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Wikinews/License straw poll

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This vote is closed. See Wikinews/Licensure Poll for a new vote, started on September., 2005.

Should the Wikinews project start, we will have the choice of using the license of other Wikimedia projects (the GNU Free Documentation License), a different license, or the public domain. During the course of the Wikinews vote, some people have expressed doubts about whether the GNU FDL would be the right choice for the project. The arguments for and against are summarized below. The purpose of this page is to hold a non-binding straw poll among Wikinews interests about what our choice of license should be, if the project is launched.

Wikinews and copyleft


The copyleft principle is the idea that if you use a piece of text, a picture or any other content in your work, then that work - unless it is merely a compilation - has to be freely licensed as well. This principle is embodied in the GNU FDL. The purpose of this principle is to enrich the information commons.

Mainstream media, including small publications, already have licenses with journalists, wire services and other publishers. It is no problem to include a single copylefted story. A copylefted article would only require that changes to the article be provided under the same license (as opposed to the entire newspaper).

Some copyleft proponents may not see the exclusion of mainstream, proprietary sources as a bad thing. They want Wikinews to become a valuable resource of its own, and its content to be used and developed by independent publications around the world. They want to promote the copyleft principle along with the content itself. They also argue that copyleft is the only way to ensure that additional information added by third parties can always be returned to Wikinews, and that this justifies the exclusion of some people who are not willing to use copyleft principles.

Specific licensing options


Please add your vote under any of these licenses - you can vote for multiple ones. Again, this is a non-binding poll. A binding poll may be held if the Wikinews project is launched officially.

GNU Free Documentation License


Copyleft license. [1] Used by Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wikicommons (as default license for media). Two-way compatibility with other Wikimedia projects. May in the future become two-way compatibile with CC-BY-SA (discussions about this are under way). Even proponents acknowledge its complexity and some problematic aspects (see e.g. Why you shouldn't use the GNU FDL for a detailed discussion).


  1. Eloquence 06:01, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  2. Sam Hocevar 07:58, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC) I am not in favour of supporting DRM archives.
  3. Neutrality 04:27, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  4. Mathias Schindler 13:12, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  5. Zanimum
  6. RoseParks 17:24, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  7. Delirium 17:55, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  8. Wellparp 18:46, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  9. Kim Bruning 01:15, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC) KISS principle. Talk with Eben Moglen to improve the licence.
  10. Guaka 12:15, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  11. The bellman 23:24, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC) as much as i might prefer to use PD for all the projects, its too late now, and i believe that 2-way compatability is very important.
  12. Elian 23:00, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC) for compatibility with wikipedia and the other projects
  13. Conny 16:27, 27 Dec 2004 (UTC) In hope that two-way compatibility problems get solved (in view of CC-BY-SA).
  14. IGEL 22:03, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  15. Ratatosk 23:36, 11 May 2005 (UTC)
  16. Hedavid 14:39, 11 July 2005 (UTC) (Hope that compatibility between GFDL and CC-by-sa will come fast and hope for a fast decission for one license. - I don't like the PD!)[reply]

Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License


Copyleft license. [2] Not used by any Wikimedia project except for some images. Currently incompatible with the GNU FDL, but discussions are under way. May restrict inclusion of the works in some newspaper archives if they use DRM in their archives.


  1. Delirium 17:55, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  2. Ellmist 22:00, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC) - With the GFDL, you have to include a copy of the license, which way too much work when you just want to distribute one article
  3. --Mrmiscellanious 17:00, 9 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Creative Commons Attribution-Only License


No copyleft, but ensures that contributors' work is credited. [3] Incompatible with the GNU FDL (both ways?).


  1. WTH. Acceptable. Anthony DiPierro 12:55, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  2. Use This. If a newspaper or magazin would like to print an article it can do with crediting the authors and wikinews (with GNU FDL or CC-SA it can't, because then the whole newspaper or magazin has to be under GNU FDL or CC-SA)--Habakuk 16:24, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  3. as above Sblive 21:58, 4 Jul 2005 (UTC)
  4. Unless anyone can convince me otherwise... -- 20:20, 9 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  5. McCart42 04:05, 10 August 2005 (UTC) - Also support public domain, but have major issues with GFDL.[reply]
  6. tsca 14:22, 10 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Datrio 11:10, 17 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Acceptable, but I believe that there should be also stated that When building a publication upon articles from Wikinews, you have to sign any of them with "wikinews/http://??.wikinews.org", and in publication's summary (table of contents? writer's list) there should be information about licensing Sblive 11:32, 17 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Marshaü
  10. --Deprifry 18:13, 17 August 2005 (UTC) ACK Habakuk. Any copyleft/share-alike licence prevents usage of Wikinews content in newspapers or any commercial media.[reply]

BSD license


Similar to Creative Commons Attribution-Only but it doesn't restrict the use of DRM in archives, so it won't restrict the desire of publications with DRM-using archives to use the stories.


