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The Internet Technology

Wikipedia to be Licensed Under Creative Commons 188

Posted by Zonk
from the i'm-betting-it-was-kind-of-a-dorky-party dept.
sla291 writes "Jimmy Wales made an announcement yesterday night at a Wikipedia party in San Francisco : Creative Commons, Wikimedia and the FSF just agreed to make the current Wikipedia license compatible with Creative Commons (CC BY-SA). As Jimbo puts it, 'This is the party to celebrate the liberation of Wikipedia'."
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Wikipedia to be Licensed Under Creative Commons

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  • Fantastic (Score:3, Informative)

    by pbooktebo (699003) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @04:42PM (#21546545)
    I much prefer CC and use it in my own work frequently. I've contributed to Wikipedia many times, and think this is a great move. It will also boost CC, which deserves all the exposure it can get.
    • It surprises me that one man can change the license of everyone else's contributions!!

      Not that I think this is a bad thing. But my contributions to wikipedia belong to me. And I licensed them to wikimedia foundation under a specific license, which (as far as I can tell) does NOT permit some arbitrary person (Jimbo) free reign to license it to others under whatever license he wants.

  • by MLCT (1148749) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @04:47PM (#21546585)
    Presuming that the GFDL doesn't allow commutation with the CC licence then this change (if true, since the only source in the submission is a blog) won't make any difference unless wikipedia is wiped and they start again. Everything up until today on wikipedia is licensed under the GFDL, so that content will always be under the GFDL, because that is the licence the contributors agreed to when they submitted content (apart from a few who have made statements releasing their work of more restrictions, such as PD), and that licence can't be revoked or replaced by a CC-BY-SA licence without their permission (all hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of them).
    • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Saturday December 01, 2007 @04:51PM (#21546617)
      If you RTFM, it's not that they're moving Wikipedia from GFDL to CC-BY-SA; rather, the GFDL is becoming compatible with CC-BY-SA. If the GFDL license in use had the usual "or any future version" clause in use, then the content was initially given with permission for relicensing under this new version -- so no problem at all.
      • by MLCT (1148749)
        Fair enough, I didn't RTFA because it is a blog. In that case the submissions impression that this is some initiative through wikipedia is misleading. This is all in the hands of the FSF and how long it takes then to agree on a new version could be anyone's guess. Given it is 5 years since the last version I won't hold my breath.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cduffy (652)
          Given that it was a joint announcement between the Wikimedia Foundation, the FSF and Creative Commons, it's safe to say that there's more than just the FSF involved. Granted, they have the final say -- but there are at least two other organizations working with them and, in doing so, pushing this process along.

          I'm not sure that "didn't RTFA because it was a blog" approach is entirely fair; after all, why trust an ultra- (and often inaccurately-) summarized blog entry (ie. the slashdot summary) more than a c
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Goobergunch (876745)
        If the GFDL license in use had the usual "or any future version" clause in use, then the content was initially given with permission for relicensing under this new version -- so no problem at all. Yup. Wikipedia edits are licensed under "GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts."
      • by tverbeek (457094)
        If you dig a little more deeply to the statement by the Wikimedia Foundation [wikimediafoundation.org], you'll see that they are planning to change licenses. GFDL 2.0 is just going to be intermediary revision, one which adds a clause allowing any massively multiauthor wiki to be relicensed under CC-By-SA.
  • What are the differences between Creative Commons and their current GFDL?
    • Re:Difference? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Aluvus (691449) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @05:33PM (#21546969) Homepage

      Principally that the GFDL has some clauses that make odd but relatively minor requirements. It bars the makers of derivative works from removing any "invariant sections" from the original work (does not apply to Wikipedia). Distributing any GFDL work requires that you distribute with it a "transparent" copy of the entire license, which is impractical for a single printed Wikipedia article, for instance. But the core rights that the GFDL grants (duplication, derivative works, commerical or non-commercial use) are the same as those granted by CC-BY-SA. The GFDL just contains some "FSF-isms".

      Appropriately enough, the Wikipedia article on the GFDL [wikipedia.org] includes a list of criticisms that cover this topic.

    • Disclaimer: This comment contains no legal advice.

