IFWiki talk:Copyright discussions (2005)

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Founding Agreement comments by David Welbourn on 1-19-2005 at 22:13 CST

As Dave and Nick already know, I am NOT in support of the current proposal to put the ifwiki under the Creative Commons license. My reaction on hearing the proposal was immediate, negative, and violent. So much so, that Dave has suggested that I owe him and Nick an apology. Also, Dave would like me to comment on my position, in the hopes that this issue can be somehow resolved.

Where do I start? My reaction was so negative because of the disgust and horror that filled my mind as I imagined what such a proposal would do if implemented, coupled with the certainty of what would be the result if I declined the proposal. Such a wonderful choice I have been given. As if putting "proposal" in big capital letters or reiterating that it is merely under discussion makes the choice easier. I can capitulate and become someone I despise. Or I can hold my ground and be mocked, pitied, or shunned, risking the loss of friendship.

And I am to explain myself. In print. Again, I have a choice. I can either write to Dave privately. Or I can try my best to describe it here, publicly. The option of silence is denied me. I'm not permitted to let "FUCK" be my final word on the matter. Neither silence nor profanity is useful. Such is not what teamwork is all about. Teamwork is about gathering information, asking the difficult questions, presenting the options clearly, rephrasing what has been already said to make certain the points are understood, and so on.

So if any of the following (or the proceeding) sounds like melodrama, I hope you'll be able to forgive me for it. Explaining my position is something that has been explicitly asked of me.

I suppose I need to start with the IF Theory wiki, the one that contained the Glossary items. If you'll look at how they were done, it became the fashion to sign or put one's initials as the end of an entry. "Original definition by DGlasser", perhaps. Or a more discreet "[ES]". Even I, sheep that I was, did it. Because I thought it was the right thing to do. Because everyone else was doing it. But no printed dictionary or encyclopedia does this. I don't see someone's initials after the definition of tomato, or a signature at the end of a write-up about Japanese culture. Instead, contributors are credited in the opening pages, once, as a group.

And it began to bother me, that these attributions were there. One of my submissions was Zarf's cruelty scale. Who should really get the credit for that? Me, because I copied it into the glossary? Or Zarf, for writing it up in the first place? Why did I sign the entry for "red herring"? Was I really making an honest contribution? Or did I want people to read it and see my name and think, heh, that was pretty good. That David Welbourn, he sure can be funny sometimes.

Greedy David Welbourn. Polishing up a paragraph or two in the hopes for a tiny bit more glory in the "IF Community".

Further developments revealed the shallowness of this attempt. Items in a wiki can be edited. And, of course, if it's proper to credit the original author, then it must also be proper to credit all subsequent editors. "I fixed the grammar and added some links. And here's my name," the neo-contributor thinks to herself. "Well, she didn't know what she was doing," thinks a member of the old guard. "I'll edit her mistakes. And add my name." A simple definition of a term somehow became overloaded with asides and attributions.

Or the entry can be deleted. Gone. "'ROY G. BIV'? What's that got to do with IF Theory? We can delete that." Maybe the official line is that everyone can contribute. But somehow, the prejudices and agendas of a few gets to decide what's important and what isn't.

So. When Dave comes along, a year or so later with IFWiki, I'm a little uneasy. I remember the previous wiki, and my ego, and my foolishness. But lo, the old Glossary is still available, and we can "absorb" it. Dave says Dennis is happy that we're resurrecting it. So, I guess that means it's okay. Since Dennis gave us permission. Even though I'm sure Dennis didn't ask DGlasser, Emily, me, or any of the other original contributors what we thought about the Glossary being "absorbed". Maybe we'd like to think that the Glossary belonged to all of us. But in practical terms, the decision was up to Dennis.

Time for my ego to assert itself again. I think I can say, without contradiction, that I have a rare gift for grunt work involving a lot of repetative typing, cutting and pasting, and formatting. I know I have this talent, and I'm eager to display it. So I quickly copy the vast bulk of the Glossary into the IFWiki. When Dave points out that the discussion parts should be moved into the relevant Talk pages, I don't hesitate to go through the entire Glossary again to do so. Likewise, when the decision is made to put them into a Glossary category, I am happy to go through the Glossary a third time to make these changes. Everyone will be so happy and impressed with me. I wonder when would be a good time (if ever) to start removing the "Original definition by DGlasser" and "[ES]" -type lines, hangnails that they are. Not yet, I think. Maybe when things are more settled, then we can discuss it, I think.

Meanwhile, Dave starts the absorption process with Gunther's Speed-IF pages, and has started a chat on IFWiki itself. Dave starts talking foolishly about how everyone is being wasteful with their efforts to catalogue their own little parts of IF separately, when most of it could be in the IFWiki. Dave starts eyeing Baf's Guide, and wonders how that information might be brought on board. Even though I don't say anything at that time, I knew that sort of talk would not be beneficial. Even as I start copying the Speed-IF information over, I know that this will likely be the last direct absorption. Baf's Guide is too huge to copy, and it would be pointless to try to copy everything in it when it already works so well. Even if Carl were to permit it. Roger Firth flat out denies Dave's request to absorb pages from his site.

And I expect Roger's reaction to be typical. Would Robin Lionheart permit the absorption of the Chronology of Quendor? Would Paul O'Brian permit the absorption of SPAG? Would Stephen Granade permit the absorption of Brass Lantern? Somehow, I don't think they would.

Which brings us to the realm of new content. If IFWiki is to be any sort of resource to be proud of, it's gotta offer something more than rehashed Glossary and Speed-IF blurbs. Nobody quite knows yet what this content should be.

I take a couple tentative stabs at it. I create the Current Events page, and I start work on a list of games from 2004, in the hopes that the list will be viewable and editable by the IF Community in preparation for the Xyzzy Awards in March. In previous years, the list wasn't available early to the community at large, and never directly editable, and I thought this and the Current Events pages would make good use of a wiki's abilities.

Of course, grunt work is a lot easier, and I found myself raiding Baf's Guide and IFMudders' homepages for author info, so I could assemble authors pages that went a bit beyond what Baf's Guide does. There is a tendency to think that Baf's Guide covers everything that everyone does, but this just isn't true. Baf's Guide is primarily a guide to the games in the IF Archive. But not all games are in the archive, and there are other contributions people make besides writing games.

Also, by gleaning information from two places and reformatting it for the IFWiki, I feel confident that I'm not violating any copyrights. I'm copying information, yes, but not the display of it. And further, I make sure that every author page I write has a Links section where I can list the sources for the information I used. It was my hope that by doing it that way, the original authors of the information I used would be acknowledged, and that I would be okay, morally and ethically. And once the pattern was set, others would be able to follow it and do likewise with new pages. I felt I was doing a good thing.

While I was doing all this, other people started their own attempts at new content. To my considerable dismay, they were all of the outlined essay variety. Standalone pieces that were outlined to present a biased viewpoint. Essays that invited you to help "fill it in" if you agreed with the viewpoint, and disinvited related pages on the IFWiki that addressed the exact same topics. Even though I'm dismayed by these developments, I keep it to myself. After all, we're all still trying to figure out what we want. Better to let them have a fair crack at implementing their schemes and discuss what needs changing later. If I criticize now before they've even tried, they're going to get defensive. Perhaps when they see on their own that these essays are top-heavy and don't play nice with the other pages, they'll be willing to change them on their own without my having to say anything.

