[WikiEN-l] Pattern copyvios involving comic book characters

The Uninvited Co., Inc uninvited at nerstrand.net
Thu Oct 19 03:27:58 UTC 2006

No idea how we're going to unravel this one.

We have received, over a period of months, numerous reports to OTRS
regarding copyvios from the www.marvunapp.com web site.  That site
publishes character summaries for scores of comic book characters
ranging from the well-known to those obscure figures that make only
cameo appearances.  The summaries are written by a fairly small number
of contributors to the the site and are generally not edited once they
are posted.

Their site content is making its way to Wikipedia.  There are three
a) Cut and paste copying of text
b) Paraphrasing of text
c) Unattributed copying of images the site has scanned from comic books

(a) and (b) are copyright violations.  The problem goes back at least
six months and is ongoing.

(c) while not strictly speaking a copyvio since marvunapp.com is merely
making scans of flat art, is upsetting the site operators due to the
volume of material involved and the lack of attribution.  If left
unaddressed (c) is likely to make them more pedantic about their rights
regarding (a) and (b).  So far they've been pretty understanding and
supportive, considering.

Right now we don't know the extent of the problem because we've only
investigated cases that the marvunapp.com people have reported, which
cover perhaps a couple dozen pages all together.  I've investigated a
couple myself and it is very time consuming since often there is just a
paragraph or two in the middle of a longer Wikipedia article that's a
copyvio and the use of paraphrasing makes automated tools unhelpful. 
Addressing these in a meaningful way is difficult because ongoing edits
after the copyvio leads to a badly polluted page history that no one
wants to delete, and I've ended up having my removals reverted over the
course of time by people who show up two weeks later and don't realize
when and why the text was removed, so they re-add it from the history.

The copyvios have been added by more than one user, probably because
unrelated people trying to expand our comic coverage have found
marvunapp.com so helpful.

I've asked for some help on WP:AN/I and so far no real takers although
there at least has been support for my block of one of the perps.

Here's what I think needs to be done:

* The pages marvunapp.com has reported to us need to be reviewed by
experienced editors and any copyvios found and dealt with at least in
the current version of the page.
* Ideally, the history should be purged.  In cases where this isn't
practical, notes should be left on the talk page so that people don't
erroneously assume they can re-integrate content from the history.
* The perpetrators should be re-educated about how big of a deal this is
and how much work it is to clean up.
* Pages where marvunapp.com was used as a reference should include
marvunapp.com in the list of references.
* Images taken from the marvunapp.com should be properly attributed even
if copyright doesn't apply.
* If we ever get everything else done, we would want to try to be a
little more vigilant in going through the comic articles ourselves
rather than waiting for the marvunapp.com people to report them.

Volunteers for all this drudgery should be IMO selected from a pool of
people who still believe that the main deciding factor in
inclusion/deletion debates should be the cost of hard disk space.

The Uninvited Co., Inc.
(a Delaware corporation)

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