[Wikimedia-l] Fwd: [Toolserver-l] [TS logo] Fwd: Free as in Wikimedia Foundation

James Alexander jamesofur at gmail.com
Tue Mar 19 23:05:54 UTC 2013

On Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM, Nathan <nawrich at gmail.com> wrote:

> I won't argue the fact that there is value in protecting the
> iconography of the Wikimedia movement from abuse. What I argue with is
> the approach of the legal department - to unilaterally, and without
> notice, contradict the purpose of a set of logos by declaring
> ownership over them, and then to at the same time suggest the
> community hold a contest to create a whole new set of logos over which
> the WMF will supposedly not take the same action.
I'll be the first to say I think the idea of having a contest to create a
new logo is a bit silly. I think we should continue to use the
meta/community logo and that it's allowed use for the community should be
very very broad (much broader then we would allow for the Wikipedia Globe
for example). I think we have enough issues with  branding given what I
would consider mistakes in the past and present and we don't need 'yet
another' for the community (given that we also use all of the other logos
to represent the community at times).

I don't, however, think that they did the wrong thing here. I've been
around meta and the community for a long time and I would have honestly
assumed long ago that the community logo was trademarked and the foundation
was just very free in letting it be used. All of the foundations trademarks
were going through registration processes around the world because they
realized that our portfolio did not cover us very well. This made total
sense to be included in it.

I guess I argue the very fact that this was intended to never be
trademarked, or that if it was that the consequences of that were
understood. I totally and utterly agree that the point of the logo was to
have it freely available to the community to mix and mingle, and I think
that should remain. That, however, is a very different question and not
contradictory with trademarking.

> To then frame the discussion with repeated notes about the distinction
> between copyright and trademark makes it sound like they see this as a
> problem of a lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of their
> critics', which simply isn't the case.
To be honest from everything I've read in the discussion I keep wondering
if people misunderstand the reasons for trademark protection vs copyright
as well. There is no doubt that the community has schooled our lawyers many
times but the opposite is also try where the community has thought they
understood but haven't fully. Most of the arguments that came up,
especially at the start, I probably would have responded with similar
copyright/tm comments. It's an incredibly common and complicated area of
distinction that an awful lot of people get mixed up at times both on and
off wiki (including myself).

> The reality is if they had suggested last year that "hey, the
> Foundation wants to make sure these marks are protected from abuse,
> would anyone mind if we registered them just to make sure they aren't
> abused? We'll allow them to be used with a standard permission set
> that doesn't require a request process." then the response would've
> been absolutely minimal and positive. But they didn't.

I agree that this would have been preferred  but I can understand why it
didn't happen. This certainly wasn't being done in a vacuum, they were
dealing with registrations on lots of our marks at the same time. The legal
team a year ago was also considerably smaller and less community
experienced (and a year before that MUCH smaller). I wasn't involved but I
can completely see being so overloaded by just dealing with the trademarks,
most of which were absolutely no question (obviously we want the WP globe
protected) to not realize that this one would be more complicated and a
different animal.

> If you're familiar with my posts to this list, I'm not normally on the
> anti-WMF side of debates (for instance, wrt WCA). But when they make a
> boob move, I don't think its bad faith to point it out. And, not for
> nothing, accusing others of bad faith is generally ill advised.
> Anyway, this is a small bore issue, and the consequences of any
> outcome are mild to say the least. But, a few posts on a wiki and on
> wikimedia-l don't cost much ;)

I am, and I don't think you're being anti-WMF, I'm sorry if it came across
that way. I don't think you're being bad faith but I do think that some
have been with accusations that the legal department (or the foundation in
general) don't think about the community or care about them and aren't
trying to do what is best for them. My experience has been that that's very
very untrue and I think much of their actions have shown that.

It is a relatively small issue, and I don't want to drag it along more then
it needs to be. I've just been feeling like that conversation has been
somewhat 1 sided and didn't want anyone getting piled on when I think
they've been working really hard to do what's best. Perhaps I was missing
things but I kept reading the conversation going "I don't understand, there
seems to be confusion here" and wanted to try and help that. Whether I
succeeded or not is a different question :).

Of course none of that doesn't mean we can't find a better end result
though .


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