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Re: GFDL and relicensing
On Nov 21, 2007, at 7:00 AM, foundation-l-request@lists.wikimedia.org
wrote:

> Wikipedia itself is doomed by inertia to remain GFDL. WMF
> doesn't hold any of the rights and thus doesn't have the power to deem
> things relicensed; you'd need the copyright holders to do that.

I don't think the problem is quite as intractable as all that,
although I will grant it is a tricky problem. In my (possibly
misinformed) view, FSF is the custodian of the meaning and terms of
the GFDL, which allows for migration to later versions of GFDL, which
creates the possibility of an approved GFDL that is essentially an
equivalent to an updated CC-BY-SA license. FSF is currently in dialog
with Creative Commons about harmonizing GFDL with CC-BY-SA.

WMF doesn't have to "deem things relicensed." Instead, it could say,
with full notice to the community, and after plenty of public
discussion, that its view is that the content in Wikipedia should
migrate to the harmonized GFDL/CC-BY-SA license (version 3.x for both,
most likely), and offer community members plenty of latitude to opt
out by removing content (I'd be inclined to give GFDL licensors that
option indefinitely). We might lose some content that way, but I
personally doubt we'd lose much. So I don't think we're stuck with the
awful choice of having to stick with GFDL or start a new project.


--Mike






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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On 21/11/2007, Mike Godwin <mnemonic@gmail.com> wrote:

> I don't think the problem is quite as intractable as all that,
> although I will grant it is a tricky problem. In my (possibly
> misinformed) view, FSF is the custodian of the meaning and terms of
> the GFDL, which allows for migration to later versions of GFDL, which
> creates the possibility of an approved GFDL that is essentially an
> equivalent to an updated CC-BY-SA license. FSF is currently in dialog
> with Creative Commons about harmonizing GFDL with CC-BY-SA.


As far as I can tell, the one and only thing we want from the next GFDL is:

* make it compatible with CC-by-sa.

That would fix most of the problems right there.


- d.

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
> WMF doesn't have to "deem things relicensed." Instead, it could say,
> with full notice to the community, and after plenty of public
> discussion, that its view is that the content in Wikipedia should
> migrate to the harmonized GFDL/CC-BY-SA license (version 3.x for both,
> most likely), and offer community members plenty of latitude to opt
> out by removing content (I'd be inclined to give GFDL licensors that
> option indefinitely). We might lose some content that way, but I
> personally doubt we'd lose much. So I don't think we're stuck with the
> awful choice of having to stick with GFDL or start a new project.

I wouldn't give people the option to opt out - it would just cause too
much confusion. Content can't be removed from Wikipedia except by
oversighters, I imagine you intend people to just blank the
appropriate parts of articles. There would then be issues over which
previous revisions are under which licenses. That's not to mention the
issues with trying to determine who owns the copyright to each bit of
an article - can I remove content I added if it's been almost
completely rewritten? Can I remove content someone else added if I
partially rewrote it? etc.

Either we can legally and morally move to a new version of GFDL (which
I'm reasonably sure we can), or we can't. I'm pretty sure there is no
legal requirement to allow people to opt out (although, I would defer
to your expertise in such matters), and I'm my opinion, there is no
moral one. The edit page clearly informs people that they are
releasing their content under GFDL version X *or newer*.

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On 21/11/2007, Mike Godwin <mnemonic@gmail.com> wrote:

> I don't think the problem is quite as intractable as all that,
> although I will grant it is a tricky problem. In my (possibly
> misinformed) view, FSF is the custodian of the meaning and terms of
> the GFDL, which allows for migration to later versions of GFDL, which
> creates the possibility of an approved GFDL that is essentially an
> equivalent to an updated CC-BY-SA license.

Not exactly. The FSF is unlikely to accept the loss of invariant
sections in the GFDL. Fortunately they do appear to be prepared to
accept the loss of the obvious invariant sections by shifting to the
GSFDL.

> FSF is currently in dialog
> with Creative Commons about harmonizing GFDL with CC-BY-SA.

Do you have a source for this and is this dialog likely to produce a
result in the next year?

> WMF doesn't have to "deem things relicensed." Instead, it could say,
> with full notice to the community, and after plenty of public
> discussion, that its view is that the content in Wikipedia should
> migrate to the harmonized GFDL/CC-BY-SA license (version 3.x for both,
> most likely), and offer community members plenty of latitude to opt
> out by removing content (I'd be inclined to give GFDL licensors that
> option indefinitely). We might lose some content that way, but I
> personally doubt we'd lose much. So I don't think we're stuck with the
> awful choice of having to stick with GFDL or start a new project.

