Talk:Licensing update/Questions and Answers/Oppositional arguments/Archives/2009

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Initial replies

"Reasonable to the medium or means you are utilizing" does not limit a licensor's ability to require attribution only by URI, as the "Original Author" attribution is explicitly restricted by "if supplied" (and the license definition explicitly distinguishes between the Original Author and the Licensor). Terms of service can certainly require authors to agree to be attributed by URI only. As for past edits, the only full author list requirement in the GFDL is a subset of the requirement to preserve any existing section entitled "History", which clearly exists not for purposes of attribution (which is separately covered in the GFDL through the principal authors clause), but for purposes of change-tracking. Indeed, the CC-BY-SA replaces this language with more moderate change-tracking requirements, while allowing for more flexible attribution. By releasing FDL 1.3, the FSF has implicitly endorsed moderate change-tracking requirements for massive multi-author collaborations. The belief that somehow there is an inherent right in the GFDL to full author attribution is a misunderstanding of the actual text of the license, and the purpose of the history section (which is an optional part of GFDL documents to begin with). Indeed, even the interpretation that giving a full list of authors is compliant with the GFDL is in error, as it actually requires a verbatim reproduction of the history section. As the stewards of the license, the FSF has ultimately made the determination about the spirit and intent of the license, and has given us permission to use CC-BY-SA, with everything that entails.--Eloquence 23:23, 4 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your argument appears to suffer from a slight lack of existence. If you seriously wish to claim that the FSF backs your TOS 1) produce a direct statement to that effect and 2) let us know when it will be releasing a GFDL 1.4 with the wording required to make such a release legally meaningful.Geni 22:23, 9 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But don’t these Terms of Service with their no-attribution policy massively restrict the possibility to use external CC-BY-SA content, one of the paramount reasons for the licence change? I don’t think that many authors of CC-BY-SA content have chosen that licence so that they won’t be attributed. -- Carbidfischer 06:45, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The current proposed terms for the edit screen don't explicitly allow importing external content that's CC-BY-SA only, but it's clear in other places on licensing update that this is the intent. We'll revise that language further before implementing it. I think giving attribution for external content, and determining how to best do this and pass the requirement on to re-users, is still an open issue that the community needs to come to a consensus on. For example, regardless of what your take is on re-use by third parties, there is no consensus right now whether it's acceptable for third party content to be directly attributed within the footer of a Wikipedia article. In some cases, such attribution has been reverted. It's possible that the community will limit attribution to content where authors agree to be credited in the same fashion as other Wikipedia authors, but it's also possible that we'll find creative ways to implement third party attribution. We don't need to answer all those questions right now; it's clear that third party content can be treated differently from edits by volunteers and the proposed terms already say so.--Eloquence 18:55, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Attribution must be “reasonable to the medium or means” which will vary from case to case and cannot be flatly declared to always consist of a URL. ... There are also cases where attribution by URL would be highly problematical.

