[Foundation-l] RfC: License update proposal

Andrew Whitworth wknight8111 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 22 15:37:00 UTC 2009

On Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at 9:58 AM, Anthony <wikimail at inbox.org> wrote:
> As Thomas said, it requires Internet access, which might not be available.
> I think it's a bit more than that, though.  The credit should be part of the
> work itself, not external to the work.  When you're talking about a website,
> it's hard to define where the work begins and where it ends, clearly a work
> can span multiple URLs, and it's essentially meaningless whether or not
> those URLs have different domain names (at least assuming they are both kept
> nearly 100% reliable).  None of these three things are true with books,
> T-shirts, or movies (for a movie a URL would be especially obnoxious).

As a contributor to these 'ere projects myself, I personally would
prefer the less reliable but more informative URL for attribution
myself. That's a personal preference only, and I don't see any need to
push that on others.

> Frankly, I don't understand the point of printing a Wikipedia article on a
> T-shirt in the first place.  This is a stupid example I include only for the
> sake of completeness, because others keep bringing it up.
>> Sure they satisfy the letter of the law but certainly violate it's
>> spirit. A small comma-separated list tacked on to the end of a printed
>> version, or scribbled on the bottom of a coffee cup may satisfy the
>> letter of the attribution clause, but certainly does not satisfy it's
>> spirit.
> How many authors is a coffee cup going to have?  Again, I don't understand
> why coffee cups are even a consideration.

Think about any merchandising opportunity where text from an article
is used: T-Shirts, mouse pads, coffee cups, posters, etc. We can't
have a policy vis-a-vis attribution that only covers cases where its
convenient to follow. If we're going to demand that attribution be
treated like an anchor around the necks of our reusers, we need to
make that demand uniform. Either that, or we need to recognize that
the benefit to easy reuse of our content far outweighs the need to
repeat gigantic author lists.

Our authors contributed to our projects with the expectation that
their content would be freely reusable. Requiring even 2 pages of
attributions be included after every article inclusion is a non-free
tax on content reuse, and a violation of our author's expectations.
Demanding that authors be rigorously attributed despite having no
expectations for it, while at the same time violating their
expectations of free reuse doesn't quite seem to me to be a good
course of action.

> I think reusers should determine what the best way is to give credit.
> However, if they can't meet a minimal standard, then they ought to not use
> the work at all.

Letting reusers "determine what is the best way" is surely a pitfall.
You're assuming that miraculously corporate interests are going to be
preoccupied with providing proper attribution. If the requirements are
too steep, people will either misapply them, abuse them, or ignore
them completely. People who want to reuse our content will find
themselves unable, and authors who could have gotten some attribution
(even if not ideal) will end up with none. Requiring more attribution
for our authors will have the effect of having less provided. Do you
think this is really going to provide a benefit to our contributors?

--Andrew Whitworth

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