      What are the differences between Creative Commons and their current GFDL?

      For one thing, both major GNU licenses (GNU General Public License and GNU Free Documentation License) require each downstream user to include attribution to each author in the copyright notice. The six core Creative Commons licenses ordinarily require this, but they also allow each an author to change his mind and forbid downstream users from crediting the author in future copies:

      If You create a Collective Work, upon notice from any Licensor You must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Collective Work any credit as required by Section 4(b), as requested. If You create a Derivative Work, upon notice from any Licensor You must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Derivative Work any credit as required by Section 4(b), as requested.

      Revoking credit would appear to interfere with the ability to present an "a

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Disclaimer: This comment contains no legal advice.

        Whew! Congrats. You sure dodged a bevy of lawsuits there. I myself was going to sue you for a pathetic post on this pathetic website, but now I cannot.
        • I don't know about the grandparent, but the last time I posted a legal interpretation (based on reading relevant documents) and forgot to say I was not a lawyer, the first and only reply was about whether or not it was legal advice.

          Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
    • Re:Difference? (Score:5, Informative)

      by AxelBoldt (1490) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @07:13PM (#21547769) Homepage

      What are the differences between Creative Commons and their current GFDL?

      GFDL requires that so-called "Invariant Sections" (talking about the author and their relationship to the subject matter) be carried forward into future versions unchanged. Wikipedia articles don't have Invariant Sections, but you could take a Wikipedia article, change it, and then add an invariant section; everybody who wanted to use your changes would then have to keep the invariant section intact.

      GFDL also requires that the title of the work be changed after every modification, and that sections titled "Acknowledgment" and "Dedication" be kept intact. Nobody really cares about these clauses, and Wikipedia has long ignored them.

      If you want to redistribute a (modified) version of a work, the GFDL also requires that you accompany it with a copy of the GFDL and list at least five of the principal authors of the work on its title page. That's also widely ignored, by Wikipedia and others.

      A work licensed under CC-BY-SA can be relicensed under any later version of CC-BY-SA and also under any license deemed equivalent by Creative Commons (since CC-BY-SA 3.0). A work licensed under GFDL can only be relicensed under a later version if the licensor explicitly added a clause to that effect; the Wikipedia license agreement contains such a clause, but a downstream distributor could remove it.

      • Re:Difference? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Teancum (67324) <{ten.orezten} {ta} {gninroh_trebor}> on Saturday December 01, 2007 @09:07PM (#21548425) Homepage Journal

        GFDL requires that so-called "Invariant Sections" (talking about the author and their relationship to the subject matter) be carried forward into future versions unchanged. Wikipedia articles don't have Invariant Sections, but you could take a Wikipedia article, change it, and then add an invariant section; everybody who wanted to use your changes would then have to keep the invariant section intact.

        GFDL also requires that the title of the work be changed after every modification, and that sections titled "Acknowledgment" and "Dedication" be kept intact. Nobody really cares about these clauses, and Wikipedia has long ignored them.


        If you add an invariant section, the legal requirement for keeping those invariant sections is only to those whom you distribute that new version of the content after this modification. It doesn't apply to earlier versions...and Wikipedia would as a matter of custom delete any invariant sections and material that would have to be kept.

        But on the whole, you are largely correct that Wikipedia does ignore this section of the GFDL by simply prohibiting as a matter of policy the creation of any invariant sections. There may be some GFDL'd content that was added to Wikipedia which contained invariant sections... and that content would either have to be deleted, or be in technical violation of the terms of the GFDL. The problem here is that there is, comparatively speaking, so little actual content outside of Wikimedia projects written using the GFDL that this is usually not a problem for copyright violation situations.

        If you want to redistribute a (modified) version of a work, the GFDL also requires that you accompany it with a copy of the GFDL and list at least five of the principal authors of the work on its title page. That's also widely ignored, by Wikipedia and others.


        I've complained about how the terms of this requirement might actually be met using the current interface on Wikipedia and the MediaWiki software. All of the raw information necessary to meet this requirement is kept on the servers, but it is not very easy to access and a pain to try and obtain. There is also no simple mechanism to distinguish between a vandal whose edits have been completely removed, and a serious contributor who has added some very real meat to the articles. Most lists of authors on Wikipedia articles include not only the "principal authors" but also vandals, crackpots, sysops (who clean up the mess from vandals), and people stopping by to fix the spelling of just one or two words.

