[Foundation-l] Problems with the new license TOS

Bence Damokos bdamokos at gmail.com
Wed Apr 15 06:44:48 UTC 2009

Hi all,
Could we please summarize the outcome of the long discussions on this
subject instead of discussing different external search services to the
mailing list? (No doubt one can learn a lot about the different external
possibilities not offered via the list.wikimedia.org site, yet I would like
to learn at least as much about the answers to the actual issues posed in
the original post [even at the price of repeating previously stated

These questions have apparently been discussed before and I am confident
that they will come up again: it might be a good idea to collect the answers
that came out of long, fast-paced and hard to follow mailing list threads.
The FAQ and the oppositional arguments pages (cited in this thread) in my
opinion don't serve the purpose and audience of the questions of this thread
(the FAQ in my opinion is aimed at a less initiated audience, while the
oppositional arguments deal with outright refusing this change; these
questions on the other hand might stir the fantasy of those that are
"advanced" licencwise and want to make this migration work and thus have
questions that will inevitably come up in practice once the licence update
has been followed through).

Thank you,
Bence Damokos

2009/4/14 Tisza Gergő <gtisza at gmail.com>

> I found a few apparent legal problems while translating the license
> update documents. Apologies if these have already been discussed to
> death - I didn't follow earlier debates, and the archives are mostly
> useless as a knowledge base.
> == revision not specified ==
> The TOS says that reusers have to attribute the authors by linking to
> the article. The problem is that such a link will actually point to a
> different article after each edit (that is, the text and author list
> will have been changed). If you find a text copied from Wikipedia on
> the net, and there is no date information, it is very hard to find out
> which version of the article it is (and thus who the authors are); if
> the text is a derivative work from a Wikipedia article, then it's
> practically impossible.
> Even if one argues that attributing bogus authors is not a problem as
> long as the real ones all appear on the list, the author list can
> change arbitrarily when the article is renamed or deleted and
> rewritten. (Neither of which is apparent even if one looks at the page
> history.)
> A few possible solutions to that:
> - require reusers to permalink to the revision they used; change the
> totally unhelpful error message that is shown when one follows a link
> to a deleted version. (Probably not a very good idea as it messes up
> caching. Also, bad usability: most of the people who click such a link
> don't care about authors and original version one bit, and just want
> to see/edit the current version of the article.)
> - develop some syntax that shows the current version of the article,
> but with a little message on top saying "you have followed a link from
> a page reusing an older version of this article. You can see the most
> recent version of the article; if you want to see the original click
> here." (Maybe through some fragment id trick and javascript so it can
> go through the cache?) We would still have to address links to deleted
> versions.
> - require reusers to give date/revision of the page along with the
> url. Make some sort of search interface to find the text and/or author
> set of an article based on that information.
> == CC version incompatibilities ==
> Copyright policy now says "You may import any text from other sources
> that is available under the CC-BY-SA license", which is incorrect for
> to reasons. First, CC-BY-SA-1.0 (used, for example, by Wikitravel) is
> not compatible with anything but itself (as they forgot to include the
> ("or any later version" part). Second, different versions and
> jurisdictions of CC are not quite compatible: for example if a wiki
> has an article under CC-BY-SA-3.0-US, then uploading that to Wikipedia
> (which will use CC-BY-SA-3.0 unported) is actually a breach of the
> license. You could change the version or jurisdiction when you create
> an adaptation (that is, you make changes significant enough to be
> considered on of the authors), but not when you just redistribute the
> work. (I doubt anything could be done about this beyond prodding CC to
> release a saner version of their license soon.)
> == edit summary cannot contain links ==
> The currently proposed editing policy says:
> "If you import text under the CC-BY-SA license, you must abide by the
> terms of the license; specifically, you must, in a reasonable fashion,
> credit the author(s). Where such credit is commonly given through page
> histories (such as wiki-to-wiki copying), it is sufficient to give
> attribution in the edit summary, which is recorded in the page
> history, when importing the content."
> (which BTW should be rephrased more clearly - does it mean you can use
> the edit summary if you import text from another wiki, but not when
> you do it from any other web page?)
> The problem is that the edit summary does not allow external links:
> they will show as plain text, and it would be hard to argue that that
> is reasonable to the medium. (This one is easy to fix: allow them, and
> rely on rev_delete and capctha to stop edit summary spam instead.)
> Furthermore, a long link does not necessarily fit into the summary
> (which is 255 bytes long, and there are a number of web pages that use
> ugly links with loads GET parameters that are longer than that), so
> some sort of separate attribution log might be more reasonable.
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