Talk:Licensing update

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Discussion started from the mailing list

The following discussion was copied from the mailing list on 2009-07-10. The intent is to continue the discussion on-wiki. I've made an effort to wikify it a little and removed all contact info, but otherwise changed nothing. -kotra 23:06, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

Hi all. This email is long, so here's the tl;dr version: we have until August 1 to update our license to CC-BY-SA to remain compatible with Wikipedia and many other wikis and works. Please comment.

As you may be aware, GFDL (the Gnu Free Documentation License) is what all contributions on our wiki are currently licensed under. It allows people to use everything we add to the wiki for any purpose as long as the author is attributed and all derivative works use the same license (GFDL). GFDL, however, was intended for software documentation, not general-purpose works. Another license, the CC-BY-SA license, is basically identical to GFDL, but it is intended for general-purpose works, and has much greater usage. GFDL has a clause in it that specifically allows us to switch licenses to CC-BY-SA if we choose to do so, but only during a window of time that ends on August 1 (3 weeks from now).

Wikipedia, along with most other Wikimedia-hosted wikis, has made this change. If we are to remain compatible with them (allowing the copying of content from, for example, Wikipedia to our wiki and vice versa), we'll have to switch too, and before August 1.

Are there any objections/agreements/questions to switching our license to CC-BY-SA? Please comment at http://pdx.wiki.org/Licensing_update .

Pertinent links: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Licensing_update http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html

kotra

I'm all for migration. I completely forgot about the possibility for our own wiki!
Steven Walling
Thanks for being so on top of it Kotra -- I didn't think about that, either!
As long as we're revisiting licensing, I have another adjustment I'd very much like to make: I believe that user space and talk page content should default to full copyright by the contributor.
It has always struck me as a rather strange thing to do, to require people to consent to have their word republished in any number of ways, as a prerequisite to simply participating in a discussion.
I know the Mediawiki software doesn't provide an easy way to communicate that kind of licensing distinction, but I'm sure we could sort that part out.
Any thoughts on the matter?
-Pete
That's an interesting point, Pete... however, I'm wondering if full copyright would cause some problems. For example, how could you archive or refactor a talk page discussion? Archiving involves making a copy of a work, and refactoring (like, to modify formatting of text for display reasons) would be modifying a work. One would have to get permission from all original editors every time one wanted to do that sort of thing. Also, you couldn't collaboratively work on something in the talk or user space and then move it to the main space, unless each author moved their part individually or otherwise gave permission. Seems like it would stifle collaboration unless all collaboration was required to be done in the main space.
Thinking about the "how", I can't think of any way mediawiki could do this either, except having in the licensing info on all pages say something like "main space is CC-BY-SA 3.0, all other spaces are normal copyright". I suppose that's sufficient as long as it's clearly explained.
kotra
The how problem is pretty thorny, since there's really no way to set a specific license for a namespace. Also, from my perspective, talk pages are a collaborative space, not one you own. By definition, they're meant to contain other people's words first and foremost, so it doesn't make sense to me to say that I should own other's words in my talk page. Also, user pages are most definitely still collaborative too, and I personally think the same free license incentive to help eachother out applies to user pages.
In short, it looks kind of hard, and it's more important a question for larger sites like Wikipedia. While I agree in principle with you Pete, I don't think we're going to have people refusing to work on the wiki because user space is Creative Commons.
More important than licensing even, I think it's time we pushed to get a logo for the group, and maybe even skin the site with a better out-of-the-box skin (I have resources for this). Maybe a discussion of our wiki (and its license) should be the next WikiWednesday's agenda?
Steven
About the skin, I had committed in the June meeting to do this, but I've been bad and haven't done it yet. I still plan on having something for people to look at and discuss by the next meeting, unless you want to take a whack at it yourself. I was thinking a sort of clean, simple layout that would take cues from the logo in terms of coral pink highlights and curved forms. Concerning the logo, do you mean something different from the current rose-type logo? I was thinking the name of our wiki would be good to have in the logo ("PWWW", or "Portland Wiki Wednesday Wiki", or "pdx.wiki.org"); otherwise, I sort of like the current logo.
Unfortunately, we can't discuss the GFDL-to-CC thing in the next meeting, because that will be too late. The last day we can legally make the switch is August 1, and the next meeting is August 5.
kotra
Kotra, you make an excellent point about refactoring, archiving etc. (some more detailed response below.) Steven, you too -- though we're not quite talking about the same things re: user space.
Anyway, due to the obvious thorniness and the looming deadline, let me drop this matter for the time being, and instead enthusiastically endorse moving from GFDL to CC-BY-SA while we have the opportunity.
-Pete
PS: back to talk pages, for the sake of a longer term discussion. Regarding Kotra's point about archiving and refactoring: I believe these activities are based on trust anyway, and full copyright preserves that spirit. For instance, if Alice refactors Billy's comment in a way that doesn't capture his intent, Billy should have the right and the final say to re-refactor it, or remove the comment altogether. If he retained full copyright over his words, that would clearly protect that right.
This is basically how copyright has worked for quite some time. If a friend sends me a photo, and I think it would look awesome on my web site, I might publish it there; if she objects, I have the obligation to take it down. My relationship with the person, my familiarity with her intent, and common sense properly constrain whether I put it up to begin with, because having her request that I take it down is something I'd rather avoid contending with if I can avoid it.
It would be interesting & useful to capture this separate conversation (about rights in collaborative spaces) on the wiki itself - perhaps in the talk page for the Licensing page.
Peace,
David Galiel
New Media Consultant
David, that's a good idea about moving the longer-term discussion to the wiki. What's your opinion on the more immediate issue -- shifting the main license to CC-BY-SA within the Aug. 1 window?
Kotra, what do you think about adding a big, bold note about this discussion at the top of pdx.wiki.org? Are you familiar enough with the technicalities to know how many people's consent we'd need, and how we should have them express it?
Off the top of my head, here are the people who have been somewhat active -- it might be best to just seek them out directly.
Dave Myers
Brandon CS Sanders
Shelley Sanders
Mark Dilley
Katr
Kotra
Pete (me)
Steven Walling
Ward (?)
Could poke through recent changes and http://pdx.wiki.org/Special:Listusers to round out the list...
-Pete

