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Re: migration of wiki material: suggested licence and legal issues

On Fri, 30 Sep 2005 12:48:47 +0100 Jon Dowland wrote:

> Dear d-l,
> As you may know, a new official wiki service has been installed and is
> in the process of being set up.  This is intended to replace the older
> wiki which Michael Ivey has been kind enough to maintain up until now.

Yes, I know and I'm looking forward to seeing it set up!  :)

> I feel it is important to have a clear indication of copyright and
> licencing terms for wiki material and that it is desirable for the
> debian wiki material to be DFSG-compatible.

I couldn't agree more with you on this point.
It's really really important, IMO.
For Debian self-consistency, at least (and for many other good reasons,
too, of course!).

> In order for material to be migrated from the old wiki to the new, the
> copyright/licence situation needs to be clarified.


> The old wiki's
> copyright statement[1] suggests that ownership is held by the
> respective authors, and grants "Fair Use" reproduction. Would
> providing a data-dump for migration be covered under "Fair Use", and
> does this copyright preclude the adoption of a DFSG-licence?

I don't think that the old wiki's copyright statement[1] suffices to
form a DFSG-compliant license.
There's no permission to redistribute (fails DFSG#1).
There's no permission to distribute modified versions (fails DFSG#3).

And I don't think a whole data-dump could be seen as "Fair Use",
Moreover take into account that, unlike other copyright law 'features',
"Fair Use" rights and similar concepts (known as "limitations on
exclusive rights" in some jurisdictions, IIUC) vary greatly across
different jurisdictions.
Consequently, relying on "Fair Use" rights is not a really safe move... 

> The new wiki has no definitive statement as of yet but I have
> requested one to be added and the matter now rests with the system
> administrators[2].

Good, thanks for working on this!  :)
Your effort is very much appreciated.

> It has been suggested to me that debian-legal would be the appropriate
> place to request advice on how legal issues regarding migration of
> material might be addressed and what terms wiki material should be
> available under. As such, if you have any opinions or advice that you
> can offer I would be very grateful to hear them :-)

My opinions:

* The Debian official wiki *should* be published in a DFSG-compliant

* Consequently, its source code should be (easily) available for
download: IOW, if someone wanted to fork the Debian wiki, he/she should
be able to set up his/her own MoinMoin wiki, get the data from the
Debian wiki (in the form in which wiki users modify it, that is to say,
the simple formatting-enriched text that is later converted to HTML by
the wiki engine) and dump them onto his/her own wiki. I hope this is
technically easy to implement, but I don't really know (I'm not familiar
with MoinMoin, sorry).

* An appropriate license should be chosen for wiki contributions (more
on this later) and a clear copyright notice should be included in the
Debian wiki, so that anyone can easily see that contributing to the wiki
necessarily *implies* releasing the contributions under that license.

* Each copyright holder for material in the old wiki, should be
contacted and asked to agree to the relicensing *before* the
corresponding material is migrated to the new wiki. No material should
be migrated, unless correctly relicensed. Remember to keep every
positive answer for later reference (just in case someone changes
his/her mind and starts claiming he/she never agreed to the

* The same should be done with each copyright holder for newly-created
material already present in the new wiki (if there's any).

Now my suggestions for the license choice:

Option A: a simple permissive non-copyleft license
One of the following:

Expat (a.k.a. MIT) http://www.jclark.com/xml/copying.txt
X11 (a.k.a. MIT) http://www.x.org/Downloads_terms.html
2-clause BSD http://www.gnu.org/licenses/info/BSD_2Clause.html

Option B: a copyleft license
The only recommended one is the GNU GPL (v2)

> [1] http://wiki.debian.net/copyright.html
> [2] http://wiki.debian.org/WikiLicencingTerms

I hope this helps.

    :-(   This Universe is buggy! Where's the Creator's BTS?   ;-)
  Francesco Poli                             GnuPG Key ID = DD6DFCF4
 Key fingerprint = C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12  31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4

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