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Copyright of the definition statement[edit]

@GFontenelle (WMF) and SPatnaik (WMF): Can organizers show evidence of the copyright of the definition of museum statement?

At International Museum Day 2024/Translation call there is a program to encourage Wikipedia translation of a copyrighted media work which is not marked with an open copyright license.

At https://icom.museum/en/terms-of-use/ the terms are not free. This looks like a situation where ICOM either should have already made a release, or should immediately do so at Commons:Commons:Email templates/Consent. Does ICOM speak for the copyright of the regional chapter organizations, who are credited as authors of their regional language translations?

Thanks. Bluerasberry (talk) 23:14, 1 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

Dear @Bluerasberry, thank you so much for calling our attention to this. I'm in touch with ICOM to clarify this situation. In the meantime, I included the original New Museum Definition, in English, as a quote at the top of the page with its source as a reference. For the 21 regional translations, I replaced them with the link to the source rather than including the translations themselves in the table. I hope this is ok for the moment. I will update you here when the situation is solved. Thanks again! Best, GFontenelle (WMF) (talk) 23:21, 3 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
@GFontenelle (WMF) and SPatnaik (WMF): The organization asserts copyright over the English definition on their website. Encouraging wiki editors to translate non-free media in an outreach campaign would be problematic. Has the organization put a Wikimedia-compatible license on the definition? There will be a mess if the outreach campaign goes forward, volunteers translate, then in the end the organization wishes to retain copyright.
Should the translation part of the campaign be removed before the event tomorrow? Bluerasberry (talk) 16:33, 17 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
Dear @Bluerasberry,
We are still contacting ICOM to see if the definition could be officially released under an open license. In the meantime, we used this as an opportunity to research this legal situation. Here is a summary of what we heard:
  1. Copyright doesn't protect functional language: the best example of this is a basic recipe. A technical definition would work in a similar way;
  2. Translating a strictly defined definition is a very strong example of something that would be under Fair Use in the context of posting on Wikipedia. On Wikipedia, the definition wouldn't be presented to be used in commercial competition to the creators of the definition, instead, it would have educational purposes and be used to provide context to articles that are more broadly discussing the definition.
In this case, the New Museum Definition would be on the Wikimedia projects to help people to write and know museums better, this definition acting as a north star, a guideline.
Here are some examples of Wikipedia articles that already make use of the New Museum Definition by ICOM, including those translated into different languages: English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish (not the direct quote, but all the main words), French, German, Czech… Some still use the old definition, like Greek or Danish, for example. There are also examples where a Wikipedia editor translated the definition into a language not provided by ICOM: Catalan or Finnish.
In summary, strict definitions, such as the Museum Definition by ICOM, are probably not copyrightable, and to the extent they are, a translation that is then reused in the context of an article discussing the definition itself would be fair use.
Still, I want to thank you for raising this question because it gave us an opportunity to shine a light on this subject, make it clearer, and start a conversation about this with ICOM. This actually contributed a lot to the IMD2024. – GFontenelle (WMF) (talk) 03:01, 18 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
@GFontenelle (WMF): Thanks, I cross posted to wikt:Wiktionary:Beer_parlour/2024/May#Copyright_of_definitions. Definition-oriented projects are uncommon and perhaps people from there could join the discussion. Bluerasberry (talk) 18:59, 18 May 2024 (UTC)Reply