Copyright question (was: Re: [Wikipedia-l] Re: [Intlwiki-l] LA2)

lsanger at lsanger at
Tue Oct 16 18:43:54 UTC 2001

Obviously, we don't want to make it seem as if Wikipedia is claiming the
right to call itself *the source* of *whatever* it publishes, so that any
content that happens to appear in Wikipedia cannot appear elsewhere
without being credited to Wikipedia.  In that case, any publishing of
Shakespeare's plays and Lee Crocker's poker articles would have to include
a source notice pointing to Wikipedia!  Surely the GNU FDL doesn't imply
that.  If it does, it needs work.

I don't know how to resolve the situation (I'll leave that to people who
know more about licensing) but I do want to help reassure people that
Wikipedia *is not* trying to arrogate to itself rights over work that it
shouldn't have.  All we want to do is to make sure that Wikipedia articles
do remain free, and that we are credited with articles that (here, I'm
guessing) were created or developed specifically for Wikipedia.

Maybe the best way to approach it is by saying that each person grants
Wikipedia, and people who source material from Wikipedia, the right to
distribute their material under the GNU FDL.  Hmm...

Very puzzling.


On Tue, 16 Oct 2001, Thomas Hofer wrote:

> You wrote (Dienstag, 16. Oktober 2001 20:42):
> > Andre Engels wrote:
> > > If this is true, I find it quite worrying - I have put material on
> > > Wikipedia that I have also published elsewhere. Does this mean that
> > > it can be claimed this other publishing goes against Wikipedia's
> > > copyright?
> > >
> > > As far as I know, I have not signed away my copyright on the
> > > material I submit to Wikipedia. In my opinion, this means that I
> > > still hold the copyright of the pieces I have written, although the
> > > corporation is the copyright-holder of the site as a whole. I have
> > > not given up copyright, I just restricted my rights as the
> > > copyright holder by:
> > > 1. Putting the material under a Free Documentation License
> > > 2. Allowing any type of publishing and changing that one could
> > > reasonably expect be done to a Wikipedia entry
> >
> > I think that this view is essentially correct.
> >
> > As an author, you retain the right to do anything at all with what
> > you have personally written, including publishing the articles in
> > another forum, another form, etc., etc.  You can even put your own
> > articles together in a proprietary book or website.
> IANAL, but when I re-think it I tend to agree to this view, too. When I
> wrote my last posting, I thought it was clear that the copyright goes
> to Bomis Inc, because of this entry in the Wikipedia-FAQ:
> Q. Who owns Wikipedia?
> A. Well, that's an interesting question. The owner of the server, the
> domain name, and the ultimate copyright of Wikipedia materials is
> [Bomis], Inc. But the articles are released under the GNU Free
> Documentation License, so the articles are open content. So it is a bit
> misleading to say that the owner of Wikipedia articles is Bomis; Bomis
> doesn't own them in any traditional sense of ownership. (Bomis CEO and
> President Jimbo Wales might want to elaborate this reply.)
> I think the whole situation is very unclear. If each Wikipedia-author
> is really copyright-holder of his material, we have at least to keep
> track of the authorships of the diffs, or else (IMHO, again IANAL) we
> violate the FDL. The current logs are not sufficient, we would need
> real accounts with mandatory real-world user-identification (*if* the
> author wants to retain his rights).
> --ThomasHofer
> [Wikipedia-l]
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