Other unsuitable licences
What to do about GPL/LGPL/etc. Commons licensing discourages these too but are they are problem and does that problem need addressed in this proposal? One could imagine a future uncontentious discussion along the lines of "GPL/LGPL just aren't sensible choices for images so the licensing rules should go further than just discouraging and actually ban them for all non-software applications".
It seems that screenshots of software are derivative works and need to have the same licence as the software. Similarly, the icons and such that form the software are likely to be under the same licence. This doesn't apply to text and graphics that aren't part of the program (so the text on the Wiki page isn't GPL though the MediaWiki software is, similarly the pictures produced by GIMP aren't GPL). Since it is obviously useful for Wikipedia and Commons to host screenshots of software under a free software licence, then we should allow those too.
Are software licences appropriate for images outside of computer software? The FSF say technically they can be used, but you have to bend the language and try to define what "source code" means wrt your image or audio file or video. This introduces doubt and confusion for any reuser and the danger that the licence might even be regarded as void. They recommend, the GFDL and other licences] such as CC for non-software media.
While I don't think such licences are being openly used for abuse (i.e., to deliberately make photographs non-reusable) they do seem to be quite frequently chosen. Possibly by mistake. Therefore I think it quite appropriate for Commons to ban images/audio/video with a software licence unless it is a screenshot of software with that licence. The same goes for the Open Data Commons licence, which is for databases. In addition, the feature these software licences share with the GFDL is the requirement to include the entire licence with the reused work. Which leads to them being swept up as a corollary of the GFDL ban, with the additional issue that they just aren't worded helpfully for images. Colin (talk) 19:57, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
At this point I'm not sure whether to include the GPL/et al stuff in with the main proposal, to include it as a corollary or to postpone such a discussion till afterwards (with perhaps a note that a consequence of the GFDL ban would be a discussion of other similar licences). Colin (talk) 20:10, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
- I'd favour a ban of all "unsuitable" licenses for images etc, where unsuitable is a rigorously defined way of saying "license conditions are too cumbersome for practical, printed use of the file". Once this general principle is established "therefore the GFDL is unacceptable...". With things defined this way, we aren't saying the GPL is bad because its like the GFDL (they are quite different), we are saying the GPL is bad because you have to include the license text (like the GFDL). This will means less of a re-write if we need to add further licenses in the future, we just have to append an increasing list.
- The GPL is relatively likely to be chosen, simply because its a well known free license. For instance File:218Y0007.JPG.
- Screenshots of GPL software are entirely suitable, as are excerpts from GFDL works. Derivatives of existing content should also be fine, but need to be phrased correctly: If I upload a CC-BY/GFDL dual licensed work, I shouldn't be permitted to edit and upload a derivative as GFDL only - even though the licenses permit that in the legal sense.
- I'd also drop short text from the initial proposal. Bear in mind that >99% of WP edits are "short" and until recently were solely licensed under GFDL. Including such text in a proposal to sort out photographs might stall discussion, when it is not necessary to prevent the perceived abuse.
- The following is a generic reformulation (needs better phrasing)
- If a free license imposes impracticable difficulties for a given class of media, then media of that class cannot be considered free if provided under that license and will not be accepted on Commons.
- It may be used as part of a multi-license in addition to a license that is both free and suitable for that class of work.
- Existing media on Commons which is only freely licensed under one of these unacceptable licenses for that class of work, may be kept. Derivative versions may also be uploaded under this license.
- Derivatives of works that are of a suitable class for the license may be uploaded. This still applies if the license is not free for the class of work of the derivative.
- The following licenses are not acceptable for the specified classes of works:
- The GFDL (all versions) is not acceptable for media of the following classes: Images, video, sound...
(and so on)
- While there's nothing much I disagree with there, and we share the same end goal, the method we choose to get there needs to be carefully thought through. The proposal above is that a licence must not "imposes impracticable difficulties for a given class of media". However, Commons is already built upon The Definition which I quote on the other page: ""whenever the user of a work cannot legally or practically exercise his or her basic freedoms, the work cannot be considered and should not be called "free."". Also all three of the main initial quotes state clearly that impractical licences are bad: "Wikimedia Commons also strongly disfavors content offered under licenses that impose impractical restrictions". So the big danger of the above suggestion is that (a) it introduces nothing new and (b) it will lead to diverting discussions about whether the GFDL is in fact impractical or even that any licence that requires attribution is impractical (which it is in certain cases).
