Forum:Do we care about copyright licences?

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This is a follow-on from RationalWiki:Saloon_bar#Free_vs_free. We seem to be in pretty much three camps with regard to copyright.

  1. It's legal if I think it is
  2. Who cares?
  3. Let's have lots of licences

It wouldn't be a bad idea if we could reach some kind of basic consensus to stop the arguments. I'd suggest leaving it down to individuals when it comes to talk pages and fun, but we should have higher standards in mainspace. Doesn't mean that everything must have a tedious thirty-line licence attached, but we really should not end up in the situation where we're comfortable stealing someone else's work. Piracy for reasons of comedy is fun, but piracy because we're too lazy or cheap to create or pay for something is not. --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 11:22, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

We're not too lazy or cheap to create of pay for something. We're too lazy to select a license from a dropdown box and type in some basic information, such as an url from where we got the image. -- Nx / talk 11:30, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
We have to care. Copyright and trademark laws are a minefield and in order to maintain them the owners have to enforce them. We don't want to be on the receiving end of kind of law suit that brings. - π 11:34, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Like someone's going to bother with a small unimportant website like this. -- Nx / talk 11:35, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
And the recording industry would sue an 80 year old women either, because her grandchildren downloaded a few mp3s. - π 11:38, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, because uploading freely available images from other websites is like downloading mp3s that you would normally have to pay for. -- Nx / talk 11:39, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I was think more the "fair use" stuff, but even creative commons has to defend its licenses. - π 11:40, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Those are also freely available, as in you don't have to pay for them. -- Nx / talk 11:41, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I was doing the "OCD" thing with the images partially because I didn't fancy risking the site being affected by legal claims. Realistically though it's more a moral issue, since we're not likely to attract much attention unless we do something pretty sodding silly, such as hosting ripped movies. The biggest risk is that copyright law is used by someone unhappy with what we're written, such as in the case of the loony alleged buffy bishop who went so far as to send Trent a mail. I'm really leaning towards a more laid-back thing, at least if it's in talk or fun. I think we have to be pragmatic and accept that we're somewhere in between Wikipedia and Uncyclopedia.--ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 11:42, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
The template system worked well, the only problem was that people didn't want to familiarize themselves with it. If people upload it with the wrong template, they would have normally uploaded it with the wrong justification any way. - π 11:45, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
The template system didn't work well if people weren't correctly using it. How about if we keep the current bare bones upload thing, but a few of us try to keep an eye on the images for anything that's particularly iffy? --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 12:08, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Why would you waste your time to fix things for people who are too lazy to copypaste a url and select an option from a dropdown box? -- Nx / talk 12:12, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Why do you delete things when only one person complains? - π 12:15, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
(EC)I liked the template drop menu, that was good and helpful. The auto load summary was nice, but not always useful, could we maybe have that placed in by the character insert like the wigo poll thing, along with the fairuse template which is always a necessary pain? And maybe we need a general, free but unlicensed, template. - π 12:15, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Regarding having to care because of impending lawsuits, the risk is exaggerated. An assertion of copyright ownership & take-down request would always come before any legal action, & we can then respond to it appropriately, as we have done in the cases where this has happened. This works internally as well: when someone uploads something that is a flagrant copyright infringement, they are usually challenged by another editor, the same as if they post something plagiarised in an article or essay. I like the bare-bones upload form. I don't mind whether the template drop down menu is there, but it shouldn't be mandatory & I think we should decommission the bots that put templates up on every image that doesn't have one. WėąṣėḷőįďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 12:24, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
It is not a bot, it is a default. It us to be {{unknown}} and was changed to {{nolicence}}, because of some reason. - π 12:30, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Because no license was selected from the dropdown box. -- Nx / talk 12:31, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
But that doesn't mean no license is given. It's a lot easier to type "cc by sa" or "pd" and paste in a url than to find the right license on that long list. Most images I've seen with that "nolicense" thing are clearly identified in the initial upload comments. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:18, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
Tautological, but I will accept that. - π 12:32, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

(undent) Weasel's approach is pretty much how things work right now, and it's likely the most practical way to do it. Nx, the reason I look at licences is probably the same reason why some people spend most of their editing time proofreading and adding links. Trying to be helpful, and it's something to do when there's nothing else going on. Also, licences are interesting. --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 12:39, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Yeah, and I should've thanked you for your work, but now I'm just going to say: don't waste your time, noone cares, and they'll just look down on you for being so anal-retentive about an unimportant issue. -- Nx / talk 12:42, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Ta, you did in the form of a half eaten cookie. I'm not paying much attention anyway to stuff that's outside of mainspace. It would be a bit anal to rip out the smileys and the other junk. --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 12:57, 6 March 2010 (UTC)


I propose we blank {{Nolicense}} to solve the problem of thousands of images being blemished by an ugly red box. -- Nx / talk 12:46, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Support. WėąṣėḷőįďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 12:48, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Will you leave the catting? - π 12:47, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Why? It becomes completely unnecessary, since the template adds it. -- Nx / talk 12:47, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
So we can sort through the images. - π 12:49, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd like to keep the cat. Sorting through images is oddly relaxing, and most of the time it's pretty easy to just add a licence without having to bother anyone else. --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 12:58, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Why we need to be moral[edit]

As has been pointed out previously the issue at the moment is more moral than legal. But the moral argument is important for a number of reasons: It is better to be moral than non-moral (OK, that's just an assertion, but that argument is for a different place); being moral gives us the moral high-ground with respect to other wiki projects which will remain unnamed; if we respect copyright we will not be forced into the occasional humiliating climb-down if our usage certain items is challenged.

