Discussion of license arrangements for this wiki

The suggestion of a public domain or BSD license is a good one, I think. It would allow unlimited copying and creation of derived works. Let's avoid the complications of a Gnu license for now. The remaining issues I see have to do with material belonging to others.

  1. The "Cave Canem" pages may need special treatment.
  2. If there are Wolfe interviews copied here, that could be a problem too. I think there are mostly links.
  3. On one page I quoted some theories off of the Urth lists, in order to discuss and debate them. I think this qualifies as "fair use."
  4. Hopefully the Wolfe quotes about the stories from his introductions are also fair use. We could those out, if necessary. -- DaveTallman
  1. Yes, I guess the umbrella licence declaration will need to include "except as stated on certain individual pages" or similar.
  2. etc - I also think that the other things you mention should count as fair use (there aren't any interviews copied AFAIK), although it would be good to have that confirmed by someone who knows such things.
  • Creative Commons provides a number of standard licences of which one might be suitable for our needs?
  • (My own preference also tends towards PD.)
  • Once a decision's been reached, I'll email the non-active previous contributors offering them to withdraw their material or to agree to leave it up under the agreed licence. -- Mo 20080810
  • I'm happy with public domain for everything I have contributed. Actually, public domain isn't a license at all -- it's an irrevocable granting of all copyright rights to the public, however they want to use it, modify it, or create derived works. But we can't legally do it for anything that isn't ours. We do need to talk to old contributors (and I'm not sure what to do if they cannot be found -- perhaps mark their pages as 'All rights reserved').
  • In contrast, here is a BSD license template (it seems to be mostly for software and we wouldn't need the software disclaimer part):
    http://www.opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.php -- DaveTallman
    • Yes, we can reserve rights on pages involving people we can't find. But I don't anticipate that being a problem, as there are only a handful, I have their recent email addresses, and they're all still active on the Urth list IIRC.
    • Thanks for linking to the BSD licence, that's interesting. Here's the CC version of that, as contrastable to the CC-BY mentioned by Gwern and visible here. -- Mo 20080812
  • CC-BY seems to have a few problems. It asks people to link to the web pages (or include a text reference to the URI), but the URI we are using may change someday. We would also probably need to ask that the attribution be to an umbrella group, rather than for individuals, since it would be hard to list all the creators of a heavily wiki-edited page. -- DaveTallman
    • Ah, I thought CC-BY just specified "attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor"?
      I'm fine with the idea of BSD though, my only concerns are it would need editing to take out all the stuff relating to binaries, source codes etc, and I think it requires a copyright notice that we'd need to work out how to formulate and include.
      I suppose from a practical point of view, the more "off-the-shelf" we can go, the better, unless we have someone who's able to amend the legalese as required. -- Mo 20080813
  • If we used CC-BY off-the_shelf, the human-readable description page has, "For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page." The legalize version mentions the URI and asks that it be used unless the URI does not point to the license. That's the escape clause if the page moves. I recommend that we use a license which is comfortable to us off-the-shelf, since I also don't feel qualified to amend the legalese. -- DaveTallman
    • I took "this web page" to mean the page on CC.org that holds the human-readable description, rather than a page on our own website. Hmm, we need to find someone who actually uses this licence and see what they've done. -- Mo 20080815
    • I think you are right about the license link, but there is a customized bit of HTML with a URL in it. I tried the license selection process on CC.org and it gives some HTML that can be included on the page. It asks for a reference URL, which gets embedded in the generated HTML. Here is what it looks like:
      <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/"><img alt="Creative Commons License"
      style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by/3.0/us/88x31.png" /></a>
      <br /><span xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" 
      href="http://purl.org/dc/dcmitype/Text" property="dc:title" rel="dc:type">WolfeWiki</span> 
      by <a xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#"
      property="cc:attributionName" rel="cc:attributionURL">WolfeWiki</a> is licensed under a 
      <a rel="license" 
      href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/">Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License</a>. 
    • It may not be easy to get PMWiki to embed such HTML, but this seems to be the recommended way to do it. Here is some technical information on the site about marking works: http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Marking_works. It looks like the simplest thing to do is to provide a link on the wiki to an HTML page with this information. -- DaveTallman
      • That's fine, it's straightforward (for me as site admin, one can't do it just as an editor) to get PmWiki to embed a piece of HTML code in every page footer. And will be easy enough to change it should the URI of the contents page, etc, change.
        Great, if you're happy to proceed on that basis, I'll buzz the other cntributors and see if they're OK with it -- Mo 20080820
      • I'm not sure we would want to embed the same HMTL as the footer on every page, since some pages will need an "otherwise specified" license (e.g. "Cave Canem"). Perhaps notice at the top of the sidebar would be better. Then we could link in other notices within the text pages for exceptional cases. -- DaveTallman

Some comments received by email from Gwern Branwen

  • GNU licence:
    GNU licenses *may* be in the future suitable - there's a movement to turn GFDL into basically CC SA-BY, but it's far from done (the FSF moves very slowly).
  • Cave Canem:
    Looking at the permission Borski gave, it looks to me like there's no way at all they could be considered usable under any sort of Free license. They would need to be segregated and specifically marked nonfree.
    This is not without precedent; the English Wikipedia has thousands of fair use images which are not Free. But they're all marked by categories/templates.
  • Wolfe interviews copied here:
    Those would be in a similar situation. I would actually advocate their removal entirely. I am greatly skeptical that any of them are allowed to be on the wiki at all. If y'all are interested in being legal and not merely getting away with as much as you can, then remember fair use lets you quote only *part* of a long work (the guidelines are something like 1/3 or less than 500 words). An entire interview is definitely non-kosher.
  • Theories off of the Urth lists:
    Depends on length. See above. It's probably safe, yeah. Textual quotes are very strongly protected under American law (although the courts are a bit biased against sounds and images, IMO).
  • Wolfe quotes about the stories from his introductions:
    For the wiki to be useful, it has to be able to quote occasional paragraphs as references or for analysis. It might be useful to discuss how long a quote can be before it gets trimmed as on the gray side of the line. I would suggest 500 words, personally.
  • Umbrella licence declaration will need to include "except as stated on certain individual pages" or similar:
    Or something. Example: <https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Wikipedia:Copyrights#Fair_use_materials_and_special_requirements>.
  • Creative Commons:
    If any CC license is chosen, I would say CC BY, and then CC BY-SA. (In software licensing terms, I prefer PD, then BSD3, then GPL.)
  • Email the non-active previous contributors offering them to withdraw their material or to agree to leave it up > > under the agreed licence:
    Sounds like a plan. I'm glad you're open to doing this early on before the need is obvious; if one ran into problems later, it can then be too late to contact all contributors.