[Foundation-l] Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people

Nathan nawrich at gmail.com
Wed Jun 1 23:38:20 UTC 2011

On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 6:53 PM, Risker <risker.wp at gmail.com> wrote:
> I think the more important part of this announcement is the resolution on
> images of identifiable people, and it is this section that requires
> considerably more self-examination on the part of every project that hosts
> or uses images.
> Commons has a guideline on the subject, found here:
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Photographs_of_identifiable_people
> This is a starting point for the discussion.  In particular, I think that
> the Board in its resolution is looking specifically at the uploading of
> images by third party editors/users who are not the subject of the image,
> nor its creator, nor the person who has claimed the right to it. (The most
> obvious example is images from Flickr, but there are many other "resource"
> sites.) This, of course, does not exempt users who upload images that they
> create or own. The resolution and (where applicable) guidelines do place an
> important onus on both the uploader and the project to ensure that
> personality rights have been appropriately confirmed. The resolution places
> this obligation on a near-equal footing to ensuring that copyright status is
> appropriate to the project.
> It may also be worth noting that the term "identifiable" is used. Unusual
> physical structures, jewelry, tattoos or other features may render the
> subject of an image identifiable even if the facial features are not
> included in the image.
> It should probably be emphasized that this would apply equally to projects
> that host "fair use" or other images, and is not simply an expectation on
> Commons.
> Risker/Anne
> _______________________________________________

I agree that, for me at least, the identifiable image issue is much
more key. A lot less has been done there by the projects themselves
than in the realm of controversial text, and there is considerable
risk of harm at stake. While the board resolution does urge some
appropriate action on the part of the projects, it doesn't require it.
In the absence of a firm commitment from the board to respect the
principles and spirit of model release laws, I have no reason to
expect that any project, particularly Commons, will undertake a
re-evaluation of their policies. I'm most particularly disheartened
that the board specifically endorsed having uploaders affirm subject
permission; that kind of requirement will do nothing to stop bad faith

What I'd ask the Board is this: what do you expect the impact of such
a resolution (referring again specifically to the image content
resolution) will be? By restating the ideology that the projects are
not censored in one resolution, and merely "urging" a minimal standard
of care in the other, is it not likely that the status quo will reign
and we'll be in the same position years from now absent some other
motivating event? Is it really going to take a series of Seigenthaler
moments to spur substantial change?

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