Education and information licenses

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Educational use[edit]

A number of European governmental or inter-governmental institutions publish interesting documents under licenses that authorize free use for educational or informational purposes.

As an example, the European Space Agency has a "multimedia gallery", with the following license:

Most images have been released publicly from ESA. You may use ESA images or videos for educational or informational purposes. The publicly released ESA images may be reproduced without fee, on the following conditions:'
* Credit ESA as the source of the images
* ESA images may not be used to state or imply the endorsement by ESA or any ESA employee of a commercial product, process or service, or used in any other manner that might mislead.
*If an image includes an identifiable person, using that image for commercial purposes may infringe that person's right of privacy, and separate permission should be obtained from the individual.

There is currently a discussion about how to deal with ESA in particular (see ESA images). However, ESA's license is just an instance of a more general trend: licenses free for any educational or informational usage.

Let us first remark that all intended usages of documents by the Wikimedia Foundation are educational and informational, with the possible exception of internal publications like Quarto. Thus, such licenses do not hamper us in the least for doing what we intend to do. What these licenses are intended to prohibit are usages such as advertisements, political posters etc.

The question boils down to whether our goal is, say, to provide an encyclopedia that anyone can copy freely and edit, or to be a source of images suitable for anything including advertisements.

Note, however, that we currently welcome many images that are unsuitable for advertisements for other reasons. Logos of US government agencies, for instance, are in the "public domain" with respect to copyright, but US law banishes many usages: [1]

NASA images generally are not copyrighted. You may use NASA imagery, video and audio material for educational or informational purposes, including photo collections, textbooks, public exhibits and Internet Web pages. This general permission does not include the NASA insignia logo (the blue "meatball" insignia), the NASA logotype (the red "worm" logo) and the NASA seal. These images may not be used by persons who are not NASA employees or on products (including Web pages) that are not NASA sponsored.
If the NASA material is to be used for commercial purposes, especially including advertisements, it must not explicitly or implicitly convey NASA's endorsement of commercial goods or services.

Finally, on many projects, we also welcome "fair use" images. The legal restrictions on "fair use" imply some educational or informational use.

Prohibition of inappropriate use[edit]

It seems that in the case of ESA or other bodies, licensing restrictions are actually meant to prevent inappropriate use, such as: endorsement of products, "edited" images for propagating false news, etc. As we have seen, NASA uses US laws other than copyright law for the same purposes. For the same reason, the Wikimedia Foundation's logos are not free. (see Logos)

The reason for such "unfree" licenses is that it's apparently easier to sue for copyright infringement than to bother registering trademarks in many countries and sue to protect them, or to sue for libel, misrepresentation etc.


Commercial use[edit]

It also seems that many institutions understand "commercial" differently from our legal interpretation. To them, "commercial" seems to mean the use of photographs in advertisements, commercial endorsements, etc. In our discussions with ESA, ESA officials stressed that this did not exclude commercial educational or information books or sites.