        The GFDL is also very weak in its formal definition over what might even constitute an author at all, and it is very possible that Willy on Wheels (look it up on Wikipedia if you don't know him) could get equal credit with RMS on the article regarding the Free Software Foundation. But that is a problem with the GFDL, not Wikipedia.

        This is, however, something I've paid careful attention to when I've distributed Wikimedia content outside of the Wikimedia projects themselves. And that is something I have done... not just talked about.
    • by tverbeek (457094)
      A key difference (and one of the main reasons Wikitravel.org uses CC-BY-SA instead of GFDL) is the requirement that a copy of the license be included with any printed copies of the material. That's a reasonable requirement for printing a GFDL book, but not if you're printing individual pages from a travel guide.
  • I'd say that I'd have liked to be asked before my stuff was re-licenced, but everything I worked on and cared about on Wikipedia was deleted for not being notable enough, or something. Oh well.
    • Yes they did. (Score:4, Informative)

      by pavon (30274) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @05:17PM (#21546841)
      When your posted your stuff, they asked you if it was alright to license your contribution under the GNU FDL, and you agreed. The GFDL allows users to choose either the existing version of the GFDL or any future version, which they pointed out at the time. Now that the FSF has modified the GFDL, users (including wikipedia) can choose to use it for you contributions if they wish.
  • by KillerCow (213458) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @04:59PM (#21546691)
    ...considering that every contribution made to Wiki was made under the GFDL, not CC. Are they going to get permission from all of the past contributors to change the license, or are they going to throw it all away and start from scratch? They don't own the content (it was licensed to them under GFDL) so they just can't change the license.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Teancum (67324)
      Actually, what happened here is that Jimbo Wales basically said "We, Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects, represent 90% of all GFDL content. Here is what I (note the change in noun case here) want the GFDL to read!"

      So Mr. Wales and Mike Godwin strong-armed the Free Software Foundation into using the "or later version" clause of the GFDL to change it to one of the Creative Commons licenses... more or less.

      This would be like (well, not quite like, but this gets close to the point) the Free Software Fo
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by capnez (873351)

        Trust me when I say that the shit has just hit the proverbial fan right now

        I think you are exaggerating. Yes, the mailing list, discussion pages, forums, blogs and the like will probably all flow over. However, I think when people realize that this is not the end of the world (i.e., Wikipedia) within the next five minutes, they will calm down. A lot of water will flow down the rivers of the world until this change is actually implemented. Until then, a lot of voices and opinions will be heard by everyone

      • by Jay L (74152) <jay+slash@NoSPam.jay.fm> on Saturday December 01, 2007 @06:13PM (#21547359) Homepage
        Trust me when I say that the shit has just hit the proverbial fan right now...I'm going to have to unsubscribe...my contributions may be removed from Wikipedia

        I don't know if you're a big muckety-muck in the Greater Wiki Community; maybe you are, in which case I risk making a huge ass of myself. (I tried Googling for you, but all I kept coming up with was your many UserPages.) And, of course, it's always sad when people feel slighted or disenfranchised. That said:

        I feel fairly certain that anyone who, by comparison to his own views, considers Richard Stallman and the FSF to be a bunch of money-grubbing, compromising, unprincipled corporate hacks is someone whose writing I'm not going to miss.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Teancum (67324)
          Richard Stallman has given up some of the goals of the GFDL by doing this. I have no doubt about that.

          BTW, it was Mike Godwin who was telling me that I could remove my contributions, after a long and drawn out thread where I simply said that I insist that my contributions remain under the GFDL, and not a CC license.

          As for RMS being a money grubber... I know that seems out of character here. It certainly seems rather bizzare that it would be Jimbo Wales making this announcement instead of RMS that one of t
          • by grumbel (592662)
            ### there still are some substantial goals of the GFDL that are being given up.

            Which would that be? Wikipedia doesn't make use of invariant sections, cover text and all that other stuff as far as I know and those pieces seem to be the only real difference between CC-by-sa and GFDL.

