impose our own paradigm on Google, which is  
not our aim.


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