And then comes the day when the proposal is proposed. And all my worst fears of all the proceeding flit through my mind at high speed:

  • Page after page of (c) David Welbourn. Imagining: Marnie Parker (c) David Welbourn. Or worse, Marnie Parker (c) David Welbourn, David Cornelson, etc. My private shame with the Glossary would be nothing compared to this. How dare I claim to own in any way the names and works of all these other people, even tangently? The information isn't mine! I got it from Baf's Guide and their own pages! How dare I try to wrap these tatters around me, adding my name to each and every one?
  • Imagining those copyright notices propagating outside the IFWiki like a virus. Never to be erased or expunged because a Creative Commons license won't let you revoke it once applied. Ever.
  • Even if that's not how it works, even if it's just a (c) IFWiki rather than (c) David Welbourn, is that really any better? Is there any good reason to forcefeed the name "IFWiki" onto everyone who just wants to use the information? Is there some hidden agenda to brand information under the IFWiki name?
  • If a page starts (c) IFWiki, and someone edits it, does it stay that way? If someone wants to add their name specifically, do all the other names in the page's history become explicit also?
  • What would this mean to my list of games from 2004? If the list is (c) IFWiki in such a way, how could I then give it to Eileen? To accept it, wouldn't that mean part of XyzzyNews has to be (c) IFWiki also? Is she likely to go for that? Not bloody likely.
  • Would places like CAAD, an Italian site which quietly documents much of what happens with English IF, shun IFWiki if it had such a license? Or would the desire to document us be enough that they would welcome being infected with the Creative Commons license? Or, if they ignore the license and copy IFWiki anyway, what am I supposed to do about it? Am I being forced to police my contributions? If I don't agree to be a good Gestapo member, doesn't that make the license worthless? What am I being asked to do here, really?
  • Why are Dave and Nick suggesting this? Are they looking forward to seeing their names or "IFWiki" plastered onto all things IF? Spreading like the clap? A stain that can never be erased? They say they're not interested in attributions, but what else is the license for?
  • What if I say 'no'? Then what happens? Dave is going to press and press and press until I say 'yes', isn't he? He says it is 'just a proposal', but he's already got Nick's support. Nick, who is a proven author and authority on IF. How am I supposed to compete with that? Nick has prestige value. Nick is someone you want on your team. How am I supposed to say 'no' to something both Nick and Dave want? What counterarguments can I possibly say?
  • But I have to say no. Saying yes is too awful. I'm going to be the bad guy. Again. And again, it's friends who are screwing me over. By "doing the right thing". They will be acting in the IFWiki's best interests, they'll say. And it'll be unfortunate that I'm upset about it, but it really couldn't be helped. They'll be sorry I'm hurt. But they won't be sorry about their decision. That's a life lesson I've learned the hard way: that good people, your friends even, acting for the best of reasons, will hurt you.
  • In pain, fear, and frustration, unable to explain, I say "FUCK" and leave the channel.

Some afterthoughts:

  • It's not clear to me whether the proposal plans to have IFWiki as a whole covered by one license, or if each and every page of IFWiki is to get its own individual copy of the license.
  • It's not clear to me who will own the license(s). As Dave keeps reiterating, the IFWiki is not owned by any one individual or even a specific group. And yet, as the example of Dennis agreeing to let Dave absorb the Glossary shows, the owner of the IFWiki is Dave, no matter how he tries to present it as otherwise.
  • It's not clear to me what the license(s) protect, since the nature of a wiki is that its content and format is changeable by anyone and anytime. Remember, copyright protects format and presentation, not raw information. But if the format and presentation can change freely, in what way can this license protect the wiki?
  • Nick's bracketed explanation within the proposal about how we should interpret the license is, I believe, not part of the license itself but a suggestion. There is no reason for me to believe that anyone reading the license has to apply it that exact way, and I believe that once the license is applied, contributors would be within their rights to insist on equally valid but differing interpretations.

-- David Welbourn 22:13, 19 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Founding Agreement comments by Nick Montfort on 1-20-2005 at 1:26 CST

I appreciate hearing about your thought process, but yes, you do also owe me an apology, even if it's only in a virtual space that you reply by shouting an obscenity and storming off.

I do not believe the fundamental problem that you see with my proposal exists. If it does, I think we should simply do something else that everyone agrees on. We could figure that out by discussing it.

Your ideas about the Creative Commons being an infection and requiring authors to be like the Gestapo are, to put it kindly, very confused. Although you've brought us to the end result of Godwin's Law in record time, I think it would be best to leave unfounded fears and analogies to the Nazis aside and just consider what effect this license would have on ifwiki. My proposal is not about hating you, or calling you greedy, or screwing you. I'm just trying to figure out, along with everyone else on ifwiki, how to best set up this new collaborative writing and publishing system.

I will reply to your "afterthoughts" first because they include the actual relevant questions you have:

It's not clear to me whether the proposal plans to have IFWiki as a whole covered by one license, or if each and every page of IFWiki is to get its own individual copy of the license.

We don't need to have any copies of the license on the site, just links. We just change a line in the config file for the wiki. I'm proposing that whole wiki be covered.

It's not clear to me who will own the license(s). As Dave keeps reiterating, the IFWiki is not owned by any one individual or even a specific group. And yet, as the example of Dennis agreeing to let Dave absorb the Glossary shows, the owner of the IFWiki is Dave, no matter how he tries to present it as otherwise.

A license is a grant of rights from one party to another, so no one would own it, as far as I know. IANAL, as I remind everyone on ifMUD every time I connect. In my plan, the people who write things on ifwiki keep their copyrights (just as they do now); but they would also grant the wiki a right to grant everyone access under by-sa 2.0 (which they don't do now).

I agree that the owner of ifwiki is probably Dave, and a court of law would probably agree, too, if the RIAA or someone else was looking to sue "ifwiki." That's one reason it's good to have a statement on upload pages and edit forms that requires the user only to upload content that he or she has permission to upload. Dave could delete any material that violated copyright as soon as he was notified, and while he'd still be hassled, he'd at least have an argument that the uploader/contributor was to blame, not him.

It's not clear to me what the license(s) protect, since the nature of a wiki is that its content and format is changeable by anyone and anytime. Remember, copyright protects format and presentation, not raw information. But if the format and presentation can change freely, in what way can this license protect the wiki?

The license is not for the protection of the wiki at all. It does not add protection. It is a grant of rights to other people, allowing the material on the wiki to be freely shared. The license does not change the copyright status of material on the wiki. It just gives others the right to take it and do something else with it, if they also share.

A wiki article is certainly protected by copyright, and is not just raw information.

Nick's bracketed explanation within the proposal about how we should interpret the license is, I believe, not part of the license itself but a suggestion. There is no reason for me to believe that anyone reading the license has to apply it that exact way, and I believe that once the license is applied, contributors would be within their rights to insist on equally valid but differing interpretations.

The license itself says you only have to convey the name of the original author if it is supplied:

You must keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and give the Original Author credit reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing by conveying the name (or pseudonym if applicable) of the Original Author 'if supplied;' the title of the Work if supplied; to the extent reasonably practicable, the Uniform Resource Identifier, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work; and in the case of a Derivative Work, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Derivative Work (e.g., "French translation of the Work by Original Author," or "Screenplay based on original Work by Original Author").

I don't know what other valid interpretations there are of this. I tell ifwiki that it can offer my stuff and only require a credit of "ifwiki" and a URL, and ifwiki makes my writing available without supplying my name as part of the article. Then, everyone else can take my writing and just credit ifwiki, without legally being required to mention my name, as long as their stuff is also by-sa 2.0. Where is there a license violation?

