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

Birgitte SB birgitte_sb at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 23 19:23:04 UTC 2009

--- On Fri, 3/20/09, Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> From: Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org>
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Licensing transition: opposing points of view
> To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List" <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
> Date: Friday, March 20, 2009, 8:07 PM
> 2009/3/20 geni <geniice at gmail.com>:
> > Your suggestion that wikipedia:copyrights has any
> baring on what
> > people have agreed to have done with their work simply
> doesn't hold
> > water.
> Well, I'm glad that we've cleared up that CC-BY-SA and
> link-back
> credit aren't irreconcilable after all. Now we're
> apparently moving on
> to the new topic: Do site-wide terms of use matter when
> determining
> what a license means in practice? I'm not going to spend a
> lot of time
> on this argument: Of course a site-wide policy page linked
> to from
> every page has relevance when determining the terms of
> use/re-use. But
> even a literal and unreasonably narrow focus on the GFDL
> doesn't
> support rigorous author attribution:


Unfortunately I haven't been able to follow all this closely so forgive me if I am bringing up something already settled. 

My biggest problem:
I can understand why using the site TOS in this way is seen as a desirable way to go.  After all it would not require any of the technical work that producing a list of significant authors would.  But I think it does have big drawback.  It would hamper the importation of similarly licensed material written under dissimilar conditions of use into Wikimedia projects by non-authors.  Having this ability was one of the highlights that made the pain of the license transition process worthwhile for me.  And if we do succeed in seeing free content gain in mainstream usage, this will be and even bigger problem in the future and lead to confusion over the CC brand.  Labeling ourselves CC-by-SA but not being able accept much of the material that is published under CC-by-SA unless it is directly contributed by the original author(s) is a problem in my eyes.

Another annoyance:
There really isn't anything being said on how this will apply to projects like Commons and Wikisource that already have a large variety of works under different licenses.  How exactly will the TOS be changed on those projects?  We need to develop the tech side of having some sort of meta license/attribution information available for those projects anyway.  Already the poster and book printing extensions cannot be legally used every work within those projects without such development work. So choosing an uncommon attribution model for the license will not save us that development cost forever.

Possible compromise solution:
This requires an editable tab called Attribution.  We pick a date for license migration and on that date these tabs are generated containing only a permalink to the history of the article at that date.  From this time on when editing Wikipedia there is a new field below the edit summary asking editors to check a box if they have made a copyrightable edit and to enter the way they would like to be attributed into the field (or also the way the externally written CC-by-SA material requires attribution). Also there is the possibility of setting up an attribution name in preferences where you simply check a box that the edit is copyrightable and name is auto-filled. When saving this information is added to the Attribution tab automatically.  Admins can edit the Attribution tab manually to add people from the old history who request it, fix mistakes entered in the field, or remove someone spamming the field with obviously non-copyrighted changes, etc.  We
 recommend to reusers that they attribute the material with text that auto-generates from the info in the Attribution tab and includes a permalink to the current version of the article.  In the terms of use we specify that if you do not opt-in for a specific attribution by checking the box we are requiring you accept CC-by-SA with attribution by url as Erik describes.  We continue to hold the position that a link alone is and has always been reasonable attribution as Erik's arguments describe.  But from the license migration forward, we are offering greater flexibility in attribution options in order to be to be more compatible with free content developed externally.

Birgitte SB


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