[Foundation-l] Reuse policy

Jiri Hofman hofmanj at aldebaran.cz
Mon Jun 15 17:53:38 UTC 2009

Hello everybody,
I hope, it is never too late to discuss these things. Today, I have noticed 
the Commons added following text under the edit window:

"Re-users will be required to credit you, at minimum, through a hyperlink or 
URL to the article you are contributing to, and you hereby agree that such 
credit is sufficient in any medium."

I was and I am a fan of switching to CC-BY-SA 3.0. However, I am not a fan of 
this violation of freedom which Wikimedia declares for its projects.

It is true, a similar statement is present at 
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Licensing_update . But this change was not 
discussed at 
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Licensing_update/Questions_and_Answers as I 
can see (it was shortly discussed at 
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Licensing_update/Questions_and_Answers/Oppositional_arguments ). 
Also it was announced nowhere (as far as I know) that this policy will be 
advertized in this explicite manner. I feel to be cheated. I was voting for 
an easier implementation of freedom. I was definitively not voting for the 
end of freedom. And this statement means the end of freedom.

Why end of freedom? Just imagine, the Wikimedia will have closed the business. 
Everybody, who used links to provide a sufficient list of authors, will be in 
troubles immediately. Yes, everybody can download dumps. But will this be 
enough? No. For example it will not be possible to easily update just 
published paper books (for example textbooks for children at schools). The 
publisher will not be able to use the freedom, he could think he enjoyed. 
Yes, the publisher can always exactly follow the license. But then Wikimedia 
should not even suggest that something less than exact following of license 
could be enough.

Similar, may be more understandable problem: just imagine, the article which 
was reused, is deleted in the Wikimedia project. The list of authors will be 
lost in a very similar way like in a case of Wikimedia shutting down 

Just another problem: imagine, the Wikimedia foundation will get into 
financial troubles. This can happen very easily (I hope it will not happen 
soon). All the reusers who have thought linking to Wikimedia site was 
sufficient, will be pushed under a serious threat. They can be 
blackmailed: "give to Wikimedia foundation money or you can close your 
business based on CC-BY-SA licensed content."

And one problem more: what about works of third parties? If somebody issues 
his work under CC-BY-SA 3.0, how could anybody insert it into Wikimedia 
projects when Wikimedia allows to re-use it and not to follow the original 
attribution manner specified by the author? Either nobody could insert the 
works of the third parties into Wikimedia projects or Wikimedia would 
explicitely allow to violate the third party's rights given by license the 
third party have chosen.

What is a freedom if it cannot be guaranteed for ever in all conditions? It is 
not a freedom anymore. I am an author of quite many texts in Wikimedia 
projects. I can hardly accept my work could be misused in such a way. I do 
not allow to attribute my old works in this way. And I will be not willing to 
continue working at, for example, Wikipedia if this becomes a common policy 

I understand this does not have to be a big problem at Commons - the image 
descriptions are usually not the most important part of the articles. The 
media (image, video, sound) is. And if I understand it well, the authors of 
the media must be still attributed directly. However, I see it as a major 
problem in case of Wikipedia and similar projects. 

I understand re-using the texts inside Wikimedia project is complicated if the 
attribution means a list of writers. But we should deal with this. It's a 
challenge. We can show the world the collaborative authors can get 
appropriate credits.

Please, do not apply this policy there. It will be a serious hit into a face 
of freedom. It can mean the authors will not be willing to contribute so much 
anymore. It can mean the Wikimedia foundation will be discredited. It can 
mean the people will not be willing to make donations to the Foundation. It 
can lead to the end of Wikimedia projects.

Best regards,
Jiri Hofman

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