[Wikimedia-l] WMF Policy and Political Affiliations Guideline

Todd Allen toddmallen at gmail.com
Fri Aug 3 17:00:37 UTC 2012

Long as it's getting top-posted anyway...

First, copying is not and cannot be theft. That's not to say it's
always legally or ethically acceptable, mind you, but it's not theft.
In legal terms, there was a court case over that particular matter,
that ruled someone could not be charged on a "transporting stolen
goods" charge for transporting pirated records. He was still convicted
of criminal copyright infringement, of course, but it was ruled that
pirate records are not "stolen". Philosophically, if you still -have-
what you claim I "stole" from you...that doesn't make much sense, does

That aside, let's go back to your hypothetical food bank. What we're
saying isn't "Oh, we really DGAF if people (stole|infringed) stuff."
Anyone who's worked on Wikipedia knows we absolutely do not tolerate
copyright infringements and nuke them on sight, and on repeat
offenses, we happily nuke the offenders right along with. So it's more
equivalent to your food bank saying "Look, when we realize the goods
are stolen, we immediately return them as soon as possible, and if
someone keeps bringing us stolen goods we don't allow them back. But
sometimes people unwrap the apple pies and donate them to disguise
what they're doing, in other cases, supermarkets happily donate some
apple pies with the wrapping still on, and in yet other cases,
someone's donating some apple pies they bought from the supermarket,
with or without the wrapping. We do everything in our power to prevent
the problem, but it would be absolutely cost prohibitive to do it 100%
with the difference being that fine grained, and this law gives you
the right to shut us down if we can't hit 100%. We think on balance
what we do is good even if something bad occasionally slips through,
so we can't support that law. And indeed, since this strikes at the
core of what we do and could shut us down entirely, we must do
everything in our power to fight the law, including energizing those
who use our services to speak up against it."

On Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 5:42 AM, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I am afraid that is not how it feels at all. It's more like organising a
> giant volunteer effort to provide a market stall handing out free sweets
> and cakes for anyone who wants some. The stall is very popular, and many
> people chip in, bringing in cakes they've baked and candy they've made. And
> some bring in stuff they've stolen from factories and supermarkets.
> Then someone suggests there should be a law against handing out stolen
> goods, like apple pies that still have "Mr. Kipling's Exceedingly Good
> Apple Pies" written on the wrapper. At that point, the popular market stall
> says, "We couldn't possibly continue to hand out free sweets if you pass a
> law like that. We'd have to shut down, because some of our sweets are
> stolen. And just so you know what that would feel like, we're not opening
> the stall today."
> So now you assume that everyone who baked their own cakes and brought them
> in is against laws that forbid stealing. And you're leveraging the goodwill
> these people have created to enable theft. And you're misrepresenting what
> the law would mean to the operation of the market stall: because all that
> would be required is that if you see a Mr. Kipling label on a wrapper, you
> don't hand that over to a visitor. And later it transpires that your market
> stall has come to be funded by a very large organisation that stands to
> profit from lax laws against theft, to the tune of tens of billions of
> dollars ...
> One clincher for me was Tim Starling's e-mail the other day, about how the
> community were ... let's say "misinformed", to put it politely, about what
> SOPA would have meant for Wikipedia:
> http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2012-July/121092.html
> Man, I wish this organisation had an annual budget of $2 million rather
> than $20 million again, like it did five or six years ago. It had ethical
> problems then, what with Essjay and Carolyn and so forth, but there was at
> least a *plausible* semblance of innocence about the effort. That has well
> and truly been lost.
> On Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 3:00 AM, FT2 <ft2.wiki at gmail.com> wrote:
>> There's a fallacy going on here - ie a term with two subtly different
>> meanings.
>> The community - who are the ones ultimately "making the gift" do so
>> altruistically, in the sense of not seeking *compensation*, but that's not
>> the same as not expecting *consideration*. We do expect consideration.
>> Attribution (CC-by-SA/GFDL) is one form of consideration. The offer of this
>> knowledge by editors has quite specific terms that we expect to be met in
>> return by the world at large, which is the meaning of consideration.
>> The offer of that knowledge, and its gifting, also doesn't imply *
>> indifference*. This is more subtle, and arises because we aren't donating
>> our time and effort into a void. We are donating as a result of, and often
>> to benefit, things we believe in, such as helping others or free
>> knowledge.  There is an implied expectation (by some, perhaps not by
>> others) that it will be treated with respect and used to further humanity.
>> This kind of expectation isn't contractual, but it's there anyway. It's the
>> same kind of expectation that says you would probably be upset , if you
>> spend a week trying to find something as a special gift for me, and I
>> respond by flushing it down the toilet and saying "well you gave it to me
>> so why are you upset what I do with my property?" It might be legally true,
>> perhaps technically true, but it's certainly not socially and perhaps not
>> morally true.
>> We donate time, effort and sometimes money, and we are not indifferent to
>> whether those are supporting things we believe in. We donate for free
>> knowledge and humanity, and do so because we care about free knowledge and
>> humanity. Sometimes we say *"Look, we care about these things enough that
>> we put this effort in, you care enough to support and appreciate us putting
>> this effort in, so please listen when we say that something is harming the
>> ecosystem within which that effort is placed"*. That is completely ethical
>> and appropriate; no less than a wildlife volunteer who cares for dolphins
>> pointing out things that harm dolphins or any other ecosystem that one
>> might care for and try to support by nurturing it over time. Very few
>> people throw sustained effort or money into a vacuum without any care
>> whether it grows or dies.
>> FT2
>> On Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 2:28 AM, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > For the record, I did not endorse the SOPA blackout, and I deeply resent
>> my
>> > work in Wikipedia being leveraged to that political end.
>> >
>> > And I deeply resent Jimbo's statements to the BBC today*, about how "We
>> > gave you Wikipedia and we didn't have to, and so you might want to listen
>> > to what we have to tell you".
>> >
>> > A gift is either made altruistically, without strings attached, or it
>> > isn't. To claim selfless, altruistic purpose and then demand
>> consideration
>> > in return for what has been given is disgusting.
>> >
>> >
>> > * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19104494
>> >
>> >
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Freedom is the right to say that 2+2=4. From this all else follows.

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