[RFR] draft for "DebianWiki new license"
In the intent to license the wiki, I have drafted the proposal below,
which currently reflects my own point of view.
Amendments and comments are welcome, in order to build a proposal that
is supported by most people. (and later sent/signed by "the Debian Wiki
I will merge the amendments which have reach consensus in the proposal
page http://wiki.debian.org/DebianWiki/LicencingTerms/Proposals then I
will reply to the thread with a link to the wiki page's "commit".
Native English speakers are welcome to review/rephrase my Franglish
Thanks to Paul Wise for his early feed-back and support.
Currently, wiki.debian.org doesn't have a license. This is an issue as
it prevents re-using and publishing the content anywhere else.
,---[ Executive Summary ]---
| This is a proposal to switch the Debian Wiki license to Creative
| Common's BY-SA, because that license is DFSG free, it is copyleft
| and it is used on some major wikis.
Our plan goes like this:
1. Build a tool to analyse wiki contributions [DONE]
2. Write a proposal [DONE]
3. Request for review on debian-www [CURRENT]
4. Forward question and RFR debian-legal [TODO]
5. Request for comment (wiki, d-d-a, project-news) [TODO]
6. Submit a poll (doodle.com) [TODO]
7. License the content [TODO]
7a.New license for new contributions & contributors [TODO]
7b.People license their previous contributions [TODO]
7c.Show progress meter icon for each page [TODO]
8. Drop/move non-free pages after a while [TODO]
We need to choose a license. Obviously that license should be DFSG & OSI
compliant, but we also have some other constrains because it's a wiki:
Lots of contributions:
A single wiki page can be written by hundreds of contributors.
Attributing credits to the full list of contributors isn't always
practical/possible (printed media, video, screen-cast...).
Re-factoring, merging and splitting pages.
An important task in wiki maintenance is to refactor, rewrite, merge
and split pages.
This maintenance makes it difficult to attribute the work. (If one
moves a paragraph from one page to another, wiki engine don't and
can't reliably track the credits for that paragraph. Only the
comments/changelog can be used to track it, e.g "Import foo from
The most efficient way to give credits, it's simply to link to
the page history.
Re-using wiki content.
It should be possible and easy to re-use the content of a wiki page
in various situation: software documentation, Debian manuals,
release notes, printed papers, etc.
Re-distributing the "source code" of wiki pages (i.e wiki markup)
isn't practical, especially for printed media.
Inter wiki collaboration.
Sharing and synchronizing wiki pages among wikis (Debian derivatives,
Upstream, Wikipedia, tldp.org...)
So far, wikis have proven to be effective for collaboration _inside_
a project, but there has been no collaboration among wikis.
There are probably two major reasons for that: Incompatible licenses
and the lack of tools.
Wikis should use the same license, so it is possible to re-use,
share, import and export content among wikis.
Also, we need some Distributed VCS ^W Wiki-engine with conditional
paragraph and variable substitution, à la WML (Website Meta
Language), but that's another story.
The wiki contains some homepages, which may contain private data
(email address, telephone number or personal opinions)
Homepages are not meant to be redistributed. Those data may need
a special statement or a different copyright/license.
Admins should be allowed to modify and delete homepages.
The wiki, at large, must have only one single default license: If
the wiki were dual licensed, it would be almost impossible to
import any content, excepted if that content were already under
the same two licenses.
However, we recognize that some content can't be re-licensed under
the new license (because we can't get previous contributors to
re-license their contributions, or because the content is *meant* to
be re-used in a document under $GIVEN license,).
Only DFSG-free licenses are allowed.
Therefore, we plan to allow the following two exceptions:
"This page is dual licensed under $WIKILICENSE and $OTHERLICENSE".
"This page is licensed under $OTHERLICENSE. New contributions
since $DATE are also licensed under $WIKILICENSE".
One important argument in the debate about liberal licenses (BSD,
CCZero) versus copyleft licenses (GPL, CC-BY-SA) it's that we want
to be able to collaborate (branch) wiki pages with Debian upstream,
Debian derivatives and other documentation initiatives.