Only if we had "bylined" articles on ifwiki would you need to credit the author upon copying, republication, or creating a derivative work (which would have to be sharable under the same license). There are none of these bylined articles now, but somebody could add some if they wanted. Allowing them would seem to make ifwiki more flexible rather than less, although it might cause additional licensing issues and wiki management issues to arise. If we don't want any to appear on ifwiki ever, we could just prohibit them, and make it a condition of posting that you not add a byline. Then, only people willing to post under those circumstances would post, and use of ifwiki material would not ever require that a person be named as author.

Now, on to the pre-afterthoughts:

Why are Dave and Nick suggesting this? Are they looking forward to seeing their names or "IFWiki" plastered onto all things IF? Spreading like the clap? A stain that can never be erased? They say they're not interested in attributions, but what else is the license for?

To ensure that material on ifwiki can be shared by those who want to use it. It does not have to do with venereal disease or with assigning credit. It does not have to do with propagating copyright notices everywhere, which would not happen. Offering the materials on ifwiki under by-sa 2.0 does not restrict the use of materials on ifwiki at all. It offers people strictly more than they currently have.

The text currently on ifwiki is protected by copyright right now, whether or not it has a (c) symbol (not necessary for copyright protection) and whether or not Dave knows who the copyright owner is. (If some of Shakespeare's sonnets have been pasted in or something, those would be in the public domain, but I assume the content is mostly original, fairly writing by someone.) Right now, it is not offered to anyone else in the world for copying or modification, except under fair use -- it is otherwise restricted. A Creative Commons license grants people the right to copy and modify the content under certain terms (in this case, attributing the source and sharing what they derive), without taking away of their existing rights. It does not infect anyone.

If Dennis wants to include some printouts in a course packet for his students for easy printed reference, he should be able to point the copy center to a license and prove to them that it's legal to copy the stuff. If he can't, they may very well refuse to copy the material for his class -- it happens all the time. If graphical adventure gamers or the people at CAAD or others want to start a wiki and rip off some of our stuff and modify it, allowing others to similarly rip them off in the future, I think that should be fine. Right now it is not: there is no license.

If we went with by-sa 2.0, CAAD or some other party could still ask the original contributors (the copyright holders) of a particular article to let them have it under different and even more liberal terms, and they could -- nothing would prevent that. But that's a cumbersome process -- it's the process people would have to go through right now -- and by-sa 2.0 would give blanket permission to everyone willing to attribute and share alike.

If you don't want to share the content of ifwiki, then I think you should oppose a license, but right now it seems that you're vehemently opposing what you support.

The "credit" issue is not really an issue, as I tried to explain above, but I'll try to address another point where this non-issue comes up:

it became the fashion to sign or put one's initials as the end of an entry. "Original definition by DGlasser", perhaps. Or a more discreet "[ES]". Even I, sheep that I was, did it. Because I thought it was the right thing to do. Because everyone else was doing it. But no printed dictionary or encyclopedia does this.

I really don't think your last statement there is true. I feel certain that every printed dictionary and encyclopedia in the world does do this in some form or another. This initialing isn't done for the purpose of assigning credit after publication, but for editorial purposes, before it is finalized. If I'm an editor or fellow writer and I have a question about something in a particular sentence, and I know that "ES" wrote it, I can ask her about it. If I don't know that, I can't discuss it with the person who put it there, and it's harder to figure out whether I should revise it, remove it, or leave it. It's responsible, rather than greedy, to say what you're changing, which is one nice thing about MediaWiki's automatic tracking of changes by username (if users are logged in). I put my initials into a definition for the same reason that, when I edit a text file and email it back to someone, I might put notes in brackets and my initials at the end of those notes. It might have been unnecessary given the way the software tracked changes, but lots of us were new to wikis at that point.

I don't think anyone was under the impression that the glossary entries in the printed book IF Theory would list all the contributors to each short definition, or even one contributor, were they? I could be wrong, but that would seem like an unreasonable expectation. Perhaps people think they will be acknowledged as having helped all together in a paragraph somewhere, which seems reasonable.

by gleaning information from two places and reformatting it for the IFWiki, I feel confident that I'm not violating any copyrights.

If you should not feel confident that something you added was added legally, you should really think about it and consider removing it from the wiki, not because I'm telling you to, but based on the agreement you made upon submitting that material and because you are exposing Dave to potential legal problems if you don't. If you, for instance, pieced together sentences from other people's writing without permission to do so, I would suspect that that was a copyright violation. You can of course include any facts that you learn from anywhere, if you write the text describing them yourself.

Finally, I am really sorry about your fears, disgust, horror, troubled imaginations, displeasure about the way other people have contributed to ifwiki, and the other negative parts of the internal narrative you included in your post. My belief is that a wiki is a collaborative writing system; for people to write together effectively, they need to discuss problems they have with the writing process or the overall direction of their project. I appreciate your starting the discussion, although I wish you had done it sooner. Please keep us actively in the loop about what you think of the project, and of other people's proposals and contributions, as we continue to work on ifwiki together.

--Nm 01:26, 20 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Founding Agreement comments by Jon Rosebaugh on 1-20-2005 at 1:51 CST

My response to DavidW's comments

Information wants to be free, the saying goes. But somebody's got to pay the bills. It's 1 AM, and I may not be entirely coherent, but I think I want to respond to this while at least some of my thoughts are still clear in my head. Therefore, in an entirely haphazard order:

Ownership: Dave says that he doesn't own IFwiki. Yet, he is actively promoting it, and trying to guide it. Do these conflict? I'm not sure. I think that it would be laughable if we required him to not try to help build IFwiki, just to make sure he wasn't in a position to claim ownership of it, especially since he currently pays the hosting bills. The wiki hasn't hit critical mass yet, whatever that may be; we're unlikely to see people taking an interest in it the way they do with Wikipedia. Once there's active community interest, I could see asking Dave to not take so much responsibility, but then, once there's active community interest, such a request probably wouldn't be necessary. I can imagine a system whereby anyone who wanted to could download a server executable and run a mirror. The wiki would give it copies of the most-accessed articles, up to the disk space the user was willing to devote to it, and the whole thing could be run with a load-balancing scheme, thus freeing Dave of any particular responsibility with server costs. At present, the wiki does not even approach the kind of situation that would make the effort involved in setting this up worthwhile, though it does fulfill some of my Gibson-inspired daydreams. I guess what I'm saying is, in a perfect world, Dave wouldn't take ownership, because there would be no need for it. This world isn't perfect, though.

Copyright and information: As I understand it, the classic legal example of this situation involves a dispute between phone companies over telephone book information. The thing is, telephone numbers have very little to do with prose writing. It is well enough to say that "So Far is a game written by Andrew Plotkin in 1996. It is written in Inform, compiled for the Z-Machine, and won four XYZZY awards in 1996." This is all information, quite clearly copyright-free. But it tells you very little about the game. It's part of a taxonomy, not an actual description. Baf's guide says that So Far is "haunting and dreamlike". That's description. That's useful for the person who wants to know a bit more about the game. Baf's description of the game is also copyrighted, I think, because this is actual prose writing about what kind of game So Far is, and what the player can expect from it. If I have caught the vision of IFwiki properly, there will be far more description on the wiki than there will be taxonomy, so the concerns about attributing names to informational lists seem a little overplayed.

