[Foundation-l] Third-party GFDL text irrevocably incompatible with Wikipedia as of August 1

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Thu May 28 18:21:06 UTC 2009

Samuel Klein wrote:
>> As much as anything else it is the short time frame that will look
>> pushy.  Wikipedia went through a lot of debate *before* the switch, and
> The timeframe is a problem, absolutely.

If we were so fortunate as to have that as the only problem, there would 
be nothing to prevent the WMF Board from simply extending the deadline.

>> the internal debates of others should not matter less.  As I understand
>> what is being said they will still be able to import from WMF projects;
> For a limited time - until some bit of cc-sa material is incorporated
> into a given article.  In a matter of months or years they will no
> longer be able to import text from the latest pages; they won't be
> able to choose then to relicense, because it will no longer be
> possible under GFDL 1.3.

Who is going to stop them?  Take this too far and it could drift into 
the realm of anti-trust legislation.
> This is all we need to convey.  If a given site doesn't care, great!
> but most people, even those familiar with this process and our
> discussions of it, do not understand the long-term implications of the
> august deadline.   [In part because the limited-time-dual-licensing
> language muddies the issue, perhaps.]

Long-term implications require long-term discussion.  The implications 
have less to do with such details as a specific deadline, and more with 
the terms themselves.

>> If WMF projects can't copy from them it will more likely enhance the uniqueness
>> of their project, a potentially positive result in a competitive market.
> I'm worried about small sites that want intercompatibility with WMF
> projects (which are the gorilla in the room), and larger ones whose
> communities expect this to be a standing option.  

Those projects still need to take a positive stand among their own 
members that they want such intercompatibility.  Absent that, we are 
only guessing about what they want.

> In terms of raw
> content, the fraction of new material that is imported from sites that
> aren't already considering switching is small.  But we have a certain
> obligation to act as stewards for the free sharing of knowledge, in a
> networked community that we have helped to build, including thousands
> of groups who we don't directly see on Wikipedia but who have made
> choices based on ours in the past.

That "certain obligation" sounds like a variation upon the Monroe 
Doctrine, or the self-assumed notion of some countries that they have an 
obligation to bring democracy to others.  Various protestant and 
orthodox sects differed from the Church of Rome in that they did not 
understand that the passing the keys from Jesus to Peter would 
eventually justify the appointment of Grand Inquisitors.

> Sites for which compatibility isn't relevant, but choosing the right
> free license for wide reuse is, should also understand why we have
> wanted this change for years, and why we have decided to make the
> transition.  We will help others by being proud of this and the
> thought (and thousands of legal person-hours) that went into it, not
> shy.

There is no such thing as a "right" free licence.  I'm satisfied by 
following a few fundamental principles, and beyond that, saying 
"Whatever!" to any licence that people may choose.  The challenge is to 
make them all fit together, not to make one of them dominant.


More information about the foundation-l mailing list