Proposal:Keep the contents legal

Status (see valid statuses)

The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

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Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation

Work in progress


The Foundation should not only protect itself from legal challenges.

  • The Foundation must also help the users and the reusers to protect themselves.
  • The Foundation must also help the users have their rights respected by the reusers.

The Mission Statement of the Foundation must reflect this or some of its keywords (disseminate [contents] effectively - useful information) receive an interpretation favourable to legality.


Work in progress

  • Address how users can help themselves remain legal before or when a new wiki or a major new software is created
  • Address how users can help themselves remain legal when a partnership with an outside partner providing contents is made by the Wikimedia Foundation or one of its chapters
  • Address how users can be certain that their legal concerns are addressed when a partnership with an outside partner reusing contents is made by the Wikimedia Foundation or one of its chapters.

We need to give a definition of what we mean by accurate copyright information. As we provide files "as is" with a no-guarantee disclaimer (commons:Commons:General_disclaimer), we ought to provide the reuser with the available evidence that a file has the claimed copyright status, so that the reuser can make his own mind, his own assessment of the evidence.

So in fact most of what en:Wikipedia:Verifiability says about the verifiability of encyclopedic texts applies mutatis mutandis to the verifiability of copyright claims.

commons:COM:OTRS must define procedures to ensure that the OTRS is not only a place to store a variety of unverified claims, but a structure which makes copyright information verifiable.

  • Family photos : add a new section for family photos in commons:COM:CB, defining the requirements for the identification of the photographer and defining the requirements to ensure that all copyright owning family members agree to the free licensing release.
  • Corporate copyright ownership : (to be discussed) should not the minimal requirement be the disclosure of the photographer's name ? Should not a well-managed company keep a track of its employees' names or of its contracts with private photographers ?
  • Already published contents (books or photographs) : (to be discussed) should not the minimal requirement be the disclosure of all previous publications and (or?) a statement that the previous publication(s) was(were) non-exclusive ?

Contents created by children

  • Do we accept free licensing proposals by parents offering to sign in behalf of their children ?
My view is that we shouldn't and that we should only accept contents created by people some time ago when they were little children, making sure that they are 18 years old or older at the time they give their consent to the free license release. (or 16 : to be discussed)

Hotlinking and privacy

The commons:MediaWiki:Gadget-ChooseResolution.js gadget, which provides help to website owners wanting to hotlink pictures from Commons, should provide a link to alongside with the copyright information, so that the Californian law (and similar laws of other jurisdictions concerning privacy), is respected (post a distinctive and easily-found link : en:Online Privacy Protection Act.


  • Read this (Melanie Schlosser, "Unless Otherwise Indicated: A Survey of Copyright Statements on Digital Library Collections", College and Research Libraries", v.70(4), p. 371-385 (July 2009).)
  • My experience on Commons.
  • Remember what was said about wikiquote (I'll try to find the link).
  • The agreement between Wikimedia and a French telephone company (I'll try to find the link)

(to be expanded)

Key Questions

Draw the lines between the safe contents, the unsafe contents, and the grey zone between the two. (I'll try to draw a little graphic here)

Build consensus.

Address the concerns of the "stop copyright paranoia" group.

Potential Costs

  • Some disappointment/disapproval among some users
    • Those who don't want to protect themselves and think it is their life and no other people's business, and a fortiori, who do not want to protect others.
    • Those who thought any black and white picture is old, therefore in the Public Domain
  • The loss of the copyrighted French murals on Commons (if this was ever considered as being an asset)
  • To be discussed : should the Foundation finance totally or partially legal councel when some specific users or user groups are under legal threat ?
  • To be discussed : should the Foundation finance legal advice concerning not its own safety (I take it for granted that the Foundation will anyway seek legal advice concerning its own safety) from legal challenges, but the safety of the users, proactively, before a new project is started ?


see #Motivation


I would like to keep this proposal into category:Proposals for Foundation structure and function rather than Category:Proposals for reforming policy and governance, with the intention of defining one of the functions of the Foundation 1) as providing help or guidelines to local wikis on good local policies 2) as the main architect of the licensing policy and software developments 3) as a body signing agreements with partners concerning contents. 4) as the manager appointing the volunteers at commons:COM:OTRS.

The quality of copyright information is part of the quality of the "product", in general. So I put it into Category:Proposals for improving content quality.

Community Discussion

I put it in both categories for now. Even redefining the Foundation's functions this way is still reforming policy and governance. 18:06, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

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