      • Talk about dramatic?

        I have around 20,000 edits on one of the projects; were I to throw the toys out of the pram in this manner there'd be at least 50-100 articles need deleted. I hate seeing information being destroyed - when you start editing Wikipedia you're embracing its goals, "sum of all human knowledge freely available" and all that.

        The parent post? I mean, c'mon "It's Mike Godwin... He must be evil... He's a lawyer and I don't believe what he says."

        Both the summary and the blog post incorrectly
        • by Teancum (67324)

          That's just like saying Jimmy Wales should never have started Wikipedia in the first place because it would attract trolls and vandals.

          This is putting words in my mouth that I didn't say here. I did suggest that the WMF is out of touch with their user base, and I still believe that to be the case. I'm not saying that there is any easy way for Florance to get the input that she needs to really be responsive to Wikimedia users, as the numbers are so huge and speak so many languages that I don't know how nea

          • As I asked on the list, and which you didn't answer there - what the hell were you thinking each and every time you clicked to agree with "or later"?
            • by Teancum (67324)

              As I asked on the list, and which you didn't answer there - what the hell were you thinking each and every time you clicked to agree with "or later"?

              Asking this question multiple times to me here on /. is hardly productive, and is a waste of both your and my time, as well as reasonable readers of /. as well. The spam alone has made me feel I should leave this alone, but I think I might just bite here.

              1. Just because you ask the question, I don't need to answer it. You aren't my employer, supervisor, parent,
      • by owlnation (858981)

        I know this is a good intention on the part of everybody involved, but the Wikimedia Foundation is very much out of touch with their main user base, and has been for some time.

        Not sure how out of touch they are... I note that the wikipedia fundraising icon at the top of every page has a little green nazi giving the sieg heil salute. That suggests that Wikimedia is understanding its userbase with insight, subtle acknowledgment and encouragement. I'm sure the wikicabals will be proud to salute back.

    • by Jugalator (259273)

      They don't own the content (it was licensed to them under GFDL) so they just can't change the license.
      But they aren't switching license. They're making it compatible with a particular variant of the CC 3.0 license.
    • ...considering that every contribution made to Wiki was made under the GFDL, not CC. Are they going to get permission from all of the past contributors to change the license, or are they going to throw it all away and start from scratch? They don't own the content (it was licensed to them under GFDL) so they just can't change the license.

      Yep. No one contacted me about it, at least. I'm willing to bet that's the same for virtually everyone else. Even if it wasn't, they'd have a hard job narrowing down eve

  • Modifying licenses (Score:5, Informative)

    by mollymoo (202721) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @05:01PM (#21546715) Journal

    The whole notion of "or any future version" of the license, as is commonly used in GPL and GFDL licenses, has always worried me. IANAL, but from a legal standpoint, it seems odd that you can agree in a binding way to something which is yet to be defined.

    Plus there's the (seemingly vanishingly small, at present) risk of the FSF being co-opted by some faction which changes the licenses in ways which make them entirely different in spirit to the current versions. That wouldn't mean the content wouldn't still be available under the current versions of the licenses (you can't un-license it once it's out there), but it could mean that forks could be made which were non-free. How do we know that, in say 40 years, the leadership of the FSF will be as principled and uncorruptible as the current leadership?

    • by rhizome (115711)
      That wouldn't mean the content wouldn't still be available under the current versions of the licenses (you can't un-license it once it's out there), but it could mean that forks could be made which were non-free.

      How exactly do you propose that something licensed under GPL v2 (or v3) could be forked to non-free, even under a future version of a license developed by an evil future-FSF? The politics of the FSF do not factor into the license chosen by a particular author.
      • by keithpreston (865880) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @05:30PM (#21546933)
        With my small army of rebels I take over the FSF and I create GPL v4 which is the equivalent of a public domain license. I fork all projects that are GPL v2 or any later version. I change the license of my forks to be GPLv4 because it still is in the scope of the original license (because of the later version clause). Now I use all my code for free! Yeah!
        • by bug1 (96678)
          "Now I use all my code for free! Yeah!"

          You can already use all YOUR code for free, if its your code you can do what you want with it. You can USE other peoples GPL code for free as well, the GPL doesnt restrict usage. You can even modify it for free already, but you can only distribute the resulting work as a service (ASP loophole).

