[Foundation-l] Wikipedia Attribution and Relicensing

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Fri Jan 16 21:07:23 UTC 2009

2009/1/14 Sam Johnston <samj at samj.net>:
> It appears that it would be adequate (as a minimum acceptable standard) to
> specify the CC-BY-SA license and refer to the Wikipedia article - certainly
> the license section 4(c) allows for significant flexibility in this regard.
> The attribution itself would then be something like "Wikipedia 'Widgets'
> article" which is enough in itself for a user to be able to find the article
> and associated revision history (concise attributions are critical
> especially for print work, on t-shirts, etc.).

There are a couple of counterpoints to this:

* For pictures, sound files, etc., there is often just a single
author. If you are the photographer of a high resolution panorama that
you've contributed to Wikipedia, I think it's a reasonable expectation
to be named ("Photo by Sam Johnston"), as opposed to being referred to
as "Photo from Wikipedia". This is equally true, I think, for articles
where there is just a single author, or for pictures which have been
subsequently edited a few times.

* The attribution terms should avoid requiring specific reference to
Wikipedia, so that it's clear that there is not necessarily a tie
between the project in which collaboration currently happens, and any
future use of the content. If someone creates a better alternative to
Wikipedia where the content is used, why should it be continued to be
attributed to Wikipedia, rather than the authors?

I think requiring attribution-by-history should be the best practice
for heavily edited articles, at least until we more prominently point
out the author credit in the article footer.
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

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