User talk:Philippe (WMF)

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Welcome to Wikimedia Commons, Philippe (WMF)!


Why do you delete this file? German stamps are in public domain... --Sinuhe20 (talk) 22:01, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

The Wikimedia Foundation's legal department disagrees with you, as does Wikimedia Deutschland's. Note: continually recreating a file that's deleted under OFFICE action is a violation of global policy - and doing it again may result in blocking. WMFOffice (talk) 22:03, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Is there some proof for that statement? Why do we have license "PD-German stamps"? --Sinuhe20 (talk) 22:05, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
The proof for the statement is that the OFFICE action is being taken by this account. You may direct questions to WMFOffice (talk) 22:05, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
What does this mean "the OFFICE action is being taken by this account", I'm not understanding. This stamp is legal, see Commons:Stamps/Public_domain#Germany.--Sinuhe20 (talk) 22:08, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
What I mean is this: This account takes action based on legal opinions by Wikimedia Foundation staff. You may discuss with them, but otherwise, you may not readd files removed by OFFICE action. See the meta policy at m:Office_actions for more information. I strongly suggest that your legal questions be directed to the Foundation's legal counsel at WMFOffice (talk) 22:10, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
It means simply said that the Foundation can do what she wants and we have to shut up. Chaddy (talk) 23:18, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
It seems very important to talk about this problem on a transparent way, not o2p VIA mail! --Conny (talk) 07:15, 16 November 2011 (UTC).
Deletion is correct here. German stamps are generally PD unless they contain copyrightable artwork from others. In this case the stamp contains a well-known scene from Loriot (who died recently). But I'd say the communication/explanation regarding the deletion from the WMF could indeed be improved. Community doesn't like "Basta" politics (insider for germans). --Denniss (talk) 00:04, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Stamps mostly contain copyrightable artwork from others... Your statement is wrong, it's unimportant if the stamp contains copyrightable artwork from others. Official German stamps are always pd.
But I agree with the second part of your comment.Chaddy (talk) 00:43, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
IANAL, but ... our lawyers, and the German counsel that's working on this are all in agreement. Those stamps had to be pulled as a copyvio. But rather than discussing here, as I have suggested ad nauseum, has anyone written to Philippe (WMF) (talk) 00:57, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Ah, excellent! I see that someone has. I'm sure that our legal team will respond, which will be shared with the community. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 01:01, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Let me try to explain: Artwork made by or made for the Bundespost/Post AG and placed on stamps is considered PD. If this artwork is taken from another artist/creator and used with permission the stamp is not PD as the copyright on this artwork is to be counted higher than the PD from official work. The stamp in question may also be a special case as it's not a regular stamp but a Wohlfahrtsmarke. --Denniss (talk) 01:58, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
A Wohlfahrtsmarke is an ordinary stamp, legal for sending letters. F. ex. if the Wohlfahrtsmarke counts 1,10 € + 0,55 € then you can use it for a normal letter which costs 1,10 €. The 0,55 € are going to caritative organisations and the 1,10 € gets the Deutsche Post. --Matthiasb (talk) 08:05, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

For the German-readers, there is a nice synopsis on the copyright status of stamps on, which shows that legal opinions differ. --Túrelio (talk) 09:02, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

The text clearly shows, that the german courts still regard stamps as "official works" which are in the public domain. Of course some lawyers disagree, as always some do. Obviously the artists probably know the legal status when they (or their heirs) agree to this usage, which is by the way a real honour and shows that he/she is really important. --Eingangskontrolle (talk) 10:44, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

Anyway: Is uploading on de:Wikipedia an option? According to "Schutzlandprinzip" that would be under German jurisdiction. --Eingangskontrolle (talk) 11:18, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

German jurisdiction wouldn't help, given that there's a German judgment saying these are copyrighted. However, no, the Foundation maintains that all of the projects hosted by the Foundation on our servers in the US are under US jurisdiction, as I understand it. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 20:52, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
This "German jugdement" you are speaking of, is completely unknown to the de-WP legal community. Can you please link to it if it is online or give us the Case-No and the issuing court please? --h-stt !? 13:17, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

I also strongly protest against the WMF interfering with Wikimedia authors' privileges. It is up to us to decide when and why we should keep media and texts in a Wikimedia project. We have admins elect in order to decide on these issues. Wikimedia Foundation is not entitled to do so. Again, I strongly oppose this and I ask you to refrain from deleting the said images of German stamps which are not protected by German copyright law. IAAL. --Aschmidt (talk) 22:22, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

So just to be sure that I understand your position.... you believe that the Wikimedia Foundation should accept the legal liability for hosting content that alleged to be against copyright law, and yet not have any opportunity to step in when there are legal issues? That community members are best positioned to determine the legality (in the US, where the servers are located), rather than the Foundation's legal team? Philippe (WMF) (talk) 23:00, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
It is up to the community to create content in Wikimedia projects and to govern itself. The Foundation provides and runs the servers we are working on. It has been argued by the courts that German stamps under German law are not copyright protected. German courts indeed have decided that Deutsche Post stamps are official works. There are more opinions on the subject, but these are only legal opinions, no decisions. German Wikipedians have been discussing whether to change our policy on stamps or not. But as long as we have not decided otherwise the Foundation is not entitled to overrule Wikimedia authors because this is a self-governing project and there is a rule that the Wikimedia Foundation will not interfere with what the authors think is right. It is, in a sense, the same problem we have with the Foundations plan to introduce an image filter. I gather you know that the German community will not comply with this and has considered forking German-language Wikipedia which is the second-largest Wikipedia in terms of traffic, only the English-speaking Wikipedia is accessed by more users. Both cases are basically about the Foundation interfering with authors' privileges. There is no reason not to talk to the community before taking action. Courts also have to take this process into account. The images are still there on German-language Wikipedia, but they are gone from Commons now. I think it is a bad sign indeed that the Foundation does not listen to the Community in matters like these. --Aschmidt (talk) 23:17, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
I think you're in error. There are actually decisions, as researched by our local German counsel, that address this issue (and, indeed, these specific stamps). I've asked someone from our legal team to comment here. I also refer you to the longstanding policy on office actions, which does not agree with your statements above. In short, the Foundation is empowered to (and charged with) ensuring legal content. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 23:22, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
Philippe, thanks for replying to my opinion on the matter. I gather the German-language community will be interested to read your comments, and I also understand that we will not be pleased that Wikimedia authors are treated this way by the Foundation. The matter has come up in German blogs and on the social networks tonight.--Aschmidt (talk) 23:35, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
Cross-posting this comment from Foundation-l:More broadly, an Office action is one taken by the Foundation in its official capacity as owner of the websites and host of the projects. Office actions are understood to be infrequent, and taken only when the Foundation has non-public information or when it believes an action is required that the local community has chosen not to perform. It doesn't violate "authors privileges" (whatever that is intended to mean), nor does any project have sole discretion for local decision-making. Perhaps the de.wp is unused to any assertiveness on the part of the WMF, but the infrequency of Office actions there should not be taken to mean that the WMF has relinquished its formal responsibilities with respect to that project. NathanT 20:07, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
So, what about 'Money': coins and things like that: Will there be the same problem ? Are'nt coins PD ? And therefore: Why should stamps not ? --KarleHorn (talk) 17:37, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

What I'm not understanding: why especially these pictures where deleted and not the other german stamps? I'm respecting the deleting decision, but I'm disappointed, because with this office actions there is not enough transparency regarding who has really initiated this deleting request and why? When I tried to restore the stamps I was threatened to be banned and that's not o.k. Yes, I can send en email to, but I want to know the reasons before the deletion, not after it, and besides this way is not really transparent for the community at all. If I'm rembering right, the deletion of the stamps was not really discussed before.--Sinuhe20 (talk) 20:36, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

By the way, if the stamps were really illegal, it would be logical to change this section and to remove this template, otherwise I would be really confused.--Sinuhe20 (talk) 20:52, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

I hope future OFFICE actions are accompanied by a good reason for why that action was taken. Transparency and Openness are central to all Wikimedia projects. All actions, but especially deletions, need a clear explanation of why it was done. „DMCA considerations“, „legal department disagrees with you“ or „proof [...] is that the OFFICE action is being taken by this account“ are not sufficient, because don't explain anything, they merely state that someone has an opinion and that you don't care what anybody else thinks. You simply could have said „Our legal department has looked at the issue, here are their reasons why they don't think it counts as PD: The following laws and decisions apply and [...]“ Everybody would have understood! But instead, you refuse to even talk about it here and expect us to blindly accept whatever you declare to be the truth. This is unacceptable and contrary to everything Wikipedia stands for. --Accountalive (talk) 01:19, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Statement from Wikimedia's legal team about this issue

Thank you for inquiring after the deletion of the images of the Loriot stamps.  We understand your concern, especially given that this was a particularly difficult decision for us, involving a number of hours of research and consultation with German counsel.  As you know, we take a strong position in support of the public domain, and we are not happy about the need to delete these images.  With that understanding, I'm happy to address your questions to the extent possible.

1) The Wikimedia Foundation believes that these particular works, or at least portions of it, are not in the public domain under US copyright law.  That reason was the basis of the deletion.

2) We did not, and do not, assume that stamps are not in the public domain under German law.  The decision to remove these images was based on US copyright law and the Wikimedia Foundation's compliance with US law.

3) The decision to remove these images are limited to these images only.  The Wikimedia Foundation does not have an official position on whether or not stamps generally are in the public domain in Germany.

While this decision was based on whether the images in question enjoyed copyright protection under US law, we were advised by German counsel that while stamps are generally considered to be in the public domain under German law, that consideration does not extend to copyrighted works contained within the stamps. As you may know, there is a German court order that reached that same conclusion, and, after undertaking research on the issue, our German counsel advised us that reversing that decision would be almost impossible.

The Wikimedia Foundation encourages the community to explore this legal issue in greater detail on a case-by-case basis when assessing whether to retain or remove images of German stamps in the future.