          Did you mean "Now I modify other peoples code, not share the modifications and distribute the resulting work on my own terms! Yeah!", well yea, but why would you, you would have
        • The "small army of rebels" step is a bit challenging, but otherwise this plan could work. The question is, is out there any GPL code that a company would be so interested in having a closed source version of it, to go to all that trouble?
      • by mollymoo (202721) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @05:34PM (#21546975) Journal

        How exactly do you propose that something licensed under GPL v2 (or v3) could be forked to non-free, even under a future version of a license developed by an evil future-FSF? The politics of the FSF do not factor into the license chosen by a particular author.

        If you include the "or any future version" clause, the politics of the FSF categorically do affect the licensing of your software, because it is the who FSF define the future versions of the license. Say I release SuperWidgetApp under GPL v2 with the "any future version" clause. Also say that down the line, bad people take over the FSF and make GPL v27, which has no requirement to release the source code. BadCorporation could then take the source to SuperWidgetApp, invoke the "any future version" clause and apply GPL v27; they can then make trivial changes, release it as HyperWidgetApp and not release the source (because under GPL v27, they don't have to). The GPL v2 - v26 versions would still be Free, but the modified version would not be.

        • by novakyu (636495)
          Well, when that happens (FSF going evil and changing G*L into something that is not free), then you simply change the license clause for all the future versions---into GPL v26 only.

          As for the previous versions that were already released under GPL v26 or later, well, those are obsolete versions, right? If your software is somehow not being maintained anymore, then I think rightfully, it ought to belong in public domain, with no one able to claim ownership over it (after all, not being maintained means no one
        • by rhizome (115711)
          Also say that down the line, bad people take over the FSF and make GPL v27, which has no requirement to release the source code.

          This is preposterous. Got another example?
    • I thought the GPL allows you to chose the license that you like, if a future version somehow gets a reprehensible modification, you can still chose an older license, assuming that that program version was distributed with an older license.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Leebert (1694)

      How do we know that, in say 40 years, the leadership of the FSF will be as principled and uncorruptible as the current leadership?


      Oh come now, it's not like that [wikipedia.org] has ever happened before.
    • GPL by proxy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tepples (727027)

      Plus there's the (seemingly vanishingly small, at present) risk of the FSF being co-opted by some faction which changes the licenses in ways which make them entirely different in spirit to the current versions.

      Free Software Foundation is a charity. I don't think a 501(c)(3) organization can be the target of a typical hostile takeover, unlike a publicly traded corporation. What kind of co-opting do you envision?

      Besides, I could see GFDL 1.3 adopting a "proxy" provision similar to that of GPLv3 and LGPLv3:

      If the Program specifies that a proxy can decide which future versions of the GNU General Public License can be used, that proxy's public statement of acceptance of a version permanently authorizes you to choose that version for the Program.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by samkass (174571)
        The FSF has *already* co-opted the GPL to change its fundamental meaning when they went from GPLv2 to GPLv3. GPLv2 is a license that guarantees the availability of all code put under it as well as code that is in any way closely attached to it. That's it. Even TiVo has to make their code available, so if you want to download it and make your own DVR out of it for personal use, have fun! GPLv3 attempts to dictate what hardware manufacturers have to do to allow code to be run, what intellectual property a
        • Re:GPL by proxy (Score:4, Informative)

          by AuMatar (183847) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @06:42PM (#21547551)
          NO, its absolutely in the same spirit as the GPLv2. The GPL's purpose is to foster user freedom- the user is free to do what he wants with his software, including alter it, redistribute it, etc. GPL3 removes some things people were using to circumvent the GPL- patents and hardware lockouts. The spirit of the GPL is better served by GPL3 than GPL2.
          • Mod parent up. The GPL has always been about preserving the FSF's Four Freedoms. The huge pile of legalese in GPLv2 tries to do this. The even more huge pile in v3 tries a bit harder, with the experience gained from people finding holes in v2. If you disagree with the intent GPLv3 then you disagree with the intent of v2 as well, although you may coincidentally disagree with the implementation of v2.
            • Frankly, the huge steaming piles of legalese makes me suspect that the intent of the GPL is to be huge steaming pile of legalese. Nothing more, nothing less. The "Free Software" part is just an excuse to pile on more steaming clauses.
              • For my own code, I avoid any license that is longer than my attention span. Typically this means 3-clause BSD, but recently I'm starting to tend towards MIT...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by astrashe (7452)

      The whole notion of "or any future version" of the license, as is commonly used in GPL and GFDL licenses, has always worried me. IANAL, but from a legal standpoint, it seems odd that you can agree in a binding way to something which is yet to be defined.