A few examples might help to clarify this point... I cannot think of any medium where a URL would be less reasonable than a couple hundred names. --Tgr 09:10, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What about media destined for a time-capsule? Or for space travel? For any scenario, basically, where the internet may be unavailable, therefore making a URL useless. What about the situation (heaven forbid) when Wikipedia is forced to shut down for some reason, so there is nowhere to link to? What about future technologies where the term 'URL' is meaningless? --HappyDog 17:27, 14 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We can still understand content created thousands of years ago, and the interplanetary internet will be up in a generation at most. In case something should happen that shuts down the Internet for good or eliminates the Wikimedia community, I think we'd have more pressing worries than proper attribution. ParaDoctor 19:41, 14 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A bold claim - and one that's basically missing the point. The questioner couldn't think of any situations where a URL might not be the most suitable attribution. Off the top of my head I have given 4 distinct situations where it might be considered more reasonable to include a list of names than a URL, and I'm sure that with a little more thought I could come up with many more. Right now, this discussion is about proper attribution, so right now, in the context of this page, we don't have 'more pressing worries than proper attribution', so I'm not quite sure what your point is. --HappyDog 00:38, 21 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Tgr was asking for situations "where a URL would be less reasonable than a couple hundred names" rather than implying that URLs are "most suitable" in all cases Tgr can conceive. My "point" is that your examples fail to address Tgr's concern, because there is no reason to believe that the Internet or the Wikimedia community could suddenly vanish. What kind of scenario do you have in mind? Global thermonuclear war? ParaDoctor 18:30, 21 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The great firewall of China? There's a concrete real-world example where the Wikimedia, to all intents and purposes, vanishes from the point of view of the Chinese population. However, my point was not to discuss the merit of these specific examples, but to make the general point that there are situations where the access to the URL may not be reasonably expected to be available. The examples I listed give different reasons why this may not apply (distance in time, distance in space, URL destination disappearing and the term 'URL' no longer applying (for example, what if the interplanetary internet replaces URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) with IPRLs (Inter-Planetary Resource Locators) due to some unforseen short-coming?). If you don't accept those examples, then feel free to come up with some of your own, but I don't think they're as far-fetched as you may think (particularly with regards to the permanence of WMF!) --HappyDog 15:04, 22 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Great Firewall, eh? So used to living in a liberal cloud cuckoo's nest I actually forgot about that kind of ugliness. Sigh. WRT to your "general" argument: Distance in space is only of interest in terms of distance in time, and delays in the solar system are uninteresting in that respect. Deep space cruisers, on the other hand, can be reasonably (sic!) expected to carry a full Wikipedia with them. Hopefully crowding out those pesky Gideon bibles. ^_^ As for the obsolescence problem, I'm pretty confident that those omnious "IPRL"s will be backwards compatible with plain old URIs. And even if they were not, "reasonable to the medium or means" would cover this. I agree, though, that the wording of the license could be more general. Now, distance in time translates into either technological obsolescence or the persistence problem. Which leaves us only with the latter, and, in a surprise twist, takes us back to the Golden Shield Project. We have two cases: A: the content is subject to censorship, B: it is not censored. A moots the licensing problem, while B is not a problem at all. I don't see a scenario where there content is permitted, but the author list is blocked. BTW, I think Wikipedia is no longer blocked over there. A final note: I was not talking about the WMF, I was talking about the community, quite a different beast. ;) ParaDoctor 20:37, 23 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that the fact that in GFDL the "history" page is not required for attribution but for versioning is irrelevant. We never had a method for attributing at least five main authors, or even measuring who they are, the history page was and probably remains the only place where one can view all the editors of a page. Some wikipedias still have as an example of accepted copyright notice a link to the history page as an alternative to listing all authors [1]. This can be preserved, or even put in a better position with some new page with a list of all authors and nothing else. So, if attribution through url is the only reasonable way, then the URL should point to the list of all authors or at least the history and not the article itself. It would be the best compromise and it only needs a technical fix on our side, reusers will still use just a URL . --Geraki TL 15:37, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wouldn’t it be possible to set two links, one to the article itself, one to the history/list of authors page? Or to link to the history/list of authors page and put a big link to the article itself on that page? That would sound more like attribution than just linking to the article and attribute nobody. -- Carbidfischer 15:48, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think this is a legitimate issue, but IMO the answer is not to change the requirements for re-users, but to make authors more visible in Wikimedia projects itself. The first step for that is to have a standard "List of authors" link on each page (the German Wikipedia already does refer to "Authors" on the history tab, others do not), the second would be to have a standardized attribution screen in addition to the history screen, which could show both the article contributors and the multimedia contributors. The first is trivial, the second requires some programming but would IMO be useful. I wouldn't want to implement such changes prior to the standardization of the licensing language, however, because people would only use this as a basis for arguing that they should also apply to re-users.--Eloquence 18:46, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The fact is that most people who disagree with the proposal because they fear of the proposed attribution model and not the license itself. Linking to the article is not more appropriate than a link to a list of authors, even if the list is the history page. However the best approach is the new page with a list of all authors as above, and it is not more reasonable a link to, than to (or or according to implementation). Until then a link to can be reasonable for re-users and leave more people happy. If you think it's complicated we can even include the link in plain text under every article, below the copyright notice. If all we ask from re-users is just a URL why is so demanding to be one specific URL and not another? --Geraki TL 20:23, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Because a link to the actual article is the most useful and obvious (not just my opinion, but also the opinion of most people who participated in our exploratory survey on attribution). Again, I think the issue of how we present authorship in Wikimedia is separate from the issues being voted on here and can be resolved; we are fully committed to a continuing dialog about it. If the fundamental idea of using links/URLs isn't abhorrent to you, then this is something we should be able to build a consensus on relatively easily. :-)--Eloquence 20:36, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I do not think that is so obvious for works that circulate from site to site to link to the source instead of the author (as it is indented in the spirit of cc-by-sa). Most authors who ask for a URL demand a URL to their website's main page (because they are identified with that) and not to the exact source of work. I do believe that the attribution model can be improved, that's why I voted for and evangelized the license update. I acknowledge that we cannot improve the attribution model if we don't go away from the GFDL. --Geraki TL 21:12, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think we're on the same page that giving visibility to people who have made significant contributions to articles in Wikipedia and our other projects is a good thing. I believe that the very existence of licenses confuses people into thinking that everything has to be legally regulated. Wikimedia can and should develop best practices for author attribution, but nowhere is this more important than in Wikimedia's websites. That doesn't mean we have to impose complex requirements of attribution on all re-users.--Eloquence 22:29, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Are you kidding? You don’t really think that attribution is a complex requirement that shouldn’t be imposed on all re-users, or do you? -- Carbidfischer 23:00, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I said "complex requirements of attribution", not "requirements of attribution". The proposal preserves existing attribution practices.--Eloquence 00:00, 14 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Existing attribution practices" that are proposed from en.wikipedia against the existing license. For other wikipedias like the german, it is a downgrade of existing attribution requirements. What is complex in <> against <>? What is complex when most people will just copy&paste any url we provide to them? Nothing would change for re-users. I hope that if there is in the future, a proposal for a change of the attribution model it will not be rejected with the excuse that "the existing model was ratified with a vote". The vote is for the license update and not for the permanent injection of specific terms of attribution, right? --Geraki TL 20:54, 15 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

