Founding Agreement Comments by Sean Barrett on 1-20-2005 at 21:46 CST
Nick thinks I've totally lost it by thinking the license needs to apply to an editor's individual submission to the wiki. If that was not his intent by his proposal for licensing, ok, but I don't think things really work the way he's imagining. Why would two casual sentences be sufficient to license the work to the wiki, but several pages of dense verbalese be necessary to license it elsewhere?
Moreover, if those two casual sentences were enough, why does anyone need to sign the founder's agreement anyway? Moreover, if those two sentences were the entirety of the license, then we're saying that if what you're doing is editing ifwiki, you can freely delete people's bylines and copyright notices (nothing in the two-sentence-submission guidelines says they'll be preserved). Is that really what you think is true?
For comparison, if you go to edit a page on wikipedia, it responds:
- All contributions to Wikipedia are released under the GNU Free Documentation License (see Project:Copyrights for details).
- If you do not want your writing to be edited mercilessly and redistributed at will, do not submit it.
- By submitting your work you promise you wrote it yourself, or copied it from public domain resources — this does not include most web pages.
We can understand the third bullet item as being a clarification about what it is legal and illegal for you to do--you do not have the right to relicense someone else's work.
The second bullet item is (to me) another clarification to users about what's going to happen, not a legal statement.
The first bullet item describes how you are licensing the material submitted to people who access wikipedia, IMO. Not just "people who download entire copies of wikipedia and manipulate them elsewhere", not just "people who want extract a single entry and republish it somewhere else". People who read pages on wikipedia. People who edit pages on wikipedia.
Some evidence for this reasoning:
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Copyrights#Contributors.27_rights_and_obligations is the expanded comment on what you are doing by submitting an entry to wikipedia. Note the second half of the paragraph after the bullets, beginning "In the second case, if you incorporate..." Note that if you _can_ incorporate existing GFDL materials into wikipedia; you have to preserve their invariants (copyright notices and whatnot). Obviously if submitting to wikipedia was under a license other than the GFDL--if it was a "hey, feel to beat on this however you want, but then when other people copy it off-wikipedia it's GFDL'd" license to wikipedia--you couldn't submit exiting GFDL texts, unless the two licenses were essentially identical.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Boilerplate_request_for_permission makes this pretty clear; all you have to do to get some existing work into wikipedia is get it licensed under GFDL. Not "and get permission for it to be edited in obvious wiki manner".
Of course, this is all about what wikipedia does just as an example. I'm not saying you need to use their license. I'm saying that they have carefully arranged it so that the license they use for people who copy things to places other than wikipedia is the same license under which authors allow their material to be used on wikipedia in the first place. While it is possible to grant a different kind of license at the two stages--the Portland Pattern Repository that Jon linked to appears to disallow any off-wiki copying at all--I don't think you can get away without being explicit about what that "first stage license" is for submitting content to the wiki.
Moreover, if you have a goal of allowing existing copyrighted material to be imported to the wiki (which Dave has mentioned that he'd like), then that material needs to be relicenseable not merely under CC-SA (or whatever final license is chosen for redistribution off-wiki, I'll continue using that as the example for concreteness) but under whatever license is sufficient to allow it to be imported to the wiki and undergo the sorts of transformations it would go on the wiki (if people can freely edit and alter anything on the wiki, then it needs to be a license that allows people to freely edit and alter anything). If you have two license stages (one for importing, one for republishing), that means they either need to explicitly grant a wiki-style "first stage" license as well as the CC-SA license, or you need a wiki-import and edit-rule that allows preserving material according to the rules of CC-SA... which is just a way of saying you would need to have (the option of having) CC-SA as the first-stage importation license as well as the republishing license, which is, hey, exactly the scenario I was describing in my previous comment.