      I'm not a lawyer, so this is pretty much worthless. But in my experience, most contracts or agreements have stuff that's vague or poorly defined in them, and when conflicts arise or businesses go broke, people fight tooth and nail over them.

      For example, whe

    • by Carnildo (712617)

      The whole notion of "or any future version" of the license, as is commonly used in GPL and GFDL licenses, has always worried me. IANAL, but from a legal standpoint, it seems odd that you can agree in a binding way to something which is yet to be defined.

      I can't find it right now, but IIRC, the FSF has made a legally binding commitment that any future versions of any of its licenses will be substantially in the spirit of current versions. The modified GFDL is no exception to this: the CC-BY-SA license is ba

    • by Pharmboy (216950)
      IANAL, but from a legal standpoint, it seems odd that you can agree in a binding way to something which is yet to be defined.

      Ask anyone who has visited a military recruiter.

      Or applied for a variable rate mortgage.

      Or gotten married. (you just THOUGHT the terms were defined beforehand...)
  • 'This is the party to celebrate the liberation of Wikipedia'.

    I guess the question that arises is..."Liberation from who?"

    • by LS (57954)
      come on man, it's simple: a more restrictive license
    • by NJVil (154697)
      If only it were the liberation from the handful of oppressive, hamhanded, hopelessly-biased, or otherwise dictatorial editors, it might be a reason to celebrate. Still, I suppose it's good enough news, but I won't be out celebrating it.
  • by gnosygnus (759843) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @05:06PM (#21546763)

    the op is no longer correct. the article has been updated to say that wikipedia will be cc-compatible, not that it will switch to it. to quote:

    Contrary to the old title of this post (thanks to Larry for the clarification) Wikipedia is not switching to CC. It actually made a deal allowing the community to relicense the content of the wikis under a BY-SA license. So it's now up to the Wikipedians to choose whether they do or not.

    this is a bit of legal-hair-splitting (standard ianal disclaimer), but it does mean that there there shouldn't be any legal issues with converting prior content.

    also it seems that the cc by-sa license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/ [creativecommons.org] is basically equivalent to the gfdl. it is not "public-domain"ing the content, nor is it "bsd"ing the content. it just seems to make it a less-software-centric license. (anyone else, please feel free to correct.)

  • About time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by teslatug (543527) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @05:45PM (#21547099)
    As a Wikipedia, this is great news. The GFDL is too cumbersome. They need to do it right though. They need to freeze Wikipedia, make a dump, make that dump permanently available under the GFDL, and then open up Wikipedia with the new license. Legally they probably don't have to, but this should help others who want to fork based on the license change.
  • I'm on the Advisory Board of WikiEducator [wikieducator.org], a project sponsored by the Commonwealth of Learning and other international development agencies to build open educational resources primarily for the developing world. We use CC-BY-SA, and this news is phenomenal for us because it means that all of Wikipedia's content, which has up to now been licensed in a way that's philosophically identical but legally incompatible, is now available for us to use.

    There's no reason that content should be in separate BY-SA and G
  • So now the people at the bus stop say that anyone can repeat their ramblings if they want. Whoo Hoo.

    TWW

    • by Boronx (228853)
      "Encyclopedia" is to "Wikipedia" what "Library" is to "Some people at a bus stop"

      Implying that "Some people at a bus stop" is a free, community formed collection of books where anyone can transparently edit in a reversible way any part of any book.

      Or alternatively that libraries write encyclopedias. That would explain why encyclopedia authors never take the bus.
  • Not yet, anyway.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by david_thornley (598059) on Saturday December 01, 2007 @11:43PM (#21549235)

    As I write this, there is no official new version of the GFDL. It would have to be announced by the FSF, and it isn't. The FSF website says nothing about this, and the Gnu Project website lists the 2002 version as the latest.

