[Foundation-l] Swedish Wikipedians removes Wikimedia logos

John Vandenberg jayvdb at gmail.com
Wed Mar 31 03:48:09 UTC 2010

On Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 1:16 PM, Mike Godwin <mgodwin at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> 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.

The general issue is non-free logos associated with links to other
websites where it is clear that the logo is descriptive and useful,
yada, yada.

We *could* include many copyrighted logos in this way, if we were
happy that the other party would not sue.  For example, imagine
Springer had a trademark policy like the WMF policy, granting liberal
use of their logo in the same way.

We could use this icon:


beside these links:


This is a silly example for most of those links, as we would use doi's
instead.  In which case we could use the DOI logo if they had an
acceptable trademark policy.


Repeat this for every logo which could be appropriately used, and we
have a lot of non-free licensed logos in use, with individually
crafted licenses that need to be reviewed for compliance on a regular

>> 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 am not using imprecise notions of free.  I linked to
freedomdefined.org and indirectly referenced the debian-legal

>> > 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.

non-practitioners often need to tackle each potential problem one by
one.  Slowly, the problems are resolved.

>> 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?

The wikisource logo beside the wikisource link isn't increasing the
world's source of free knowledge.  It may help increase the use of
Sv.Wp being distributed as a Debian package is more likely to increase
the world's consumption of that free knowledge.

>> 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).

So you agree that a debian edition of en:template:wikisource would
probably need to be different from the one used currently on English

My guess is that it would be an exercise in madness trying to create a
"free" edition of English Wikipedia.(using freedomdefined.org or
debian definitions of "free")  Trying to keep it up to date would be

The "so what" is that Sv.Wp has made their "trunk" version of
template:wikisource compatible with "free content" and able to be used
in a debian edition without modification.

>> 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 it is more complex.  The result of this taken to the extreme
is English Wikipedia, which is full of special cases which do threaten
to make Wikipedia unusable for commercially purposes.

>> 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.

freedomdefined, CC, debian, etc are hardly the
lowest-common-denominator, most simplistic, etc.  The benefits are
uniformity and "compliance".  WMF has decided to not use an existing
"free" license.  Neither did Debian for their 'official' logo ;-)


John Vandenberg

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