[Foundation-l] GFDL Q&A update and question

Robert Rohde rarohde at gmail.com
Sat Jan 10 01:14:07 UTC 2009

On Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 4:41 PM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com> wrote:
> 2009/1/10 Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org>:
>> 2009/1/8 Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com>:
>>> We discussing a move to CC-****BY****-SA, attribution is still
>>> required. I'm not an expert on the attribution requirements of
>>> CC-BY-SA (I've just read them, but it isn't entirely clear to me
>>> whether Original Author is, in the context of a wiki, just the latest
>>> editor or all editors),
>> My reading of the Attribution requirements per CC-BY-SA (4.c) in the
>> context of a wiki is as follows:
>> * every substantial edit is a copyrighted creative work;
>> * every such edit must be, per the terms of the license and the terms
>> of use of the wiki, made available under CC-BY-SA;
>> * per the terms of that license, if the edit is originally created for
>> the wiki, the person submitting it is its "Original Author" (while the
>> combined work is an Adaptation per CC-BY-SA).
>> A wiki page would therefore have multiple "Original Authors" per
>> CC-BY-SA.
> I disagree, I don't think each edit is a work but rather each revision
> is a work, derived from the revision before. The question is then who
> is the Original Author of the latest revision, is it just the person
> that made the last edit or is it everyone before (ie. are authors of a
> work automatically authors of a work derived from it)?

I don't know the answer with respect to CC-BY-SA, but I once tried to
resolve a similar question with regards to US copyright registration.
The answer from the Copyright Office, as I understood it, may be
analogous.  Their answer seems to be that "a work" is defined by an
act of publication (i.e. making available to the public), and the
"authors" of the "work" from the point of view of registration are the
people who contributed to it since the last act of publication.  Prior
works still need to be identified during registration, but the prior
authors are not given the same standing as current authors during the
registration process.

So if one were to apply those rules, each whole revision that appears
online would be considered a "work" and the primary "author" is only
the most recent one.

I'm not saying that this interpretation is necessarily the best one
(laws haven't exactly kept up with the tools for digital
collaboration), but it is one perspective.  CC-BY-SA could be written
or interpreted to define the terms differently.  I haven't tried to
study the license in sufficient detail to be sure.

-Robert Rohde

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