We are, of course, open to hearing any further concerns or questions.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Philippe (WMF) (talk • contribs) 03:05, 12. Nov. 2011, on behalf of the Legal Team for the Wikimedia Foundation, and authorized by the legal team.‎ (UTC)

After reading this, i see only "beacuse of US copyright law", but nowhere why. Which point of US law stated, that this stamp isn't Public Domain in the US? A few more words instead of letters would be helpful. And why a german counsel can resolve US law-problem is unclear, for me too. --Quedel (talk) 13:42, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Hello Philippe! Many thanks for this explanatory text. What interests me now, of course, who was your conversation partner at Wikimedia Germany? I also want to know: what's the verdict of a German court you are talking about? Greetings --Sir James (talk) 14:21, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Hallo Philippe! Schönen Dank für diesen erklärenden Text. Mich interessiert jetzt natürlich, wer Dein Gesprächspartner bei Wikimedia Deutschland war. Ausserdem möchte ich wissen, um welches Urteil eines deutschen Gerichts es hier geht. Gruß --Sir James (talk) 14:21, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

As these stamps were published this year it have to be a very recent ruling by a minor court. Unfourtunately we do not know if wikepedia/media was directly involved in this matter and can go to the next level of jurisdiction. Anyway this action will spoil at least some of the good reputation Loriot has in Germany. --Eingangskontrolle (talk) 17:03, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

@Philippe (WMF) thank you for your more detailed explanation. But is it the right way to delete the stamps on commons, if they are only against US law and can be used in all the other language versions? Maybe it would be better to mark such files with something like not in public domain under US copyright law. So is it at least allowed to upload the stamps only on german wikipedia?--Sinuhe20 (talk) 17:15, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
@Sinuhe20 - That's a great question, with an interesting answer. The Wikimedia Foundation is bound to comply with the laws of the US, where we maintain the servers used to host the projects. Therefore, if something is unquestionably a violation of US law, we can't just flag it as such, but we're compelled to follow the law, which includes the responsibility to remove copyright issues (especially in cases where hosting them would compromise our safe harbour status under the DMCA - typical disclaimer:IANAL). So while we have the option to do as you suggest for some other countries, probably (IANAL), we don't have that option within the US. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 20:51, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
I don't know much about legal stuff in any way, hence pardon my statements following. I assume that the lack of PD implies that someone owns copyright on the stamps in question. If the copyright owner is the German Ministry of Finance, then all (recent) German stamps suffer from the same problem. If it is someone else (Loriot's heirs? Stamp designer Prof. Hans Günter Schmitz? Deutsche Post AG?), this press release by the Ministry seems to constitute a copyright violation according to the "German court order that reached that same conclusion" mentioned by the legal team. Anyone care to sue the Ministry? Anyway, I may not be an expert of legal research, but cannot find the court order in question. I find
  • 21 S 20861/86 (LG Munich, 1987): Essentially stating that stamps published in the Office Journal are official, hence not copyrighted. May not necessarily apply if stamps are only published in online press releases.
  • 8 U 123/06 (OLG Karlsruhe, 2007): deals with selling stamps on ebay (and specifically mentions photos uploaded) but apparently did not even think about questioning copyright issues (admittedly, the stamps in question were somewhat older - "Deutsches Reich")
  • XI ZR 395/04 (BGH, 2005): Stamps constitute "small bearer vouchers" issued by Deutsche Post AG. Are we to read between the lines that the fact that the issuer is a meanwhile private enterprise implies that the former official status of stamps no longer holds?
  • There is an essay (Ulrich Häde, 1991, referencing explicitly 21 S 20861/86) that denies the PD status of stamps in general. Interestingly, this has nothing to do with e.g. the privatisation of postal services - he equivalently denies PD status of banknotes and coins in the same instance, with this equivalence IMHO no longer holding after XI ZR 395/04.
Heck, I have no idea how to arrive at a dedicated conclusion. Anyway, I understand that people are upset because the removal of the images was done according to US copyright law, not German copyright law. The way I understand what is written about the Berne convention, one would in fact even have to consider all (Berne mebers) copyright law variations - thus if there is some local legislation that puts stamps showing movie stills from recently deceased artists under copyright, then they have to be treated as protected. Then again, the same restrictions would have to apply to uploading the images to the German WP instead of commons, as well as the Ministry press release linked above, wouldn't they?--Hagman (talk) 18:50, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Why not give comprehensive information NOW which is essential for the German community? Here are two sentences of Philippe (WMF) which are enigmatic:

As you may know, there is a German court order that reached that same conclusion, and, after undertaking research on the issue, our German counsel advised us that reversing that decision would be almost impossible. (this page)

As you may know - who the hell can know a thing which was never published before????

We are basing our decision on U.S. law, but we do note that a German court has ordered their takedown, claiming that the stamps are also in violation of DE copyright law. (Village Pump)

This seems to referr to an Einstweilige Verfügung unkown to the German WP and legal community. This is a court decision and there is a right of the public to know this decision (see court decisions on the publication of court decisions) --Historiograf (talk) 20:28, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

I have no issue with the Office Action and the removing of the files if legally necessary. There seems to be however a (big ?) issue with communications and transparency. Why was it not possible to disclose the full reasoning/background of the decision for the removal? Why was the information about external legal argument and the related court order not provided here? Imho it is rather embarrassing if wikipedians have to get their information days or weeks later from external news reporting and the WMF and involved admins seemed to be unable to communicate the information internally to the community.--Kmhkmh (talk) 13:45, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

I haven't gotten a response on my talk page yet. :( --32X (talk) 14:43, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what response you're looking for... is there a question there that's not rhetorical? Perhaps I misread... Philippe (WMF) (talk) 15:23, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
Quote: Why was it not possible to disclose the full reasoning/background of the decision of the removal? Why was the information [regarding] external legal argument and the court order not provided here? I would like to know that as well... --Saint-Louis (talk) 17:53, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
Today/yesterday the case was widely reported in Germans media outlets. There for the first time I heard that assumed copyright holder (the deceased artists daughter) had filed an unsuccessful complaint with WP/WMF and that subsequently she acquired a court order (under German law) for the removal. None of that information was communicated here. Many editors were probably only irritated with the WMF decision because they were not aware of that context. Why was that information not communicated clearly from the beginning? Is there any rational reason for not disclosing it? As a result of such a non-disclosure some editors might feel like dealing with an intransparent bureaucracy unwilling to disclose the true motivation and reasoning for its actions. Now as a single case it is probably not worth to fuzz about but given other communication problems that WMF seems to have lately with the community (image filter, indian student project) it might be worth to take a note to disclose the full information whenever possible. Otherwise if such problems will repeat too often this will lead to serious friction and ultimately a disenfranchisement between the community of editors and the WMF, which is rather bad for both sides.--Kmhkmh (talk) 18:58, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
P.S.: I'm seeing now that one section further down Geoffbrigham has actually posted on Nov 15 the information I was looking for. In such cases it might be helpful to provide a link to this posting in related discussions. People who come here because of the deletion of the DPAG_2011_55_Herren_im_Bad.jpg file usually don't read your complete talk page but just this section, so there should be at least a link or pointer in here. More importantly the information Geoffbrigham thankfully provided now, could/should have provided latest at the time of the actual office action. So to reiterate the question now being asked by several editors: Why did that not happen? Can it be avoided in the future? Or are there considerations or rationale (we still don't know about) against publishing such information as early as possible (latest at the execution of the related office action)?--Kmhkmh (talk) 14:47, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
I can only agree with Kmhkmh about communication. I also would like to mention that this is not something new, there were exactly the same problems when Mike Godwin was WMF counsel, and Cary Bass was volunteer coordinator. Yann (talk) 16:26, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
Hi Yann and Kmhkmh. Thanks much for your feedback. I am definitely listening to you on your observation about late communication. I will try to be more sensitive to that in the future. In general, we need to act relatively quickly, which does not allow for much consultation, but, as you underscore, we should link to an explanation when we undertake an office action: that is a valid point. I appreciate it and will try to improve on it going forward. (Also, in this particular case, we finalized the decision while I was traveling internationally which may have slowed communication a bit.) Again thanks for the feedback which I find helpful, especially in planning a response when future events like this present themselves again. Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:53, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, that's definitely appreciated.--Kmhkmh (talk) 20:15, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Category:PD signature[edit]

Hallo Philippe (WMF), here are more signatures to be deleted by you. Even if the German stamps really should be not PD - do you really think these simple 5 handwriting letters are copyright eligible? If yes, please clearly state so and explain why. Thanks! Cheers --Saibo (Δ) 21:19, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

I won't be opining on that, because it's a question for the legal team. My role is simply to enact the decisions they make. I suggest you email with your questions, but bear in mind that they were fairly clear that this was not intended to be a precedent for a broad category of images, only for these specific ones. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 21:30, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
I urge you to stop this awfully bad communication politics of no discussion. Please write yourself an email to the legal team and post the reply here. Thanks. This is your job - not ours. Cheers --Saibo (Δ) 21:56, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm actually attempting to not perpetuate bad communication here: putting myself in the role of the "middle-man", carrying messages back and forth, is less efficient and more error prone than encouraging people to communicate directly. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 22:15, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks to everyone for their comments here. If I may suggest, please blame me, not Philippe. I'm traveling extensively for the Foundation, and Philippe volunteered to help facilitate communications. Philippe - more than anyone - wants to ensure good communication on this, and frankly he is the biggest defender of the community on issues like this. We are working on a more detailed response for the community, but please realize this was not an easy decision for the legal department to make ... not at all. We received a strict court order from Germany requiring us to remove these stamps. We immediately consulted trusted counsel in Germany, counsel who has defended vigorously Wikipedia interests in the past with a high level of success. He advised us that there was little chance of overturning the German order (even though we were ready to invest time and resources if there were a fighting chance). Now that said, our concern at the Foundation was the application of U.S. law, and we believe there are issues there as well. I'm traveling on business, and it is a long weekend in the States. But we hope to post some more details in the next couple of days. Right now, we are considering this a unique case. We do not take takedowns lightly, and, as I said, this one has been tough for us. In the end, I made the decision and take the responsibility. I do hope we can have more discussion on postage stamps in Germany with otherwise copyrighted images, so we have good guidance when this issue arises again. I appreciate people's concern, their patience, and their ideas on this. We at the legal department have no doubt something to learn here; I'm interested in people's views and I want to understand if we should have a better strategy the next time this type of issues arises with DE postage stamps. Many thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:01, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Hi Geoff! Good to have a statement of a WMF-legal team member. It was me who uploaded the deleted Loriot-stamp-files on de:wikipedia after deletion on Commons. So let's have a look to the text and the sender of this strict court order from Germany, please. Greets --Sir James (talk) 23:46, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Will do. One idea: do you think there is value in asking the community to ask Loriot's estate to release the images under CC BY SA 3.0? Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:55, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Of course - why not. I think it's worth to ask. --Sir James (talk) 23:59, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
OK, we will get you a more detailed statement within a couple of days. We are working with DE counsel on this. In the meantime, I think we need to figure out how we can show the Loriot estate our love for his cartoon characters and ask that they be shared through a free license as they have been shared on postage stamps. Geoffbrigham (talk) 00:11, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Wow, a great answer Geoff! That is nice to hear! I think we all would have been happy if such a clear statement would have been given way earlier - at best right with the deletion. "We are working on a more detailed response for the community" is fine for me - happy to read the reasoning. Just having only the bold "OFFICE!!!!!" a reason is not really nice for a community project. Philippe, thanks for asking Geoff to comment. That is the right way. Non-public emails would not have been of help. It would be nice if such miscommunication like in this case would be not chosen for future cases. Cheers --Saibo (Δ) 00:38, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
@Geoff: I agree. One hint: Loriot died on august 22nd 2011. The german Deutsche Post AG and the Federal Ministry of Finance as the german stamps editors released this stamps with Loriots drawing in january 2011. So Loriot himself decided to do this. We do not have any experiences with Loriot's estate/heirs. --Sir James (talk) 00:44, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Saibo. Your points are well made. And I think I learned a lesson here re posting. Take care. Geoffbrigham (talk) 01:13, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
@Geoff: Indeed, thanks for the opinion. While I understand that the WMF is only really interested in U.S. law, Commons is interested in the source country's law as well, so if the information on the relevant German law is part of that detailed statement, it would be especially awesome. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 11:55, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
@Philosopher: We just got the statement from DE counsel and hope to provide a more detailed response shortly, including and explanation of DE law as we understand it. Thanks to everyone for their patience.
— Preceding unsigned comment added by Geoffbrigham (talk • contribs) 2011-11-13T23:27:13‎ (UTC)

Einstweilige Verfügung of Landgericht Berlin This link was added by Saibo (Δ)

As promised, I wanted to provide some more detail on our decision surrounding the takedown of the Loriot stamps. The Foundation is committed to the protection of the public domain. In the legal department, we spend much of our time arguing successfully that content should be published and not suppressed under a copyright regime. But, in this case, we felt we needed to remove these particular stamps, and below I want to explain why.