No. If the FSF shift to new licenses with better terms we update with
no opt out clause (we've been doing this with CC for years) simply
because any re-user could update the work regardless of any attempted
opt out. At the present time it is not meaningfully possible to change
from the GFDL without action from the FSF.


--
geni

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On 21/11/2007, Mike Godwin <mnemonic@gmail.com> wrote:

> I don't think the problem is quite as intractable as all that,
> although I will grant it is a tricky problem. In my (possibly
> misinformed) view, FSF is the custodian of the meaning and terms of
> the GFDL, which allows for migration to later versions of GFDL, which
> creates the possibility of an approved GFDL that is essentially an
> equivalent to an updated CC-BY-SA license. FSF is currently in dialog
> with Creative Commons about harmonizing GFDL with CC-BY-SA.

True indeed - we have the ability to gradually alter the license by
encouraging the maintainers to do so, and we have the clout to make
that a practical option :-)

But this only goes so far - we can, in effect, clarify the license but
we can't change it, we can't make sweeping changes.

--
- Andrew Gray
andrew.gray@dunelm.org.uk

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
Allowing people to "opt out" like this simply isn't
possible.

Quite apart from the fact that old revisions would remain
in the page history, how exactly would they do it? Undo any
edits of theirs they didn't want to relicense? Anyone with
a substantial number of edits who tried that would be
blocked pretty quickly.

I imagine most people who have been contributing for any
length of time share my view that our contributions are
effectively public domain and, regardless of what I, the
Foundation or indeed anyone else does, have been and will
be used in many different ways without the slightest bit of
respect for the GFDL or any other license.

-Gurch

--- Mike Godwin <mnemonic@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> On Nov 21, 2007, at 7:00 AM,
> foundation-l-request@lists.wikimedia.org
> wrote:
>
> > Wikipedia itself is doomed by inertia to remain GFDL.
> WMF
> > doesn't hold any of the rights and thus doesn't have
> the power to deem
> > things relicensed; you'd need the copyright holders to
> do that.
>
> I don't think the problem is quite as intractable as all
> that,
> although I will grant it is a tricky problem. In my
> (possibly
> misinformed) view, FSF is the custodian of the meaning
> and terms of
> the GFDL, which allows for migration to later versions of
> GFDL, which
> creates the possibility of an approved GFDL that is
> essentially an
> equivalent to an updated CC-BY-SA license. FSF is
> currently in dialog
> with Creative Commons about harmonizing GFDL with
> CC-BY-SA.
>
> WMF doesn't have to "deem things relicensed." Instead, it
> could say,
> with full notice to the community, and after plenty of
> public
> discussion, that its view is that the content in
> Wikipedia should
> migrate to the harmonized GFDL/CC-BY-SA license (version
> 3.x for both,
> most likely), and offer community members plenty of
> latitude to opt
> out by removing content (I'd be inclined to give GFDL
> licensors that
> option indefinitely). We might lose some content that
> way, but I
> personally doubt we'd lose much. So I don't think we're
> stuck with the
> awful choice of having to stick with GFDL or start a new
> project.
>
>
> --Mike
>
>
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
> I imagine most people who have been contributing for any
> length of time share my view that our contributions are
> effectively public domain and, regardless of what I, the
> Foundation or indeed anyone else does, have been and will
> be used in many different ways without the slightest bit of
> respect for the GFDL or any other license.

I agree with this point entirely. The average contributor couldn't
care less about the license, and it's my experience that licensing in
general has done more to hinder contributions then it has to secure
them. Or, at the very least, the hindrances are more apparent then the
securities are.

Besides a few GFDL ideologists, most contributors wouldn't care at all
if we switched licenses, and many would welcome the freedom of a less
restrictive licensing scheme. This is certainly the case on wikibooks
where many book donations have been slowed or even canceled because of
licensing problems. I would venture to guess that most of the problems
associated with such a license switch would come externally, not
internally.

--Andrew Whitworth

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
Mike Godwin schrieb, am 21.11.2007 14:51:
> I don't think the problem is quite as intractable as all that,
> although I will grant it is a tricky problem. In my (possibly
> misinformed) view, FSF is the custodian of the meaning and terms of
> the GFDL, which allows for migration to later versions of GFDL, which
> creates the possibility of an approved GFDL that is essentially an
> equivalent to an updated CC-BY-SA license. FSF is currently in dialog
> with Creative Commons about harmonizing GFDL with CC-BY-SA.