> it’s not actually legal.

Could you be more specific? I assume you are saying that the section of the proposed terms of use you quoted does not meet some of the requirements stated in the CC license. If so, which requirements do you mean? Can the requirements be met by a change to the proposed TOS? --Rainer 10:56, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One problem is that author's rights to be named can easily be violated by a naming through external links to the original source. Most (live-)mirrors that I know use vulnerable scripts: example (click on an image). If for example Wikimedia changes "image:" into "file:" this might get expensive for reusers. We should NEVER recommend this to reusers by our policy. --Martina Nolte 21:06, 13 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There are things that can be done on the Wikimedia side to ensure stability of URLs (for example, Image: redirects to File:) and availability of authorship information. The present proposal also gives re-users a choice of different methods of attribution.--Eloquence 00:03, 14 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
redirects pose the same problem (see GFDL) - I can give more examples for images, too --Martina Nolte 08:14, 14 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You can't say that existing edits can always be credited via URL. Now it's quite posible to have a legit TOS but the one proposed isn't close.Geni 17:44, 14 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See my arguments against the proposed terms of use in German --Historiograf 20:25, 14 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The entire issue of Attribution in Wikipédia beyond the website owner/project name, and article name, and revision date, and URL, frankly, is bizarre. This is text from the comparison page:

  • GDFL: Title page includes current authors and at least five principal authors of previous versions. Document must also include a history of all prior versions, their authors, and their network location (if any).
  • CC-BY-SA: Current and previous authors and their designated sponsor institutions (if provided), title of work, URI associated with the work (if provided), acknowledgment of adaptation from prior work (if any).

