[WikiEN-l] Fair use redux; the second coming of hell; Are we a free content or aren't we?

Magnus Manske magnusmanske at googlemail.com
Thu Jul 19 16:01:53 UTC 2007

Some thoughts on the topic in general, and personal experiences:

* On de.wikipedia, the second largest wikipedia, we only allow free
images. One can easily see what effects a "no fair use" policy would
have by comparing en and de articles. No album covers there, which is
not really a loss IMHO. On the other hand, having next to no images on
celebreties (living or deceased), compared to en, is a pity, but can
encourage people taking such pictures and uploading them. I did that
myself already.

* Uploading of free images should only happen on commons, however,
many *new) users do not know that, or they know and don't want to
create Yet Another account on commons.

* Also, free images on en.wikipedia should be moved to commons. I
already moved my images from de and en using my commonshelper tool.
However, for large volumes, this is still a pain.

* I hope/expect to see some ease of use and attraction to commons from
Single Login (really soon, now!:-) and the extended file management
(by Tim Starling, I believe). Combining these two, I hope it will be
possible for users (or at least admins) to "transparently" move images
from xx.wikipedia to commons with a single click, while fully
preserving upload history. I certainly would take part in such a "mass
movement" (pardon the pun).

What can be done right now?

* IMHO awareness could be raised concerning the "fair use problem",
and I'm not talking about this mailing list. Maybe an automatic, big
red border around all fair use images? Along with a hovertext asking
for help in replacing it with a free image?

* Maybe more extreme would be a "no fair use day", where we replace
all fair use images in all articles for one day with an appropriate

* If this is not done already: A bot could flag all new fair use
images for deletion if they are not used on an article say, three
days, after upload? That would give time to flag it fair use and to
put it into an article, or remove it if it's not appropriate there.

* Commons and other wikipedias, especially "free images only" ones,
should be systematically and repeatedly screened for free replacements
of fair use images. A bot or a tool could do this semi-automatically.

* Attempts to get free replacements for fair use images should be more
organized. The current single wiki page (or group of pages) on each
wikipedia/commons is neither well-known nor particularly nice. There
should be a central place for all wikimedia projects where images (or
files in general) can be "requested". That place could then be
advertised, for example, in the sitenotice. "Did you take pictures on
a concert? Happen to catch that celebrity on film? Help improve
wikipedia! Upload your photos under a free license on [[commons]]! See
[here] for what images are wanted badly, or add some requests of your
own!". Have an "image raiser" in between fundraisers :-)

Concluding: IMHO fair use per se is not a problem on en.wikipedia. The
problem starts when the average user thinks it is the norm, rather
than an exception as it should be. As stated above, fair use images
should be more clearly marked as "being problematic", and that they
should be replaced by a free one ASAP.


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