While this might be possible inside the US and other countries, it is
most probably not possible inside Germany. Clauses like '...or later
versions.' are invalid in German jurisdiction and only the rest of the
license applies. IANAL.

Bye, Tim.

--
http://wikipedistik.de

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On Nov 21, 2007 6:35 PM, Tim 'avatar' Bartel
<wikipedia@computerkultur.org> wrote:
> Mike Godwin schrieb, am 21.11.2007 14:51:
> > I don't think the problem is quite as intractable as all that,
> > although I will grant it is a tricky problem. In my (possibly
> > misinformed) view, FSF is the custodian of the meaning and terms of
> > the GFDL, which allows for migration to later versions of GFDL, which
> > creates the possibility of an approved GFDL that is essentially an
> > equivalent to an updated CC-BY-SA license. FSF is currently in dialog
> > with Creative Commons about harmonizing GFDL with CC-BY-SA.
>
> While this might be possible inside the US and other countries, it is
> most probably not possible inside Germany. Clauses like '...or later
> versions.' are invalid in German jurisdiction and only the rest of the
> license applies. IANAL.

Same in France. I believe the rationale is that you simply can't agree
to a contract you've never seen and I must say that I find it actually
makes sense.

<devil's advocate> What if the FSF decided that the next version of
the GFDL stipulates "As of now, all works under the GFDL are sole
propriety of the FSF"? What would be the recourse of the authors who
have agreed to "any later versions"?</devil's advocate>


Delphine
--
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to this address will get lost. Please use my wikimedia.org address.

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
> While this might be possible inside the US and other countries, it is
> most probably not possible inside Germany. Clauses like '...or later
> versions.' are invalid in German jurisdiction and only the rest of the
> license applies. IANAL.

Really? That could cause a few issues, although I'm not sure what.
Wikipedia falls under US jurisdiction, I think, regardless of where
the contributors are from. Would Germans be unable to reuse Wikipedia
content, or what? Any experts on German and international copyright
law here?

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On Nov 21, 2007 6:48 PM, Delphine Ménard <notafishz@gmail.com> wrote:
> <devil's advocate> What if the FSF decided that the next version of
> the GFDL stipulates "As of now, all works under the GFDL are sole
> propriety of the FSF"? What would be the recourse of the authors who
> have agreed to "any later versions"?</devil's advocate>

The existing content would still be available under the old terms,
_and_ under the new ones. So, effectively, new licenses can take away
restrictions, but can only add them with limited effectiveness (the
effectiveness would be derived from projects like Wikipedia adopting
the new version).


--
Toward Peace, Love & Progress:
Erik

DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
> Same in France. I believe the rationale is that you simply can't agree
> to a contract you've never seen and I must say that I find it actually
> makes sense.

Yes, it makes a lot of sense. Very inconvenient for us, but it does make sense.

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On Nov 21, 2007 6:50 PM, Erik Moeller <erik@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> On Nov 21, 2007 6:48 PM, Delphine Ménard <notafishz@gmail.com> wrote:
> > <devil's advocate> What if the FSF decided that the next version of
> > the GFDL stipulates "As of now, all works under the GFDL are sole
> > propriety of the FSF"? What would be the recourse of the authors who
> > have agreed to "any later versions"?</devil's advocate>
>
> The existing content would still be available under the old terms,
> _and_ under the new ones. So, effectively, new licenses can take away
> restrictions, but can only add them with limited effectiveness (the
> effectiveness would be derived from projects like Wikipedia adopting
> the new version).
>
>

[.NB: I'm writing this question just out of the blue, without prior research]:

Following up on Delphine's point: Let's imagine that the FSF decides
that the new GFDL basically says "All GFDL works are to be treated as
if they were in the public domain" (= All GFDL works are equal to PD
works).
Let's further imagine that the majority of Wikipedia contributors
likes this approach and Wikipedia adopts the new GFDL version.
Wouldn't this mean that the contributions of prior contributors would
then also be available under these new, similar-to-PD terms and, if
yes, wouldn't this possibly violate the spirit of the contributor's
decision (viz. to submit them under GFDL terms and not anything less
restrictive?)

Michael

> --
> Toward Peace, Love & Progress:
> Erik
>
> DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
> the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.
>
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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On 21/11/2007, Michael Bimmler <mbimmler@gmail.com> wrote:

> Let's further imagine that the majority of Wikipedia contributors
> likes this approach and Wikipedia adopts the new GFDL version.
> Wouldn't this mean that the contributions of prior contributors would
> then also be available under these new, similar-to-PD terms and, if
> yes, wouldn't this possibly violate the spirit of the contributor's
> decision (viz. to submit them under GFDL terms and not anything less
> restrictive?)


