Commons talk:Licensing

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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to Commons:Licensing.

For discussions of specific copyright questions, please go to Commons:Village pump/Copyright. Discussions that do not relate to changes to the page Commons:Licensing may be moved, with participants notified with the template {{subst:moved to VPC|Commons talk:Licensing}}.

For old discussions, see the Archives. Recent sections with no replies for 14 days may be archived.

Archived discussions[edit]

Seven 2006/2007 discussions organized as subpages, ignoringincl. comments added in 2014:

Template protection after review[edit]

There are many country specific copyright templates on commons that need review and should be protected thereafter. Many images on commons use these templates and changing something in the template like accidentally adding a hot cat category would affect all of these and would require mass purging for all images. We should have a review department reviewing each available template and after discussion protecting it. We should discuss the layout of PD templates: Should they include why they are PD in the USA or should this be handled in another template like {{PD-Egypt}} and {{PD-Egypt-1996}}. With the URAA laws the copyright laws of a country doesn't mean that much without an explanation on why they are PD in USA. Something like {{PD-China}} doesn't work for commons because it doesn't specify why it's PD USA. And should there be templates for country specific templates for each case like found in Category:Egypt-related tags? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Diaa abdelmoneim (talk • contribs) 14:06, 2009 April 23 (UTC)

Higher resolution file[edit]

This information is added per the consensus at Commons:Village_pump/Copyright#We_desperately_need_a_quick_conclusion_on_this_matter. Jee 17:32, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

I know there's been a big brouhaha about this, but I hardly think this belongs in the summary at the top. In the grand scheme of things, it really is a minor point. Situated right after a point about public domain works, it's also invites confusion with regards to high resolution versions of public domain works that some institutions illegally claim copyright over. LX (talk, contribs) 17:50, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I'd see the linked discussion as consensus that something needs to be added somewhere, not that this particular version should be added in that spot. There is a somewhat fractious discussion of various proposals underway at Commons_talk:Project_scope#Copyright_holders.27_wishes_about_high_resolution_files. --Avenue (talk) 02:46, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
I've no problem in moving it to a more suitable location. At first, I thought to add it just below the first bullet ("that are explicitly freely licensed") as it is just an explanation of it. That said, it is dangerous if we hide this information from public as we already aware of it now. I saw the other discussion that is going on; but it is more about whether different resolution files can be considered as "same work". I don't wan to comment on it as it is a too professional matter. Even CC and WMF legal refused to comment on it. On the contrary, this addition is a policy decision by Commons (by the participants), and IMHO, and we should practice it unless overridden by another community consensus. :) Jee 03:07, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
See the new discussion too. We can't spend our energy to answer every question again again with these types of marathon comments. We need to brief our current policy/practice in one place. :) Jee 03:27, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
And marathon discussions. I'm afraid I'm tired that Commons still doesn't get that it is a wiki. Jkadavoor has been bold and edited. Which is absolutely necessary if Commons is to have living breathing policies and guidelines rather than fossils from an age before many of us even joined the project. Now go edit and improve it. Move it to where it might be better. Expand it and refine it. It isn't hard and can be fun. I believe someone managed to create a whole encyclopaedia that way. :-) -- Colin (talk) 08:02, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
Fair point. The reasons I held back was that this is such a central policy and that I didn't really have a better proposal to offer at the time. I've had a shot at a different wording and placement, but I'm not married to it. It feels like it could use another sentence to spell out what this means in terms of what we will and will not host, but I couldn't find a simple enough wording. It's all too easy to get tangled up in ifs and buts and considerations for upscaling etc. LX (talk, contribs) 19:04, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
I've tried to make it a little clearer. I don't think all the details of what variants we might host need to be spelt out in the policy. --Avenue (talk) 21:46, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

