Commons talk:Project scope

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Proposal: Further clarification on "Educational"[edit]

I propose the following expansion:

These are clarifications I seem to frequently make in Deletion requests and it would be handy to be able to say "This has justifiable cultural value" and link to a specific short-cut in Project scope, rather than potentially debating the matter each time. As well as "LGBT" above, we might want to list some minority cultures that are frequently under debate as whether there is value or not. -- (talk) 15:38, 12 May 2013 (UTC)

Symbol support vote.svg Support Although I would word it with two extra words "This includes *among others* material that..." to drive home the idea that this is not an exhaustive list. Sinnamon Girl (talk) 07:15, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Thanks. Will you be adding the proposal to the ongoing review, on this page? --MichaelMaggs (talk) 07:21, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for prompting. I'll sort this out and that can supersede this discussion.
✓ Done Added as "Proposal 1.1". Michael, feel free to renumber or move the thread. If you are acting as moderator, this sorts of formatting changes seem reasonable to make, in order to keep discussion on track. -- (talk) 07:59, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Review of Commons' Scope and Photographs of identifiable people is now OPEN[edit]

I am pleased to announce the launch of a comprehensive review of our existing policy & guidelines on Commons: Project scope, and Commons:Photographs of identifiable people. This is an important review and will cover a number of contentious issues that have recently been extensively discussed both on and off Wiki. As background, you might like to look at these recent English Wikipedia Signpost articles:

Please visit the main review page to take part. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:16, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Copyright holders' wishes about high resolution files[edit]

Following from the discussion at Commons:Village pump/Copyright#We desperately need a quick conclusion on this matter (permanent link), I suggest adding the following to project scope as a new subsection 3.5 Must respect copyright holders' wishes about high resolution files.

If a copyright image (or other audiovisual medium) has been granted a free license, the copyright holder may state that the file provided is of the maximum resolution that he or she wishes to be used in conjunction with the associated license. Any such statement is not to be regarded as a limit on the license itself and it does not necessarily have legal effect. Commons policy is to respect such wishes and treat higher resolution files as being out of scope for the project. Also, if a licensed file has no associated statement from the copyright holder concerning resolution, Commons policy is that higher resolution files are likewise out of scope.

Please note that this would not affect high resolution images of public domain 2D art (because we do not regard such images as copyright). Any advice or comments? Thincat (talk) 11:58, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