  1. Jamesday 06:14, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC) The words are the message, so the wider the use, the better.
  2. If dual-licensing is not possible, then I'd stick to BSD for now. --BenM 06:53, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)´
  3. Tmh 08:40, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Public domain


No copyleft, does not ensure that contributors' work is credited in the United States. In other places moral rights apply and do. See public domain on Wikipedia. Two-way compatible with the GNU FDL, but integrating FDL text into a public domain text would require the text to become FDL-licensed, i.e. as a result some Wikinews articles would not be in the public domain if they use, for example, substantial portions of Wikipedia articles.


  1. Eloquence 06:01, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC) (the only viable alternative, IMHO)
  2. This is my second choice after dual-licensed. Angela 06:07, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  3. Jamesday 06:29, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC) the further the independent news goes, the better.
  4. First choice. Anthony DiPierro 13:05, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  5. en:User:Vacuum I prefer the BSD license, but as more people are supporting this, I'll vote here. I may be falling for the w:Abilene paradox though.
  6. [[User:OldakQuill|Oldak Quill]]
  7. Tmh 08:40, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  8. NGerda 21:09, 9 August 2005 (UTC) - Keep it free and open[reply]
  9. McCart42 03:31, 10 August 2005 (UTC) - I have a major problem with GFDL for Wikinews stories; anyone wishing to reference our stories in paper format shouldn't have to print out the text of the GFDL every time they wish to do so! I could be wrong about this being a requirement, but it seems to be the case. I am somewhat supportive of CC-by as well.[reply]
  10. Dan100 11:04, 17 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  11. APPER 22:54, 30 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Lankiveil 06:14, August 31, 2005 (UTC)



A combination of the above options. Users of the content can choose which license they want to accept. Note that this leads to one-way compatibility, as content which is not dual-licensed cannot be included in Wikinews content. If one of the licenses is non-copyleft, it also pretty much defeats the copyleft principle, as third parties can choose to ignore it.

Dual licensing can lead to problems, see the Wikitravel discussion about this topic, the main problem is this: "The by-sa license and the GFDL both require that all derivative works of a Work be made under that license itself. In other words, another contributor cannot make a dual-licensed derived work." So GFDL+CC-BY-SA is not an option for a Wiki.
In a dual or multiple license situation you do not need to comply with all of the licenses simultaneously. Rather, you select the one or more licenses you wish to use. As a reuser, you could select GFDL and would only need to comply with the GFDL terms. Or CC. Or any combination or other license. That is, a dual or multiple license gives reusers more freedom, not less. Consider a Windows license. Microsoft offers single purchase licenses, OEM with hardware licenses and corporate volume licenses. The buyer of a corporate license version doesn't also have to follow the conditions of the single user license and the OEM with hardware license. For wikinews itself, of course, contributors would be expected to release everything under all of the licenses, so that reusers would have the intended choices. Jamesday 20:21, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I think it depends on how the license is included. It is not the same whether you say GFDL and CC-AT or GFDL or CC-AT. (the second is better...)--

Votes (specify your preferred combination):