Yes, if one of them takes it to a court that has jurisdiction and
wins. Until then, no.


- d.

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On Nov 21, 2007 6:50 PM, Erik Moeller <erik@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> On Nov 21, 2007 6:48 PM, Delphine Ménard <notafishz@gmail.com> wrote:
> > <devil's advocate> What if the FSF decided that the next version of
> > the GFDL stipulates "As of now, all works under the GFDL are sole
> > propriety of the FSF"? What would be the recourse of the authors who
> > have agreed to "any later versions"?</devil's advocate>
>
> The existing content would still be available under the old terms,
> _and_ under the new ones. So, effectively, new licenses can take away
> restrictions, but can only add them with limited effectiveness (the
> effectiveness would be derived from projects like Wikipedia adopting
> the new version).

I'm trying to think this out as I type.

Ahhh, right, I forgot about "you don't take away the previous license" part. :-)

But I believe your argument is flawed. New licenses can with as little
effectiveness take away or add restrictions. In the end, if the clause
"and any later version" is non-valid, then the whole adding or taking
away is non-valid (see Michael B.'s point on taking away restrictions
in the next email).

So I agree that my work is still under the license I chose to start
with, but in France, or Germany, I would probably have a case if I
said that I wanted my content to be taken away from a website which by
default adopted both licenses (the older and the newer one).

This does leave the question of the recourse I have if
some_evil_person decides to use the content I produced under the new
license and thus bar it from further modifications or on the contrary
gets rid of all restrictions. Doesn't it? I mean my work is then
spread out there under conditions I might not agree to.

As David Gerard puts it though, it's all small talk until someone goes
to court and wins. Interesting nonetheless.


Delphine
--
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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On 21/11/2007, Delphine Ménard <notafishz@gmail.com> wrote:

> As David Gerard puts it though, it's all small talk until someone goes
> to court and wins. Interesting nonetheless.


Many people have said about FSF licenses "oh no you just can't do that
in Germany/France/wherever". How is the case law? I know the GPL's
worked just fine for its intended purpose in Germany, for example.


- d.

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On Nov 21, 2007 9:50 AM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton@gmail.com> wrote:

> > While this might be possible inside the US and other countries, it is
> > most probably not possible inside Germany. Clauses like '...or later
> > versions.' are invalid in German jurisdiction and only the rest of the
> > license applies. IANAL.
>
> Really? That could cause a few issues, although I'm not sure what.
> Wikipedia falls under US jurisdiction, I think, regardless of where
> the contributors are from. Would Germans be unable to reuse Wikipedia
> content, or what? Any experts on German and international copyright
> law here?


For the record, does anyone know if there is case law legitimizing "or later
versions" in the US? I suspect there is nothing obviously against it here
(or the FSF and such wouldn't be using the phrase at all), but is there an
affirmative precedent to show it is okay?

-Robert Rohde
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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
David Gerard ha scritto:
> On 21/11/2007, Michael Bimmler <mbimmler@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>> Let's further imagine that the majority of Wikipedia contributors
>> likes this approach and Wikipedia adopts the new GFDL version.
>> Wouldn't this mean that the contributions of prior contributors would
>> then also be available under these new, similar-to-PD terms and, if
>> yes, wouldn't this possibly violate the spirit of the contributor's
>> decision (viz. to submit them under GFDL terms and not anything less
>> restrictive?)
>>
>
>
> Yes, if one of them takes it to a court that has jurisdiction and
> wins. Until then, no.
>
>
>
Well, I've seen someone licensing media on commons with a double licence
GFDL + cc-by-sa-nc. The only reason I can see is exploiting the GFDL
clause of including the license in the copies, which in many cases is
simply unpractical, particularly for an image. I can envisage these
contributors will have a reason to complain if the GFDL becomes less
restrictive.

Cruccone

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
> But I believe your argument is flawed. New licenses can with as little
> effectiveness take away or add restrictions. In the end, if the clause
> "and any later version" is non-valid, then the whole adding or taking
> away is non-valid (see Michael B.'s point on taking away restrictions
> in the next email).

All of Wikipedia is currently released under the current GFDL. As I
understand it, that can never change. If a new version of the GFDL is
released, all of Wikipedia could be released under that license *as
well*, but it would still be released under the current license (since
you can just copy it from answers.com or wherever, and never see
mention of the new license), so the new license can add as many new
restrictions as they like, but anyone not wishing to follow them can
just use the older license.