I don't think this is a topic for "Project scope". It is matter for Commons:Licensing, particularly the "Licence information" section. Possibly the current "Scope of licensing" subsection could be renamed "Complex licensing" and a new "Licence scope" section be created to comment on how authors may be explicit about the scope of any licence and also what Commons would do in response to such statements, or in the absence of such statements. Further, it should include "quality" as well as "resolution". -- Colin (talk) 12:35, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
It may not be "scope" but I think we should steer well clear of "licensing". If we try and deal with it as licensing we will collide with CC who say their license must not be changed. Also, for existing licenses, the license details cannot be changed retrospectively. As for "quality" (and what is meant for audio and video), yes, we need more thought. For other peoples' benefit I am adding a note.
A note of explanation. Creative Commons licenses a "work" and this may not be the same thing as a particular image file. A photographer may have a high resolution file of an image but deliberately only make freely available a lower resolution version. She may also publish or sell a full resolution version as "all rights reserved". If the "work" legally comprises both versions, the high resolution version becomes free as well. Creative Commons take no position on what is a "work" because this is up to the interpretation of the many legal systems across the world. However, they insist that no additional restrictions may be added to their licenses. In particular, the situation about "work" is unclear in the US. All this may (and probably will) inhibit museums and photographers from making lower resolution files available to Commons. Thincat (talk) 12:54, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
(outdent)For the sake of keeping the discussion in one place, I'll continue here. I agree we can't change CC's licence and we must accept it is vague and legally uncertain in its scope. However, I think the new policy text still belongs on other page as it is best placed to consider what Commons requires of any licence. I think we should discuss any wording of explicit restrictions another time as it is a minefield. Let's stick to Commons policy on how we interpret image licences particularly when uploaded from other places. Here's my suggestion:
Licence scope
Most licences apply to the work of copyright rather than individual instance of that work, such as a computer file, audio tape or photographic print. The determination that two instances are the same work of copyright can sometimes be difficult, a matter of legal uncertainty and may vary by jurisdiction. This is particularly problematic where the difference appears to be simply one of quality (e.g., image resolution, audio bit rate, compression level or algorithm). Re-users should have no doubts of the validity of the licence for the particular file we are hosting. So, for the avoidance of doubt, where there is any uncertainty over the intended scope of the licence and the creator's wishes, Commons requires there be a clear explicit indication that the free licence covers the source media file at a give level of quality. In other words, tThe existence of a free licence for a low quality media file does not in itself permit the hosting on Commons of a higher quality media file that is or appears to be drawn from the same work of copyright.
-- Colin (talk) 13:04, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Your wording is much more impressive than mine! (but I don't think your last sentence follows from your previous one). We have slightly different aspects in mind. Are you wanting to give advice to our licensers and, by doing so, let future courts know what we think are reasonable expectations for licensers? That might in itself support the licensers even in advance of a court case. It might also give a nudge to CC. That's all fine – go for it! I have a more pragmatic and immediate thing in mind. I want to make it clear that such HR images are not wanted here and they will be deleted. That is not a matter of licensing, it is merely one of internal policy. It could be achieved with a change to COM:Deletion policy (and I thought about that) but it seemed to me that COM:Project scope is primarily there to deal with the type of images we do not want, regardless of whether they are free. And, by making "improper" HR images out of scope, they are automatically in scope for deletion. Thincat (talk) 13:51, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
I've tweaked the last sentence a little.
Project scope is to be honest a bit of a mess. Concern what what type of image we want is really quite a different concern from concern over the licence/copyright status of the image and shouldn't imo be on the same page. But we have what we have. You are right that Deletion policy considers much the same things from another angle and is more about strictly enforcing the inclusion policies. Ultimately where it goes is a matter of convenience/preference rather than something we need to get too worried about at this stage.
My aim is mainly to give advice to users who are uploading someone else's work and my intentions match yours -- this is just Commons policy. I have no intention of giving advice to courts or legal advice to licensers. Some background info is vital to include, which forms the first half of the text. The issues that have prompted this discussion are where someone has uploaded a low-resolution copy with clear free licence (either stated on the source website, or given by proxy using OTRS, or uploaded by the creator themselves) and later someone has found a higher-quality version on the internet. This higher-quality version may lack a free licence or be explicitly "all rights reserved". So the above text makes it clear we won't allow uploading the higher-quality one (and so would delete it).
I think we should, somewhere, give some information to content-creators about the consequences of their licence choices, and whether and how they may express their wishes. But that is perhaps not a Commons Policy level discussion and more some information page. What might be Commons Policy is where someone has attempted to place further restrictions on a CC licence. Such a licence is no longer a CC licence and Commons is legally not allow to claim it is such (to use the name or logos of CC). Therefore we may need policy forbidding such text on image description pages [and if the creator refuses to change the text, then deletion of the file as not free]. That would certainly be a matter for the Commons licensing policy page.
