[Wikipedia-l] RE: [Wikitech-l] Copyright Schmopyright

Alex R. alex756 at nyc.rr.com
Wed Aug 13 21:59:26 UTC 2003

"Jimmy Wales" <jwales at bomis.com> on Wednesday, August 13, 2003 4:12 PM
> 3.  In any event, if we distribute licenses under "fair use", this
> does not imply in any way that *other people's uses* will qualify
> similarly.  This makes distributing them problematic and non-free.

I have wondered the same thing when noting that some images are
fair use. I saw one image on the [[Stalin]] page and it clearly cannot
be reproduced as it features the image of a Russian woman whose
identity can clearly be surmised. While use of that image is probably
allowable under fair use (she is holding a photo of Stalin, while the
photo is probably in the public domain as the Soviet Union did not
recognize the Berne convention at the time of its publication) her
image is most likely copyrighted by someone, as well, her [[personality
rights]] are probably being violated.

> 4.  Whatever we ultimately end up doing about fair use images, one
> thing is sure: we need to keep track of them better for our own
> purposes, but also so that we can appropriately assist people who are
> re-using the content.
I have only posted fair use material on Wikipedia once on the [[Pretty
Woman]] page, the lyrics of the song that were published as an Appendix
to the [[Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music]] US Supreme Court case, and
I clearly stated that it was being posted as fair use material,
but I do not think that everyone follows this level of diligence on
Wikipedia, there should be a policy that everyone needs to post any
fair use origination information on the talk page, but how can that
policy ever been enforced?
> Sometimes people say things that amount to "heh heh, this is great,
> we can use the images, but some commercial outfits can't, and so if
> they want to make money off of our hard work, they'll have to spend
> a lot of money going through the image data figuring out what it is,
> which will tend to prevent them from doing it."
> I don't think that attitude is consistent with the ideal of freedom
> expressed in the GNU philosophy.

I find this whole issue confusing.  If anyone wants the encyclopedia
for free, then then can distribute it and allow it to be copied, but if
is going to make those copies as a publication they have to deal with the
fact that
anyone who posts on Wikipedia could have posted infringing material
as there is an open posting policy, I can't see a way around that kind of
problem for anyone who might want to legally exploit Wikipedia's work.
Under the current posting policy, even if someone were to sign an
clause and warranty as part of their copyright assignment to Wikimedia
how can Wikimedia guarantee any clear [[chain of title]] to third parties?
That would require proof from all authors that their work was original
and not merely reviewed by the many Wikipedia volunteers.  It would
bring into suspect all anonymous contributions as well.  A lot of due
dillegence would be required before anyone publishes Wikipedia in
any other form than an online repository.  For instance in an article that
a biography the author of such an article should have a list of all his or
biographical references, the person doing the due dilligence should then
independently check all those references to see if any of the material might
have been inadvertently copied. As well due dilligence would require that
someone check other sources that are not listed in the bibliographic
for the author or authors who have published a work. Only after such an
extensive search is done can someone assure an insurer that it is highly
unlikely that a copyright infringement suit would be filed against the
I can't see how that can ever happen with Wikipedia information except its
use as an online research tool for other authors.  It is not a manual that
might be published by, let's say a dozen of individuals who want to make
the use of open source software available for public use. It is written by
thousands of people, many of whom are anonymous and who may be
posting content written by someone else who has not given them permission
to post on Wikipedia (remember even unpublished work is protected by


More information about the Wikipedia-l mailing list