I start by underscoring that our decision is based on the unique circumstances of this case, and limited only to the Loriot stamps. We are making no overarching decision on the status of German stamps (but we do encourage the community to explore this issue in more detail).

We reached our decision based on U.S. copyright law, though, as seen below, we had receipt of a German court order requiring removal of the stamps and the benefit of German legal advice. Because our analysis suggested that the stamps were not in the public domain in Germany, the reasoning was that the images had copyright protection under U.S. law.

This story started when the Foundation received a preliminary injunction from the Landgericht Berlin (dated October 6, 2011, 15 O 377/11). That court order addressed four stamps issued by the Deutsche Post AG that incorporated graphic works and lettering created by Loriot. The decision mandated that in no uncertain terms WMF take down the images, indicating that their posting violated copyright law.

You can find a copy of the opinion here (which, for legal reasons, has been edited to delete the personal information on the plaintiff and the images of the stamps).

We were prepared to challenge the order by investing significant time and resources. We accordingly consulted trusted German counsel who had represented Wikimedia interests vigorously and quite successfully for a number of years. After research and ongoing consultation with us, he advised that a challenge to the order had a high probability of failure, which could result in a worse precedent. We considered all case law in German law, including the 1988 decision from the Landgericht (District Court) of Munich. I do not wish to explain all our thinking, since we may find ourselves challenging this issue in the future. But, we felt that there was reason to believe that these particular Loriot images were not in the public domain.

The Landgericht Berlin indeed acknowledged copyright protection of the stamps and expressly denied that the stamps were part of the public domain. In the course of its reasoning, the court examined whether the stamps could be considered official works under German Copyright Act Sect. 5. The court deliberately took into consideration the “public domain defense.” But the court denied application of that defense to the stamps and ruled in favor of copyright protection.

The court order is directed against Wikimedia Foundation Inc. I will not comment on the validity of the preliminary injunction or the court’s claim of jurisdiction other than to say that we believe U.S. law, not DE law, is applicable. However, as a matter of procedure in Germany, once a preliminary injunction is issued, if a defendant does not comply with the order to refrain from publishing the content, the court may order a fine or arrest.

Now, under U.S. law, the instrumental statute is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) (17 U.S.C. 512, 1201-1205, 1301-1332; 28 U.S.C. 4001), which ensures that passive hosting providers, such as the Foundation, are largely protected from copyright infringement liability so long as they meet associated obligations (17 U.S.C. 512). The Foundation is required to take down content in certain circumstances that demonstrate a copyright infringement. (17 U.S.C. §512(c)(1)(A)(i-iii)). If we did not comply with the DMCA, we could risk our safe harbor status. Because the stamps are under copyright in the U.S. (since they are not in the German public domain), we concluded that the stamps should be removed under the DMCA.

We encourage the community to discuss the copyright or public domain status of German stamps. If, in the future, based on the facts and applicable law, we feel we have a strong case to argue against a court order that fails to recognize the public domain status of specific German stamps, we will do so. Unfortunately, we did not believe this was the case here based on the law and facts.

I want to thank everyone for his or her time, patience, and discussion on this matter.

Geoffbrigham (talk) 15:32, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

P.S. As a side note, U.S. law on postal stamps and copyright is consistent with our action here. U.S. postal stamps are afforded copyright protection under U.S. law. While it is true that “government works” are generally excluded from copyright protection (17 U.S.C. § 105), there is a specific exception regarding stamps, which are “subject to copyright subject to the same conditions, formalities, and time limits as other copyrightable works.”

That is to say, if a stamp design was created by an employee of the U.S. Postal Service, then the copyright lies with the Postal Service; if a stamp design was created by a third party, the copyright remains with the artist who created the design, absent an assignment to the Postal Service or another party.

Geoffbrigham (talk) 15:32, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

Okay, Geoff. Thanks a lot. Now the fact is clear, the legal backgrounds are shown and documented. I'd like to move his discussion to a more central discussion page; yet no idea where (on de:WP). As remarked in the "Einstweilige Verfügung" of the Landgericht Berlin, Miss S. von Bülow (Loriots daughter) first sent an eMail to "" and "" including a (german: "Abmahnung"/en: something like "warning") on 2011-09-15. So I like to ask: who got this eMail? Was there any reaction back to Loriots daughter? Who was involved by Wikimedia Deutschland? Who was your trusted German counsel? We need a statement of these persons here in this discussion. By the way: within, an eMail from someone of the german Federal Ministry of Finance has reached [1] an author/user from de:WP. The sender confirmed, that none of the german stamps are "amtliche Werke/official works".... That sounds interesting... - a lot of work to do now.... Thanks and Greets --Sir James (talk) 16:55, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
hmm, a statement from the person who got the email?!? or from the wikimedia deutschland people involved? why would that helpful for anything? (btw., there recently was a lengthy & critical discussion on this issue on dewiki - [2] -, eventually shouted down on the argument that district court rulings are incredibly important and stand above every legal critique (of course only as long as they agree with us). naive as i am, perhaps this decision will contribute to a shift of the discussion to the legal matters at issue?) best wishes, —Pill (talk) 17:33, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

Lassen Sie sich das folgende übersetzen, werter Herr Brigham.

Ich möchte zunächst meinem Abscheu Ausdruck verleihen, dass hier in unsensibelster Weise die Beteiligungsrechte der Community mit Füßen getreten wurden. Eine einstweilige Verfügung, die sich gegen die überwiegende Rechtsansicht der deutschsprachigen Wikipedia wendet und sich aus Gründen angeblicher Eilbedürftigkeit nicht im mindesten mit dem rechtskräftigen Urteil des LG München auseinandersetzt, hätte als gravierendes Präzedenz in jedem Fall angefochten werden müssen. Diese Entscheidung steht nicht irgendwelchen intransparent agierenden WMF-Gremien und einer inkompetenten deutschen Kanzlei - als Urheberrechtsexperte nehme ich mir das Recht heraus, den Rechtsanwälten des Vereins ein außerordentlich schlechtes Zeugnis auszustellen, da ich ihr Treiben seit vielen Jahren beobachte - zu, sondern der de-Community und ggf. dem de-Verein, der Rechtsschutz gewähren könnte und sollte. Eine Klärung in einem Hauptsacheverfahren wäre unbedingt nötig und geboten.

Die Entfernung der Briefmarkung aus dem Entscheidungsabdruck ist eine klare Zensur, da in Deutschland gerichtlich anerkannt ist, dass geschützte Werke im Rahmen einer Entscheidungswiedergabe zulässig sind und in diesem Kontext an der Gemeinfreiheit des § 5 UrhG teilhaben.

Für die de-Community stellt sich die Sachelage so dar, dass durch die Falschberatung der Kanzlei und die Fehlentscheidung des WMF-Legal-Teams ohne Not die bisherige Ansicht der Community wertlos ist. Durch die einstweilige Verfügung, die man rechtskräftig werden ließ, wurden die Rechte der Community in einem wichtigen Teilbereich ausgehebelt. Jeder Grafiker kann nun durch eine simple Beschwerde oder Abmahnung bei der WMF seinen Standpunkt durchsetzen. --Historiograf (talk) 17:06, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