Two licenses?: To the extent that some of the material available on IFwiki is purely informational, I do not think it ought to be covered by a license at all; indeed, the judicial decision I referenced above may make it impossible to do so. At the same time, original material, including those essays that DavidW derided, can be copyrighted, and these are a valid target for a license. It seems to me that the history mechanism in the wiki provides a valid reference for individual contributions to articles, so that it would be appropriate to have them attributed generally to IFwiki. The difficulty there is that IFwiki is not a person, and cannot own a copyright or license content, or so my understanding goes. Perhaps we need a IFwiki foundation (which also might hold the domain name and help manage the complicated mirroring scheme I mentioned above), but that is probably something for the future.

Attribution: I don't see why it is wrong to have attribution for genuinely creative content on the wiki. If we really want to be a resource for people, then when people see an article reproduced elsewhere, they should be able to follow a link to IFwiki and find more material of interest to them. Of course, tables of information, like the 2004 games for XYZZY awards, need not be attributed; Eileen's perfectly capable of saying whatever needs to be said about the source of that collected information on her own.

Okay, no solid conclusion here, but I think I said what I wanted to say. I know I'm not around for much of the discussions, which is part of why I'm putting this here. Feel free to remove it or move it elsewhere, should that be appropriate. --Jon 01:51, 20 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Founding Agreement comments by Sean Barrett on 1-20-2005 at 6:33 CST


I (Sean--note that starting an essay with "I" and signing at the bottom just makes everybody scroll) am a little surprised to see nick respond as if everything about the license is obviously hunky-dory and act like DW is the only one to have ever expressed these concerns, since, lo and behold, I made many similar points on ifMUD while we awaited DW's written reply.

The CC-SA license is a complex piece of legal writing, and it is not always particularly clear how things are meant to apply to a wiki-like scenario. (Please forgiving my lack of clever formatting here, but the 'editing help' popup is empty.) For example, DW asks: "It's not clear to me whether the proposal plans to have IFWiki as a whole covered by one license, or if each and every page of IFWiki is to get its own individual copy of the license." Nick replies, "We don't need to have any copies of the license on the site, just links. We just change a line in the config file for the wiki. I'm proposing that whole wiki be covered." I would guess DW's point was, in terms of the CC-SA license, is the "Work" to which it refers supposed to be the whole wiki, or the individual contribution. The answer is (I assume) that each editor licenses each individual contribution ("to the wiki", in some sense) as its own Work under the terms of the CC-SA. The entire Wiki is a "Collective Work" under the terms of the CC-SA.

Note that authors don't actually license anything to the wiki; they license their content in general, and the wiki is reproduced under the terms of the license.

The big issue is attribution and how this interacts with being edited. Jon says (and people said this on mud), "It seems to me that the history mechanism in the wiki provides a valid reference for individual contributions to articles", and it's great that it *seems* so to him, but does it really mean that? Do you want to take a chance on that interpretation and get burned later? (Some of these issues might be helped by writing a "what the license means to the wiki" article that documents all of these sorts of assmuptions. This might have no true legal standing, but it might actually help in that in some hypothetical legal case, someone says, "no, our interpretation of the license was _blah_", and you can point at the interpretation article and say the person contributed after reading it. This is something like how legal decisions sometimes make reference to the congressional record to understand what the intent of the law was.)

Nick produces the big, central, troubling quote from the license, commenting, "The license itself says you only have to convey the name of the original author if it is supplied:"

You must keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and give the Original Author credit reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing by conveying the name (or pseudonym if applicable) of the Original Author 'if supplied;' the title of the Work if supplied; to the extent reasonably practicable, the Uniform Resource Identifier, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work; and in the case of a Derivative Work, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Derivative Work (e.g., "French translation of the Work by Original Author," or "Screenplay based on original Work by Original Author").

"I don't know what other valid interpretations there are of this," he adds.

This presents a number of problems for the process of continuous editing and refactoring that goes on a living, healthy wiki. First is the problem of copyright notices; second is the problem of attribution; third is the problem of 'crediting the use of the Work in the Derivative Work'.

There is subtle context in applying these to a wiki. At any instantaneous moment, the wiki is a collection of static pages that can be browsed. Over time, the wiki is an editable document in which one editor can edit the documents of another. So the question is how the three items above apply in these two cases.

Well, to understand that, we need the clause nick dropped from the front of that paragraph: "If you distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform the Work or any Derivative Works or Collective Works," [insert above]

So, the first case of this ("distribute [...] or [...] perform the Work") isn't about editing, it's just about displaying. If the Work (an article submission or article update by an editor) contains copyright notices or other attributions, then these must be shown when distributing / publically displaying the work. Well, that's trivial; the wiki shows everything the author submitted. Done.

Now, what are the cases about editing? Well, the wiki hands an editor a page to be edited. The editor creates a Derivative Work of that Work, and hands it back to the wiki. The wiki will then publically display it. But the important constraint is on the editor while handing it back to the wiki, which is presumably the 'distribute' case of it. So, an editor of an existing page, pressing 'save page', has the following obligations to the Work on that page that he is creating a Derivative Work of:

1&2. "keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and give the Original Author credit reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing by conveying the name (or pseudonym if applicable) of the Original Author if supplied": so you have to preserve copyright notices and bylines that are in the actual text (unless you delete all of the text to which the copyright or byline applied, presumably, although this isn't entirely clear)

3. "in the case of a Derivative Work, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Derivative Work (e.g., "French translation of the Work by Original Author," or "Screenplay based on original Work by Original Author")": this would seem to require you to write something like "based on the previous wiki page". People are assuming that the infrastructure of changelogs (or simply the fact that it's a wiki) means that you don't have to do this, but I think a close, literal reading of the license, there is no other "valid interpretation", as nick said. When you press "save page", surely you're submitting _the contents of the text box_ as a (Derivative) Work, not the entire constructed page that the wiki will create out of it that provides the context and changelogs? The text box contents are all that you personally are "distributing", so surely that submission itself is the Derivative Work, and you personally are the person who bears a responsibility to make your Derivative Work meet the terms of the license.

So I don't think this is even close to cut & dried trivial the way nick thinks it is. Sure you can make a case for interpreting it as he suggests, but there are lots of other cases you can make. They may be dumb, stupid, cases, but this is a legal document, and the whole point of that is supposed to be to nail things down concretely and specifically and as unambiguously as possible.

Now, I don't think this legal nit-picking is really all that helpful or useful--I just think it's disturbing to pretend that the complexity of this legal document isn't there.

The most important point, which I think people agree on, is that it requires preservation of copyright notices and bylines. This makes editing a wiki really a chore. How much of the content does a given copyright notice or byline apply to? This matters if you decide to split a page up into multiple pages.

I think people may have missed DW's points about the essays: his point wasn't that he disagreed with the contents of the essay, but that the essay format is a problematic use of the wiki for exactly the same sorts of reasons. It doesn't invite collaborative editing. Now, there's nothing wrong with using a wiki to collaboratively edit a collection of documents that are themselves not collaboratively edited; it's just not his vision of a wiki. The question is, is that really other people's vision of it? Because if so, then worries about how you refactor and split pages and deal with copyright notices and bylines are irrelevant. But if you think a wiki page is supposed to be a flexible and fluid thing, they seem to become a serious hassle.

Now, one solution, as nick says, would be to have rules against bylines and just delete content involving them. But then it's not clear what the attribution part of the license requirement buys you, and you might as well have a non-attributive license. (The only thing it buys you is attribution of the whole thing to IFwiki, and that leads to DW's conspiracy-theory self-aggrandizement concerns. I don't see it that way myself, but I can see why he'd draw that conclusion given no other evidence about the reason for attribution.) The thing is, there aren't many non-attributive licenses. Wikipedia's requires attribution to Wikipedia. In fact, the only really 'allow derivative works, no attribution, share alike' license is putting things in the public domain.

