[WikiEN-l] GFDL lawsuits - who can sue?

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Tue May 16 18:44:09 UTC 2006

Anthony DiPierro wrote:

>On 5/15/06, Fastfission <fastfission at gmail.com> wrote:
>>It seems to me that the most plausible place in which someone could
>>use the GFDL in suing is if you re-used improperly re-used material.
>>For example: Company X downloads GFDL material from Wikipedia but does
>>not correctly comply with the terms of the GFDL. Company Y knows
>>Company X's material is GFDL and re-uses it themselves. Company X sues
>>Company Y; Company Y pulls out the GFDL, proves the material was
>>originally licensed under it, counter-sues Company X for having
>>claimed they had copyright control over something they they did not.
>Is it illegal to claim you have copyright control over something you
>do not?  I'm sure there are plently of laws against claiming you
>*wrote* something you didn't, but if you properly attribute the
>authors but tack on a false claim of copyright, I don't see how that
>can be illegal.
IIRC US law provides a $2,500 fine for improper copyright claims, but I 
don't know if that clause has ever been used.  Simply putting a 
copyright notice on a page doesn't mean very much.  The material is only 
copyright to the extent that it is copyrightable, with or without the 
notice.  It may very well be that the only thing copyrightable about the 
page is the layout, but it's up to the person wanting to use the 
material to figure it all out.  Putting a notice when there is at least 
minimal copyrightable material would not be a false claim.  I think that 
the people who add such notices know damn well that potential users will 
draw the false conclusion that everything on the page is copyright. 


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