I don't think someone can use a CC or FAL or GFDL licence and place a "this resolution only" restriction that has any legal power. Indeed, we have received no advice from WMF that such a restricted file would even qualify as a "Free Cultural Work". The most we can do at this point is perhaps for authors, if they wish, to explicitly declare the work free at any quality or resolution. But perhaps such a declaration would not be widely used. -- Colin (talk) 14:31, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, we have the same intentions. Uploaders can, and do, place requests on the file description asking, as a courtesy, for attribution to be in a particular manner (for example 'Attribution of this image to the author (DAVID ILIFF) is also required, preferably in a prominent location near the image. ... Suggested attribution: "Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0" '). This seems entirely proper. I am suggesting a "quality restriction request" could also quite properly be there and, more importantly, should be assumed by Commons as a default. I'll bow out now for the time being to see what others think. Thank you for your most helpful comments. Thincat (talk) 18:10, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Colin, the last sentence in your proposed text seems ambiguous about what is governing what is permitted. I read it at first as saying that the license would not legally permit hosting a higher resolution version, and I think this may be false, at least for certain licenses and jurisdictions. But from your later explanation I gather you were merely meaning that Commons would not permit hosting a higher resolution version; is that correct? If so, I think it should be reworded to make this clearer.
Personally I think the proposed text (and in particular the "any uncertainty" part) goes too far regarding situations where the licensor's wishes are even remotely unclear. IMO we should apply such a rule only where we know the copyright holder has explicitly imposed a resolution/quality restriction. Even that may be deviating from the definition of free content we say we follow. --Avenue (talk) 20:28, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
You are right, the text is just about what Commons permits, not legally permitted. I'll think about what could be changed. We could drop the "any" if you feel that is too strong. Yes the determination of how "clear" someone's wishes are could be a subject of disagreement, but it is probably impossible for policy to prevent the kind of boneheaded stupidity that arises here at times.
I strongly disagree that the copyright holder needs to explicitly impose a resolution/quality restriction for Commons to choose not to exploit the unclear scope of CC. We all know that nearly everyone has (and continues to, outside of a few participants here) regarded CC as licensing the image file, and are unaware of this possible scope extension. And we know there are many cases where low-resolution images have been licensed under CC with the intention (not explicitly stated) where the high-resolution images were kept non-free. So expecting people to explicitly state a restriction they aren't aware they need is too much. In addition, such restrictions are actually not permitted for CC-licensed works, so what you are asking for is impossible. I believe CC is unsuitable for such restrictions and we can't legally host files with such restrictions while claiming "This is licensed under CC" -- we'd have to call the licence something else, not link to CC's website, not use CC logos, etc, etc. And such a licence may not be "free" anyway.
I disagree that this self-imposed restriction is "deviating from the definition of free content". Commons is not required to host all free content, despite what some people think. This would be an example of where Commons chooses to do the ethical (and legally wise) thing. So I'm the opposite for you -- we need an explicit statement that their CC licence applies to all resolutions (or the specific resolution being uploaded), not the other way round. -- Colin (talk) 08:34, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
I am concerned that the word "any" (in "any uncertainty") will invite boneheadedness, so I would be happier if that was dropped. I'll think some more about the situations where I fear requiring too much certainty could cause unnecessary problems. --Avenue (talk) 16:38, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
I've dropped "any" and extended "hosting" to "hosting on Commons" to make the last sentence seem less like a legal statement and more like a policy statement. -- Colin (talk) 19:11, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Is this going to apply to any image or just those where a restriction has been requested by the copyright holder? The second issue is that CC makes it explicit that additional restrictions are not welcome on their licenses. So, will those that want to limit file size have to use a license like this? Saffron Blaze (talk) 02:09, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
Regarding the second issue, custom licenses may not be possible for externally sourced images, or for historical uploads directly to Commons. Anyway I see CC's restrictions as their enforcement problem, not ours. Are they trying to enforce them in other venues? --Avenue (talk) 03:50, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
My personal view (and my original suggestion here) is that it would apply to every copyright image (on Commons and elsewhere) and that it would not be an additional license limitation. It would simply be a local policy that Commons would not host "higher quality" images than any particular instance that has been licensed as free by the copyright holder. The copyright holder wouldn't have to do anything and the legal situation (whatever it is) would not be changed. Elsewhere, any image user can do whatever they think is lawful with images. The devil's in the detail and it is not important to me precisely how we implement this. I still see this primarily as a matter of "scope" but if it fits better in "licensing" or "deletion" then good. Thincat (talk) 10:33, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
An entirely separate matter (for me) is what, if anything, Commons should do about allowing the licensing of files rather than works or ensuring that a file is indeed the "work" licensed. I would prefer not to deal with that here because it is a much more difficult problem. Thincat (talk) 10:52, 1 March 2014 (UTC)