A translation from Google translate. I know, they're pitiful, usually. If someone can make it better, please do.  :) Philippe (WMF) (talk) 12:03, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
Can you translate the following, Mr. Brigham.
I would first like to express my disgust, that here in the most insensitive way the community participation rights were trampled on. An injunction, which turns against the overwhelming legal opinion of the German Wikipedia and based on the grounds of alleged urgency not in the least set forth with the final appeal of the Court of Munich, should have been challenged as a serious precedent in every case. This decision should not be made by a non-transparent operating body of the WMF and an incompetent German firm - as a copyright expert I take upon myself to note that the lawyers of the association have a very bad record; I have watched their doings for many years, - but the German Community and the German Association could and should provide the legal [opinion?]. A clarification in the main action would be absolutely necessary and appropriate.
The removal of the Denunciation from the decision letter is clear censorship, as is legally recognized in Germany that [reproducing] copyrighted works is acceptable in the context of a decision and in this context are public domain according to § 5 of the Copyright Act.
For the de-community, this is a sick situation, such that by the incorrect advice of the firm and the wrong decision of the WMF legal team is worthless without prior view of the existing community. Due to the preliminary injunction, which was allowed to be legally effective, the rights of the community were in important part invalidated. Every graphic artist can now enforce a simple complaint or warning for the WMF to enforce the position. - Historiography (talk) 17:06, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
(I've tried to clean it up a bit, but my German is not very good. Better transcription requested. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:29, 17 November 2011 (UTC))
uh. i'm (still) tired of the continous instrumentalization of the "de-community" as a means to argue against the wikimedia foundation. you don't speak for the community (and you can't, just as everyone else). if you have an opinion, argue for it, stand up for your principles -- whatever --, but there's no need to make the "de-community" part of this. (btw, if you re-read the discussion we had on this, you'd probably notice that there were quite a few people disagreeing with you on the stamp issue [surprisingly, some of them even brought forward arguments ...].) —Pill (talk) 17:33, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
+1. Historiograf, you are not entitled to speak on behalf of the de-community. My opinion is that it's always been pretty bold to claim those images were PD just because they had „55 [cents]“ printed on them. (Though I still hate how Loriot's heirs handled this.) –– @Geoff and Phillipe: Thanks for the detailed explanation! --Accountalive (talk) 18:29, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
Hi @all, thanks to Geoff for show us the reason and more. For the 1st step I can agree now with the deleting of this files. But anyway this has to be cleared in detail and until now I'm shure that the former decision from the Munich court is still the right one and de-stamps are in PD. To Pill and Accountalive, may be no one alone can speak for the whole community, but for the most of it. If you read the discussions on de:WP you can see that almost all people of the community (of course not 100%) goes in line with Historiograf. (Thanks for your work and clear standing Histo). NobbiP talk 22:24, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
Here's now a statement of Jan Engelmann from Wikimedia Deutschland (in german). --Sir James (talk) 11:56, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
Google-Translation of Jan Engelmanns statement: I would like from club side to take this opportunity to recapitulate the entire process again: The deletion of Wohlfahrtsmarken with Loriot motifs had become necessary as a co-heiress had obtained Loriot at the Berlin District Court for an injunction against WMF and WMDE after the copyrights of their Father was intentionally injured. Coupled with this was the threat of criminal consequences for those responsible for Foundation or German Chapter. The EV [1] has become so visible. Regardless of whether this order has been issued to law, which is available to comply with the ban handed down. Alone because of the stamps had been removed. The "Office Action" by the WMF was preceded by a difficult balancing process. The main reason for this extraordinary measure relates to the duty of care to third parties: A stamp image on the whereabouts of Commons and WP would have led to incalculable risks, especially for subsequent users. The WMF has no appreciable position dedicated to the copyright status of stamps in Germany. But she feels in her action, at least in part to the current U.S. copyright enforcement and in particular its possibilities in the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act". The copyright status of stamps is - as seen here - between parts of the German WP community and the prevailing opinion in legal literature evaluated completely differently. Basically it's about the valuation of stamps as official works, on which the protective purposes of UrhR would find no application. After consultation with the JBB firm contracted by us, we have come to believe that the only relevant decision, the public can rely on the freedom thesis (LG Munich, AZ 21 S 20861/86) Unfortunately, no sufficient basis for action offers. First, it is dated 10.3.1987, was issued even before the privatization of Deutsche Bundespost. From hence is an essential prerequisite of the former decision - namely the inclusion in the "Official Gazette of the Federal Minister of Posts and Telecommunications" - now obsolete. The German Post AG, a private logistics company is not obliged to order the production of official and public domain works, however much we may regret this as well. On the other hand the former verdict in the legal literature is unanimous in doubt (see the relevant comments about UrhR by Schricker, Bullinger, and Nordemann Dreier / Schulze). Especially Schricker (GRUR 1991, 645, 651) puts forward the central argument that stamps are not, despite their character as a payment method disclosed pursuant to a "community of interest" because they are not pure "information carrier" represented. Is applied to the concrete case it Loriot So also the question of whether the bulbous nose and stamps were depicted accurately or outside of their original intended use (as payment). You can certainly come to the conclusion that, in the context of a biographical article rather WP-specific style or the operation of the artist to illustrate Loriot. Therefore, one can view the way the applicant that it is basically designed for a special edition of an artist is a copyrightable work our opinion, not close from the outset. Not least, this opinion is shared by the court which had to decide on the specific case, namely the Berlin District Court. It has denied the qualifications of the stamps as expressly official work. This was in regard to the ruling of the District Court of Munich, the applicant brought the court expressly noted. The court has rejected the decision, therefore the opinion of the District Court of Munich. Notwithstanding this specific case, a clarification process within the German community to fundamental way of dealing with images of stamps is important and right. - Jan Engelmann (WMDE) Greets --Sir James (talk) 12:19, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

@Geoff: Now, there are dozens of media reaction published in Germany, Austria and Switzerland: Der Spiegel (de), Stern (de), heise online (de), Focus (de), Der Standart (at), tageszeitung (de).... I tried to get in contact to Susanne von Bülow - with a mail to their lawyers' office - even to see, if there's any possibility to get theses stamps into CC-license. Greets --Sir James (talk) 12:51, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

Hier ein freigegebener Link! Die dürfen die Briefmarken im Netz zeigen!! Gruß Jederman

@Sir James. Another idea is to seek a legislative amendment that clearly places postage stamps in the public domain. We need to observe our restrictions as non-profit organizations. But it is a thought for reflection and discussion. Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:37, 17 November 2011 (UTC) ist in der Tat interessant. Da steht "Abdruck honorarfrei. Belegexemplar erbeten." --FrobenChristoph (talk) 18:46, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Of course, "free of charge" does not necessarily mean "freely licensed". But yes, that's interesting. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 18:54, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Loriot's signature[edit]

Note: the discussion about the Loriot Signature has been moved to Commons:Loriot Signature Background. Thank you.

Hi Philippe, allow me to take one of the claims you have presented above on behalf of the legal team of the WMF:

The Wikimedia Foundation believes that these particular works, or at least portions of it, are not in the public domain under US copyright law.

This statement also includes Loriot's signature, i.e. File:Wohlfahrtsmarke Loriot HerrenimBad cropped.jpg. The injunction, however, nowhere claims that this signature is copyrighted. Instead it writes on p. 4:

Die ungenehmigte Wiedergabe der Unterschrift des Vaters der Antragstellerin mit dem Schriftzug „Loriot“ stellt eine Persönlichkeitsrechtsverletzung dar, die einen Unterlassungsanspruch analog § 1004 Abs. 1 BGB auslöst.

In my rough translation:

The unauthorized publication of the signature of the plaintiff's father with the signature "Loriot" constitutes a personality rights violation that triggers a injunctive relief as of § 1004 Abs. 1 BGB.

This is the only statement in regard to this signature. How does the legal team of the WMF come to the belief that the signature is possibly not in the public domain under US copyright law? --AFBorchert (talk) 18:37, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

Hi AFBorchert, thanks for the question. I don't know the answer - as I've said before (and I know you know this, but I'm saying it for the benefit of others who may be just joining us) - I am not a lawyer. I'm the designated community support person tasked to assisting the legal department in doing their jobs. However, I'm going to send the legal folks a link to your question. I'm sure they'll respond as soon as possible, but as before, please understand that Geoff is traveling so it may be a touch slower than he'd like. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 22:51, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
@AFBorchert. Many thanks for the question. Just want you know I have taken it under advisement. Will come back to you when I can. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:16, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
Any progress? Thanks for the previous German info, btw. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 21:15, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Philosopher, we are still researching a few things, but I hope to have a response shortly. Geoffbrigham (talk) 09:27, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
Awesome, thanks! --Philosopher Let us reason together. 21:47, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
@Philosopher. A short note to say we are still working on this. Will get back to you within the next two weeks, if not sooner. Geoffbrigham (talk) 10:12, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! --Philosopher Let us reason together. 10:40, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
I have not forgotten. We are finalizing a proposed strategy with our DE counsel, which I plan to announce shortly for community feedback. Thanks for your patience. Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:41, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Meine patience ist langsam am Ende. Gruß --Sir James (talk) 00:22, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

Note: the discussion about the Loriot Signature has been moved to Commons:Loriot Signature Background. Thank you. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 21:26, 23 December 2011 (UTC)

DMCA takedowns[edit]

Hi Philippe, I'm just wondering, if notifying the Village Pump is really necessary or useful - maybe a dedicated page would be better? A separate page could also better support Commons' multilingualism with translated headers. Otherwise, if VP is really the best, maybe create a translateable template for such notices? cheers, Rd232 (talk) 22:59, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

You raise a good point. I'm very happy to post them anywhere this community thinks best (obviously, on, they go on a dedicated page, other wikis don't). I'm totally agnostic on this one - you folks let me know what will work best for you, and I'll do my best to conform to it. : ) Philippe (WMF) (talk) 23:08, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
OK, thanks. I can't find the page - can you point me to it please? Rd232 (talk) 23:37, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Sure. It's at office actions. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 23:39, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Hm, I guess you mean w:Wikipedia:OFFICE#Currently_under_scrutiny. But that's not the sort of "log of DMCA actions" page I was thinking of. Well, I'll raise it on VP for further discussion in due course. Rd232 (talk) 15:35, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
That is what I meant, yes. But then, I'm not sure what you mean. If you mean the deletions that I put up on Village Pump here, those would also go on that log. It's just that there aren't many on the English Wikipedia.  :) And we archive the log so they don't all show. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 17:53, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
OK. "Archive" to an archive page, or just by removal from the page? I don't see a separate archive page on I do appreciate there will be relatively few DMCA deletion notices on Rd232 (talk) 19:15, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, inexact language is inexact. Sorry about that. We just remove it from the page. I don't see any barrier to creating an archive though; I just inherited that process. :) Philippe (WMF) (talk) 19:17, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
OK. Archiving would be useful, I think. It'll be part of my proposal, when I get to it. Rd232 (talk) 22:40, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

By the way, on a somewhat related point, I could bring your attention to my suggestion at m:Talk:Office actions#local versions. For one thing, m:Office actions is only available in English, and office actions on non-English projects should at least have a bare minimum of explanation (like Commons:Office actions). A WMF bot could ensure that each project at least has a page with a short English summary, with a request for localization by the relevant community. Rd232 (talk) 22:44, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

That's a great point. Let me run it past legal and see if we've got a bot that can be tasked to it. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 01:57, 23 December 2011 (UTC)

Update: per COM:VPR#Commons:Office actions/DMCA notices, there is now Commons:Office actions/DMCA notices and {{DMCA takedown notice}}. Please note the instructions in the second box at Commons:Office actions/DMCA notices: Commons:Office actions/DMCA notices is to be the main page, but users would like notices also mentioned at the (English) Village Pump as before. Hope this is OK. cheers, Rd232 (talk) 23:02, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

On the display of highlighted (FP/QI/VI) media in Commons main category structure[edit]

Hi Philippe,

I read your user page regarding your role on Wikiedia projects. Considering this I thought that maybe you would be interested in participating in or follow the discussion I have started at Commons:Village pump#Highlighted content in main category structure. Best wishes from Denmark, --Slaunger (talk) 07:30, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Commons:Deletion requests/All files copyrighted in the US under the URAA[edit]

Hi Philippe, I suggest you ( / the WMF ) to act regarding Commons:Deletion requests/All files copyrighted in the US under the URAA if you do not want to damage Commons and Wikimedia by having thousands of public domain files be deleted (e.g. many works of artist Paul Klee). Cheers --Saibo (Δ) 02:36, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Hi Saibo, I know that the legal team is aware of the debate and looking into the situation. Let's remember, though, that today was a wild day for us here, and resources have been focused on SOPA. I know they're looking into this and plan to issue some sort of statement, but I don't think it will be until next week at the earliest, most likely. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 02:40, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the info! --Saibo (Δ) 02:58, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Why did you block a user without a reason?[edit]

log, discussion: Commons:Administrators'_noticeboard/User_problems/Geni's_allegations_against_Beta_M#Global_lock. Thanks for commenting there. --Saibo (Δ) 01:12, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

