Debate:Should RationalWiki switch to CC-BY-SA 3.0?

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Can this debate start with a good, clear "concise" description of what such a change would actually mean, rather than sending our editors off to decipher entangled legalese at other sites? ħumanUser talk:Human 03:47, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

As I understand it, if we switch to CC-BY-SA 3.0, it means that no one has to include the full text of our license with any of our content, and we can also switch at our discretion to any other "similar" license, including the GFDL. (Armondikov's link provides a good non-"legalese" summary as well.) Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:06, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
So it's easier for people to quote us? I have no problem with that, but is that all it means? What I am asking for is a chunk of text here that explains the difference. I'm not against it, but I am against endless "follow the links to understand what we are saying" games. ħumanUser talk:Human 06:03, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't think anyone could summarize it much better than the link that was provided Wikipedia:Comparison of GFDL and CC-BY-SA, succinct, relevant to our issues and thorough. tmtoulouse 18:11, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
I read that and couldn't make heads or tails of it. Oh well. Will this make any real difference to our day-to-day OperationZ? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:47, 1 July 2009 (UTC) (sig added later)
If it doesn't effect anything we have now and it is more flexible, I would say yes. - π 01:05, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
To be honest, we have been acting like we are CC-BY-SA most of the time anyway, the main issue is we are not "big" enough for there to be any real concern one way or another about our license. But we really should get this nailed down, when we first did our copyright policy it was glanced over because it really didn't matter. But as we "grow" it starts to become more important. I, personally, strongly advocate the change for a lot of reasons. And have machinations rolling in my head for interesting things to do....anyway, if you don't particularly care the CC-BY-SA is the best bet in my opinion. tmtoulouse 01:29, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
If you think it is the best way to go, then I support it. - π 01:40, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the moar explanation. Machinations? Are you going to go head to head with Ken's Operations? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:47, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Eh, no, nothing in the way of "improving RW on the internets" or whatever. More along the lines of interesting things to do with some of the content on RW that the GFDL makes too difficult. tmtoulouse 01:52, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Pervert... ħumanUser talk:Human 02:22, 1 July 2009 (UTC)


Wikipedia has recently switched itself over to the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license from the GFDL; the Free Software Foundation specifically modified the license to allow them to do this.

Although I am neutral on the subject of what license should be used on this Wiki, and do not know the full legalities of the matter, I am starting this debate because if we are to switch licenses, we must do so immediately. The FSF has declared that any Wiki wishing to switch to CC-BY-SA 3.0 must do so by August 1 of this year. [1]

To switch or not to switch, that is the question. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 15:49, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

Can I just post this here. Seems like an okay side-by-side of the two that people can read to get informed if you're not too sure of the difference. Scarlet A.pngbomination 16:00, 23 June 2009 (UTC)


  1. I have been thinking about this myself, and glad that you brought it up. I think we should switch, we often upload material and images that are released under a creative commons license. It is actually not clear that we can really do that since the GFDL requires that any derivations of material from us be under GFDL, hence we change the licensing requirements for anyone that gets the CC material from us. The CC-BY-SA is less restrictive, and more attuned with our philosophy, and also far more compatible with the majority of copyleft material on the internet. tmtoulouse 15:55, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
  2. Well, if we plan to continue using material from Wikipedia, I don't see how we don't switch. Z3rotalk 15:58, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
"if we plan to continue using material from Wikipedia" - but we don't and never have. We write original material. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:44, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
We do pull quite a few images over, but I have never seen any text from Wikipedia outside of fair-use quote-size pieces. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:50, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. And we credit the images as required by their licenses independent of WP. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:09, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
More than once WP material has served as "starter" for articles, specially some of our lists. But regardless GFDL is a sub-optimal license for many reasons, WP not withstanding. tmtoulouse 03:25, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
  • 3.0 is easier to understand, and you don't have to include a wodge of legalese when you use stuff under it, unlike GFDL (according to this, anyway), so let's do it. Totnesmartin 07:54, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Fuck the GPL. Especially if it's responsible for Wikipedia's damnable 'fair use' policy. Fall down 18:47, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Note the absence of any other reference to "GPL" on this page. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 18:52, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Switch --The Emperor Kneel before Zod! 16:37, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
  • I agree with Fall down fuck the licence thing, Wikipedia, fair use, and what ever else is damnable. - π 04:57, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Switch if we can.--BobNot Jim 06:57, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Almost everyone else is switching, so so should RationalWiki too... --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 21:46, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Don't switch[edit]

We don't have that option[edit]

We don't have that option because our copyright page is a fuckup. It flatly states the content is licensed under the GFDL, omitting the version number and linking to the full text of version 1.2, and vitally omitting the text "Or any later version."