Arbitrary break

(response to Pete) I already added a bold (but not big) notice on the Main Page about it, but maybe you mean something like the current Wikimedia Board elections notices at the top of every page on Wikipedia when you're logged in? I can probably do that once I figure out how.

As for how many people's consent we'd need, technically we don't need anyone's. As I understand it, since GFDL and CC-BY-SA are so similar, and GFDL has provisions in it allowing for a switch to has an explicit clause in it for switching to CC-BY-SA, all that's technically necessary is an announcement that the license has changed, and that change reflected everywhere it says "GFDL" on the website. Wikimedia put it to a community vote because they knew if they just did it unilaterally, a lot of volunteers would be pissed. I'll double-check this to be sure.

Anyway, if a strong majority of the people who comment on the proposed relicensing are approving of it, that would be enough for me. Currently, 5 people (Pete, Steven, David, Ray, and me) have expressed approval (me as of this comment anyway), and 0 people have expressed opposition. We don't get much participation at this wiki, so I don't think many more people will comment. But we can wait until just a few days before August 1, though, if that would be best. -kotra 23:37, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

Michael Snow said that the Wikimedia vote would not be concerned with the actual turnout for the vote, as long as everyone had the opportunity to vote. I think it's legitimate for us to take that attitude as well. The licensing update has been advertised on the mailing list and prominently on the wiki (on the front page originally, now as a hatnote on all pages) for about 2 weeks (more time would have been ideal, but that's how it went). I think all of us that use this wiki have had the opportunity to voice any objections by now.
Michael Snow also said they would've only gone forward with the change with a 50% majority of respondents in favor, so perhaps there is a legal reason for that. However, even so, we've met that basic 50% (we've been at 100% since the beginning).
I'd also like to point out that, proportionally, we've already surpassed the percentage of users that participated in the Wikimedia vote. So far we have 5 out of our total 17 users who have made a single non-spam edit, and Wikimedia had 17,462 total votes and 147,311 active users (performed an action in the last 30 days) on English Wikipedia alone (this isn't scientific, but may give a general impression of how, proportionally, there was much less participation with Wikimedia's vote and it was still considered valid). -kotra 22:10, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Wow, not bad! Thanks for all the details, and sorry I missed your response the first time. I think it would be a good idea to contact the very few people who have made significant contributions -- off Shelley Sanders is the only one I can think of off the top of my head, but I will brainstorm a little and poke around this evening. -Pete Forsyth
Ok, sounds good to me. I would feel safe if we made the switch now, but I can understand wanting to get explicit approval from all the most active contributors. I suggest we decide and make any changes on the 25th at the latest, so there's no chance of missing the deadline. -kotra 00:12, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
I've heard no response to this, but if there are no objections, I will try to make the switch tomorrow (2009-07-27). -kotra 07:25, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
I was busy all day yesterday, so I have done it today. All text content on this wiki is now licensed under the CC-BY-SA license. -kotra 18:48, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Full copyright for certain namespaces