I have completely recast my original suggestion but maintaining the original intent:

"Commons policy for copyright images and other copyright audiovisual media is to only host freely licensed material. Also as a matter of policy, Commons will not host higher quality versions of copyright media than any instance of a file or copy that the copyright holder has specifically made freely available on Commons or elsewhere."

As footnotes we could remark that this has no legal or licensing implications; that any CC license is unaffected; that copyright holders may say they are willing for higher quality versions to be hosted; that copyright holders may draw attention to Commons policy. I am coming round to thinking that, in addition, Colin's section under "Licence scope" (above) could should be added by way of background explanation (and this explanation could be in com:Licensing with suitable cross-linking to the updated com:Project scope). Thincat (talk) 11:36, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

What about material in the public domain? I think we should indicate that this policy wouldn't apply to PD works. --Avenue (talk) 12:32, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
By specifying "copyright" I think PD is excluded. If not, it should be excluded. I have inserted another "copyright" above in case it helps. Maybe CC0 (i.e. PD) is a form of copyright, I don't know. Anyway, it needs to be clear that any quality of public domain is fine and dandy. Thincat (talk) 12:48, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
You're right, "copyright" does cover it, although I confess I don't like using the word as an adjective like that. --Avenue (talk) 12:54, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
We could remove adjectival "copyright" by appending "that are in copyright" though it would be rather fussily more wordy. It looks as if CC0 is not a form of copyright but it is a form of license for which CC would not allow modifications.[1] But I don't think that it matters here. Thincat (talk) 13:24, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
Maybe (also changing "copy" to "hard copy") "Commons policy for images (and audiovisual media) that are in copyright is to only host freely licensed material. Also as a matter of policy, Commons will not host higher quality versions of media in copyright than any instance of a file or hard copy that the copyright holder has specifically made freely available on Commons or elsewhere." Thincat (talk) 13:49, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
I find the wording rather convoluted and sounds like it came from a committee of lawyers. Perhaps something simple like this:

Commons policy does not allow overwriting a file with a higher quality version (resolution, compression, bit rate, etc) unless that media file is supplied directly by the copyright holder or previously published with a free license or is in the public domain. Saffron Blaze (talk) 22:02, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

Prohibiting just "overwriting" leaves open the possibility that the higher quality version could be uploaded under a different name than a specifically licensed lower quality version, or before the lower quality version was uploaded here. But I agree the initial "reboot" version seems convoluted, and redundant in parts. How about the following version? --Avenue (talk) 22:23, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

Some people want to license their works only at a certain level of quality, e.g. by restricting its resolution or bit rate. Commons will not host higher quality copies than those clearly placed under a free license.

How do you upload higher quality version when that version is published with a non-free license? Saffron Blaze (talk) 23:02, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
I would say the same way you upload any file. We often cite different source links for the image and the license. In that case the proposed policy addition would clarify how specifically the license has to relate to the file copied to Commons. Or perhaps I'm not understanding your question? --Avenue (talk) 00:32, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
I meant uploading a higher res file as a new file would require that file being licensed in accordance with the source not the existing low res file. Perhaps there is a simple way to say exactly that as part of the policy. Saffron Blaze (talk) 02:03, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

I think all the suggestions in this "reboot" section are flawed quite fundamentally. Avenue in the section above wanted explicit restrictions but in the version offered here does not and offers something that seems like an summarised version of what I proposed above. The "overwriting" version proposed by Saffron is flawed because our view on what we should host should not be determined by what we (arbitrarily) already host. There is a point where one cannot simplify a complex problem without losing key aspects. So I suggest we go back to the section above and discuss if anyone has important problems with it, rather than these over-simplified attempts. -- Colin (talk) 23:43, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

