[WikiEN-l] Fair use issues; we need serious help

John Lee johnleemk at gmail.com
Fri Jul 13 03:06:09 UTC 2007

On 7/13/07, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 7/12/07, WikipediaEditor Durin <wikidurin at gmail.com> wrote:
> > A while back, I went to Featured Articles in an attempt to seek change
> in
> > practices with regards to fair use images. I was called patronizing,
> > authoritarian, barking at people, being paranoid, being a fair use
> cultist,
> > antagonizing people, acting in bad faith, violating WP:POINT and more.
> > You can read it all for yourself if you like at
> >
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Featured_article_criteria#Time_for_FA_to_change_culture_vis-a-vis_fair_use_images
> >
> > Far better to attack the messenger than address the points, so it
> > would seem.
> >
> > I came here, what I thought was the last bastion of defense of free
> > content where I had hoped to find people willing to support what it
> > is we are supposed to be about. Instead, I get responses like
> > Kirll's.
> >
> > Ok, I give up.
> >
> > I'll stop fighting the massive overuse of fair use all over en.wikipedia
> ,
> > where there are 200 thousand fair use images. Why should we care?
> > Nobody's filed suit against us!
> >
> > I guess what it will take is a lawsuit before real change happens.
> Erm, my response wasn't intended to be an attack on you in the least;
> I apologize if it came across that way.
> The point I'm trying to make in regard to the rationales is that what
> you're asking for is not actually what you want, and the difference is
> *really* upsetting people.
> We need to stop talking about "fair use" images, stop labeling things
> as "fair use", and stop asking people to justify "fair use".  We do
> not, as a project, care about "fair use", except insofar as it
> underlies what we *do* care about: the NFCC (which are rather stricter
> than what's ordinarily regarded as "fair use").
> You're essentially going around and asking people to explain why an
> image is fair use, and then deleting it anyways because it fails the
> stricter portions of the NFCC.  I don't understand why anyone is
> surprised that this is causing intense resentment; the image uploaders
> are being sent on a wild goose chase because the widely publicized
> requirement for their images to be retained -- "fair use" -- is
> insufficient, and the *actual* requirement -- the NFCC -- is poorly
> written and buried under ten layers of policy.
> Asking the Foundation for clearer criteria isn't the answer.  We
> already have clear criteria.  We just need to start actually
> publicizing *those* criteria rather than a liberal buzz-word version
> of them.

This is so obvious I'm a bit embarrassed I've never truly realised it
before. Yes, this is precisely what we ought to do - de-emphasise the fair
use aspect and emphasise the non-free content aspect. Conflating the two is
not helpful to anybody, and never will be.

Here's my proposal: rewrite our relevant policies to do just this. Ideally,
they should be able to be summarised as such:

"WMF policy permits limited usage of non-free content on its projects. For
legal reasons, only non-free content usable in the United States of America
is permitted. Non-free content should be used only when it is crucial for a
comprehensive encyclopaedia article on the subject concerned."

We can of course nitpick about the specifics of the policy later; I am just
thinking of how to draw up a broad policy rewrite which should be acceptable
to as large a group as possible.

Alternatively, we could just do as Stephen says - implement a totally unfree
policy and wait for the WMF to smack down the "consensus". :p


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