I think the explanation given was quite sufficient. It was an OFFICE action. For a number of reasons, we do not talk about the specifics of an office action. As a general matter, we do not act on cases without an official off-wiki complaint, usually from experienced members of the community. In these cases, we listen to our community's concerns, assess those claims, and ultimately decide whether to take action. On this issue we are balancing a multitude of different competing issues -- and we just can’t talk freely about it in public. We wish we could, but we can’t. Fortunately, this kind of thing is extremely rare. There have only been about 20 office actions in the history of the Wikimedia Foundation: this doesn’t add up to many. The action was approved by the Executive Director and the General Counsel. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 01:19, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
Such intransparent actions however invite trouble with the community. In cases where no further information can be given for legal or policy reason, it should at least be known explicitly who was involved in the decision and who cleared/confirmed. Community members should be able to recognize immediately that such decisions went through some "checks and balances" and are not simply made by one interested individual or party.--Kmhkmh (talk) 14:41, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
Kmhkmh, further information has been placed at the linked discussion regarding specifically who was involved in the decision, per Saibo's request (specifically). I do hope that this helps clarify. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 18:06, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

Please continue at Commons:Administrators'_noticeboard/User_problems/Geni's_allegations_against_Beta_M#Global_lock. --Saibo (Δ) 01:30, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

You still need to change your user account lock decision (user account Beta_M) or justify it (which probably is impossible for you) - see Commons:Administrators'_noticeboard/User_problems/Geni's_allegations_against_Beta_M#Info_based_on_personal_documents_vs._the_SPTimes_artifact. Thanks for commenting there. --Saibo (Δ) 18:30, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure how to say this more clearly than this: we've made all the statement on this that we intend to make. I appreciate your advocacy on the behalf of another person, but in this case we won't be making a further statement. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 19:36, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
Hi Philippe, you do not need to make statements - in that case you just need to change the decision based on the fact that you cannot justify it - you name it. Thanks. --Saibo (Δ) 19:47, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
I see no change in the log - is there anything unclear? --Saibo (Δ) 20:47, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes: it's not clear how much longer you can continue this nonsense without getting yourself into trouble. Are you trolling for that OFFICE lock you asked for? Rd232 (talk) 21:04, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
Evidently, I've been unclear. Saibo, we're not revisiting the decision at this time. The OFFICE lock stands. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 00:00, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Interesting, at which time do you "revisit" the decision? --Saibo (Δ) 19:50, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
I don't foresee such a circumstance, but I've learned never to say never. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 19:57, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
So you intent to not lift the account lock which you plan to not justify/legitimate? --Saibo (Δ) 20:10, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Saibo, we've been over this and over this. There will be no further statements, and the lock stands. I'm going to disengage from this conversation now. If you have new requests, I'm happy to consider whether to answer them, but neither I nor Maggie are going to respond to this one again. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 20:16, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Philippe, thanks. You do not have the right to lock user accounts, thanks for understanding. This conversation is over now - time to remove the unjustified lock. Otherwise: when do I get my account locked with the same comment as you locked Beta_M's account? --Saibo (Δ) 20:42, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Saibo: despite your idealistic and imaginary Wikipedia, it truly is privately owned and the community ultimately has no say in it. If it sucks that your voice is being ignored, feel free to campaign for a seat on the board or, alternatively, buy Commons from Wikimedia and undo the lock yourself. Wikimedia has every right to lock out every account in their database by the sheer fact that it is privately owned. They do not need a reason. Just like no one needs a reason to kick you out of their home. Sorry life is unfair. Quit bugging people that you didn't get your way. You have no right to the reasons. You also have no right to be included in the decision making process. You have no right to force their hand. You have no right to any of it. There are no rights guaranteed to you. You just do not get to know the reason. It's as simple as that and no amount of whining will change it. You can try to walk into any corporate boardroom in the world and demand all the secrets you want but you arn't going to get it. Don't stick your nose where it doesn't belong. No one owes you anything. To be frank: it's none of your damn business. --TParis (talk) 18:27, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your kind words, TParis. But, you are wrong. The projects are not belonging to the WMF - they belong to the community who has built them. I hope you will understand in some years. ;-) Since you are not the only one not understanding that and many others are just saying yesyes I will not further contribute here. So, you are free to get happy with external actions affecting our projects which are anything but "free". --Saibo (Δ) 15:47, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Oh, hi Philippe (WMF), just saw your edit here. Did you invent some reason for blocking yet? --Saibo (Δ) 01:28, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

COM:REUSE and deleted images[edit]

Hi, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the issue I presented at Commons:Administrators'_noticeboard#COM:REUSE_and_deleted_images - sadly without response. Quoting:

Sometimes Commons images get deleted. Any existing re-users of these images might run into legal problems in that case, proving that they legitimately relied on Commons as a source; and potential re-users might worry about it. I'm thinking we could add a provision to COM:REUSE that says

In the event that an image you are using is deleted for any reason, you can, if this proves necessary for legal reasons, ask for confirmation that on a specified date the file was listed as being available under a certain license.

Now, in principle any admin could respond to such a confirmation request, but because it's only really relevant, I think, in a legal context, it should be left up to the WMF - so we'd need to discuss it with them.

What do you think? Rd232 (talk) 07:17, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

I'll pass it up to our legal team, but I think there may be problems with the Foundation certifying a community process; that is, are we going to be willing to say, under penalty of perjury, that a process over which we have no control (the community-owned process of accepting license and posting it) was executed properly? Philippe (WMF) (talk) 19:00, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
OK, but note it wouldn't be certifying that the license was correct (if the image was deleted as a copyvio, it wasn't!), but rather that a license claim existed on the file description page on a given date. So that someone could then say "we relied on this claim, the claim was wrong, but we relied on it in good faith, and here's confirmation that the claim existed". Rd232 (talk) 21:26, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
So explain to me why it would need the Foundation to do that? Doesn't every uploader specify that at the time of upload? Why wouldn't a commons admin make more sense? There are more of them than there are of us. :-) Philippe (WMF) (talk) 21:49, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
Because the cases where a post-deletion confirmation of a license claim is actually needed should be vanishingly rare - those would be cases with threatened or actual legal action against a re-user who relied on a Commons license claim. And in those rare cases, I think it would be more appropriate for WMF to confirm what the nature of that claim was (and possibly who was responsible for it, but maybe not) than for an anonymous (or not) Commons admin. Rd232 (talk) 22:18, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I disagree. The Foundation had no role in accepting the license (what about, for instance, when OTRS agents accept a license? They're doing it as community members, not as Foundation agents, and we can't create agency there, for instance). This is not a role for the Foundation. I also don't think it's something that's worth spending a ton of time on, since it's never come up, to my knowledge. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 02:21, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
There's no question of creating agency just by confirming what a community member did. I do think this problem is worth discussing - it's a fundamental issue for Commons as general media repository, as opposed to Wikimedia media repository, that re-users need to be able to rely on the license claims made. Sometimes, those claims turn out to be untrue - then what? When a copyrighted image is uploaded to Commons and re-used in good faith, the re-user can conceivably get into legal trouble, and it ought to concern the WMF how to address that. Rd232 (talk) 13:15, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

(talk page stalker) If I may jump in here, the primary mission of the WMF is to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally." So certainly it does concern the WMF that content be effectively and globally disseminated, but I would respectfully suggest that the WMF does its bit there by empowering the community - providing access to email queues such as where the public can get this information if they don't understand how to ask on the site itself. Community members answer almost all of the email concerning content on the projects, just as they do permission letters. The WMF gives them the tools to do it. :)

If the community thinks that such language would be a good idea, would it perhaps be a good idea to direct those people to info-en? --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:38, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

Thanks. That would work in some circumstances, but I'm not sure that it would work in cases where the email reply would be used as part of a legal process: I'm not sure volunteers would wish to take responsibility for that, or that a volunteer answer would be considered good enough. There's also potentially privacy issues, especially if the username or IP or any other identifying info is requested which would have been public at the time but isn't now - how does that fit into the privacy policy? ... Well, pointing to info-en without promising anything would be better than nothing. Rd232 (talk) 20:12, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
I might be able to relieve you a bit on some of those concerns, speaking more from my knowledge as an OTRS volunteer at this point than anything else. :) Philippe will correct me, I'm sure, if I'm wrong.
Unless content has been oversighted for privacy concerns, there should be no issues with revealing the username of an image uploader. If the content is oversighted, most OTRS agents can't access it anyway; they have only the userrights they've been granted on most projects. (For instance, in my volunteer account, I can't even see deleted histories on Commons. Only OTRS agents who are Commons admins can.) Those who have access to oversighted information are likely to be familiar with privacy policy and shouldn't reveal anything forbidden, so I think that would be okay.
If a volunteer answer is not good enough, a legal body can always contact the Wikimedia Foundation directly or ask the volunteer for access to staff, in which case they'd be passed along. I suspect that the volunteer would be sufficient, though, for many cases, since the email address that would be responding to issues is from Since OTRS volunteers choose the tickets they take, I think it would probably be okay if some volunteer doesn't want to be responsible. There are likely to be others who would not mind. And volunteers on OTRS also have the option to reach out to staff or the legal team if they think a ticket warrants it. It happens from time to time. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 20:36, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
This is why we keep you around. :-) That precisely captures the situation. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 20:52, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
OK, that's helpful, thanks. Rd232 (talk) 21:51, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

File:Wohlfahrtsmarke Loriot HerrenimBad cropped.jpg[edit]

Hi Philippe! Please restore this signature. According to the decision of the LG Berlin the signature is not copyrightable. Chaddy (talk) 21:54, 12 April 2012 (UTC)

Hi Chaddy, we're wrapping up some final legal details right now, and I'm hoping to lift that OFFICE action tomorrow. :) Philippe (WMF) (talk) 23:25, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
✓ Done Philippe (WMF) (talk) 15:50, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

The file is a derivative - File:Wohlfahrtsmarke Loriot HerrenimBad.jpg needs restoring as well. Rd232 (talk) 15:52, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

I'm holding for confirmation that we can post the full stamp as well as the signature.  :) Philippe (WMF) (talk) 16:12, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
OIC. I wasn't sure about having the derivative without the source, if the source is not PD... Rd232 (talk) 16:18, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
On legal matters, I'm ultra-conservative, especially when we know that there's a possibility that it could get litigious. I don't make assumptions, and wait for Geoff to tell me.  :) We're talking as soon as he's in. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 16:20, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Thank you, Philippe. :) Chaddy (talk) 16:17, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