However that does not mean that the moral argument will always be the most important. This site sometimes is growing rapidly - what will happen if we really start to make the big-time and we are loaded with copyright violations? We would then be subject to a lot more take-down notices - and subsequent damage to our credibility - than if we had been legal from the beginning. So let's be legal.--BobIt's windy! 13:06, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree. We don't have to be completely restrictive, but it helps if we show an intent to do things the right way. We don't tolerate plagiarism in articles, but it seems overly pedantic to apply the same criteria to a talk page. I think the same approach can be applied to files, since we go some way to satisfying the moral side of things by showing good intentions. Let's keep the existing template and cat, and just keep an eye on things. As Weasel said, copyright claims are normally preceded by a take-down request, and we've in the past responded quite well to these things. Mexican bandits and people uploading teh internets to RW tend to get spotted anyway, since we've a lot of people here who enjoy any opportunity to point out how correct they are about something, normally involving someone else being wrong. --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 13:23, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Fair Use[edit]

This site needs to care about legalities. One lawsuit over a registered copyright could bankrupt the site owner(assuming he not really rich). However, the fair use provisions probably cover a lot of stuff here under the comment and eduction provisions. I am a member on several computer graphic and art sites. We send DMCA notices all the time, and to the hosting and ISP companies too. Things like corporate logos, sports team logos are particularly sensitive under trademark law. There is also the "right of publication" for celebrities and other private individuals. POliticians are not covered by that. Hamster (talk) 15:22, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

But DMCAs don't cost anything to respond to, and they are always the first step. I don't think we rely on fair use much except to quote CP. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:21, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

It's the law.[edit]

That should be the start and end of this discussion--especially considering it's Trent, and not me or NX or "we" or anybody else who will have to answer to the law--or some douchebag with a law degree and a cheap suit--Hi, Nutty! should somebody decide they don't like us using their property without permission. And let me rant for a second about something that has pissed me off for a while: the amateur lawyering that happens around net piracy/copyright vio. My favourite is this justification: "Yeah, I downloaded that Metallica album illegally, but by playing the music I'll spread awareness of the band so I'm doing them a favour/they make it up in concert ticket revenues/they make so little off of CDs as compared to Sony records, it doesn't matter anyway." So when exactly did you become Metallica's publicity manager/tour agent/financial advisor? Shut up and stop trying to justify theft with high-minded bullshit. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 15:35, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

I support this message. And I wear bespoke suits from Savile Row, for the record. Our first and foremost goal as crats, despite being unwritten, is to take all reasonable measures to protect Trent and the site so that RW can continue unencumbered by legal hassles, whether or not they're frivolous. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 16:30, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Basically there are several issues here:
  1. Images (such as smileys or lolcat images) which have an unknown author and license, e.g. File:Cat dance.jpg. Contrary to what Weaseloid thinks, the default state is that something is copyrighted and you may not reproduce it or use it. And I imagine you wouldn't be happy if you found a funny/embarrassing image of yours all over the internets. Smileys are of course probably meant by their author to be essentially pd, although that's not necessarily true, what if a smiley is part of a proprietary product and you're not allowed to use it somewhere else? e.g. this one is used in a usually virus-ridden "free smiley pack! Download NOW!" and is probably not freely redistributable.
  2. We like this gif from the Simpsons and would like to use it (to illustrate CP's plagiarism no less, oh the irony), i.e. File:Paste.gif. Real hard to come up with a valid fair use justification here. Another example: File:Anticreation familyguy.jpg
  3. Uploading stuff from Commons (using the upload from url feature, which makes it too easy, so I've disabled it again) + lazyness = short edit comment "stolen from wikipedia" which maybe contains an url to the original (e.g. here the uploader didn't even bother to include an url to the original, although since this image is PD, it wasn't required). This is, technically, a violation of the Creative Commons Attribution license. I have posted excepts from the license on the Saloon bar thread, and although IANAL, it seems to me that you MUST:
    • Specify the license and link to the license's page on Our {{Cc-by}} template does that.
    • Specify the original title, author, url etc. (the attribution part)
Of these, number two is the most serious, and could get us in trouble. The solution for number three is trivial, but some people think it's just bureaucratic redtape. -- Nx / talk 18:15, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
An easy solution would be to severely restrict upload rights. Give them only to people who have proven that they care about the law and promise to source the images properly. If they upload something without doing it, strip the upload rights away. The ability to upload an image isn't a human right and is essentially just an extension - asking people to use it responsibly isn't too much of an ask. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 18:04, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Problem is we're talking about senior admins here, who are too lazy to put up a license tag (the Cc licenses require that you link to the license, so if you don't put up a tag or don't manually include the link, you are technically violating the license). -- Nx / talk 18:29, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
This is probably one of those things that won't get any serious attention unless something very bad happens. i.e. Trent and possibly the uploader being served. This is fairly unlikely. In the meantime I don't see anything else to do other than manually flag images for deletion if they're lacking a tag/suitable attribution. Hopefully over time habits will change, but it'll be an almighty hiss fit if things became strict overnight. I agree with Arm. It's not a lot to ask. --ConcernedresidentAsk me about your mother 18:46, 17 March 2010 (UTC)