I'm not actually saying you _want_ to put this project in the public domain (although I'm not sure where else DW could have been going), but you should probably enumerate the reasons why that would be unsatisfactory. Here are some possible reasons it might be unsatisfactory:

  • 1. "People can take my essay and turn it into their own essay and not credit me!" -- you'd have the same problem if you disallowed bylines
  • 2. "People can reproduce our wiki and not give us credit" -- is that so bad? this reason opens you to DW's complaint ("Are they looking forward to seeing their names or "IFWiki" plastered onto all things IF")
  • 3. "It prevents us from putting copyrighted materials from non-wiki sources onto the wiki" -- so will _any_ license unless the original material was already licensed under a compatible license; e.g. if IFwiki uses CC-SA, then this argument applies to any source material not CC-SA. How much of that material is there really? How much would you be giving up?
  • 4. "It may discourage people from contributing if they don't want their material in the public domain." How so? What would those people actually be losing, compared to a no-bylines-no-copyright rule with CC-SA? (This is just #1 in more ambiguous guyse)
  • 5. "People can make money off our stuff." That's already true under CC-SA; you want "by-nc-sa" if you want a non-commercial license.
  • 6. "It's not share-alike: people don't have to public-domain-ify things they make out if it." Well, yeah, that's the main reason to prefer Copyleft. I don't know why there's no non-attributive but share-alike CC license. Aha, there is one, but it's an "old" one and it doesn't show up in their chooser. I'm not sure why they deprecated it. Hmm, looks like they used to have a full suite of non-attributive ones and deprecated them all. No explanation, though they still link to them all, so I assume they didn't conclude that they were unenforceable.

I presume there are some other reasons I haven't thought of. Of the above, the only one that seems a serious issue to me is #3, and I think that's just evidence of why trying to make IFwiki be all things to all people is going to be problematic for licensing reasons. You don't really want to absorb all other content into a wiki under one big license.

I don't think it's wrong to call CC-SA viral. The "SA" part _is_ viral, pretty much by definition. (Just to point out what a non-viral thing looks like, consider public domain; it doesn't put any restrictions on derivative works. You can copyright a work derived from the public domain. Yes, CC-SA gives you more rights than no license, but that doesn't make it non-viral.) It may well be that it's perfectly fine to have a viral license, but why pretend it's not?

However, DW gets one thing wrong about the viral nature of the copyright notices in CC-SA. He says, "Never to be erased or expunged because a Creative Commons license won't let you revoke it once applied." This is not true. First off, you can of course relicense anything you created under some other, less restrictive license (e.g. one that doesn't require the copyright notice). Second, CC-SA has an explicit clause allowing you to DEMAND that people remove attribution to you (so you can disassociate yourself from derivative work you don't like), and it seems to me you could apply this to strip copyright notices in the wild for other purposes. (At least, legally; the technological/sociological problem is still there.)

I don't know under what terms people uploaded material to Dennis' IF Glossary wiki. Perhaps it was the "we're all friends here" license. If there was something more explicit, and the relicensing to IFwiki is incompatible and yet people are undertaking it lightly, that's a bit disturbing. Otherwise, though, it doesn't seem like that big a deal as an analogy to the future of IFwiki, since the whole point of this exercise is to make clear under what terms such a transfer could ever happen in the future.

I hereby place this section in the public domain (so I don't need to sign a founder's agreement). --Sean 06:33, 20 Jan 2005 (Pacific Standard Time)

Founding Agreement comments by Nick Montfort on 1-20-2005 at 15:04 CST

I don't understand your perspective on "viral," Sean. I envision the license I suggest allowing exactly the sorts of use that I described. Dennis would not somehow "infect" his whole course packet if he wants to modify an article from ifwiki and include it; the modified article would be the thing covered under by-sa 2.0. I still see the proposal as a way to grant strictly more rights to people to use ifwiki's content. I don't see it changing anything about editing or updating ifwiki -- it's a license for other people, not for ifwiki. If you submit something to a wiki (or any other site), of course it can be used as part of that site and people can do whatever they do with it usually -- edit and update it, in the case of a wiki. Why else would you have submitted it? There's even an agreement on every submission page to this effect, so there's no question about it.

But I'd suggest we take a step back. At a high level, the options as I see them are:

1. Do not license any of the material on ifwiki; that is, do not make it available to others for publication, modification, etc. This is the current situation, so we can just do nothing if we want to do this case.

2. Make the contents of ifwiki more available by declaring all or part of ifwiki to be available under some license.

I thought everyone would want (2), and I thought CC by-sa 2.0 would be a noncontroversial choice, as it's one of the most liberal 2.0 licenses that imposes the restriction that modifications are also covered by it. (A reasonable restriction, I think.) Also, Dave is the only one would would discuss this with me on ifMUD at first, so since no one else wanted to comment or object online, I went ahead and posted the proposal. Clearly, it is controversial, so I was wrong.

Can someone now suggest an alternative? Either (1), or a different form of (2)? Or some option I'm missing, even though the law of the excluded middle seems to suggest there is nothing else but "no license" and "some license"?

--Nm 15:04, 20 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Founding Agreement comments by David Cornelson on 1-20-2005 at 15:50 CST

First of all David, let me say that you don't _owe_ us an apology, but in the scheme of human dynamics, it might be a nice gesture. If for no other reason than almost all of your fears are unfounded.

When I first created the ifwiki I think I made it abundantly clear that I do not feel any ownership or urge to co-opt the IF community in any way. This is your wiki as much as anyone elses and I mean that as sincerely as I possibly can. Your voice holds the same weight as Nick's or mine or anyone else that joins in the discussion. I think I will make this clear to everyone if it isn't already:

No single person has authority over ifwiki.

I asked for permission to copy the glossary over and received it. It never even ocurred to me that a copyright was involved and I highly doubt Dennis Jerz thought so either. In my mind, I was simply being polite.

Baf's Guide

In seeking to pull Baf's Guide material over to ifwiki, I wasn't suggesting it become a replacement or to infringe on Baf's in any way shape or form. It was my thought in brainstorming with Nick that I could mirror Baf's database (which I had already started to do two years ago with the IFLibrary) and auto generate uneditable sections based on database information. These sections would have the proper attribution to Baf's guide and all links would point to wurb.com. I think having some of Baf's information local to the ifwiki is beneficial to those adding material and content. We could go so far as to create macros so that you could do something like this:

#BAFLINK game "Cattus Atrox"

...which would make a direct link to Baf's guide that would be maintained within his database as opposed to ifwiki. The point is that as we build articles, such as a potential artical about Narration, we can attribute games and authors via Baf's without a ton of effort (or copyright concerns).

Asking Roger or others for content

As for Roger saying no, that's fine with me. My thought was that there was a possibility that he has or will tire of maintaining some of his content and that a communal maintenance might be benefical to everyone. Parsifal has outdated links and would benefit being moved to ifwiki. As it stands, if I hurt someones feelings by asking, than I apologize. My intent is and always has been for the benefit of the IF community at large.

As for anyone elses content, it's the same thought. I think Gunther gladly offered the speed-if information because he does not have the time to maintain it. That is exactly the prospect I was inquiring for.


I think your assumptions about my motivations are incorrect.