  • Colin, lawyers have been using that argument for centuries despite plenty of evidence their convoluted writing is not necessary to convey issues, complex or otherwise. If the concept cannot be written so that the average user can understand it without others providing interpretation then it is fundamentally flawed bit of work. Find a way to re-write your proposal in simpler terms otherwise you risk be absolutely legally correct but failing miserably to actually provide useful information. Saffron Blaze (talk) 23:53, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
Saffron, while I agree convoluted writing is wrong, I disagree that the text I offered the in the section above is convoluted -- it is straightforward plain English. I'm quite puzzled by this reboot which offers a single sentence added to a long policy page that will simply result in a WTF response from anyone who comes across it. The first sentence Thincat offered just repeats general Commons policy and is in fact not specific in any way to this issue -- so irrelevant. And your proposed text is fundamentally wrong, whether clear English or not -- overwriting is irrelevant. We need to explain the issues to readers unfamiliar with the tortured discussions we've had on talk pages. They need to appreciate that CC licences scope are vague, that copyright-holders may not have intended the other quality versions to be under CC, and that we will respect this and not assume that they have. I suggest you have a look at what you've written/offered and consider how someone coming across it on this policy page or another will react. Keeping the text very short, as suggested here, will not educate future readers about the issues and they may misinterpret why it was written and may remove it thinking perhaps it isn't necessary. -- Colin (talk) 08:45, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree a summary of the situation would be useful somewhere, to save people from having to plough through the "tortured discussions" we've had. But the situation is so ambiguous that I don't think such a summary would be very helpful on a policy page. IMO that should focus instead on what is and is not allowed, with only enough background explanation to let most people understand the essential points (although including a link to more details would be good). I don't think understanding the vagaries of CC licenses and their interpretation is essential here, and I believe my version covers the other two points you mention. (BTW, I think our proposed additions would be better placed on COM:L than COM:SCOPE.) I'm also not sure your explanation is entirely correct - e.g. when deciding whether two versions are simply copies of the same work, I suspect differences in quality would be one of the easier factors to resolve. --Avenue (talk) 10:26, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
Can I clarify that your proposed version is the italic text below your comment 22:23, 1 March 2014 . Well the rationale given there probably wouldn't be accepted. The "Some people want to" comment might provoke a "So what?" response, especially by those unsympathetic to those wishes when they've been "stupid enough" to use CC/FAL or "stupid enough" to upload a high resolution somewhere. Unfortunately, I believe on Commons we need more than just "this is the moral thing to do" because there are so many on here with no morals whatsoever. So we need the "this the the legally wise thing to do" angle also. And I'm afraid some will simply argue that "clearly placed under a free license" means they clearly placed the "work of copyright" under a free licence, not the file. I'm using "quality" to cover many aspects including resolution and possibly additional post-processing work. It is, for example, quite typical for a pro photographer to upload barely-processed sample photographs from a wedding shoot to Zenfolio/Smugmug for the couple to choose from, and then to take this selection and work on them more in post to produce a final high-quality print. The question for someone coming across an image that "appears to be" simply a higher resolution copy is whether that is all that has been done. I'm afraid if it was "one of the easier factors to resolve" then CC would have categorically stated that two images that are merely different resolutions are considered the same work of copyright. They haven't. Absolutely they haven't. -- Colin (talk) 14:23, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose I do not like the whole idea. If someone licenses their work under some license like CC, then they agree to conditions of that license. If the license does not prohibit other resolutions of the same work than we should not be adding additional copyright restrictions after the fact. The uploder always has an option of just not releasing higher quality scans outside the Commons. But if they do than they should not be surprised that their inferior images will be replaced with the better ones. --Jarekt (talk) 03:19, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
You are completely missing the point that the license does not make that explicit or even implicit. In fact it takes some rather concerted digging and a pile of weasel words from CC itself to understand that you might be licensing much more than the file. Saffron Blaze (talk) 03:28, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
Agree Jarekt, you are missing the point. We are not "adding additional copyright restrictions after the fact". We are doing two things 1. Respecting the licence holders wishes despite the best efforts of CC to confuse them and mislead them and 2. Applying our Precautionary Principle because the scope of a CC licence is in fact legally unclear and undetermined in any court. So legally we cannot host, and re-users cannot use, the other "versions" of a file without exposing ourselves/themselves to the risk that any assumption the two "versions" are in fact the same "work of copyright" in whatever jurisdiction it is used. It is a complete mess that CC could have avoided. -- Colin (talk) 08:45, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

What we can agree on[edit]

I want to avoid a train wreck discussion as happens often on Commons -- we end up discussing seventeen versions of a proposed few sentences. This is a wiki. Things should be simpler and happen quicker than that. As is obvious from Jarekt's comment above, some people don't get it. I see three main issues:

  1. Challenge those on Commons who are grasping and have no respect for the wishes of copyright holders. There are plenty on the internet who have no respect for copyright or artists at all, yet they are fundamental to Commons for we will not get donations without showing respect. A view that the holder shouldn't have been stupid enough to use CC and they shouldn't have been stupid enough to upload a higher resolution version to 500px or Flickr is typical of a fundamentalist and inconsiderate mindset. So I would like Commons to agree in principle that wrt this issue, we will choose to respect copyright-holders's wishes and not exploit ambiguity or uncertainty in licenses.
  2. Recognise that most using CC or similar licences have and will continue to assume its scope is the file. We have a legacy of the misleading encouragement by WMF/CC/GLAM that one could apply different copyright licences to the same work of copyright. As a result, tens of thousands of files on Commons are hosted on the assumption that the CC licence only covers the low resolution copy donated.
  3. We need to explain the whole legal uncertainty of this scope. Despite long discussions, we still see people coming to the debate thinking either that "CC are wrong", "CC's view is irrelevant", "this isn't important until a court decides one way", "CC have said all resolutions are covered by the licence" all of which are unhelpful or wrong. This scope uncertainty means that we must warn anyone using CC/FAL about the potential for the licence to go beyond the file they are donating but also means we can't make assumptions that the licence actually does extend to another file which "appears" to be the same work of copyright.