It is important for open-source movement to be able to collaborate
on documentation. This collaboration _must_not_exclude_commercial_
actors of the free software movement. Those companies, even more
than individual contributors, wouldn't let a competitor re-use their
work in non-free material. Therefore copyleft licenses are likely
to get more contributions from companies.
Companies publishing documentations, seems to follow one of the
two following strategies:
- Use a license that strongly give credits to them, like OPL,
GFDL with cover-page, or CC-BY-ND.
- Use a license that guarantees that the work will remain free
(GFDL with no cover-page, or CC-BY-SA)
None of them seems to use liberal license.
1. The license must be DFSG and OSI compliant.
3. The license should allow attribution through URL and changelog.
4. The license should not impose redistribution of the source code.
3. The license should be widely used for wikis and/or documentation.
Choosing a license
- The content can be re-used anywhere.
- No need to list authors
- In many countries, one can't put material under public domain.
- Don't allow importing existing material (Almost no existing
content is published as PD).
=> REJECTED: Not international.
- An international implementation of something like public domain.
- Seems to need an explicit waiving procedure.
(See CC's tool: http://creativecommons.org/license/zero/ )
- Don't allow importing material from other wikis(except content
under Public-domain or CCzero).
=> REJECTED: Not wide-spread, no content can be imported at this time.
BSD, MIT, LGPL...
- Liberal license
- Don't prevent re-using the content in a book or paying support.
- Liberal license
- Don't prevent re-using the content in a boot or paying support.
=> REJECTED: Not wide-spread for documentation. Don't protect
contributing companies "investment" (no guarantee to
REJECTED: Doesn't comply with DFSG ( http://bugs.debian.org/238245 )
- Content re-usable in GPL documentation
- Use by many documentation (but we don't need to import them).
- Requires to distribute "source code" alongside "compiled".
(i.e provide wiki markup code alongside printed leaflet?!)
- Provide a full copy of the license. (even with a leaflet!)
=> REJECTED: - redistribution of source isn't desired.
- embedding the license isn't always practical.
- Content re-usable in GPL documentation
- Used by Wikipedia and Ubuntu
- Compatible with GPL2 (which is used by some existing Debian docs)
- Currently this license isn't used in Debian documentations.
Based on the fact above, the license CC-BY-SA (3.0) seems to be the most
suitable license as it meets all the criteria.
As a reminder, the two most important criteria are 1. Choose a "free"
license 2. Choose a license that is already widely used.
*** TODO ***
Questions for debian-legal
- Are small contributions similar to "fair use"?
- Assuming a wiki page is made of lots of small contribution. Can we
consider that copying the page (all the small contribution) is a
fair use of each contribution?
- Does images, icons, diagrams and snapshots requires specific
Wiki licensing statement
* Add some statements about copyright attribution
... The Copyright attribution is done by linking to page's URL
(which has a link to the revision history, with the list of
* Add some statements about homepages content:
Hint, Apache license has:
> 6. Trademarks. This License does not grant permission to use the trade
> names, trademarks, service marks, or product names of the Licensor,
> except as required for reasonable and customary use in describing
> the origin of the Work and reproducing the content of the NOTICE
* Add some statement about content administration?
This is probably not needed as it's implied in a wiki
> 3. you acknowledge and agree that the site editor will have the
> right (but not obligation), at the site editor's entire
> discretion, to refuse to publish, or to remove, or to block
> access to any content you provide, at any time and for any
> reason, with or without notice.
Some documentation in other projects, and their licenses
Ubuntu: CC-BY-SA (>=2.5)
Wikipedia: CC-BY-SA (>=3.0)
Fedora: OPL, no clauses
Gentoo: CC-BY-NC-SA (>=3.0)
TLDP: An aggregate of HowTos. Various licenses
Some statistics about Debian wiki:
The wiki has about 6500 pages (plus 2500 deleted or merged pages).
About 3500 contributors have made about 84000 editions.
The top 10 contributors have contributed 23% of the words*
The top 70 contributors have contributed 50% of the words*
The top 440 contributors have contributed 80% of the words*
The top 2000 contributors have contributed 90% of the words*
The remaining contributors have contributed less than 25 words* each.
*) In these statistics, words are counted in a special way (version
numbers and code-names are ignored, links are ignored, etc.)
[[TODO: SIGN HERE]]