[Foundation-l] Attribution

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Fri Jan 9 03:53:08 UTC 2009

2009/1/8 Klaus Graf <klausgraf at googlemail.com>:
> 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 key point is that the GFDL does not require to give attribution
_by_ reproducing the history section. You have not made any case that
the history section in GFDL documents was created for purposes of
attribution. It wasn't; its purpose is the documentation of changes.
The CC-BY-SA has similar attribution _and_ documentation of changes
requirements. However, its documentation of changes requirements are
not onerous and can be flexibly interpreted (see 3.b in
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode ).

We can build the terms of attribution around existing, established
practice that meets reasonable expectations of volunteers. Referring
to a copy of the history where reproducing such a list would be
unreasonable and onerous is one such practice. I don't see any
evidence that it has been historically a reasonable expectation of
volunteers to always have a full list of names and changes included
with any copy; in fact, it appears like most of the arguments to this
effect were made purely for reasons of legal literalism, rather than
to satisfy any actual perceived need. With a migration to CC-BY-SA,
that argument loses its legal footing.

> The ADDENDUM gives the model for attribution for GFDL contributions:

And, again, you are supporting the above point: if the copyright
notice exists for purposes of attribution, then the history section
does not. Whether or not the GFDL requires reproduction of the history
section is irrelevant for purposes of considering the attribution
requirements as they will exist under CC-BY-SA. What's relevant is
that there is continuity in meeting reasonable expectations that
people may have had when making their content available under GFDL.

> The main problems with linking to the history as attribution:
> * If articles were moved - the links doesn't work and the license expires

That should be technically addressable by making history links follow redirects.

> * If articles were deleted - dito

And the infringement can be pointed out accordingly.

> * If the Wikimedia project is offline - dito.

For short term intervals, that's a minor issue. For long term periods
(e.g. WMF goes bankrupt), again, it's an infringement which can be
pointed out and corrected.
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

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