Once we explain and agree on these things, the conclusion about the correct thing to do becomes obvious. I don't think it is sufficient to propose a licence text that merely states the conclusion of the above without any background as to why. Can we agree on these things? -- Colin (talk) 09:44, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

I agree with all that. I would, in addition, prefer to have a policy of not hosting such high resolution images rather than merely deleting on the precautionary principle because the law is uncertain. However, if it impedes change, I'll personally surrender that. @Colin, have you noted that the "reboot" section proposed adopting your "Licence scope" section verbatim? Thincat (talk) 10:42, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
No I didn't spot that, Thincat. I assumed "Reboot" meant "scrap that and start again" and when I returned to the discussion it had deteriorated into one of those "Proposed version 17: ...." kind of train wrecks. I think we need to agree on principles, stick something up and see how it is applied and then tweak if it is found to be misunderstood. There is the danger we all sit around polishing something and nothing gets delivered. -- Colin (talk) 14:23, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
I'm going to submit that the first point of any section starting "what we can agree on" shouldn't accuse other people in the discussion of "a fundamentalist and inconsiderate mindset".--Prosfilaes (talk) 10:51, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
I speak my mind Prosfilaes. I've seen former 'crats threaten to undelete someone's images if a decision didn't go their way way so I'm well aware there are some on Commons who don't give a shit about content creators, and I have no intention of coming to any meeting of minds with them -- they can take a running jump. -- Colin (talk) 14:23, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
What's your goal, to speak your mind or to actually work with other people and get something done? The fact that you accuse of other people of "just being unpleasant" while being unpleasant and justifying it by "I speak my mind" makes me roll my eyes; perhaps they were just speaking their mind, and if they don't get cut some slack for speaking their mind, why should you? I can't support anything that includes a personal attack on good users and I suspect other users are being driven away for the same reason.--Prosfilaes (talk) 23:35, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Colin, I am sure you know we are on the same side on this and several other issues. I just think we differ on approach, as was evident at that other train wreck (which seems to be getting back on track BTW). I am not opposed to any point you offered. I would just like to see it written in a user's language not a lawyer's. Unlike the template issue I don't think we need to feel so constrained by being concise if it means keeping the language "human readable". Saffron Blaze (talk) 15:49, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
Well I unwatched that other page a while back. There's a difference between "would like" and "absolutely require". The difference just fillibusters attempts to change/improve policy. You talk of lawyer's language but policy pages need precise language -- I've got a decade of experience writing and applying them on Wikipedia and Commons so I'm no newbie to this. My concerns with the proposed alternatives are with flaws in their text/argument, not whether one is friendlier than the other or the grammar is nicer in one or the other. So let's formulate something we all agree in principle on and doesn't have obvious flaws. And get it up. This is a wiki! -- Colin (talk) 16:41, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
I don't believe precise language and ease of understanding are mutually exclusive concepts. If your decade of experience says they are then that would explain the situation we are in. Saffron Blaze (talk) 17:04, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
I do believe you are now arguing for argument sake and just being unpleasant. Have you actually looked at the rest of the page we are trying to insert a few lines into. It is shite. Really, Commons has no concept of a wiki (just look at those frightening translation templates in the markup) and couldn't write a readable policy page if its life depended on it. What it needs is some talented writers from WP to wholesale redraft it all. Not just three sentences we've wasted these days discussing. I'm unwatching. Let me know if someone actually wants to improve policy rather than waste my time. -- Colin (talk) 18:54, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
I am not trying to waste your time Colin.

Whether a license applies to the underlying copyright or the specific file is still open to legal interpretation. As such, content contributors should be aware when they upload a specific media file that most licenses may allow re-users to legally use other versions of that work including those with different resolutions, bit rates, compression or other measures of quality. This uncertainly in the law also affects whether Commons will accept higher quality files when it is not clear this is in accordance with the copyright holder's original intent when donating a file. In other words, the existence a freely licensed low quality media file on Commons does not necessarily permit the hosting of a higher quality version of this same work.