To cut to the chase, certainly, 95% of contibutors to Wikipédia projects are - for practical purposes - anonymous! Wikipédia does not impose a requirement that contributors properly identify themselves by name, address, or location, nor do nearly any contributors choose to identify themselves by name in their logon or on the User pages. (I know anyone can be traced on the Internet, but that is not the point.) The entire issue to author/contributor attributions beyond what I have stated in my opening line above is completely ridiclous for Wikipédia. -- Contributors to Wikipédia are doing this to benefit all, and for practical purposes, without individual credit. It is by nature a collaborative project. -- Frankly, I am opposed to any change that requires any attribution at all to individual authors/contributors beyond Wikipédia itself, which is why I am voting against this proposal. -- A more appropriate license must be developed; CC-BY-SA is not it. Charvex 22:56, 14 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The proposed licensing regime does not require attribution to individual authors or contributors except by means of providing a hyperlink or URL to the article that is being re-used. This is consistent with the attribution section of CC-BY-SA, which allows licensors to agree to be credited through a URL in addition to or instead of by name, and that specific attribution model will be explicitly referenced in the terms of service.--Eloquence 01:11, 15 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But of course, yes, and that is exactly my point. A hyperlink to the Wikipédia article or Wikipédia homepage is more than enough. A hyperlink to the the list of contributors is ridiculously unnecessary. I repeat the portion of the summary above stated (emphasis, of course, is mine): « CC-BY-SA: Current and previous authors and their designated sponsor institutions (if provided), title of work, URI associated with the work (if provided), acknowledgment of adaptation from prior work (if any). » -- Current and previous authors who use sobriquets or logins are no less of authors because they choose not to identify themselves with their real names, do you not agree? -- And, how are these authors to be legally credited in print? -- CC-BY-SA is not enough of an improvement over GDFL to warrant approval. The author requirements are still too onerous and must be revised, and preferably removed. It is better to force this issue now than settle for this grossly inadequate solution. A « NO » is the correct vote. CC-BY-SA is not acceptable as it now stands. Charvex 03:12, 15 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Follow-up to: Eloquence: You wrote this as a reply elsewhere (emphasis added): «  ... IMO the answer is not to change the requirements for re-users, but to make authors more visible in Wikimedia projects itself.  » This attitude is nonsense. A goal should not be made to make anonymous authors in a massively collaborative project « more visible ». -- If authors want credit, Wikipédia, by its very nature, is not the place for them. Charvex 03:33, 15 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Which is not the point. The GFDL requires attribution and the content of Wikipedia has been created (and will be created even after a licensing change) under the conditions of the GFDL. So we have no choice but to think of an adequate manner of crediting the authors. -- Carbidfischer 06:37, 15 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
i started writing for wikipedia under the assumption that the gfdl-requirement of attribution is and will always be honored. as it was part of the license conditions, i felt that it was also the intention of this license to directly pay respect to the contributions of the participating (main)authors. if the attribution is going to be changed to the brand name "wikipedia", and the authors' role in this collaborative work will appear negligible (through links that may or may not work, depending on unforseeable technical conditions), i feel my moral rights as an author and participator in this great project are being violated--TobiasKlaus 13:21, 15 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Pseudonymous contributions are not anonymous. The fact that one cannot trace a username to a real world identity is irrelevant, a username is a valid identity with moral and legal rights. The fact is that with this vote for a proposal consisted of two parts, the community is pushed to vote for both of them or none, and this is breaking the consensus. I believe that the vast majority agree with the change from GFDL to CC-BY-SA but in order to achieve this update they are forced to also vote for the proposed attribution model of "url-to-article". The fact that "url-to-article" had more preference than "url-to-history" does not mean that the majority opposes "url-to-history". The majority of people who prefer "url-to-article" would also support "url-to-history" while many people would only support "url-to-history". The fact is that most of the timeframe has already passed with no progress and the community is pushed to accept this before August on one vote, agreeing both on the license and the attribution model. So, if one agrees with the license update to cc-by-sa but disagree with the "url-to-article" requirement, must choose one of them and then vote, breaking the consensus. I must agree with Tobias that a link to the article does not provide access to something that identifies the authors (paying attribution to them) but attribution of the only identifiable thing, the brand "wikipedia". --Geraki TL 20:42, 15 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So, as I see it, the major objection here is either to the idea of URLs as attribution, or of article URLs as attribution. The first question is a reasonably complicated one, and probably hinges on whether incorporating attribution by reference will hold up in court. However, the second issue seems to be a bit vacuous to me, as in Wikipedia, the history page is rather inextricably linked to the article page. So, in the spirit of not worrying about server load, that objection could be solved by simply modifing MediaWiki so that the history of each article (or at least the first page) is included in the article page somehow? It could be an obvious HTML comment at the top of the page source, or the entire history page could be included in a hidden DIV tag that becomes visible when you click on the history tab at the top of the page. Better yet, you could use an iframe that is created by JavaScript when the history tab is clicked. Or an XmlHttpRequest to fetch the article history when someone wants it. These proposals all have cross-browser compatibility problems, and are frankly stupid and unnecessary. But, they'd probably satisfy the legal standard of making the article page include author attribution. That is, if it isn't satisfied already. IANAL, but as ambivalent as courts tend to be about the actual inner workings of technology, I'd think that linking to a page that has an obvious "History" tab at the top would probably hold up in court just as well as linking to the history page itself. MrNerdHair 06:19, 26 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Protection of the sources