    This seems fishy in other ways. I could say the FSF was diligent in soliciting comments for GPLv3, but "diligent" seems like too soft a word. It would seem odd to change the GFDL with no advance notice whatsoever.

    Not to mention, it seems unlikely that this is the third best moment of Lessig's life (after two things involving his wife, which I don't think we need details on). (Yes, I did RTFA, what there was of it. Wanna cancel my /. license?)

    This smells like a hoax or prank to me. However, I'm going to look at www.fsf.org [fsf.org] and www.gnu.org [gnu.org] next week and see if there is anything to this.

  • Lots of wikipedia content is straight copies from other sources. Does Wikipedia have the right to license that material under Creative Commons without the original authors' consent? I know that Wikipedia has been essentially providing that material for free anyway, but it seems strange to "formalize" the giving away of plagiarized content under a particular license that the original author might not agree with.
  • by wikinerd (809585) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:22AM (#21549929) Journal

    As a user and contributor [wikipedia.org] (and donor) of Wikipedia I prefer GFDL. Not that I don't like CC. But my first preference is GFDL, and CC is my second preference, that's all. Oh, and I actually dislike the idea of "any future versions" even in GFDL/GPL although I do see practical advantages. However, I also see practical advantages in GFDL-CC compatibility, as now many people will be able to mix Wikipedia content with CC-only content which is a good thing. What would be a BAD thing would be a total CC switch by Wikipedia and the departure from GFDL.

    So, I essentially do welcome this compatibility but only marginally... In fact I don't want to see the Wikipedia community getting away from the FSF and the GNU's focus on idealism and purity. I'm an FSF Contributing Member as well, so maybe I'm just a bit biased, but that's just how I feel. Perhaps the future will prove that the GFDL-CC compatibility is more good than bad.

    What I don't understand, however, is why it's the Wikimedia or a group of admins who get to choose licences, and not let the users themselves one-by-one do it. Wiki articles emerge after a series of edit wars and vandalisms, and yet they are readable and useful. Meaningfull and useful articles emerge even when large groups of trolls try to bring chaos. What if each wiki article had its own licence decided by the initial contributor? Trolls would surely use this to bring more chaos, and users with no knowledge would also do stupid things, but in the end I believe that useful articles would still emerge, and the licence would be the choice of the community as a whole rather than a few people with lots of social capital or prominence in the wiki community.

    I believe a wiki must be built by its users rather than by a core admin team... that's the spirit of the wiki. So, why on earth should the admins force users to either accept a predefined licence or not contribute? This idea led me to allow my users on my wiki [wikinerds.org] to choose the licence of their choice for the pages they create. Yeah I know at some point we will have a crazy mix of incompatible licences, but it is up to the users and their collective intelligence to decide how to use the feature of licensing choices. In the end I believe users as a community will make intelligent choices. That's the spirit of the swarm intelligence, after all, which is also the field of my academic research for my Master's... Give users some guidance, some rules of behaviour, apply the minimally possible central administration and let them free to do as they like.

    I'd welcome the idea of letting users decide the licence they would like to be implemented in Wikipedia as well. Perhaps this could help more people to understand what licences are, and also see themselves how unreasonable the current copyright laws are, so perhaps more citizens could start demanding their representatives to start thinking about copyright reform or its total eradication... in my opinion copyright could be replaced by laws built on top of moral rights of authors where everyone is allowed to copy anything but only if the original author is prominently cited and credited. The more ordinary citizens get exposed to the silliness of copyright, the more they will demand changes from their governments.

    Wikipedia could start doing that right now very easily. It just needs to remove the site-wide GFDL notice or add an "except where otherwise indicated" note after it, and then apply individual copyright notices on each article that is not GFDL. Of course, to maintain the freedom and the spirit of copyleft, Wikipedia and other wikis willing to use this approach could accept only a specific set of licences that meet certain criteria. For example, articles could be allowed to be either under the GFDL, the CC-By-SA, or the Free Art Licence, or any lcience in the spirit of DFSG, etc..

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