Saffron Blaze (talk) 21:21, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

Despite unwatching, I had a peek. Mistake. Your first proposed sentence is just wrong. There is absolutely no legal doubt the licence applies to the "work of copyright". The only vague area is whether two given files are the same work of copyright. The second proposed sentence is also wrong. Most licences do not "allow re-users to legally use other versions of that work including those with different resolutions, bit rates, compression or other measures of quality." because of this Creative Commons FAQ answer. The correct statement needs to be "possibly including ... depending on the circumstances of the individual file and jurisdiction of the creator and re-user" -- it all comes down to whether those differences count as the same work and that the difference is worthy of copyright. In the UK the bar is very low. Your last two sentences assume the low-quality file was "donated" to Commons and is already present on Commons. I've already pointed out this mistake in your earlier attempt. It is quite possible that there is a low-quality file with CC BY-SA on Flickr and a high-quality file with all-rights-reserved on the photographer's own website. In this case, no "donation" was made and there is no pre-existing file. We have the further complication of even determining if two files are merely resolution-different and not that the better file has had further processing worthy of copyright. Both files may share a RAW negative but there's plenty creative activity goes on after that, much of which is certainly worthy of copyright. So this proposal is both incorrect in its description of the legal circumstances and misguided in its suggested application to policy.
Have you looked again at my original proposed text and honestly think that yours is clearer? Because it isn't even correct never mind clear. And Avenue's initial objection seems to have vanished in his proposed alternative too. So really I see no reason why that text can't be adopted into some policy page right now, and no reasons to debate 101 inferior incorrect incomplete alternatives. It is just a timesink.
I do know a thing or two about writing policy. I needs to be absolutely correct and carefully worded. Your mocking my claims of experience is like a DIYer mocking a proper electrician before installing a mains socket in his bathroom. Go ahead and fry yourselves if you like. I really am unwatching this time. -- Colin (talk) 08:22, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
Colin's analysis is correct on the facts. Attempting to redraft his version given I couldn't understand it was the first mistake. Taking this offline so as to reduce the friction. Saffron Blaze (talk) 19:47, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

About agreement on user:Colin's 3 proposed statements

  1. I agree that "A view that the holder shouldn't have been stupid enough to use CC and they shouldn't have been stupid enough to upload a higher resolution version to 500px or Flickr is typical of a fundamentalist and inconsiderate mindset." I have never encountered that view. I upload many images to Commons (at full resolution) and CC seem just fine with me, I am not sure why you would want to upload lower resolution. I agree with "respecting copyright-holders's wishes" as expressed in the license and attribution requirements. Any other wishes are not compatible with CC licenses and possibly many other licenses.
  2. I do not assume that "most using CC or similar licences have and will continue to assume its scope is the file" - those licenses do not talk about files but "works". I am not aware of any "misleading encouragement by WMF/CC/GLAM" for uploading low resolution versions of the images, I was under impression that we always encourage of the highest resolution possible. However if some upload was done under assumption that the "CC licence only covers the low resolution copy donated" (Commons:Bundesarchiv?), then despite of availability of higher resolution versions, I am fine with voluntarily not overwriting the uploads with higher resolution alternatives.
  3. I agree that "that we must warn anyone using CC/FAL about the potential for the licence to go beyond the file they are donating but also means we can't make assumptions that the licence actually does extend to another file which "appears" to be the same work of copyright". As a result you should not upload low-res images under one license and make them available under higher resolution elsewhere.

Also may be I missed this but why are we disusing license issues under com:scope. Scope policy mostly deals with what files we want to host and the only license aspect is that they have to be under free license. Any clarifications as to how to deal with quirks of CC licenses should probably go elsewhere. --Jarekt (talk) 21:49, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Why "Scope"? Because this discussion started with me suggesting a paragraph at the top of this section to say that the sort of high resolution images under discussion should be deletable as being out of scope. See particularly the rewritten version immediately under the subsection "Reboot". Colin considered that a description of the underlying legal problem was needed at com:Licensing and I now agree that this is important in addition to a changed "scope" policy. However, the licensing aspect has dominated the discussion, which has also deteriorated badly with some remarks being ill-tempered and others being poorly thought out. Thincat (talk) 09:04, 4 March 2014 (UTC)

Sorry if I'm late to this party. I saw 8 supports at Commons:Village_pump/Copyright#We_desperately_need_a_quick_conclusion_on_this_matter; but this parallel discussion too. Yes; we are very amateur in making/redefining policies. So what is the next step? Jee 07:27, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Yes it is a great (but not surprising) pity that the unanimity there has become bogged down here. My own feeling is we should first add a paragraph such as Colin suggested above at "Licence scope" to Commons:Licensing. I think (from this) that Colin and Saffron Blaze are discussing any rewording between themselves (but I may have misunderstood), but anyway agreement will probably have to be sought at Commons talk:Licensing. Then I would like to add a paragraph such as I (Thincat) suggested at "Reboot" to Commons:Project scope. I am not seeing specific objection to this here because I am taking the issues raised above as meaning that something needs to be done at "Licensing" rather than that nothing should be done here. I would personally rather take things a bit gently and get something achieved than be pushy right now and end up with a squabble. Thincat (talk) 11:41, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation; and I really appreciate your efforts. Thanks all. Jee 13:12, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Guys, I have concern regarding the broader implications of this policy. How does it extend to other aspects such as public domain.