  1. A combination of the Attribution-Only to allow for wider external use and GFDL to allow for Wikipedia use. Angela 06:06, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • I would think that CC-AT is already one-way compatible with the GFDL. Also, wouldn't it be more useful to allow Wikipedia content in Wikinews than vice-versa? Anthony DiPierro 13:08, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
      • I'm changing my vote now that Creative Commons Attribution allows attribution to the wiki, and Wikinews rarely needs to make use of Wikipedia content. Angela 14:19, 10 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
Which goes to show just how little you know about Wikinews. Dan100 10:16, 27 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
Could you try to give some reasons why you think that instead of making personal attacks? Surely if there was a real need to use Wikipedia content, the project would have to have changed to GFDL already. How can you think there is a need to use it when the project has been running for 10 months without that possibility and no move to make the project GFDL? If you really believed this, why are you voting for the license to remain PD? Angela 19:23, 27 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  1. All of the above (there are places where PD isn't possible and you need a license instead, so PD is not incompatible with having licenses in those places). Or any combination including BSD or PD. This is better than any single license. Jamesday 06:29, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  2. with Angela --Shizhao 06:32, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  3. A combination of the BSD and the GNU FDL (if the latter allows dual licensing, or something similar if it does not). Dual licensing can also be extended to more than two (multiple licensing), but it would only be incompatible with the PD option. --BenM 06:52, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  4. Dual GFDL and CC BY-SA. Sam Hocevar 23:09, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  5. CC-by and GFDL are most likely the best choices. — El Chico | Talk 12:18, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  6. Jamesday makes a good point. If we're going to do PD, then this is how it should be done. If not, then I still vote for this, and we should include as many licenses as possible. But I can see why we'd want to do just GFDL (or even better see my suggestion of contributor-licensed below). Anthony DiPierro 13:12, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  7. With Angela as well. TheAL --TheAL 23:56, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  8. Same as Anthony DiPierro. Tomos 08:03, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  9. ✏ Sverdrup 11:01, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  10. FDL and CC-by-sa We should not get rid of copyleft. See talk. --Daniel Mayer 17:11, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  11. FDL and CC-by-sa --Delirium 17:55, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  12. GFDL and CC BY-SA, please. 'FDL for Wikinews to Wikipedia, CC BY-SA since it would be way easier for reprinting as all you need is a tagline and a link to the license, and then reprinting is easy from there on. As Daniel Mayer pointed out in the talk, it would be easy to reprint and CC BY-SA while the work stays free. KirbyMeister 01:29, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  13. I favour any license which doesn't allow evil people to wrap up our work in DRM (DRM is evil and we should do nothing to support it). Therefore I think we should dual-license under both the #Creative Commons Attribution-Only License and the GNU FDL -- Cabalamat mw 23:59, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  14. FDL and CC-by-sa -- Michael Lutz 14:21, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  15. CC-by or "CC-by and GFDL" if CC-by --&gt GFDL is not possible. Moving Wikipedia content to Wikinews does not seem to be a good idea. However, integrating Wikinews content into Wikipedia must be possible. I think, Wikinews content should not be restricted by copyleft. I have written too many small computer programs for my personal needs, which I may not share because they depend on two incompatible licenced libraries. Reimplementing a library because of licence issues is a very boring task, I avoid whenever possible. :-( --Hendrik Brummermann 23:14, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  16. pro GFDL and CCbysa -- Vinci 02:16, 27 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  17. pro GFDL and CC-by-sa SonicR 19:39, 03 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  18. second opinion: GDFL or CC-by (BTW: If someone who wants to print an article from wikinews, and the license would be GDFL or CC-SA, he would have to print the license itselve too - In most case the license would be longer than the article...) -- de:Benutzer:habakuk 15:17, 23. Jan 2005 (MET)
  19. CC-by or "CC-by and GFDL" if CC-by --&gt GFDL is not possible. --Monet 09:24, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  20. GFDL and CC-BY-SA Guaka 15:24, 28 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  21. CC-BY and GFDL, should be possible and is the best solution (IMHO) of all these solutions. I'd rather have just CC-by-SA, but some like to use WP for reference when writing articles. -Mrmiscellanious 17:02, 9 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  22. GFDL and CC-By with attribution to the Wiki Datrio 11:10, 17 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  23. GFDL and CC-by-sa Marshaü 14:09, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

Contributor licensed


Unlike Wikipedia articles, Wikinews stories will have relatively few primary authors, and will be frozen after a relatively short period of time. Thus, it is possible to allow the original contributor to choose the license(s). All articles must also be licensed under the GFDL. This is to allow anyone to take the entire database dump and use it under a single license. This is similar to "dual-licensing" above, but is more flexible because it allows the original contributor to include content which is already licensed under the GFDL, for instance content from Wikipedia could be used as background.

  1. GFDL, along with any other license the original contributor wants. Anthony DiPierro 13:01, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  2. PD by default, author can choose to cast to GFDL on case-by-case basis (i.e., if they wish to include verbatim content from Wikipedia). BryceHarrington 03:45, 23 May 2005 (UTC)[reply]