The source image of the stamp is not PD according to the court ruling, the signature is PD however. --Denniss (talk) 20:20, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Discussion in Commons Village Pump[edit]

It seems that the discussion should be moved to an area that is more appropriate. I am not sure how to copy and make all the existing discussion collapsible at the top of the talk page that it may get moved to. Others could help with that and possibly copy/paste some of the points made to the top of the new area.--Canoe1967 (talk) 00:40, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Hi, Canoe1967. I went ahead and moved the discussion to Commons talk:Photographs of identifiable people. It might not be necessary to collapse it, at least until it's firmly established there. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:01, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

I added a section to it there. Do those types of discussions just continue in a long column of text with indents to each statement, or should we organize it now somehow before it gets out of hand? I hereby give anyone permission to delete and edit my text there to make the thread simpler.--Canoe1967 (talk) 18:20, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

  • We may have to strike and replace the title of the thread. Personality Privacy rights et al. It appears that personality rights are the rights of a person to have their image used for commercial purposes if they are 'notable'. I think publicity rights is a similar term. I could be wrong about the actual terminology. Commons allows images of notable people, but they should have a warning tag about the use of the images for commercial purposes not being legal in many places.--Canoe1967 (talk) 18:43, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm sorry for my delayed response. I'm in Argentina at the moment. As to the title of the thread, I truly have no opinion one way or the other: whatever is most descriptive is fine with me. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 12:30, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

Ok. I had already boldly changed the title. I also made a statement about the difference in the two terms. I have also emailed my embassy in Tel Aviv because there is concern with this image: Commons:Featured picture candidates/File:Woman outside Sepulchre-2.jpg--Canoe1967 (talk) 17:57, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

Potential legal threat?[edit]

Probably doesn't rise to the level of needing a response from the WMF, but discretion is the better part of valor, right? Thought you might want to take a look at the "can I send the bill ... to yourselves" comment at Commons:Deletion requests/File:Dalquhandy farm roadend - - 459775.jpg. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 10:22, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

DMCA goverment influence[edit]

Hi Philipp, u wirte that we can inlfuence "our" Senator or Repersantive, but a lot of peaple are not US citizen or living in the US. So can u tell us who and how we can influence something? Does there eventually also exist a lobbying page for the WMD? thx--Sanandros (talk) 22:05, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

There is, unfortunately, no easy way for you to influence US law if you are a non-citizen of the US. However, one way to stay appraised of the WMF's advocacy activities (although it must be said: we are not primarily an advocacy organization) is to join the Advocacy Advisory Group mailing list (low traffic). Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 06:55, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
OK thx--Sanandros (talk) 08:40, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

Claes Oldenburg DMCA deletions[edit]

I see you linked to in your deletion summaries, but was there a Foundation analysis of the claims or response written anywhere? I'm surprised that none of the cited images were under Freedom of Panorama, as many of the images were of large scale, public installations outside the U.S. I also question whether works such as "Pool Balls," which seems to consist simply of giant spheres, are even copyrightable, though perhaps foreign copyright is more permissive on the issue of originality than U.S. law. Thanks for your time, Postdlf (talk) 22:22, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Yes - please see the posting to the Village Pump - legal counsel did an extensive review and these images are not covered under Freedom of Panorama as it's currently defined. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 22:42, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

On a related point, you should probably be aware that some of the images have already been restored by admins, in particular File:Muenster GiantPoolBalls.jpg by Jean-Frédéric (talk · contribs) and File:Claes Oldenburg Dancing Tools Vitra Weil am Rhein 03-10-2012.jpg by Denniss (talk · contribs). If you're already aware of these actions, my apologies for the extraneous notification. VernoWhitney (talk) 22:32, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

I wasn't, thank you. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 22:42, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
I have no idea how I came to restore it − I did have a look at the deleted file, with no intention of undeleting it. Asclepias just notified me of it on my talk page and I reverted myself at once. I apologise for any inconveniance caused. Jean-Fred (talk) 22:36, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for reverting. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 22:42, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
So the legal counsel analyzed the images and found the images taken in Germany do not fall under FoP. Why do they think so? The balls in Münster are in a pubic place and are covered by FoP thus they need to be undeleted (at least to move back to german wiki). The same applies for the image I restored because of unwarranted deletion. I have not yet investigated the other images from germany because a dumb bug in the WMF software (that should have been fixed long time a go) prevents me from reviewing the deleted images (FF can't show image because it contains errors, I assume they are truncated somehow). --Denniss (talk) 22:57, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
a pubic place is normally considered private ;) Rd232 (talk) 23:13, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Balls in a pubic place? ;) Jean-Fred (talk) 23:34, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, counsel evaluated them. Please see the statement at the Village Pump. If you have specific questions, please write to I am not an attorney and can not answer them, but attorneys staff that mailbox. But in the meantime, please do not undelete those images. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 22:59, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Philippe, please can you check if the file File:Neumark Köln - Ausgang Schildergasse 1.jpg was supposed to be on your list or not? It's still a bluelink here. I can't see any sculpture in it. Perhaps you can remove it from the list if it was not included in the DMCA request. --99of9 (talk) 23:10, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
That location has been redirected to a cropped version of the photo, which is non-infringing. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 23:15, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
(EC) It is a redirect now to File:Neumark Köln - Ausgang Schildergasse 1 cropped.jpg. I have cropped the artwork to keep the image which shows the square as main subject of the image. Sorry if the redirect is confusing. Raymond 23:17, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
i take it the procedure is for a user to make a counter-claim, for the images to be restored as in the w:Texas Instruments signing key controversy, assuming that a user wanted to assert a freedom of panaroma ? Slowking4 †@1₭ 23:26, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
Actually, Michelle wrote a very good summary of the process for counterclaims - it's at the Village Pump. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 23:28, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

I strongly disagree with your office action. WMF should stand up for the rights of their users, WMF should promote free knowledge and free media as long as this is legally possible. What you did is the opposite of what you are paid for. Shame on you! --AndreasPraefcke (talk) 10:06, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

I'm sorry you disagree. In your note above, you specify "as long as this is legally possible." If we had not complied with validly formatted and sent DMCA takedown notices, we would be outside of what is legally possible. Would you rather we not follow the law? You understand that would not end well? Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 12:50, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
It's essential for WMF to respect DMCA takedowns; if you think they had a choice, you don't understand DMCA and/or WMF's legal relationship with Wikimedia content (which is to avoid all legal responsibility for it, because it's generated and managed by users). I think WMF has done all it can here. Rd232 (talk) 13:50, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

Hi Philippe, have you seen the deletion process suggested for DMCA takedowns here: Commons:Village_pump#Commons_image_replacement_for_DMCA_-_proposal? It would be great to have some feedback from the Foundation about the idea. Thanks, Avenue (talk) 08:16, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

I have. My gut instinct is that I like it, and it doesn't seem like it would be incredibly burdensome, but I want to run it past our lawyers for advice to be sure I'm not stepping on any landmines.  :) Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 09:01, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Hi Philippe, the proposal is now at Commons:Requests_for_comment/Non-US_Freedom_of_Panorama_under_US_copyright_law#Replace_DMCA-deleted_images_with_placeholder_and_revision-delete_affected_versions. I hope we can get an answer on this. Rd232 (talk) 21:11, 22 November 2012 (UTC)
It's on the agenda for our next team meeting with the lawyers. :) Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 11:23, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, that's good to hear. Roughly when is the meeting? --Avenue (talk) 12:47, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
(bump) Rd232 (talk) 15:44, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Another redraft of Photographs of identifiable people[edit]

Commons talk:Photographs of identifiable people#Another redraft

I would very much appreciate your comments on this redraft. Thanks. -- Colin (talk) 13:11, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

Picture of the Year voting round 1 open[edit]

Dear Wikimedians,

Wikimedia Commons is happy to announce that the 2012 Picture of the Year competition is now open. We're interested in your opinion as to which images qualify to be the Picture of the Year for 2012. Voting is open to established Wikimedia users who meet the following criteria:

  1. Users must have an account, at any Wikimedia project, which was registered before Tue, 01 Jan 2013 00:00:00 +0000 [UTC].
  2. This user account must have more than 75 edits on any single Wikimedia project before Tue, 01 Jan 2013 00:00:00 +0000 [UTC]. Please check your account eligibility at the POTY 2012 Contest Eligibility tool.
  3. Users must vote with an account meeting the above requirements either on Commons or another SUL-related Wikimedia project (for other Wikimedia projects, the account must be attached to the user's Commons account through SUL).

Hundreds of images that have been rated Featured Pictures by the international Wikimedia Commons community in the past year are all entered in this competition. From professional animal and plant shots to breathtaking panoramas and skylines, restorations of historically relevant images, images portraying the world's best architecture, maps, emblems, diagrams created with the most modern technology, and impressive human portraits, Commons features pictures of all flavors.

For your convenience, we have sorted the images into topic categories. Two rounds of voting will be held: In the first round, you can vote for as many images as you like. The first round category winners and the top ten overall will then make it to the final. In the final round, when a limited number of images are left, you must decide on the one image that you want to become the Picture of the Year.

To see the candidate images just go to the POTY 2012 page on Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons celebrates our featured images of 2012 with this contest. Your votes decide the Picture of the Year, so remember to vote in the first round by January 30, 2013.

the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year committee

Delivered by Orbot1 (talk) at 10:06, 19 January 2013 (UTC) - you are receiving this message because you voted last year

File:Decline Theories And Support.pdf[edit]

Can you provide more theories on this interesting but evidently incomplete work? Who is the author? What is the official title? Has this been continued and led to any further publications? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 06:32, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Hi Piotrus,
Interesting question. Obviously, I uploaded it, but I had no memory of writing it, so I checked my email files, and realized that - hey, I didn't write it. Which explains why I had no memory of it. I was asked to upload it by Sue. I've passed the question on to her, so hopefully she'll be able to provide more context. Thanks! Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 19:25, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

"Bad file"[edit]

Could you clarify the DMCA statement at Commons:Office actions/DMCA notices#Bad file? The link to the takedown request is broken, and the file doesn't seem to ever have existed (unless it was oversighted). --Stefan4 (talk) 12:40, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Oops. I was demo'ing a new tool to Sue, and - when it failed - I never checked to see if it actually posted to Commons. I've removed it. Sorry about that, Stefan4 Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 08:26, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
That's fine. It was just a bit confusing when you posted that notice to the DMCA page. --Stefan4 (talk) 15:30, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Problematic file[edit]

Hi Phillipe, Cheers, This is with reference to a message on [3]. As you may recall we are blocked on en.wikpedia :-(

IAC has no major issue with the file User:Voceditenore has mentioned [4] except (a) the version uploaded is a "draft" that was superceded very very early in the campaign, (b) the uploader Gill7da was not the copyright holder of IAC's logo(s).

