[Foundation-l] Status report on logo copyright issues at Swedish Wikipedia

David Castor e-post at pastorcastor.se
Wed Mar 31 16:40:25 UTC 2010

My name is David Castor and I am known on Swedish Wikipedia (and less known
but somewhat active on Commons and a few foreign language Wikipedias) by the
user name dcastor. I am one of the users who have been pushing for a change
in the way we handle the copyrighted WMF logos. I would like to clarify and
announce a few things on the way the dilemma is presently being handled.


First off, we have not yet made any final decisions; the topic is still open
for discussion at the Swedish village pump. No changes have yet been widely


As a background it is important to know that there is an almost unchallenged
consensus on Swedish Wikipedia not to allow fair use imagery, in part
because the "fair use" concept is not applicable in Swedish law, Sweden
being of course home soil for a majority of the users. It's been years since
we blocked local media upload, now depending solely on Commons. This means,
as far as I am aware, that the WMF logos are the only pictures used on
Swedish Wikipedia that are not being spread under a "free" license, free in
this case concerning copyright of course, and not trademark or personality
rights (making comparisons to proper names irrelevant to the discussion).
The use of these logos are thus the only thing standing in the way of
stating that all material from Swedish Wikipedia can be freely reused,
without any further permission. (The license template on the WMF logos
reserve all rights and call for specific permission for use.) 


The argument is not, and has never been, whether or not we are allowed to
use the logos. Some users on Swedish Wikipedia as well as in this thread
have given replies suggesting that they think that is what the issue is
about. It is not. The issue is whether it is compliable with the principles
of Wikipedia to include copyrighted material, which may not be re-used by
others. I suppose that this dilemma is less problematic in jurisdictions
that implement a "fair use" system, but where such are not present a
copyrighted picture may not be freely redistributed.


The current discussion on Swedish Wikipedia is divided into three main

1.       Should we keep even the Wikipedia logo in the top left corner?

2.       Should we keep the WMF logos of navigation templates placed in

3.       Should we illustrate articles on the Wikimedia projects with the


The discussions have, as far as I can tell, led to a near consensus "yes"
for question 1, with the rationale that the picture is part of the GUI
rather than of the article, and a near consensus "no" for number "3". Most
of a lengthy debate has been over discussion number 2.


The opinions on how to relate to number two diverge greatly. Some of us,
including myself, would prefer to have all WMF logos removed from article
space, including template use, making it free to redistribute printouts and
PDF:s from Wikipedia articles. Some argue that since WMF will not pursuit
any copyright breaches, we don't need to bother. This viewpoint is supported
by those who think that the usability of the logos is too important to let
the copyright issues take effect. A few have, in support of status quo,
stated that there may be more to it, legally, than we know, but such claims
have yet to be supported. 


For some users a main perspective is that of NPOV. They argue that since no
other external links are supported by pictures, neither should the links to
sister projects be. Also, since no other copyrighted logo are allowed,
neither should WMF:s logos be. To some of these users, the use of the logos
in well framed templates is agreeable, since this implies that the links are
part of the GUI rather than of the article itself.


Right now it seems like one of two suggestions will be the result of the
discussions. Either (1.) to allow the WMF logos in a few specific navigation
templates. These may be javascript-controlled to exclude the logos from
printouts and PDF:s. This has been tested and seems to work. The second (2.)
solution discussed is to implement a separate section for sister project
links, including logos, in the GUI menu section on the left.


I hope that I, despite having made rather clear stands on the issue, have
managed to convey a fair description of the discussion.


/David Castor



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