Now, the funny part about all of this is that had you said FUCK and then dissented immediately, I very likely would have taken a position closer to your point of view than to Nick's (sorry Nick). I'm reluctant to place any burdens for editing on ifwiki. At the same time, I also believe that embedded copyrights should be allowed. So we need to rethink this licensing issue. We need to keep licensing issues to a Talk page and regard all content on ifwiki as attributable to their original sources, whether that is easily noted or not.

I think we can safely keep the license on the FAQ page, but in general, as far as I'm concerned, the ifwiki has no license.

I will now go off and do some research on licensing and copyright and see what ideas I can come up with. When I finish my research, I will write up my thoughts appropriately.

--David Cornelson 15:49, 20 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

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.

Founding Agreement Comments on ifMUD on 1-20-2005 at 23:50 CST

[Log started by Dave Fri Jan 21 00:49:23 2005]

[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "ok, now that the talk page is split up I no longer have enough mediawiki skills to reply to it"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "ha ha"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "just add [[Foundation Agreement Comments by Sean Barret on 1-20-2005 at 9:46pm CST]], save, then click the new link and add your comments"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "aha"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "ok, I thought there was some sneaky way to automate it"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "that's Sean Barrett though (two T's)"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "heehee"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I wonder"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "if the solution to this isn't some sort of IFWiki Foundation"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "where we all become members and collective copyright holders"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "and although people may bring copyrighted material to ifwiki, they inherently give ifwiki a collective works copyright"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I wonder if that's the jist of the CC license"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "cc-sa? no"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "oh"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "it doesn't have to be ifwiki foundation...it could be The Interactive Fiction Society or some such crap"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "wait, sorry, I missed something you said"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "cc-sa has a particular thing about collective works, yes"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "but it doesn't involve a collective copyright"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "the way I see it is, people can copy whatever they want out of the ifwiki as long as they attribute any copyright holders"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "it just says 'hey, you can compile a cc-sa into a collective work, you just have to attribute it', basically"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "the problem is that an Article called "Foo" could be created and developed, then wiped out and recreated"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "copyright makes no sense in that case"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "yes"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "well, wiping it out is simply a large edit"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "I think that actually you could delete the copyright in that case"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "ahhhh"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "the law is actually all about comprehending what is really going on and applying it sanely, not just following the law like it was a computer program"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "that's the issue...how do we _remove_ copyrights"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "so I would _expect_ that would be a case where, duh, you can delete the notice if you deleted the relative material"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "the concern I've expressed about that detail is that the material becomes squirrled up in changes over time and you can't tell what's covered by it anymore"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "(unless you just delete the whole article to be on the safe side)"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "copyright sucks"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "let's all move to China"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "well, as I pointed out in my first post, I'd like to hear the list of reasons why public domain isn't the right "license""
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "I'm not at all saying it is a good idea, just it would help me comprehend what people really want/need protected"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I've thought about that"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "the problem is that there may be white papers"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "you can either import your white paper and reference it"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "or you can simply have an external reference to it"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard asks, "by which you just mean 'pre-existing material under copyright'?"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "or, you can create it inside ifwiki and make it non-editable and reference it"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "ah, ok, you mean something else"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "but I think in that particular case, people would simply keep their stuff somewhere else and link to it"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "you mean, I guess, some sort of single-author essay"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "right"
[ifwiki-editors] inky asks, "I dunno, so there's no problem with them keeping it elsewhere, is there?"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "yeah, the problem is that whatever license you end up with, the authors have to be willing to license that article under that license"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "which leads to the mess of it needing to be, as you say, non-editable yet on the wiki"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave asks, "but in the case where several people author a single white paper on ifwiki and without a byline, what do you do?"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says (to inky), "well, the links will get stale in a way they wouldn't if they were on the wiki"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "if it has a byline, then there's precedent for that...the main author is the copyright holder and the editors inherently give their copyrights to the main author"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "and my thought is that in the case of a shared article (no byline), then the default copyright holder is ifwiki.org (or some imaginary foundation we might create)"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "of course this seemed to offend DW in that now ifwiki is becoming some sort of central copyright holder of generally shared IF material and I agree with that sentiment"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I don't like it"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "I don't think that sort of collective is very feasible, independent of the offending DW"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "well it's basically like the Perl license"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "just seems a nightmare as you add editors"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "or Artisitic Perl to be specific"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "if there's an actual entity that you're assigning your copyright to, that's different"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "that's not actually collective ownership, though"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "ok, wait"
[ifwiki-editors] inky asks, "tell me again why you don't want public domain?"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "http://www.perl.com/pub/a/language/misc/Artistic.html"
[ifwiki-editors] inky asks, "because you want people to be able to put essays they've written there that they don't want to release as public domain?"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says (to inky), "correct"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "ok, so the license is "anything you put on the wiki is PD unless you mark the page non-editable and put a byline on it, in which case it's whatever license it says in the document or by the owner as usual if no license is included""
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I think some of us don't care and some of us do...and both concerns are valid...in the case of Nick, he is building a career writing about IF and I can see why he would want attribution in all of his works"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "whereas David W is just trying to create useful content and isn't terribly interested in who the hell owns it"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "right"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says (to inky), "So under your scenario, if you want to edit a currently-PD page, you have to put your changes in the PD"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "yes"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "I guess I don't understand what you lose by putting stuff in PD if it's on a wiki that anyone can edit"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "which people like Nick will likely refuse to do"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says (to Dave), "If you look at the Perl Artistic license, it does this interesting move to distinguish between the contributions and the overall thing"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "which is it says 'you have to put your modifications in the public domain or some other license such that we can incorporate them', roughly"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "right...I actually think the Perl license is the most sane license out there"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I used it for IF#"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "but no matter how we slice it, David's (and mine for that matter) viewpoint and Nick's are impossible to merge"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "at least as far as I can tell"
[ifwiki-editors] inky asks, "I don't get what nick wants - does he talk about it on the wiki somewhere?"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I only infer what he wants"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "which is some sort of academic attribution"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "but if we make it PD, then that limits who will edit shared articles"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "which may be okay"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says (to inky), "He said 'I want to make it possible to share the content'"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "and even byline articles can be editable, as long as people understand that their edits are a gift to the original author"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "he didn't reply to my public-domain question, so who knows"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "I don't know what that means"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "well, that was a paraphrase"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "anyway, in the last 20 or 40 that I went through, he has always had dialog or an event in the last panel"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "iladc"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says (to inky), "ok, DW asks:"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard | Why are Dave and Nick suggesting this?
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "nick says"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard | To ensure that material on ifwiki can be shared by those who want to use it. It does not have to do with venereal disease or with assigning credit. It does not have to do with propagating copyright notices everywhere, which would not happen. Offering the materials on ifwiki under by-sa 2.0 does not restrict the use of materials on ifwiki at all. It offers people strictly more than they currently have.
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "(the first sentence is bolded)"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "venereal disease? man"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "also, it seems like what this says doesn't object to PD"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "I think he has a hangup about people referring to viral licenses as 'viral'"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "that was before I mentioned the PD thing"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "well, the issue though is that any _use_ of materials under the CC license requires _some_ link back to ifwiki"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "but yeah"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "which I'm against"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "but it sounds like it is trying to make a more-restrictive license more palatable, so I assume he has some reason for wanting the more-restrictive license"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard asks (of Dave), "really?"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "hmm"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "(er, that you're against it)"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I agree with DW....I will likely add a ton of crap to the ifwiki and I don't expect every damn little phrase to be attributed to me or ifwiki"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "if it's useful to someone, use it...have fun....see ya at Miller Time"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "but"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I also want to allow copyrighted collective or byline works"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "yeah, then maybe there should just be what inky said"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "dunno if you can implement it in mediawiki though"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "I mean, you can if it's just text on the page"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "but a nice checkbox on creating the new page that says "this page will be PD" vs. "this page will be copyrighted" might be nice"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "with the understanding that that can't be changed later"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "that would be cool"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave asks, "who knows PHP and MySQL?"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "(which is why putting it into the body text isn't as good, since someone can edit it)"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "I could possibly make the fix"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "but it seems like you should get an opinion from nm first"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says (to inky), "that's a lot to ask"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "definitely"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I'm too much of a structured coder to even contemplate abusing the mediawiki code (and I've looked)"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "I assume part of why DW was so freaked was because nm presented a proposal but was already getting people to sign the cc-sa agreement without waiting for the discussion first"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "they really blew it as far I'm concerned...the functions are all embedded in pages and reference pages left and right...there is no OO structure at all"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "but that's how PHPers do it I guess"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "we should log this"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard retracts certain slightly-too-snarky comments about nm first.
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "ha ha"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave asks, "how do you do logs again?"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "it seems like the non-PD case can basically be 'post whatever copyright notice and license you want in your article, and it has to get preserved'"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "I'm not sure what that says about copying the entire wiki as a collective work full of random licenses, though"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "right...the new edit page would have a comment line and a password...only the person with that password can change that comment and that comment can include the copyright"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "you'd do ..Alex log ifwiki-license 200 #ifwiki-editors"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says (to Dave), "I don't think you have to enforce it technologically, really"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "you just put it in and say it's illegal to change it (illegal by copyright), and revert it when you do"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I'm not sure if that's practical"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "I guess technically the same thing would be true for the PD case, but it seems worth calling out"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "okay - I'm logging this and then to bed"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "like, somebody might want to make an entry that is copyright by them and anyone else who contributes to it"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "if you lock up the ability to edit the copyright notice, they can't do that"
[ifwiki-editors] buzzard says, "admittedly, I'm getting super-speculative here"
[Log finished Fri Jan 21 00:50:14 2005]