As you know IAC supports Wikipedia generally, and so we have uploaded a replacement image "non-free" file which can be used for the article "India Against Corruption" which is here [5] and has a "share/attribution always required/non-commercial/non-derivative" usage licence. HRA1924 (talk) 12:28, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

That linked image cannot be uploaded to Commons. The license is incompatible. Images which do not allow commercial use or derivatives cannot be uploaded there. Voceditenore (talk) 16:05, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
Then please search for a "non-free" genuine version of the IAC logo meeting "WP:NFCCP". IAC enforces its rights, for eg. IAC (legally) took down a wikimedia powered official wiki site on India run by the Govt. of India's Information Technology Dept. [6] which had over 45,000 article pages last month, [7], its still down. IAC has filed criminal complaints against CDAC and CDAC have done the same against us. HRA1924 (talk)
The IAC's offer of a low-res version is specific to content about "India Against Corruption" or to identify our organisation. It cannot be used as in, say, infobox logo on general articles on political corruption or 2011, 2012 Indian anti-corruption movements. It is offered purely as a courtesy, with a specific licence, and can be confirmed through a signed email to OTRS. HRA1924 (talk) 19:32, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
Incorrect. The image is identical to one (viewable for a short period) on the main banner of the erstwhile India Against Corruption campaign secretariat's website which was disabled on 26.11.2012 for legal reasons as part of the complete handover of the campaign to IAC. This (wrongly) uploaded low-res image can be viewed here [8]. As the original master file for this image (dated 3.Oct.2010) is retained with us, wikipedia's user "Gill7da" will have to properly explain how he claimed to be its copyright holder 6 months later. HRA1924 (talk) 02:18, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
With reference to this discussion [9] on en.wikipedia. The file File:India-Against-Corruption-logo.svg and its predecessors are very clearly derivatives of the deleted file to convert from .png to .svg format, and was done on the basis of the incorrect waiver by "User:Senthil524". All these files at [10] are visibly "counterfeit" files, not genuine logos of IAC, and have never been officially published by IAC. The authentic logos of IAC incorporate several security / artistic / creative features which negate the "simple geometric shapes and/or text hence PD in USA" argument. Under international copyright conventions and treaties, the IAC's original copyright works are not, and cannot be placed in, PD of other countries by another country's laws except (rarely) by government order. IAC prefers that the user communities self-regulate when red flags are raised. It would not be put of place to say here that IAC's core committee comprise the leading transparency and free speech activists of India, who all firmly support / defend Libre movements. IAC's website and mailing list are firmly on the Riseup collective's platform. There are compelling legal reasons though why - at the present time - this logo cannot be fully shared to the community. Thanks. HRA1924 (talk) 12:21, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

Restoration of russavia's admin privileges[edit]

@Philippe (WMF), WMFOffice, Jalexander-WMF: This is just to inform you that earlier today, I have restored administrator privileges for the account of russavia on this wiki. As you should be aware, the only body with the authority to assign and remove admin privileges here is the volunteer community of Wikimedia Commons; neither the Terms of Use nor the privacy policy allow the Wikimedia Foundation to remove admin privileges from anyone; and as the Commons community never agreed to remove russavia as an administrator, they should remain one until such time that the community decides otherwise.

With that said, and unless someone beats me to it, I will start a de-adminship procedure for russavia as soon as I get back home this evening, so as to allow the community to reach an independent and binding decision on the matter; I urge you, your team, and everyone involved to respect the outcome of that discussion, and also promise to do that myself. I further urge you not to revert my restoration either by yourself or by proxy, and instead allow the community to reach its own conclusion -- although your involvement in that discussion is very welcome and, I feel, could be crucial to its outcome. I also ask that you refrain from unilaterally banning and de-sysopping any Commons administrators in the future without first consulting it with the Commons community; I believe it will help us avoid situations like the one we find ourselves in at the moment.

I shall, of course, let you know as soon as I start that discussion by leaving you a link to it on this page.

Until that time, I remain yours most sincerely, odder (talk) 12:25, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

@Philippe (WMF), WMFOffice, Jalexander-WMF:: I originally intended to start de-adminship proceedings for russavia this evening, but in the meantime, @Abd has suggested a different course of action. Would you mind having a look at the discussions that are currently under way on my talk page and at the bureaucrats' noticeboard and let me know whether the Foundation would be willing to follow any of Abd's suggestions so as to move forward with this issue? If there is anything that needs to be discussed privately, you know how to reach me. (Pinging @MichaelMaggs, @Dschwen, @EugeneZelenko.) Regards, odder (talk) 21:52, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
Just to make it clear, I have not suggested anything for the Foundation to "follow." I have suggested, on Commons, action for Commons users to take, and especially the bureaucrats. It's clear that Commons can do what I suggested. The WMF, then, may choose how to respond. In the absence of a local consensus, there is nothing to respond to. What I suggested could be very simple. I did it as a single administrator on Wikiversity, created the process, demonstrated that it worked, and *then* went to the community for consensus, and got it. This procedure can avoid disruption, done properly, step by step. The first step is to set up authoritative, visible -- and supervised -- communication with Russavia, while still maintaining protection of the WMF family of wikis. When I did this, I allowed the banned user to create a new account, then blocked the account, allowing talk page access only. Had the user abused that talk page access, I'd have immediately blocked talk page access, as would any other sysop. He didn't. He used it for design purpose, purely for communication about proceeding. He was not about to use the account cross-wiki, it would have immediately brought down a lock. At that point, he was considered globally banned. We asserted local autonomy on Wikiversity, and it worked. He was eventually unbanned globally, it just took a few years. --Abd (talk) 22:31, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

Global bans[edit]

Hi Philippe,

If I may, I'd like to make a few suggestions please.

1. Please consider deleting this list It is not necessary, and not helpful to keep such lists on the site for everybody to see. I don't think Facebook, Flickr ad other sites have public lists of banned users. Why the WMF should?

2. Please consider removing templates from the banned users user's pages. IMO it only adds insult to the injury.

3. I am not sure about technicalities, but for the same reason I stated above, I believe global bans could be replaced with a global locks that is not seen in a block log.

You know, Philippe, I am not a friend of either demiurge or russavia to say the least, but I believe that the approach I have suggested would work better for both banned users and the WMF. Just imagine how much less there would have been questions, disruptions, etc, if the WMF simply allowed those users to disappear.

Think for yourself. Russavia has nothing else to loose, and that's why he's acting up. If instead of making his global ban public, which is very humiliating, you did as I suggested to, and warned him that, if, and only if, he continues to sock, then, his user pages would be templated, I am sure the WMF would have benefited from such approach.

I also believe that even, if the WMF does not provide the reason for the bans publicly it should consider providing it privately to the banned users.

and for those of you who might be wondering about my own participation here, no, I am not back to Commons. I am done with wikimedia projects once and for all