- Ultimately, only a CC0 type of licence is truly free: free to reuse in an good way or in a bad way (where one does not acknowledge the source or where one chooses to impose a stricter licence or copyright on a derivative work). People choose attribution and copyleft/sharealike even though they place some limitations on the reuser. Without payment, attribution is the only reward folk get here and a CC0 licence means you need to wait for heaven to get your reward :-). Similarly the copyleft/sharealike forces the reuser to be as identically generous and restrictive as you were: which not everyone agrees with (hence the number of non-copyleft free licences). And while many consider NC to be not free, that's not a universal position and one of the main arguments for disallowing NC on Commons is that (I understand) Wikipedia legally can't use such images on its pages: once you start copyleft/sharealike you remain stuck with your initial choice of generosity/restrictions.
- I think that beginning a discussion on "impractical" licences is therefore unnecessary: that battle is won, don't reopen it. So given that our Definition already bans impractical licences, the next step is to examine licence x media combinations to see what is impractical. The result is clearly the GFDL and the whole set of software/database licences. They share the issue of forcing the reuser to print whole licence text. But the latter group also have a problem of just being unsuitably worded for images. One needs to convince a judge what the "source code" of an JPG is and I can very much see some old bewigged codger say "Young man, you've simply chosen the wrong licence for your work. What were you smoking? This licence is void." [Which means one falls back to copyright and the reuser has infringed -- so this is yet another reason that reusers will be put off by licenses that are inappropriately worded].
- The second thing to consider is that we aren't really introducing any new fundamental policy. Nor are we being dogmatic about it. This is a pragmatic proposal. We're not suggesting that existing media be erased and accept the need for some exceptions such as certain derivative works. If we were dogmatic about GFDL then those would be inconsistent responses. We're not fundamentally opposed to GFDL the same way that some might be opposed to NC: simply that there are better licence choices in 2012 and no reason to chose that licence over the others for new uploads that is compatible with our mission.
- So, to go after one or all of these impractical licences? Going after several, without explicitly enumerating them, requires the definition of a group. This may introduce doubt among folk that the group is defined carefully enough and wont catch perfectly reasonable choices. The other problem with a larger target is that is simply harder to gain consensus for. Not everyone reads the text carefully or is capable of joined-up thinking :-) so if one targets the GPL along with this, even though we make exceptions for software screenshots, we'll only end up with folk voting oppose because they think they can't upload GPL icons and software logos. Finally, the debate up to now (for years and recently at FP) has concerned the GFDL only. That's the problem on people's mind. Expanding it will only lead to a "WTF is this I have to worry about now" response.
- After sleeping on this problem, I think the most practical and likely-to-succeed thing for us to do is target GFDL initially and only. It is the one licence that is commonly acknowledged and accepted as problematic and abused precisely because of that. Should the proposal be accepted and implemented successfully then I think the next step is for someone to list other problematic licences: either because of the licence text burden or because they are simply inappropriate, and propose we end uploads for them (with necessary exclusions if required). That second debate should I think be uncontentious or less contentious after the first is one. Colin (talk) 10:29, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Removed for now
A corollary is that any other licence that requires a full copy of the licence text to be included when reused is also inappropriate for Commons images, media and video files. These include the GPL and LGPL software licences and the Open Data Commons database licence. Furthermore, the FSF say that although the GPL could be used for works other than software it makes like difficult for both authors and reusers (what exactly is the "source code" of a photograph). For this reason the FSF recommend other licences including CC. Therefore it is recommended that the restrictions imposed above for GFDL licences be extended to all licences that require the full copy of the licence text to be included when reused.
I've removed the line about derivative works (of original material outside of Commons). From what I've read, screenshots of GPL software must have a GPL licence and no other (e.g., you can't add on a CC licence, or use GFDL or make it public domain because none of those options meet the copyleft sharealike restriction). It seems, however, that a large number of such images are using the wrong licence.
So at the moment, I'd like to see a genuine example where Commons was hosting a derivative work that needed a GFDL image where the original work was appropriately licensed with GFDL. Colin (talk) 17:34, 13 October 2012 (UTC)