This should have been introduced on this talk page or at Commons talk:Project scope in the first place, not kept on some subpage of the village pump. The third sentence at the top of Commons:Village pump/Copyright says explicitly "Discussions relating to specific copyright policies should take place on the talk page of the policy, but may be advertised here." The third sentence at the top of Commons:Licensing says explicitly "Except for minor edits, please make use of the discussion page to propose changes to this policy." and points to its own talk page here. Those instructions weren't placed there arbitrarily for wikilawyering; they are there because of previous experiences, and there is a good reason for them: A lot of people don't watch Village Pump pages because they're pretty noisy. This policy edit in the last 24 hours may be the first time anyone watching Commons:Licensing has even heard of this issue even if Commons:Licensing has been on their watchlists for years. Basic official policies, especially Commons:Licensing or Commons:Project scope, are not pages one should be "be bold" on when the edit appears to amend the guidelines themselves. This proposal carves out a special case for Commons:Licensing, just as the PD-Art exception does or Commons:Licensing#Uruguay Round Agreements Act the URAA exception used to. (I can understand User:Colin's wish to avoid rehashing things repeatedly. But the people watching Commons talk:Project scope have only been involved since February 27, and people watching Commons talk:Licensing weren't given a heads-up until this section was created in the last 24 hours.) --Closeapple (talk) 00:10, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

Good point; but I failed to find a better place for that discussion as the topic is not just COM:L or COM:SCOPE. Probably Commons:Commons policies is the right place. (We discussed it at VP and people said it is not the right place because VP exists in several languages so not all people participate there. We discussed it at AN and people said it is not the right place as it is not a matter that admins can decide. We discussed it at meta legal and they said they can't give legal advice to the community. We discussed it with CC and they replied through a FAQ update. We discussed it with Jimmy per the Open door policy. We discussed with the Board and Sj gave a wise advice. Let me know, I'm willing to discuss it anywhere.) Jee 02:55, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure there's a perfect place for the broad discussion. But I do think that specific changes to this policy that are this important should be proposed on this talk page first. (I don't mean that we need to post 25 successive variants on whatever's proposed, as occurred recently at Template talk:Personality rights#Template as is is alienating for image use, but editing it in place here seems at least as good as doing so on the policy page.) I don't object strongly enough to the process or the current version to revert the addition, but I do agree that the process hasn't been ideal. --Avenue (talk) 03:55, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
I somewhat agree although it seems we don't have a "discuss first" policy as encountered here. It is difficult to keep all policy pages in our watch list, so a centralized policy discussion page may ideal. Category talk:Commons policies not sounds good due to the prefix word category.
In this particular case, we discussed a lot and starting again from the beginning is boring and wastage of time. Further, I didn't see even a single person oppose the point added (not about the exact wording) as we have no better option now. Jee 05:23, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
Added a notice at Template:Centralized discussion. Jee 05:38, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

Unclear changes of the project page[edit]

Sometimes, authors wish to release a low quality version of an image or video under a free license while applying stricter terms to high quality versions. It is unclear whether such a distinction is legally enforceable, but Commons' policy is to respect the copyright holder's intentions by only hosting the low quality version.

AFAIK if I stumble over a better version of an image hosted by commons I'm supposed to upload it if the license permits this. This page isn't suited for personal opinions about what licenses should permit or not permit, or is it? –Be..anyone (talk) 12:26, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

