[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 08:51:08 UTC 2007

George Herbert wrote:
> On 7/19/07, Todd Allen <toddmallen at gmail.com> wrote:
>> It doesn't particularly matter if free replacements will be added to
>> those articles. "The Free Encyclopedia" means more than "free of
>> charge". It means, to the greatest degree possible, that it should be
>> free of restrictive copyright terms; free to reuse, copy, and modify as
>> you see fit.
>> View "free" and "encyclopedia" as two equally important halves of our
>> mission. In the case of some articles, a nonfree image adds such
>> tremendous educational value to an article that it's worth it to use it,
>> though it detracts slightly from the "free" aspect. But what, I wonder,
>> do you learn about Wal-Mart from seeing their logo? About your average
>> album or book from seeing what the cover looks like? By using thousands
>> of these images, we're taking away greatly from the "free" aspect of our
>> mission, and adding marginally if at all to the "encyclopedia" part.
> I'm sorry, but the additional value provided by visual identifiers
> such as logos and album cover art is significant.
> Human learning and memory processes are significantly keyed by such
> visual content, and it makes it much more enjoyable to read.
> The entire reason that the Web took off in the early 90s and that
> Archie/Gopher/Veronica/WAIS/etc hadn't was visual content on web
> pages.  They became accessable to "normal people" because they weren't
> just reading, they were seeing.
> The visual design of Mediawiki and the existing projects is acutely
> aware of this.  Pretending that this isn't a significant part of the
> user experience, or a significant part of the "customer value", is
> silly.

If all we need is -some- kind of visual, we could easily enough do a
free-content picture of a band in the album article or the like. I doubt
most people could tell you what more than a handful of album covers or
corporate logos look like, but could probably tell you the -names- of
hundreds. (I bet you that more people know the name Microsoft,
Coca-Cola, or IBM than know what the logo looks like.) There are some
logos which have become iconic, such as Nike's, and I don't have any
problem with those. But the vast majority are just decorative, or at the
very least serve a limited educational purpose. Such theoretical and
limited benefits are not worth real and serious damage to the other half
of the mission-"free as in freedom".

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