[Foundation-l] Attribution

Klaus Graf klausgraf at googlemail.com
Fri Jan 9 03:07:42 UTC 2009

I have read some nonsense written by Moeller and others in this thread.

Erik Moeller
"Full duplication of history sections is only
one aspect of that overall complexity.

That said, it's always been an accepted practice for web use to
attribute by linking to the history. Because CC-BY-SA allows
attribution requirements to be detailed in terms of use, it will make
it straightforward for us to codify attribution requirements in a
manner that is accepted and largely mirrors current practice. In fact,
the language that could be used for this purpose could be very similar
to the one proposed by Gregory Maxwell here:


My question for anyone opposed to this approach is this: Do you
acknowledge that there is a problem with GFDL-licensing in terms of
compatibility and ease of re-use, and if so, how do you propose to
solve it?"

Michael Peel:
"Note that for the GFDL the requirement is that five (or all if less
than 5) of the principle authors of the document (which I would
interpret as an article) should be attributed."

"We'll try to formulate that attribution guideline as part of
the full proposal (and it'll be discussed further from there before we
go into voting). As I mentioned earlier up-thread, it'll likely look
similar to what is suggested here:


Codifying a similar clause in the Wikimedia-wide terms of use is fully
consistent with attribution requirements of the GFDL. There seems to
be some confusion related to the "History" section of GFDL documents,
the purpose of which is clearly change-tracking, not attribution, as
its preservation is only explicitly required for modified versions. A
reasonable attribution expectation of someone who licensed edits under
GFDL would be to be attributed where possible (i.e. where there are
five authors or fewer), and to be otherwise referred to the full list
of authors."

I can only repeat my contribution (which has been fully ignored in this list)


"As I have shown at


it is a myth that only the 5 main authors have to be mentioned
according the GFDL. This refers only to the title page and I cannot
see such a thing like a title page in the Wikipedia.

You have to read the license carefully. The principle of attribution
is codified in the preamble. "Secondarily, this License preserves for
the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not
being considered responsible for modifications made by others." If
there would be only an obligation to mention the 5 main authors this
wouldn't make sense.

The ADDENDUM gives the model for attribution for GFDL contributions:

"To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of
the License in the document and put the following copyright and
license notices just after the title page:
Copyright (c) YEAR YOUR NAME.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
A copy of the license is included in the section entitled
"GNU Free Documentation License"."

If you are verbatim copying you have to copy 1:1, id est to keep all
sections including the section history with the collection of
copyright notices according the ADDENDUM. In the notices are fields
with the names of the authors.

For modifications there are the following relevant rules:

"D. Preserve all the copyright notices of the Document."

"I. Preserve the section Entitled "History", Preserve its Title, and
add to it an item stating at least the title, year, new authors, and
publisher of the Modified Version as given on the Title Page. If there
is no section Entitled "History" in the Document, create one stating
the title, year, authors, and publisher of the Document as given on
its Title Page, then add an item describing the Modified Version as
stated in the previous sentence."

The WMF opinion that the version history isn't the section history is
clearly wrong. After each modification something has to be added to
the section history OR the section history has to be created. Thus one
can only conclude that the section history is the version history.

A line in the version history is both copyright notice and part of the
section history."

It is also false to say that the linking to the history is generally accepted.

"There is no consensus in the German Wikipedia that the "Gentlemen
agreement" is a valid interpretation of the GNU FDL. Wikimedia
Deutschland has no right to give an assurance that GNU FDL allows to
omit the version history which is IMHO the section "History" of the
GNU FDL. The section history is part of the document and has to be
reproduced when "Verbatim Copyying". This is the way author's rights
on attribution is respected by the GNU FDL."

For a proof of this have a look at
(and its history)

"Im Falle einer Online-Weiterverbreitung von Inhalten der Wikipedia
berufen sich einige Nutzer [some user] auf ein informelles
„Gentlemen's Agreement", das jedoch nicht dem Wortlaut der GFDL
entspricht und zu dessen Nutzung daher nicht geraten werden kann.
[cannot be recommended]"

This is consensus since May 2008.

The main problems with linking to the history as attribution:

* If articles were moved - the links doesn't work and the license expires

* If articles were deleted - dito

* If the Wikimedia project is offline - dito.

Practical problems cannot overrule the legal code of the GNU FDL/CC.
This code isn't only valid in the US but can also be the basis of a
litigation at a German court (e.g. if a re-user like SPIEGEL Wissen is
concerned). Thus not only US law is relevant.

"By clicking SUBMIT you accept the CC attribution scheme for this AND
all your older contributions"

This could not solve the problems with old content of not-active
users. This would also cause problems with IP contributions.

It's not my duty to solve the problems of the WMF. If it was possible
that Bertelsmann has printed thousands of nicks in the "Einbänder" -
why should it be impossible to make similar obligations for re-users?

Klaus Graf

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