A solid understanding of and engagement with copyright is central to the projects, and to our mission to allow people around the world to access, create, share, and remix free knowledge. The Wikimedia Foundation Legal Team has taken a comprehensive look at all of the work it does that involves engaging with copyright issues. We have developed this strategy to help identify and prioritize projects that are the most important for the Wikimedia communities. It involves documenting all the copyright issues affecting the Wikimedia projects and Foundation, prioritizing those issues, and addressing them.
For this strategy to succeed, it needs your input. The Legal Team cannot know all the ways copyright affects the processes Wikimedians use to contribute to the projects, or which effects are greatest, without hearing from a wide range of Wikimedians. It's also important that our Team work closely with the community to find solutions to these copyright-related problems.
Below is an outline of the copyright strategy's three-step process. Before we fully jump into executing that process, though, let's spend a couple weeks talking about the process itself. Please share your thoughts on the talk page by September 14.
Step 1: Identifying issues
An "issue" is any situation in which copyright prevents Wikimedians from sharing knowledge on the projects, rather than enabling them to do so. This includes looking for copyright-related aspects of Wikimedia site design that are clunky or confusing. It also includes examining current copyright-related project policies and procedures to ensure they are written and organized clearly and based on accurate interpretations of copyright law.
It is important to track changes to copyright law that may significantly affect Wikimedia. What copyright developments worldwide, such as court cases and proposed legislation, could have an impact on the projects?
It is important that uses of Wikimedia's Creative Commons-licensed content comply with the license terms. Where are external reusers failing to give proper attribution, and where is compliance inconsistent on the projects themselves?
As you encounter and identify issues, please add them to the list at Copyright strategy/Issues.
Step 2: Prioritizing issues
Given everyone's limited time and resources, we should focus on making improvements that will help the communities the most. For each issue, this involves answering at least three questions:
- How severe are the problems the issue causes?
- How important are those problems to the Wikimedia mission?
- What effect will solving those problems have on Wikimedians' work?
If you can contribute to answering these questions, please do so at Copyright strategy/Issues. This input will help us all decide where to focus our work.
In order to avoid wasting effort, it's best to hold off on trying to determine the relative priority of the different issues before there's already a substantial list of them.
Step 3: Addressing issues
After determining the most important issues to address, the next step is to go about trying to address them. The Wikimedia Foundation Legal Team may be able to address some of the issues, but there will also be problems we cannot solve alone. We invite you to consider whether you can contribute to solutions to anything listed at Copyright strategy/Issues. By collaborating on solutions, we can accomplish more. Wikimedians outside the Foundation have relevant knowledge, experience, and skills to help inform best approaches. Tapping into those resources and engaging interested Wikimedians is a crucial component to addressing issues. The Foundation Legal Team is committed to involving relevant stakeholders when we take the lead on addressing issues. We will reach out to community members, groups, and affiliates as appropriate, such as through mailing lists and on-wiki. When others take the lead, we will support their efforts to do the same.
Frequently asked questions
Why are you doing this right now?
We on the Legal Team have been wanting to do this for some time, but other things have taken priority. We have the capacity now, so we're seizing the opportunity. --CRoslof (WMF) (talk) 22:35, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
Will anything change for editors as a result of the implementation of a new copyright strategy?
Possibly, depending on what issues and solutions people identify. For example, Wikimedians may benefit from some changes to the user interfaces for contributions. Or we may discover that some project copyright policies may have become out of date since being initially created by community members or Wikimedia Foundation staff and need to be updated. The goal is not to disrupt editors' regular workflows, however, and it is important to consider the impact on those workflows before implementing any changes. --CRoslof (WMF) (talk) 22:35, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
What limitations does the Wikimedia Foundation have in advocating for legal change?
Our main limitation is resources—we only have so many staff hours and so much money to spend on public policy efforts. Because the Wikimedia Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, there are also restrictions on the amount of lobbying we can do, and we cannot support or oppose individual political candidates. --CRoslof (WMF) (talk) 22:35, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
If this strategy recommends software improvements, what would be the timeline for implementing them?
The timeline depends on the scope of the issue, the difficulty of the solution, and the availability of staff and volunteers with the skills to implement the solution. The Foundation's Legal team is committed to devoting resources to the copyright strategy, but we will need to coordinate with engineering teams to make any changes that require engineering resources. --CRoslof (WMF) (talk) 22:35, 18 August 2016 (UTC)