(continued from above discussion)

Pete said:
back to talk pages, for the sake of a longer term discussion. Regarding Kotra's point about archiving and refactoring: I believe these activities are based on trust anyway, and full copyright preserves that spirit. For instance, if Alice refactors Billy's comment in a way that doesn't capture his intent, Billy should have the right and the final say to re-refactor it, or remove the comment altogether. If he retained full copyright over his words, that would clearly protect that right. This is basically how copyright has worked for quite some time. If a friend sends me a photo, and I think it would look awesome on my web site, I might publish it there; if she objects, I have the obligation to take it down. My relationship with the person, my familiarity with her intent, and common sense properly constrain whether I put it up to begin with, because having her request that I take it down is something I'd rather avoid contending with if I can avoid it.

You have a point there, but that only works if everyone involved knows each other and understands how each person feels about copies and modifications to their work. When one wants to archive a long discussion with several participants, that isn't always the case. It's true that when someone objects to an archive or refactoring of their content, in places like Wikipedia where anyone has the legal right to archive and refactor, it's considered good wikiquette to revert yourself and discuss until you reach an agreement with them. However, when copyright law is brought into it, things might get much more serious and gaming the system much more possible. A vindictive user could, even after the revert, legally bring a lawsuit against them, since the copied/modified content still exists in the page history. Assuming the case isn't dismissed as frivolous, they might even win. The only obstacle to this would be if an administrator or oversighter (I don't even know if we have oversight on this wiki) removed any public traces of the offending content.

This may sound like a far-fetched scenario, but I would imagine it would occur occasionally if a large wiki like Wikipedia was structured this way. Either that, or most people would be too afraid to touch each others' Talk: and User: space contributions, and so the usefulness of them would be reduced: confusing formatting would remain, talk pages would become insurmountably large, and perhaps even libel and others' personal information would be allowed to remain, except when removed by users willing to break copyright law. It would be either a disincentive to participation or a website that by its very structure encourages copyright violation (YouTube?).

There is also the other reason I mentioned earlier; you couldn't collaboratively work on main space content in the Talk: or User: spaces. It would have to be done in another space ("Draft:"?), which would make proposing changes on the talk page much more complicated.

I think complications and collaboration difficulties like the above are why wikis don't generally allow full copyright, anywhere. It's slower, more restrictive, less collaboration-minded, and allows too much system-gaming by introducing legality into the mix. Instead, we have to rely on social rules, not laws, to prevent people from misrepresenting or misusing content. Editing someone else's comments to change their meaning, on Wikipedia, for example, is strongly discouraged and can result in a block. I think it's better that we use our own rules, not outside laws (which are often confusing, inconsistent, and unenforceable in an international context anyway).

Jeez, sorry for being so long-winded. -kotra 00:36, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Technical details

These are the technical changes involved that I can think of (see also Wikimedia's list):

  • In the site footer, replace the GFDL logo with one of the CC ones here (I suggest the third one), and the following text:
All text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License. See Copyrights for further details. See the page history for a list of authors.
Edit at: MediaWiki:Wikimedia-copyright? Seems odd it would be named "Wikimedia", not sure if this is it.
Turns out it wasn't. After some digging, I found I had to change it in the LocalSettings.php file on the server. Used the first CC-BY-SA icon, not the third, because it matches the dimensions of the "Powered by MediaWiki" icon. Also changed the text in the footer at MediaWiki:Copyright. -kotra 18:58, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Modify the edit screen text to say:
By submitting an edit, you agree to release your contribution under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License. Re-users will be required to credit you, at minimum, through a hyperlink or URL to the article you are contributing to, and you hereby agree that such credit is sufficient in any medium. See Copyrights for details. If you do not want your writing to be edited mercilessly and redistributed at will, then do not submit it here.


You are also promising us that you wrote this yourself, or copied it from a public domain or similar free resource. DO NOT SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION.
Edit at: MediaWiki:Copyrightwarning
  • PdxWikiWednesday:Copyrights will explain the CC-BY-SA license in more depth. We can just reuse the same text from Wikimedia's terms of use. Without, of course, their mention of GFDL and dual-licensing (the reasons they went with dual-licensing don't really apply to us since it's unlikely we'll ever want to import or export from GFDL-only sources, and the added complexity of dual-licensing is a headache for most of us).

I think that takes care of everything, based on how Wikimedia did it. Less than I thought. -kotra 23:57, 20 July 2009 (UTC)