[Foundation-l] Licensing transition: opposing points of view

Mike Godwin mnemonic at gmail.com
Fri Mar 20 21:41:02 UTC 2009

Milos writes:

> Again, personally, I don't have problems with it. However, I think
> that the present construction of the attribution issue is far from
> well defined and that it leaves WMF projects in extremely vulnerable
> position. Just a small group of malicious persons may make a real mess
> with attribution conditions. And probability for that is huge.

I disagree that there is a "huge" probability of legal exposure with regard
to this question.  I follow moral-rights jurisprudence reasonably closely,
and I have yet to see any reason to believe that the risk of legal action
against the Wikimedia Foundation (or anyone else) is going to be increased
by the new licensing scheme. (Indeed, if the probability were huge, we would
already have seen such cases, since the GFDL prescriptions are more exacting
than the CC-BY-SA prescriptions.)

If something is not legally valid, it may not pass as an argument at
> the court.

I'm known to be risk-averse with regard to legal exposure for the
Foundation, but I am not terribly troubled by the prospect you raise here.
Moral-rights doctrine is grounded in assumptions about authorship that don't
map well to massive collaborative enterprises like Wikipedia. Explaining to
a court how we do handle attribution in the context of such enterprises --
including the fact that we make an effort to do reasonable attribution --
should convince most reasonable courts that the purposes for which
moral-rights doctrine was invented are being served.  I lose sleep over
other kinds of legal issues relating to Wikimedia projects, but not this


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