Because we omit the vital text, it isn't possible to consider any content on this wiki as GFDL 1.3 licensed, hence we can't possibly re-license no matter what we decide about which is better for us. A lesson in getting your ducks in a row from the outset, I guess. --JeevesMkII The gentleman's gentleman at the other site 21:26, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

I open this by admiting I know next to nothing about licensing, but I can't imagine that we cannot change license. I mean, we're a podunk little wiki, surely we can pull this off if so desired. Z3rotalk 21:32, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Sure, we could try, but that would involve polling everyone who has ever contributed, including the various vandals, TK, Jinxy-poos, Kendoll. Everyone. Do you think we'll get universal agreement? --JeevesMkII The gentleman's gentleman at the other site 21:35, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Is it really that hard? As I said, I don't know much, but are they really that complicated and difficult? Z3rotalk 21:51, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I disagree with this assessment, the wording that is important is the wording under RationalWiki:Copyrights not the footer at the bottom of pages. That page does not specify a version number allowing us to select 1.3 and as such switch to CC-BY-SA if we choose. tmtoulouse 22:02, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Quoting the relevant portion of the copyright "If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation." tmtoulouse 22:07, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I think we do, unfortunately. Both by hyperlink from the copyrights page, and at the bottom of every other page on the wiki, both explicitly point to v1.2. --JeevesMkII The gentleman's gentleman at the other site 22:09, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I disagree that linking to a version explicitly states that we are endorsing only that version. The only issue for me is whether our sites expressly laid out copyright scheme supersedes the notated version in the footer. To me our explicitly defined copyright page is the "true" source for our copyright. tmtoulouse 22:12, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't disagree, but the problem is that page is a complete fuck up. It fails to include watertight text stating the license, version and the option to upgrade to any later version. It does, however state that the content is licensed under the GFDL, linking to the text of version 1.2. It may have been our intention that any later version could have been used, but that's not what we ended up saying. There is enough serious doubt here that if we decided to re-license and some fuckwit like TK decided to take issue with it, he has a good case to take you to court over it. --JeevesMkII The gentleman's gentleman at the other site 22:20, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I think we are on pretty good ground, our explicitly defined copyright page does not include a version number, the GFDL specifically states that not stating a version number means any license can apply. I would be comfortable taking that to court, and I would be the one that would have to. So meta issues aside, what should we license under if this was not an issue? tmtoulouse 22:27, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Hrm, on your head be it. At the risk of straying in to the territory of giving illegal legal advice (something this post should not be interpreted as!), I should point out that he doesn't actually have to win to kill RW. Our hypothetical attacker could almost certainly seek and get injunctive relief while the matter was settled. He could also almost certainly force you to attend in a US court of his choosing, another thing we fucked up on in the copyrights page. Also, you personally as the distributor of the work would be personally liable for any damages and court costs awarded if he did win. --JeevesMkII The gentleman's gentleman at the other site 22:35, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I must say that 1) the server is in Canada, so TK (or anyone) probably won't get satisfaction from their local district court, and 2) the plaintiff has to hire a lawyer/get a lawyer to go along with their time-wasting scheme. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:43, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
I submit that we do have the option to switch, for these reasons:
  1. The GFDL requires that the full text of the license be included with the licensed document. If including (or linking to) the text prohibited an updated version from being used, nobody could switch to any newer version, ever. The "Copyrights" page does not specify a version, so we are clear.
  2. Precedent: Wikipedia. They always had a link to the license text, and they were able to change versions. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:24, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
I have now changed the footer text to point to the copyrights page and changed our license text to version 1.3. The editing contract at MediaWiki:Edittools stipulated that content is released under "1.2 or later" (I changed it to 1.3), and the license option in LocalSettings.php or wherever should also be made consistent with that. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:54, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Can we edit the generic page footer so it actually links to RationalWiki:Copyrights? ħumanUser talk:Human 19:20, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I tried that, but the Wiki markup does not work in that context. UPDATE: However, it would appear that HTML markup does. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:33, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Thanks! ħumanUser talk:Human 19:44, 27 June 2009 (UTC)