Cheers. Mbz1 (talk) 00:14, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

@Mbz1: Are you saying that the banned users were not told the specifics of why they were banned? That would be very odd, since they were accused of violating the Terms of Use, that they would not be told 1) what Term they violated, 2) how they violated it and when (diffs), and 3) when appropriate warnings were given. I just assumed that the WMF had done those things...
As for the template pages, whether a template is applied to a user's page and what details are included on it should, of course, be the same for globally banned users as for users who are locally banned. I don't expect the Foundation to research the practices for each wiki (which could get tedious), but that the wiki would modify the Foundation's template to match the local norms. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 20:47, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
General practice with users banned for reasons that cannot be disclosed for privacy reasons is to post no notices at all. What is unusual here is a series of bannings of well-known users that cannot be banned quietly.
The users were not told of what specific terms they violated. Three of the users have released the emails sent to them. They were form letters, with an added sentence. You will notice the same grammatical error in all of them.
  1. We are taking this action based upon because of a history of legal concerns as well as other violations of our Terms of Use. [Leucosticte]
  2. We are taking this action based upon because of a history of sockpuppetry and legal concerns as well as other violations of our Terms of Use. [Russavia]
  3. We are taking this action based upon because of a long history of sockpuppetry and manipulation as well as other violations of our Terms of Use. [Poetlister]
I am generally familiar with Leucosticte and Poetlister's histories. I am not aware of TOS violations, nor are they. Russavia has, on meta, vehemently denied TOS violations while admitting sock puppetry. Sock puppetry is not, per se, a TOS violation. "Long history" of sockpuppetry for Poetlister, as far as I know, was ancient history, and the same with Leucosticte. There are many puppet masters, LTAs, and the like, with far, far more extensive and persistent disruptive sock puppetry. Reviewing some of the cases in recent bans, I found no warnings, and no sign that the user was aware they were about to be banned.
I am proposing that a ban appeal process be established with the following safeguards. Bans should remain private unless appealed. To appeal, there would be two levels of appeal: private appeal, where a user may request private review by a panel of stewards and checkusers, who are already trusted with private information. If not satisfied with a private appeal, a user may waive their privacy rights, allowing the WMF to disclose evidence and reasons for ban, publically. Regardless, appeal review would only generate advice for the WMF, it would not bind the WMF. However, such review would also advise the community.
Short of that, users should be provided with the specific charges against them. With some sensitive issues, the identity of a complainant should not be disclosed, but, if the WMF has investigated and confirmed, generally complainant identity is not relevant. If there are third-party privacy issues, those can be reviewed by that panel of checkusers and stewards. Those are positions elected by the community, so where privacy is needed, they can represent the community.
There are, by the way, at least a few questionable global locks, issued by stewards outside of policy. Stewards have been singularly unwilling to review even the most blatant abuses, and appeal to stewards has itself been sanctioned. There are on the order of 20,000 global locks per year. Many of them do not follow policy, though my argument on meta is that policy should be changed to allow most of them, but clarified to prohibit the rare abuses. --Abd (talk) 02:49, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
This is just a note to say that I see this thread and am watching it although I had not yet commented. I find myself feeling the necessity to repeat once again: the Wikimedia Foundation does not comment on the reason for any specific global ban. However, I assure you that any global bans are because of violations of the Terms of Use. We haven't banned anyone without a violation of the Terms. I would strongly suggest that everyone refrain from speculating on the specifics of these bans because - quite simply - the facts are not all publicly known. And they shouldn't be - that's why we keep them private. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 11:35, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
And this is just a note to say that I did not speculate on the specifics. I noted that the users were not informed of specifics, so they are also in the dark about it, and are denying TOS violations. The rest of us are left wondering what offenses are bannable (as well as assessing the matter of each user), and no guidance has been forthcoming. Some of the TOS provisions are vague, and could cover behavior that has been tolerated and allowed for years. Basically, Philippe, the community does not necessarily trust your judgment, and it has, for years, imagined that its consensus and process and advice mattered. I do not expect and am not demanding any action on your part. I'm just describing the situation as it is, and to some extent, how it could be. --Abd (talk) 19:43, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
Indeed. I don't necessarily need to know why the ban was placed, but the banned user does. And letting him know isn't just courtesy. It's basic professionalism. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 00:28, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Dammed if he does dammed if he doesnt, the banned user only needs to reveal enough information to instil confusion and facilitate the desired drama. While the WMF has to consider not only the drama, but also doing minimal harm to them while satisfying the community desire for knowledge along with not exposing the WMF to other external implications from what has taken place. Gnangarra 00:48, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Gnangarra, we have copies of the email from three of the users. If what is reported is not correct, Philippe, who wrote the mails, could easily say, "that is not all that was in them." In fact, there was more, but it was just boilerplate, not about the specific ban, you can read Russavia's mail -- that's one of the three -- in a site where he put it. I agree with the WMF not commenting, until and unless safeguards are in place. However, Philosopher is also correct. Not providing any information privately to the banned users is, I agree, "unprofessional."
The TOS is designed to protect the WMF, not the users. That's fairly normal; however, if this ever goes to court, a court will very likely consider that the TOS is one-sided. This could be the issue: users expect to be treated fairly, and, in return for that, invest massively in developing the projects. The community has no formal legal rights, but the WMF uses the community as a shield against its own liability. If the WMF and the community end up at odds, the 800-lb gorilla here is the community, not the WMF. It looks differently than that, because the community is only weakly organized, whereas the WMF is tight, a classic corporate form. As with the superprotect affair, my advice to the WMF is to be very, very careful. There was a need for a private ban process, that had long been on the table. Here, they have mixed that with other issues, it seems. Maybe not. It's pretty clear that community trust in the WMF has been damaged, it remains to be seen how seriously.
In addition, as has happened before, Russavia apparently feels he has been treated unfairly, and some personalities don't just go away. One bad ban on Wikipedia, years ago, and the result was the Scibaby sock farm, over 1000 socks and some serious collateral damage and enormous wasted time. It boils down to administrators thinking "I'm in charge, he must obey me." Human beings react strongly to disrespect, even violently, sometimes.
The claim [by Gnangarra] against the users is scurrilous. I have not been encouraged by any of them to write what I've written. This is not coming from them at all. Nor is my goal confusion or disruption. My goal is clarity and resolution. Look at the Odder resysopping of Russavia. It was a simple action, harmless, requiring no emergency response. It was a continuation of existing practice, and preserving the right of the community to decide about local administrative rights. It was not confrontive, it was assertive, very different. Odder consulted with Philippe above, and intended to file a desysop process. Out of that, Odder has been attacked and excoriated. No, the disruption is not coming from Russavia and the others. It is coming from elements in the community that do *not* favor local autonomy, and some are very explicit about that. The WMF should be very careful about considering these as friends, because friends like these could damage the essential relationship between the WMF and the community, and the mission of the WMF, formally, is to empower and enable the community. The community is not just an appendage. Weak communities will produce weak projects. --Abd (talk) 01:54, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I simply can't let that stand. The claims are not scurrilous. You are not in possession of all the facts. That is not your fault: we haven't given them to you. But you do not seem to recognize that fact. You are not in possession of the facts. Multiple people - from my team, and from the legal team - have examined the evidence in each of these cases. We have an extremely high standard to meet prior to acting, and each of these met that standard. The case is not scurrilous. In each of these cases it is ironclad. I'd stake my professional reputation on it - and indeed, I have. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 07:09, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Philippe, my apologies. I have clarified above. "Claim" was not about the WMF claims, but about what had been written immediately above, by Gnangarra. I have again and again written that we don't have the facts, or, more accurately, not all of them.
I know one of the users very well, he is definitely a problematic user (a very particular kind of troll, who argues positions and presents appearances he knows will outrage people) and I was not surprised to see him banned, but .... it is highly unlikely he was violating the TOS. Rather, WMF action was likely based on something else. He has been accused of much over the years, and he's been accused of being a pedophile, in particular. I know that he's not, by any stretch. He's been accused of being a pedophile "advocate," and that is more true, but he's actually a radical libertarian and supporter of free speech, even if it's offensive. He was not doing this on WMF wikis, but he did at one point argue about child protection policy, as many have. He was warned and he stopped. So his ban still concerns me, because we don't know, now, what the limits are. This could be resolved with a deeper policy. "Advocacy of inappropriate adult-child relationships" (even if off-wiki) is prohibited on enwiki (w:Wikipedia:Child protection. It is not global policy, and is not a violation of the TOS.
Is sock puppetry a violation of the TOS? What level of sock puppetry? Single-wiki, cross-wiki?
How about friendships between adult users and "minors"? I have interacted with and mentored a user (entirely on-wiki) who was seven years old when this started. What are the limits? Such friendships are not illegal. Another of the locked users was accused of that, off-wiki, in an extensive campaign against him and the WMF. has process for dealing with that, and did not act. The WMF did. Nothing he had been accused of amounted to anything more than evil suspicion. If he chooses to go away quietly (I have no information that he would appeal), that is completely up to him. But what are the boundaries? There is no open policy, the TOS is vague. For all I know, the user was convicted of child molestation. But would that be a violation of the TOS? Being convicted of, say, possession of child pornography? I know and you probably know that one user was quietly locked because of such a conviction. Can of worms. What is new here was the very public nature of these global locks, I got numerous emails from the talk pages being edited. Essentially, you are accusing them of violations and giving them zero warning, apparently, no opportunity to answer the claims, to explain appearances, etc. Most of all, we do not ordinarily block users without a warning that was then violated. Even egregious violations, gross incivility, threats and personal attacks, have not resulted in global locks. (Normally, to get globally locked, put up some cross-wiki spam or self-promotion or support someone who does this.) So something new is happening.
Obviously, you cannot comment on the specifics of cases, and I accept and understand why not, in the absence of safeguards. However, the existing situation is unsatisfactory, to me, and obviously to many. --Abd (talk) 08:09, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Your deletion of File:Exploratorium1.jpg[edit]

Please do not delete files from Wikimedia Commons unless the deletion is done on behalf of the Foundation as part of an office action (and clearly marked as such). File:Exploratorium1.jpg, which you deleted on 21 January 2015, does not seem to be covered by any Foundation policy that I am aware of, and should therefore have been left to be processed by one of the local, community-elected administrators. Thank you. odder (talk) 19:05, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

You've got mail[edit]

Hi Philippe--there's an e-mail in your inbox concerning an issue directly related to Commons. Your involvement would be greatly appreciated. odder (talk) 22:01, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

The last three e-mails that were sent in relation to this issue are still awaiting your response. odder (talk) 21:39, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
It's been ten days since I raised this issue with you — still waiting for a response. odder (talk) 18:49, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Twelve days now, and counting. It's starting to get a little bit irritating. odder (talk) 17:06, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Thirteen days. Pinging @Jalexander-WMF so he is aware of this, if not already. odder (talk) 21:43, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Philippe, it's been fourteen days since I brought this issue to your attention; during that time, you have completely ignored my repeated requests and pleadings for you to fix the mistake you had made and unsuppress the two remaining page revisions for the file page in question.

If this is not resolved within the next 24 hours, I will raise a formal complaint with your supervisor at the Wikimedia Foundation, and request that disciplinary action be taken against you due to the continued and utter disregard you have shown towards me in relation to this case. odder (talk) 19:58, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

I have now raised the issue with the head of the Community Engagement department, @Luis Villa by the means of a formal complaint regarding your non-action. odder (talk) 21:48, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm sure it has been filed in the circular bin along with the rest of them. Tarc (talk) 20:19, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Given that I haven't received any reply from @Luis Villa yet, it certainly appears so. odder (talk) 05:24, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi odder (and talk page stalkers), I was going to respond on the VP thread but the combo of meetings, emergencies and life today conspired against me being able to post before the discussion was closed so I'll post here since odder pinged me earlier. First off I want to set expectations in that I have not been part of any conversations about the file in question and Philippe is swamped before going on vacation Wednesday. Because of that I can't comment about any emails, received/answered or not, I just don't know. I can say that I've spoken to the legal team and they confirm that the file was deleted as an Office Action that is incredibly unlikely to be undone. At this point they consider the case closed at least in regards to whether the file can be unsuppressed (with the usual caveats about further evidence/acts of god). The error that Philippe mentioned appears to have been in the logging of that action (in that it was not appropriately labeled an office action in the logs) and not in the fact that it was suppressed. While I apologize that I don't have a whole lot more information about the main complaint that you have Odder (about a lack of response) I am happy to redo the suppression (with the appropriate Office Action log summary) if that's still necessary. Jalexander--WMF 05:33, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
    • @Jalexander: I am sorry to say that you seem to be confusing different matters here, probably because of your limited knowledge of the subject. At no point have I ever questioned the fact that the file was deleted as an office action; what I am trying to achieve here is to have Philippe deliver on his statement that not unsuppressing the two file revisions associated with that file is a mistake, and re-delete them, as he said he would do. I also don't see how suppressing (or not) the file can be an issue here: the file has already been unsuppressed, and that was done by none other than Philippe himself. He even wrote: "I'll re-delete with an edit comment to clarify that.", after which he proceeded to unsuppress the file but not the two file revisions.

Having noticed that, I wrote the following e-mail to Philippe:

thanks for unsuppressing the file.

I noticed that you left the two text revisions, and user names and edit descriptions suppressed, even though they do not contain any non-public personal information. Is there any specific reason behind you doing that, or was it just a mistake?


His response was short but succinct:

<sigh> That was a mistake. I swear to god, I'm jinxed on that file.

So, to repeat this again: Philippe has unsuppressed the file but not the two associated page revisions, which are still suppressed; he has even acknowledged that not unsuppressing the two revisions was a mistake. The two page revisions contain no non-public information, and leaving them suppressed is in direct violation of the oversight policy, and should be recognised as being so, and undone. odder (talk) 16:46, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Philippe, given your "jinx" (misclick?), can you confirm you're fine with odder fixing the suppression? So that this unfortunate incident can be forgotten. --Nemo 17:08, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
You're right, I may have been confused, my understanding from the lawyers was that the image should not have been left unsuppressed (I did not discuss the text edits). I'll check in with them and ensure that everything is correct and deal with the log entries myself. @Nemo bis: I will take care of it, given that it's an office action it would be best for me to handle it with this account to the level required by legal. Jalexander--WMF 17:19, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
  • ✓ Done I have undeleted and redeleted the whole page as an Office action. No revision is suppressed at this point. Jalexander--WMF 18:24, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
    See? That was so easy. odder (talk) 19:03, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, thanks, Jalexander, thanks for intervening here. There is an overall context here, a breakdown of communications and trust, over other issues, and to heal that, extra efforts will be necessary on all sides. I suspected that Philippe had become overwhelmed somehow, and it looks like that's the case.