Founding Agreement Comments on ifMUD on 1-22-2005 at 1:13 CST

[Log started by Dave Sat Jan 22 02:12:26 2005]

[ifwiki-editors] Dave asks, "so no responses to my comments, proposal, or Sean's comments?"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "I have read them quickly, but have been pretty busy today"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "dw is not here...I wonder if we completely scared him off"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "To clarify further about my own proposal, it was meant to be straightforward, so we could just license everything (per article) under CC by-sa 2.0, then keep writing stuff and not have to worry about these issues any more"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "whether or not that is true of the proposal, that was the intention"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "I would agree to your PD + other licenses proposal, but I think it's complex and would be something of a pain to set up and administer"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I understood your proposal...I don't mind the license personally, but I also see how others would object to it for some content"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "I see why Sean thinks that CC is 'viral,' but it only affects works that you derive from an article"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave asks, "administer? what's to admin?"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "e.g., if I give you a piece of clay with peanuts in it, and I say 'anything you make out of this clay will have peanuts in it, even if you add other stuff,' that isn't really 'viral' in my understanding"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "every page would have either a PD declaration or a copyright clause and this would be based on a selection at page creation time"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "ok"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "the default would be PD"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "if we could agree to a single license for all articles, that would be easier"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "since we wouldn't have to build that selection-of-license part of the wiki"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "if someone wants to start an article and maintain rights to it, then they should be able to choose their own methods for doing so...even if it's as simple as a generic Title 17 Copyright"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "also, we wouldn't have to check licenses in order to combine articles"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "however, I think we want different sorts of stuff on the wiki -- the FAQ is not like the glossary entries, which are not like the SpeedIF pages, which are not like long articles about how to write IF"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "they way I see it, those articles that are copyrighted may as well be somewhere else on the web...it just may be easier for people to do the IF work on ifwiki since they can attribute so many things right there"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "so maybe different licenses make sense"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "yeah, I see the wiki as a place to do collaborative writing"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "right...and I personally feel uncomfortable telling people what they have to do"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "I know the FAQ ended up being mostly my hobbyhorse, but I had hoped that other people would contribute extensively and co-write it with me at all stages"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "so it's your right to start an article, reference the CC license, and then you have what you deside"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "desire"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "that seems good, I just didn't want to suggest something that elaborate"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "here's the deal...in my scenario, I am pretty much begging _out_ of any copyright discussion"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "I wasn't trying to drag us into such painful discussion in the first place"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "although if people have different views, it seems we need the discussion"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "you have several options...you can add things to PD pages, you can author or edit collective works, or you can start a byline, if others edit your byline, they are accepting the originator as the copyright holder"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I'm someone that feels comfortable in all scenarios"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I think someone like DW prefers to work on only PD stuff"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "that's pretty much ideal from the standpoint of allowing authors (at least those who start articles) to license stuff as they wish"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "yeah, public domain isn't bad in general"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "right...and the only stickler is that on PD pages, if you quote from a copyrighted article, you have to treat it as if it were copyrighted somewhere else"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "although I feel like the FAQ is under a fair license, and I don't feel obliged to extend further rights to people who don't want to attribute and don't want to share alike"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "hm, I'm not sure you can quote from a copyrighted article in a PD page -- at least, I don't see how"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "well, you started the FAQ, I will treat the FAQ as your copyright and you control how it's licensed...I'm perfectly happy with that"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave asks, "why not?"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "yeah, I don't mean to be a pain about the FAQ, but I sorta like the way it is licensed"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "as for copyright quotations in PD pages --"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "I didn't read anything in the Title 17 stuff that prevents someone from attributing copyrights in any forum"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "as long as the quote is attributed, that should be legal"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "you're dedicating the work to the public domain when you mark it that way"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave asks, "hmm...but you can reference copyrighted material, right?"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "you can't dedicate someone else's copyrighted work to the public domain"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "I don't think so"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave asks, "you can't even say, "for more info see blah" ?"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "if you could, thirty people could each quote one line from your copyrighted song that is thirty lines long, and each declare their articles public domain"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave asks, "okay, forget the quoteing part....what about a simple reference (hyperlink)?"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "then someone could assemble your song -- which is in the public domain line-by-line, after all -- and say that they wrote it, and publish it for profit, or whatever"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "sure, a link is fine"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "okay, then we're safe"
[ifwiki-editors] Dave says, "so PD articles can still link to copyrighted articles"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "I mean, I think it's fine"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "yeah, I should hope so"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "recap"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "sigh"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "I gotta run, but I'd be all right with just about any license (or no license) for the wiki, if people can agree"
[ifwiki-editors] inky says, "cool"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "I'm pleased with CC by-sa 2.0 for the FAQ, and I think that's a fair licnese in general, but whatever"
[ifwiki-editors] nm says, "you can post my remarks on the wiki as seems to be the custom, by the way"
[Log finished Sat Jan 22 02:12:47 2005]

Founding Agreement comments by J. Robinson Wheeler on 1-24-2005 at 2:01 CST

I don't really have much to say, but it seemed like Dave would be depressed tomorrow morning if I didn't. I usually tend to let people with strong opinions duke it out when I haven't formed one of my own yet. I was mainly starting from that "We're all friends here" attitude, but I recognize the reality of facing this situation and coming to an agreement now that I've read the discussions.

