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



On Sun, 2 Oct 2005 15:38:11 -0700 Don Armstrong wrote:

> On Sun, 02 Oct 2005, Francesco Poli wrote:
> > On the other hand (but note that this does not in any way rely on
> > "Fair Use"), the old wiki maintainers have permission to publish the
> > material. If the new wiki is set up by the same people (or
> > organization), they can claim to exercise that right, simply on a
> > different wiki. Is the old wiki an official Debian wiki, as the new
> > one is?
> 
> No, but presumably we have the permision of the old wiki maintainers
> to migrate the wiki to the new "official" wiki; there sure appears to
> be an implied license to make the material available for distribution
> to the public at least.

I'm not so sure.
Who is "we", here?
The old wiki contributors granted a permission to publish *to the old
wiki maintainers only*, not to anyone (IIRC).
Consequently, if the new wiki is not set up by the same maintainers, I
don't think it's clear that the new wiki actually *can* legally publish
the old wiki content...

[...]
> > If that allow public users to get the source form of the wiki
> > content through the same medium (http) they use for accessing the
> > wiki itself, that's fine.
> 
> No, it would be through a different medium, rsync; but they'd have
> access to the content which is the critical aspect here.

In that case, I'm afraid that no GPL'd contribution could be accepted.
Why?
Because the new wiki would be offering access to copy the compiled form
(that's the HTML generated by the wiki engine) from a designated place
(http://wiki.debian.org), but offering access to copy the source code
(that's the formatting-enriched text) that is not equivalent (rsync is
not equivalent to http), nor from the same place (if a mirror has to be
used).

This does not qualify as distribution of the source code (see the end of
GPLv2 clause 3) and thus does not satisfy clause 3a requirements.
And, of course, the new wiki maintainers would better not make any
written offer (see clause 3b).

[...]
> > > At some future date, we can go back through and identify pages
> > > which haven't been correctly tagged by their contributors and
> > > either remove them or reimplement them as the case may be.
> > 
> > That's the way to set up a wiki that will be forever encumbered with
> > non-free parts.
> 
> I think you missed the section where I suggested "removal of
> incorrectly licensed material at some future date"

I still believe that this would not be enough to motivate the
relicensing effort.

The wiki maintainers are in the process of migrating from one wiki site
to another one: the time to scan the whole old content and clear out any
copyright issue is *now*.
IMHO, migration should go on piecewise, as the old contents get
relicensed: that is to say, each old wiki part is migrated as soon as
it's correctly relicensed.

What you are proposing seems (at least to me) similar to saying:

  "Let's accept new packages into main regardless of copyright status
   and license; we will later look through them, identify which ones
   shouldn't be there in the first place, and try to get them
   relicensed; we will finally remove incorrectly licensed ones at some
   future date."

That's not the best way to keep a {distro|wiki} 100 % free.
IMHO.

-- 
    :-(   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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