"if I stumble over a better version of an image hosted by commons I'm supposed to upload it if the license permits this." But how we know if the license permits it? First, it should have a license statement. Second, the license should have "free enough". Here we are talking about images that are not explicitly licensed. "Wikimedia Commons only accepts media that are explicitly freely licensed, or that are in the public domain in at least the United States and in the source country of the work." Making assumptions or using magic wands to determine whether it is free enough is not our job. :) Jee 12:41, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
Fine, now let's please restore the page to the last known good state two days ago: IANAL, but I hate legalese and instruction creep. –Be..anyone (talk) 13:19, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
No. I see from your previous edit elsewhere you've got an itchy revert trigger finger. This is a wiki. There is no "last known good state". There is always room for improvement. You may have missed the discussions from the last few months but there have been plenty of them. You don't seem to have understood the issue and framing this as someone's personal opinions just shows you haven't been keeping up. You can use buzzwords like "instruction creep" all you like, doesn't make them valid. A policy statement on this matter is most certainly required. All that the community needs to work on is how to word it, and that can be done on-wiki. -- Colin (talk) 13:30, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
To be fair, we shouldn't assume all readers will have kept up with our marathon discussions. I've added a link to the closest thing to a summary I'm aware of. It would probably be worth writing a standalone summary focussing more on the issues than on the particular case that prompted this. --Avenue (talk) 19:51, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
As is the former policy degenerated into an invitation to submit free low quality pictures here, while demanding money for the real pictures. –Be..anyone (talk) 07:54, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
I think WMF has a neutral point of view in this matter. It needs reasonably good good quality works, without demanding to sacrifice all the benefits of its contributors. See WMF Legal's opinion in this matter: "Wikimedia movement has selected a creative commons license that permits contributors, of any age, to freely license their work and also sell it for a profit to others, if they so desire. The CC FAQs specifically provide that an author can license a work under a free license and also sell it under the regular copyright regime. Indeed, this cc license was designed “to encourage creators and rightsholders to experiment with new ways to promote and market their work.” The user can therefore promote his work by distributing it through the Wikimedia projects, which have around 500 million unique visitors per month, and then sell copies." Unfortunately CC had given a bad advice through http://thepowerofopen.org/ for years and many of us blindly believed it is true and practical which is challenged now. So the one possibly in front of us is to start educating our contributors and make a stand that we are not going to make benefit from the bad advice we already provided for years. Jee 08:32, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
There is no change in policy. WMF, GLAM and CC have always encouraged professionals and institutions to donate their work even when those donors wish to retain some commercial opportunities. They have unfortunately suggested using copyright-licences like CC which actually licence the "work of copyright" rather than the donated file. This has recently been clarified by CC though the legal ruling as to whether any two given files are the same work-of-copyright is not at all certain nor likely to ever be, to be honest. Many on Commons feel that for both legal (precautionary principle) and ethical/moral reasons, we shouldn't host images that aren't clearly and explicitly associated with a free licence by the copyright-holder. While we may wish that all donors gave their best work, the reality is that those who earn a living from their photos are unlikely to do so, for the obvious reasons that this is what puts bread on their table. -- Colin (talk) 18:42, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
The main problem is that we don't know exactly how to define "work of copyright", and that it may differ from country to country. For example, see case B 15363-12, sv:Södertörns tingsrätt:
"Åtalet avsåg ursprungligen 29 filmverk men justerades vid huvudförhandlingen till 513, alltså ett väsentligt högre antal. Anledningen till detta var dock enkel; den ursprungliga siffran avsåg antalet säsonger av olika tv-serier medan den nya avsåg antalet avsnitt (jfr bilagan till stämningsansökan). Att varje avsnitt är ett verk instämmer tingsrätten i."
That is, someone had violated the copyright to 29 seasons of various TV series, in total consisting of 513 individual episodes. Initially, this counted as 29 works, but was later in the process changed to 513 works. If even legal scholars disagree on how to count, how can we possibly do it correctly? Also, if the law of country A allows higher resolution images whereas the law of country B doesn't, then accepting higher resolution copies risks causing lots of trouble for reusers in country B. --Stefan4 (talk) 23:06, 16 March 2014 (UTC)
I truly believe that CC have not fully thought this through. There are so many things that break when the scope of the licence is a "work of copyright", in addition to the uncertainty as to what that really means. It really kills any notion of making part of a work free (either edited portion such as a frame from a movie or sound clip) or reduced-quality versions free. The concept is creaking and not fit for the 21st century. Instead we need a digital definition using digital signatures. I think at some point there will be pressure for file-based licensing where the licence has a code that is mathematically linked to the file being licensed. But until then, I agree that the scope of CC/FAL/GFDL is so vague that the "precautionary principle" should be our main reason for rejecting unclear-licensed images. -- Colin (talk) 08:59, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
Note that sound clips aren't "works" under some copyright laws (such as the Swedish one) as operating sound recording devices isn't "creative" or "original" and doesn't meet the threshold of originality. Instead, copyright laws refer to sound clips as something else, for example "sound recordings", which doesn't require originality in order to be protected by copyright. This makes it even more difficult to understand what the notion "work of copyright" refers to in such situations. --Stefan4 (talk) 13:34, 17 March 2014 (UTC)