> So I agree that my work is still under the license I chose to start
> with, but in France, or Germany, I would probably have a case if I
> said that I wanted my content to be taken away from a website which by
> default adopted both licenses (the older and the newer one).

You might have a case if they use just the new one, but if they use
the old one, either on it's own, or together with the new one, then
they should be fine.

> This does leave the question of the recourse I have if
> some_evil_person decides to use the content I produced under the new
> license and thus bar it from further modifications or on the contrary
> gets rid of all restrictions. Doesn't it? I mean my work is then
> spread out there under conditions I might not agree to.

I don't think some generic evil person could do that, just WMF, as
they're the people with the "or later" clause. I'm not sure about
that, though.

PS: Standard disclaimer: IANAL

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On Nov 21, 2007 10:54 AM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton@gmail.com> wrote:

> <snip>
>
> This does leave the question of the recourse I have if
> > some_evil_person decides to use the content I produced under the new
> > license and thus bar it from further modifications or on the contrary
> > gets rid of all restrictions. Doesn't it? I mean my work is then
> > spread out there under conditions I might not agree to.
>
> I don't think some generic evil person could do that, just WMF, as
> they're the people with the "or later" clause. I'm not sure about
> that, though.
>
> Just as a point of clarification, Wikipedia text is already licensed GFDL
1.2 or any later version. Anyone can exercise those "or later" rights, not
just the WMF. Of course, it is the FSF that decides what those later
versions will say. The most that the WMF/Wikipedia could do is decide to
adjust the license on future submissions, i.e. switching to "GFDL 2.0 or
later versions" or adopting a more restrictive stance like "GFDL 1.2 only".

-Robert Rohde
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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
> Just as a point of clarification, Wikipedia text is already licensed GFDL
> 1.2 or any later version. Anyone can exercise those "or later" rights, not
> just the WMF. Of course, it is the FSF that decides what those later
> versions will say. The most that the WMF/Wikipedia could do is decide to
> adjust the license on future submissions, i.e. switching to "GFDL 2.0 or
> later versions" or adopting a more restrictive stance like "GFDL 1.2 only".

Thanks for that. So WMF has required contributors to release it *now*
under any applicable GFDL license, rather than just getting permission
to release it under a later license if they choose. That makes more
sense, now I think about it.

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
On 21/11/2007, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton@gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks for that. So WMF has required contributors to release it *now*
> under any applicable GFDL license, rather than just getting permission
> to release it under a later license if they choose. That makes more
> sense, now I think about it.


Indeed. If someone objected to the later relicensing, their comeback
would be to sue for copyright violation. And the defender could say
"well, you licensed it under 'GFDL 1.2 or later' - if you didn't mean
'or later' when you clicked 'submit', why did you click it?"


- d.

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
Marco Chiesa schrieb am 21.11.2007 19:21:
> Well, I've seen someone licensing media on commons with a double licence
> GFDL + cc-by-sa-nc. The only reason I can see is exploiting the GFDL
> clause of including the license in the copies, which in many cases is
> simply unpractical, particularly for an image. I can envisage these
> contributors will have a reason to complain if the GFDL becomes less
> restrictive.

To be honest the GFDL and its impracticability for printed reuse is
often used by wikipedians as argument to convince other persons (mainly
commercial companies) to release their work under a "free" license to
incorporate it into Wikipedia.

Of course theese companies surely aren't interested in easier reuse,
because they fear commercial reuse in print by other companies while
they like to decide over this by themselves.

Bye, Tim.

--
http://wikipedistik.de

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
geni wrote:
> On 21/11/2007, Mike Godwin <mnemonic@gmail.com> wrote:
>> FSF is currently in dialog
>> with Creative Commons about harmonizing GFDL with CC-BY-SA.
>
> Do you have a source for this and is this dialog likely to produce a
> result in the next year?

I am a source for this, and yes, I suspect we will have some public
movement forward within weeks or months.

--Jimbo

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Re: GFDL and relicensing [ In reply to ]
David Gerard wrote:
> On 21/11/2007, Delphine Ménard <notafishz@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> As David Gerard puts it though, it's all small talk until someone goes
>> to court and wins. Interesting nonetheless.
>
>
> Many people have said about FSF licenses "oh no you just can't do that
> in Germany/France/wherever". How is the case law? I know the GPL's
> worked just fine for its intended purpose in Germany, for example.

One of the reasons to be deeply concerned about the GFDL is precisely
that it is not "ported" to multiple jurisdictions in the way that CC
licenses are. (Indeed, it is not even officially translated.)

--Jimbo


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