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Messages - nslater

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Wiki / Re: Copyright of text: CC, GDL, None?
« on: 31 March, 2010, 02:53:33 PM »
I thought I should further make it explicit that if you end up in the situation where you are unable to license the wiki because it was left too late - not only could users be issued take-down notices by other users, but you could be issued take-down notices by your users. As far as I know, any copyright holder (i.e. contributor) can walk away and demand the removal of their contributions, and potentially, any derivative works; i.e. subsequent edits. Thorny, thorny stuff.

Wiki / Re: Copyright of text: CC, GDL, None?
« on: 31 March, 2010, 02:46:35 PM »
You're going to run into problems unless you sort out the legal side of this immediately.

If a body of work has no license, and there are multiple contributors, then the copyright for that work is held collectively by every single party involved. The only exception would be if every contributor did the work under the employ of a single organisation that had reasonable legal claim to the work done. I presume this isn't the case here.

The problem arises when you wish to license a body of work with multiple contributors. Copyright cannot be retroactively changed without the agreement of each party.  If you wish to apply a license to an unlicensed work, or change the license of a licensed work - you must get the permission from every single contributor to that work.

For you, that means that unless you force contributors to agree to a license or a waiver at the point of contribution, you will never be able to license the wiki, without contacting every single person who ever made an edit. As you can probably imagine, the longer you leave that, the harder it will get.

You may remember when Wikipedia switched from the GFDL to a Creative Commons license. How did they do this, then, if you cannot relicense a collective work without contacting each collaborator? Well, they were pretty crafty about it. They actually got the FSF to add a new condition to the GFDL saying that work licensed under it could be re-licensed to a Creative Commons license. As the original GFDL also included a clause saying that new versions of the GFDL could supersede old versions, they were provided with a legal path to re-license.

As this is a community project, and like Wikipedia, I strongly recommend you choose a permissive license like the CC-BY or CC-BY-SA.

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