As I understand it (not being a lawyer), the terms of the cc-by-sa just say "you must not try to hinder reuse", but they don't require keeping the sources.

So it would be completely in line with te cc-by-sa to improve wikipedia texts in private, create a book from them and publish it - allowing everyone to type down the improved text from the book, but not giving them back to the community.

With the GFDL they must also publicize a source version, so the improvements can easily be reimported into the Wikipedia - which is a good thing, as the success story of free software shows quite clearly.

So I'm strongly in favor of keeping the GFDL as license - and opposed to opening the door for people who don't want to give back their work, though they use ours.

Wikipedia is mostly text based, and text has a clear source form. So the GFDL is perfectly suited. If there's any other license I'd want it to switch to, that's the GPLv3, which didn't include the compromises the GFDL had to do. Version 3 of the GPL is general enough to be used for any work which has clear sources [1].

That is a very strong argument. Moreover, it could be in the best interests of Wikimedia as if forks could be remerged into the trunk, then there is less chances of forking. Mirroring and duplication, yes, but forking would not be much viable. Kushal one 19:48, 15 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comment on dbachmann's "Why I had to oppose this"

Automated loop removal, as dbachman suggest for download, is probably not desirable. Imagine, e.g., this scenario:

  • User A writes a stub.
  • User B improves.
  • User C vanvalises.
  • User D reverts to A's stub.
  • User E reverts to B's improved version.

Loop removal could easily attribute B's work to E. I bet you could even construct scenarios where good work is attributed to vandals.-- 16:59, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Images have been uploaded under GFDL with the express intent to make the onus of using the image in printed media prohibitive. When wikipedia is now making it easy to use such images in print, it goes against the intent of uploaders. If I had uploaded like that, I would be mad. But I see hardly any discussion of this issue on wikimedia commons - while people are busy fussing about anonymous photos from the 1860's... I will not vote, because such issues cannot be decided by votes. /Pieter Kuiper 20:17, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The examples of this behavior I am aware of generally also specify GFDL 1.2-only, which prevents any license migration anyway. If there are examples of people attempting to use GFDL as a restrictive license who also used 1.2 or later versions, then yes I could see how they might be upset. I'm not sure how many people would be affected by such a thing. Dragons flight 20:41, 16 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Liability risks?