a) Suppose a picture was taken in country X. suppose that picture (600x600) was published within 30 days in the US. Suppose that picture just entered public domain (and since it was published within 30 days in the US, it's not restored under URAA). Let's say that picture was then uploaded to commons. If recently a higher resolution version of that photo (say 2000x2000) become available, according to commons: Are we saying it's copyrighted? (restored under URAA since it's different resolution than the one published back in the day)
From what I read above, it sure sounds like it and this has some serious implications
b) Suppose I find a photo online of resolution 500x500 which is released under CC-BY. If I find the exact photo just with a higher resolution somewhere else, can I no longer upload it since we are not considering it a different license?

Those are two issues I can think of off the top of my head but I am sure there are many other cases that needs to be considered.

Honestly, I can't possibly see a Judge say that the same original "artwork" under different qualities constitute different copyrights licensing. Just because someone wants only their low-resolution photo to be licensed under CC, doesn't really mean they legally can. --CyberXRef 13:18, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

There are all sorts of problematic licensing implications but these are not matters for policies or decisions on Commons. They are matters for legislators and courts. What is proposed here is (1) a warning to uploaders about what may be implied in CC and other free licences and (2) a proposal that Commons should take its own decision not to host some types of file produced from copyright images. Neither proposal suggests any change to the law or interpretation of the law. If either proposal turns out to be unsatisfactory, we can change it back without any ramifications for copyright holders, uploaders or reusers. Thincat (talk) 13:37, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Your opinion of what a judge might say isn't relevant. CC have asked their legal advisers whether a high-resolution copy is included in the CC licence for a low resolution copy (i.e. are they the same work of copyright) and their answer is a resounding "maybe, don't know for sure, nobody knows, perhaps in some countries". This isn't good enough. In addition, just because you think the high-resolution photo is merely the same photo saved with different resolution doesn't mean it is. There are lots of reasons why it might actually be different enough, not least because it was shot DSC0456 rather than DSC0454 from the camera and was processed slightly differently and in one the model's hair has moved just slightly. The take home message to anyone bold enough to upload files they just happen to find lying about the internet is (1) these are not your files (2) do you know for sure that a free licence is available for this file and (3) do you have confidence the source website is responsible wrt authorship and care wrt licensing. Once you consider these things, if you find another photo somewhere on the internet without a free licence clearly attached to it, then leave it alone -- or contact the creator. Your first scenario sounds contrived and we have no examples to worry about so lets worry about it when someone does. Nothing we do here changes the law. We aren't saying something is or isn't copyrighted -- that's for a judge to decide. -- Colin (talk) 15:13, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
I was clearly not talking about any random website; I want talking about reputable websites (such as museums); secondly, the first scenario IS NOT contrived, there are a number of museums (3 here in the northeast that I know of) that are publishing new high resolution versions of photos that are in public domain (from the negatives). That's exactly why I brought it up in the first place. --CyberXRef 18:30, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Further clarify that this is not just for use on Wikimedia sites[edit]

This would read more clearly to me if we changed

It acts as a common repository

to read

It also acts as a common repository

Currently one could read the first lines as implying that Commons is a common repository for media used on Wikimedia sites, and that people who are not currently editors on those sites can upload files here, for intended use on Wikimedia sites. Implying that if you don't have a specific Wikimedia-related use in mind you should not upload files to Commons.

This came up recently on the Wikieducator list, where educators in a community committeed to free licenses felt unsure about posting their media to Commons since it was intended primarily for use on a non-WMF site. --SJ+ 05:41, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Agree with the proposed change to make it clear. Jee 05:53, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Updating the Precautionary Principle[edit]

Opening of an RFC to discuss changes to the wording of the Precautionary principle[edit]

I have opened an RFC on a proposal to relax the scope of the Precautionary Principle policy to allow Commons to host more of the locally public domain files that are being deleted because of the US URAA law, and also to keep more photos that have freedom of panorama in their home country but which might be copyright-protected in the US.

Put simply, do you agree that Commons should aim to host more files that are public domain in their home country even if they *might* still be copyright-protected in the US?

Please contribute to the poll and discussion at that is starting now at Commons:Review of Precautionary principle. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 16:33, 9 April 2014 (UTC)