[Foundation-l] Texts deleted on French Wikisource

Mike Godwin mnemonic at gmail.com
Wed Jun 2 21:49:27 UTC 2010

On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:15 PM, Nathan <nawrich at gmail.com> wrote:

> Yann suggests that he (and the Wikisource community) did not know
> about the takedown in a timely manner; anyone not watching the files
> or the deletion logs might have missed it if the only note was in the
> deletion log.

But of course, the deletion log was not the only notice. And Yann Forget
knew about the deletions at the time they occurred.

>  If you
> can't communicate certain facts during negotiations, why not do so
> afterwards?

Sometimes you can. I just did. But of course sometimes you can't, for
reasons I've already outlined. (There's nothing magical about the passage of
time that eliminates the disincentive effect of disclosing negotiations.)

> There is some tension built into this general issue, though; Cary
> advises that the fr.wikisource project needs to make its own decisions
> about what content to allow, based on a local interpretation of
> applicable law -- and then the Foundation deletes content without (a)
> providing advice on what is acceptable and what isn't and (b) without
> referring to the local decisions the project was advised to take.

I'm not sure what advice you think it is even theoretically possible that
the Foundation could have offered.  Are you suggesting that the Foundation
is acting as the lawyer for everyone who posts content to Wikisource?  There
are obvious reasons that is not a sustainable or feasible model.

You seem to have the impression that the Foundation staff directly deleted
the content. Actually, I shared the list with Cary, who shared the list with
community members who implemented the takedown. (I deleted no content
myself.) So you can see why the whole notion that the takedown wasn't shared
with the community seems flatly wrong to me.  We absolutely engaged
community members in implementing the takedown. Yann seems to suggest that
our actions have been some kind of big secret. The reality, however, is that
we did nothing in secret, and that Yann in fact has known what we did for
quite a while now.  We even made it trivially easy to contact Gallimard and
complain about the takedown.  But I do understand that it is easier to
complain about WMF than it is to pursue Gallimard directly, even though
doing the latter might be a more effective choice.

I'll note also that the real complaint, as I perceive it, isn't really that
we didn't communicate what we were doing. The real complaint is that we
actually complied with a formally correct takedown notice, consistent with
longstanding policy.  Now that it's clearer that we really couldn't make any
other choice but to comply, consistent with our fiduciary responsibilities,
the need to complain shifts to another target. I hope I may be forgiven for
believing that if we had put our compliance with Gallimard's takedown notice
in a banner on every project page, we'd still face complaints -- likely from
the very same people -- for other ostensible reasons.

In short, the real unhappiness here is that we complied with a formally
correct takedown notice. All the rest is distraction, IMHO.  But as a matter
of official policy, we will comply with such notices as we have in the past.
Other contributors have responded to our takedowns by reposting the content
with appropriate affidavits ("put-up notices"), and we've left the content
up in spite of followup demands that we remove it.  I do not believe such
legally correct responses are beyond the ability of contributors to
Wikisource or other projects.

> not sure how this can be resolved, but surely its a legitimate source
> for grumbling and not grounds for a personally accusatory response
> from the WMF.

I'm not sure what you're perceiving as "a personally accusatory response" --
I've simply shared the facts as I understand them.  (Did you think Yann
Forget's posting was not "personally accusatory"? I noticed that Cary and I
are mentioned by name, personally.) I do share as much as I can, within the
constraints of law and professional ethics. I am forbidden to step beyond
those constraints.

I don't have much to say beyond this.  But I do ask that you not assume
anything about the takedowns without looking at them yourself.  And I'll
respond privately to any queries about how we proceeded, if I can.


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