Before approving such a change I'd like to see Wikimedia get a solid guarantee regarding questions of liability. Consider the following scenario...

  • 1. Uploader A posts an image of Tony Blair in ladies' undergarments
  • 2. Wikimedia enacts this license change
  • 3. Tony Blair sues Wikimedia under Britain's crazy libel laws

Now if step 2 is omitted, Wikimedia could take some position that this is strictly user originated content that they never screened and they took some action once a complaint was made. But what happens legally if it takes place? Is the document with the new license still regarded as entirely user generated material, or can someone now claim that because Wikimedia decided to reissue it with a new license and new potential to be copied and recopied over the internet, that now they can be sued about it?

These changes sound sensible enough, but "sensible" doesn't cut it legally - whatever you do there's someone saying well you shouldn't have done that and now you're screwed. I don't want them getting any chance to put their beaks in Wikimedia. Wnt 03:28, 22 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

History pages?

A question. I don't quite get all of this. From what I understand, this means, for me, that the history page need not be there anymore, and if it is, it need not go back to the beginning of the article? Am I wrong? 13:18, 22 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You need to provide credit reasonable to the medium and means. Any statement ohterwise by the foundation has no legal validity.Genisock2 16:00, 23 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Two Proposals For Resolving Most Problems

Proposal One: Stepwise Refinement

Since most voters probably understand some, but not all, of the issues, and since few of them are actually qualified either by knowledge or experience to make the judgement, one suggestion would be for people to vote in favor of the proposal (since it is mostly an improvement), then for the Trustees to continue the discussion to figure out ways to modify the policy to remove the problems.

By that reasoning, we wouldn't need a vote to begin with. 13:24, 28 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, wasn't logged in, above comment is by me ParaDoctor 13:42, 28 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proposal Two: Multiple Policies

An interesting solution would be to implement a set of independent copyright/licensing policies (perhaps even including PD) and let the original author (or a transition committee in the case of existing articles, acting on input from themselves and recent major editors of the particular article) select their desired policy.

If a particular policy requires extra "useless" text (such as the GFDL), that burden would only be incurred if there was an actual reason to use that policy.

One article might not include any licensed material and doesn't have an author who needs to own or assign the copyright. They would check the PD checkbox (or a default Wikipedia license). Another article might contain GFDL material, so it would be included in Wikipedia under the unmodified GFDL license. Another might contain a mixture of GFDL and CC material; it could be covered by the kind of license being proposed by the Board of Trustees.

It is even conceivable that the sections of an article could be covered by different licences. For example, one section, which quotes some GFDL material, would have an associated GFDL license while other sections might be covered under the more permissive default Wikipedia license. David spector 13:30, 28 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

new files

1) The usage of the relicencing would be that the reuse is easier. Even I don't think that the WMF should even dare to think of relicencing images (because they were once published under GFDL and not under CC-BY-SA and even they could be used easierly the authors may don't like CC licences and the WMF should accept this) it would have no effect on uploaded media files in the future (and of course there would also be no effect to images uploaded after the 1st of November 2008). Thereby the use of this relicencing would not exist for all future uploads which (I guess) will be the majority in a few years.
2) I don'T think that guys who care about the relicencing images and who voted against won't upload any file with the "any version later" clause. I think they will all switch to 1.2-only which would be the opposite of that what the relicencing is included for.
3)Even some say I don't think that image uploads will be impossible only under GFDL, because overall it's a free licence even the reuse is/would be hard. Thereby GFDL 1.2-only as only free licence for a file will be used instead of 1.2+ (I think) from those who know and care
--D-Kuru 19:37, 30 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]