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

Todd Allen toddmallen at gmail.com
Fri Jul 20 04:22:57 UTC 2007

WikipediaEditor Durin wrote:
> On 7/19/07, Todd Allen <toddmallen at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On the other hand, I'm not too convinced in the majority of cases. Some
>> album/book/movie covers and corporate logos, where the images or logos
>> themselves are widely discussed, iconic, or controversial, may work that
>> way. But I'm not convinced that most use of such things is anything more
>> than decorative. In those cases, they don't add significantly to
>> encyclopedic value, but do detract from the free-content mission. In
>> those cases, we shouldn't be using them. In 99%* of album articles, for
>> example, there barely even is an article. "X is an album by YZ which
>> contained the following tracks:". I don't know that there's any
>> educational value in such an article at all, and I certainly doubt that
>> there's any more with an image of the album cover.
> This gets to one of the core disputes on the subject; is fair use for
> purposes of identification alone sufficient to meet our requirements
> for the inclusion of non-free content?
> People who advocate for fair use inclusion say yes, because it is
> legal. Of course this misses the point of what we are supposed to
> be fundamentally, but even when this is raised they fail to see an
> issue. Thus, any encroachment on the ability to use fair use for
> identification without critical commentary is harshly criticized,
> reverted, and argued over.
> -Durin
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When it comes right down to it, fair use for identification fails the
directive from the Foundation-that we must use fair use minimally, and
only where it serves an irreplaceable purpose. I can identify Microsoft
by showing you their logo, true. But I also just identified them by
saying "Microsoft". You knew who I meant. Therefore, the image is
replaceable, in this case by plain old text. The same is true of album
covers and the like in most cases. I can identify Nirvana's Nevermind,
the Beatles' White Album, or for that matter Roger Clyne and the
Peacemakers' Americano simply by stating their name. The image serves no
purpose that the text does not, and unless the cover/logo itself was
somehow iconic, controversial, or otherwise suitable to -actually be
discussed- in the article, it's unneeded and decorative.

And there's where we should draw the cutoff line. Is the image being
discussed (not just mentioned, discussed) in the article? Is there a lot
of source material that discusses and covers that image? If we can
provide a good discussion of the image within the article (without
"padding" in an attempt to game the system) it's probably important to
have the image there. If not, it's a pretty for the infobox, and that's
decorative. I would imagine most cases fall into the latter category,
and shouldn't have those images.

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