[Wikipedia-l] Re: How Wikipedia breaks the GNU/FDL

Nicholas Knight nknight at runawaynet.com
Wed Aug 6 09:33:45 UTC 2003

I'm not a lawyer. Anyone taking anything in the below text as legal advice 
should be drawn and quartered.

on Wednesday 06 August 2003 00:40 -0700, Andre Engels wrote:

> 4B: We do not list the author of the last version plus at least five
> authors
>     of the old version on the title page.

To quote from 4B:
"...unless they release you from this requirement."

One could easily argue that Wikipedia recieves an implicit release based on 
the fact that it is self-evident to contributors before they submit anything 
that we do not list the authors in this way.

> 4E: We do not add a copyright notice each time a new document is
> created.

To quote 4E in its entirety:
"E. Add an appropriate copyright notice for your modifications
   adjacent to the other copyright notices."

WHAT other copyright notices?

>4F+addendum: The license notice of Wikipedia is not in the
> prescribed form,
>     and it is not put on the title page

The only person concievably able to try and enforce that provision on 
documents submitted to Wikipedia without looking like a complete idiot in 
front of everyone -- including U.S. courts -- would be the original author, 
and he'd have a time of it.

First, if he edited any other articles on Wikipedia without following 4F 
himself, principles of mutually assured destruction apply; and people don't 
often submit an article and then go away (articles that stick around, that 

Secondly, are you aware of a principle called entrapment? When a 
law-enforcement officer (e.g. police) essentially force a person to commit a 
crime in order to arrest (and presumably prosecute) them for it, that's 
entrapment. In contract law (which copyright licenses are part of in the 
U.S.) it'll usually be under the broader concept of "bad faith". If someone 
comes to Wikipedia, it will be self-evident that 4F is not followed. If they 
then submitted an article and then sued when someone "violated" 4F, that'd be 
willful negligence at best, which by itself is good cause for 
dismissal/aquittal. In sane situations, it's called "bad faith", and not only 
nullifies the claim, but may expose the complaintant to legal action.

> 4I: Our history section is called "<title> Revision history" rather than
>     "History".

"Judge! The contractor built my house two inches from where I told him to 
build it in the middle of my empty 20-acre lot!"

"Did this cause you any damage or substantial emotional distress?"


Need I say more?

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