David Welbourn's explanation of why he was upset was pretty compelling on a lot of fronts, enough to make me question the creative commons license that was starting to be endorsed by everybody, including myself. Enough, even, to make me remove my endorsement of it from that page, although that also just came from realizing that wasn't going to be the agreement after all.

The public domain idea currently going around seems reasonable enough. Retaining the copyright on things I produce is actually a fairly serious issue for me, but I don't really see the need for that to be an issue with something like this wiki. In effect, it just means that I'll refrain from posting anything that I feel any doubt about in this regard. Nothing I've added so far, which isn't very much, is doubt-inducing.

---jrw 2:09am 01-24-05

On-wiki discussion

What the Portland Pattern Repository has done in this area...

The Portland Pattern Repository was the first ever wiki. They've had their own discussions about copyright and licensing. I hope this doesn't add to confusion, but I thought that looking at similar discussions that have happened before might help somewhat. Or cloud the water. I hate not having MUD access at home... --Jon 12:32, 20 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Further discussion

[The following is the original text of this talk page.]

Is there anyway to make the Talk:Founding Agreement page a Talk page again? How is anyone supposed to know how to respond without messing up the structure? -- David Welbourn 10:41, 26 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Yes. I moved the main licensing parts to the Founding Agreement article and we can now discuss things here again. However, as things get bloated, I would still move comments to their own article and index them in the Founding Agreement article. In any case, Talk away! --David Cornelson 12:34, 26 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

I do prefer the Public Domain 1 Proposal in principle. However, in the past, I've avoided copyright and copyright-like discussions, and thus I'm unclear on the implications involved. For example, will articles originally released as Public Domain stay in the public domain, even if used within another work that is not? Where does Fair Use fit into all this?

My second concern with this one is that it's, well, awkward. Letting every page have a different license sounds like it might be a potential nightmare of maintenance. Or maybe it's a non-issue?

My third concern is that this will introduce segregation into the IFWiki. Will we be happy with that? I guess this is sort of like discussing the House Rules before a game of Monopoly to minimize arguments later. (Except, of course, we started playing the game of IFWiki without any such discussions.)

I suppose I should also confess some confusion on my part as to how a wiki is related to copyright in the first place. There seems to be a general agreement that without any explicit declaration, the standard rules of copyright apply, but I'm not certain that can be taken as a given. Can the definitions of what the "work" is and who the author(s) are be made clear enough to apply to something like a wiki? I don't mean to be dense, but it does like trying to put a licensing restriction on all the different cloud formations over the city of Toronto. Or as that Portland link said, writing in the sand. -- David Welbourn 16:01, 26 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Excellent points. It's my understanding that without any declaration of rights, the wiki would be an undefined legal blackhole. It would also make the wiki admin libel if anyone decided to attack it. I think the PD1 Proposal removes any liability from the wiki administration places the burden of every single entry on the user. If you're adding Public Domain content, you are releasing your rights. If you edit something that is Public Domain, you are releasing your rights. If you add a licensed article, you are restricting others rights. But it all up front.

As for Fair Use, it is my understanding that references to copyright materials can be made as long as they are documented. So you can quote something and reference the quote with a footnote.

I think the vast majority of ifwiki will be Public Domain. Things like indexes of people or games, that's just factual information. I don't think we even want any indexes that are somehow a direct opinion of someone's (like Dave's Top 10 of 2005). I'm even reluctant to see reviews.

Where I do see licenses and copyrighted pages appearing is during the development of an article that would be easier if several people made efforts to tackle it. One person, possible the main editor, creates the initial article and an outline. Then people volunteer to tackles sections of the article and agree to whatever license is decided upon.

Although in this context, there's the possibility that a person or group could create the content, take it somewhere else, then delete it from ifwiki. I guess that's a risk, but there's no real solution to it.

I would _prefer_ all articles to be Public Domain, but I also want to foster great content, so I think we need to be flexible for those that want to develop and edit an article (and manage all the issues) and in return they get to set the copyright policy.

I think inherently people will gravitate to the most effective means of getting an article completed. This means that a byline copyrighter is likely to see almost no one edit their article. Well, someone of note would probably acquire a following and help would come because of who the main author is would have little to do with the content or the copyright.

Maintenance is simple. The ifwiki is not responsible for any content. If you write a public domain article and we lose it, too bad. If you write a licensed article and we lose it, too bad. The ifwiki is very simply a place where people can research interactive fiction. We may need to modify the licensing note on the edit page and add the textbox to allow for a readonly license, but we have a volunteer to help on that and it would be seemlessly built into the ifwiki. Of course I'll repeat...copyright owners are responsible for their own content. By placing it on ifwiki, they are giving rights to publish their works (on an ifwiki website or mirror) for as long as it remains on ifwiki.

I'm not suggesting the PD1 proposal is perfect and IANAL, but I think it covers a lot of what we care about.

--David Cornelson 21:47, 26 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

Just for the record... a lot of people had put a lot of effort into the wiki that I started for the IF Theorybook. I changed jobs and lost the test server on which I had originally run the IF Glossary; the ownership of plover.net changed hands, and the resulting down-time pretty much killed traffic on the IF Glossary. I saw David C.'s suggestion as a great way to revitalize interest in the glossary. That glossary originally started with a list of about 12 terms that I had defined on my own website, but the list of terms rapidly exploded. Of course, a wiki is a great tool for publicizing breaking news and developing archives -- something that was beyond the scope of the glossary. My basic feeling is that if an individual author wants to keep control over an individual text, then he or she should post it on his or her own site, and add a link to it from this wiki.

--Dennis G. Jerz 03:14, 28 Jan 2005 (Eastern Standard Time)

I guess I'm not making my view of ifwiki clear enough. The ifwiki is simply a public publishing area. It is not a place that is legally responsible for any content. So although I encourage anyone and everyone to add content, I also highly recommend that if it's an article you've designated as copyrighted or that has a CC-type license, you save the content on your own computer as well as on ifwiki. We will do the best we can to maintain backups and uptime, but I want to set a precedent that clearly states, the ifwiki is simply a public publishing area. By entering content, you are giving publishing rights on the current ifwiki installation and any future ifwiki mirrors unless and until you ask for copyrighted materials to be removed.

So I agree with Dennis. If you have content that you've developed on your own and is relative to ifwiki content, feel free to link to it from within ifwiki. However, the other use of ifwiki is as a collaborative writing device. So I would also ask you to feel free to use ifwiki to develop content whether you copyright it or not.

Of course I'd prefer no one do anything that's not PD at the moment. Not until we get a bit more feedback on the upcoming changes to ifwiki to accomodate the PD1 proposal.

--David Cornelson 09:37, 28 Jan 2005 (Central Standard Time)

I myself agree that all stuff I write myself on this wiki to be public domain. (If you do add a mechanism to specify the license automatically, there should also be some way to specify the default per user account; so far I just specified this on my user page.) I would also prefer all articles public domain (and to abolish copyright entirely, actually, but that is beyond the scope of this wiki), but it is not for me to say what it is; that is your job. I can only say that all of the stuff I post shall be public domain, and that my suggestion is that anything else also to be public domain, too. Esolang wiki requires all articles to be public domain, and I think that is OK; however, for IFWiki maybe some articles aren't public domain (or include copyrighted excerpts from IF games), so they are not going to be always public domain, unfortunately, I suppose. I am not sure what to do about that, but perhaps some kind of modification of the Public Domain 1 proposal to accomodate copyrighted excerpts from games. --Zzo38 (talk) 18:09, 19 January 2019 (UTC)