[Foundation-l] Swedish Wikipedians removes Wikimedia logos

Mike Godwin mgodwin at wikimedia.org
Wed Mar 31 02:16:38 UTC 2010

On Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 6:58 PM, John Vandenberg <jayvdb at gmail.com> wrote:

> The purpose of defining "free" is to ensure that there will be no
> problem *for unknown reuse scenarios in the future*, _and_ to prevent
> a proliferation of individually crafted licenses for each case.

Thank you for recognizing that there are no *known* scenarios in which the
current use of Wikimedia-owned images would be a problem. I can't imagine
any either.

I also can't see any scenarios that lead to "a proliferation of individually
crafted licenses for each case." This seems to be a phantom hazard.

I haven't looked at the license in detail, but I take it for granted
> that you have crafted it clearly define the reuse possibilities.
> However the WMF logos are available under a license that only covers
> the WMF logos, and isn't compatible with the prevailing definitions of
> "free".

I'm pleased that you recognize that the problem is one with how you use
words like "compatible" and "free."  The problem is that you are applying
imprecise notions of "compatible" and "free" that, in your mind, hint at
something awful (dogs and cats living together?) without actually posing the
risk of something awful.

> I keep pointing out, of course, that there's lots of material in Swedish
> > Wikipedia that's not freely licensed -- for example, the names of Living
> > Persons or the true names of contributors who choose to share them.
> Those are not copyright - there are different laws which protect them
> in various ways.

Of course it's not copyright. But the word "free" is not defined solely by
copyright law, is it?

> The WMF logos (marks) are protected by copyright.

They're protected by other areas of law too.

I realize that a non-practitioner may suppose that different areas of
intellectual-property law can and must be considered in analytical isolation
from one another, but in the real world, as you may imagine, different areas
of law intersect and interact all the time.

> The Sv.Wp decision is removing the inconsistency in its copyright
> stance by removing the loop hole for WMF logos.  Overly simplistic?
> Maybe.  However lots of foreign language projects have adopted very
> strict positions on copyright issues.

Well, by all means, then, if some foreign language projects have adopted
overly simplistic positions, we will increase the world's source of free
knowledge by following their example, right?

> Christophe Henner suggested earlier in this thread that Swedish
> Wikipedia is just ahead of the curve.  I agree.  Sooner or later a
> Wikipedia is going to try to be turned into a Debian package!  I'd bet
> on Debian legal requiring that the WMF logos are stripped, even if
> they are used in compliance with the WMF policy.

So what? We don't require that the WMF logos be used in some future Debian
package, nor is it likely we will, absent a formal partnership of some sort
(which seems unlikely).

> Re-iterating the relationship between project and the host (WMF)
> doesn't help, as strong stances on rejecting non-free elements
> (copyright & trademark) are usually made to protect the right to fork,
> etc.

I wasn't reiterating a relationship. I was reiterating the fact that the
uses in question are clearly and completely and nonrestrictively allowed by
the copyright holder.

> I would prefer that Sv.Wp make an exception for WMF logos being used
> in conjunction with interwiki links, such as on
> sv:template:wikisource.  To me, those uses are part of the UI of the
> project, and fall under fair use of the trademark.

That seems like an eminently rational approach -- far more "understandable"
as I use that word.

> However, I've seen this non-free logo debate too many times to be
> surprised that there are lots of people willing to make a tough stance
> on it.

I have seen it for a quarter century.  I don't think we serve freedom by
reducing our understanding of free culture to the lowest-common-denominator,
most simplistic, most un-nuanced, most legally unsophisticated notions of
freedom.  That is fanaticism for its own sake, and not at all a service to
free culture.


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