2004-05-24

So, I've noticed a tendency on CommunityWiki to mark contributions to the wiki as PrimarilyPublicDomain.

I have no particular beef with PPD, but I do find the idea that different people on a wiki can license their contributions in different ways kind of discomforting. I see two problem places:

  • When someone writes on a page, This page is PrimarilyPublicDomain. What does that mean for me, the next person who edits the page? If I modify it, is the modified version PPD? If I make ThreadMode comments, do those have to be PPD? If I don't want my work to be PPD, but rather under the CommunityWikiLicense, do I need to take out the PPD disclaimer?

  • When someone says on their homepage, Unless otherwise noted, my contributions to this wiki are PrimarilyPublicDomain. What contributions are those? ThreadMode comments? DocumentMode new pages? What happens after the pages are changed? What happens when you edit a page that was created by someone who didn't follow the PPD deal? Exactly what is PPD on a page?

I guess principally I wonder what the value of personal licenses are for people. I couldn't see myself reusing any content on a wiki that's multiply licensed under strange personal agreements -- could you? The AuthorshipModel in wiki is just too convoluted. I'd love to see a couple of use cases from the people who mark pages or their contributions as PPD.

It also seems to me to be a vote of no confidence in the CommunityWikiLicense, which, let's face it, is pretty complicated to begin with.

Maybe we should move this to "CommunityWikiLicenseDiscussionContinued?," since "CommunityWikiLicenseDiscussion" is getting pretty full. ;) Or just erase everything on the old CommunityWikiLicenseDiscussion page.

I agree that it's a problem. I wish we were just PPD across the board. I feel that people who are visiting can't decypher whether I wrote the DocumentMode of something I wrote or not. Thus my "Everything I write is PPD" is effectively useless.

I've just accepted this as a cost of my talking here. What I write is basically, for all effective purposes, CC-SA, GFDL, or Meatball. If someone makes a PD wiki, they basically can't copy my text from here.

That said, I don't find the triple licensing of the CommunityWikiLicense to be all that confusing. You can pick between three licenses, CC-SA, GFDL, or Meatball. Seems simple to me.

i should probably copy the bit i wrote about that on meatball over to my namepage here. really all i am saying with my PD notice is that i don't concern myself with my own copyright on wikis, that i don't want to worry about it, don't want to talk about it endlessly, don't want to defend it, don't want to attach conditions to it -- i just want to give my stuff to the corpus of human knowledge. as lion said, it's not really helpful unless somebody can figure out which text i wrote, and i am not going to indicate that on each page (i think that would feel slightly rude to me, to go against CW's stated license). i am using the notice on my namepage mainly as a flag to indicate my attitude about text i write.

This new thing that we are about to build - a wiiide we -, this new thingy is the antithesis of "license". It is open. It has no license. You can not describe it in terms of license. It is to big for a tiny word like "license" and the tiny little world that "license" comes from. The new thingy is too big for it. Go on to try please, but you will fail. It's good to fail, lesson learned, start again. Fail again. And every time you learn your lesson. That's how big and how open it is. :)

license describes restriction. "We" strive towards openess and we make good progress doing so. We are moving out of any license. It would be too early to declare commonly that we have no license, that our content is unlicesed and thus open. But we can think about it.

I think it is tricky to enthusiastically re-interpret words in usage. It makes it a lot harder to communicate cleary. Copyright gives authors certain rights. Including the right to control the content in certain specific ways. An author can use a license to give other people some or all of these rights as well. It is only the license that can set the content free. Per default, copyright protects content. Without a license, it is closed. With a license it can be open.

I think Mattis is saying, "Why do we have to think about licenses? We are just Open! Free! Forget this license business. We shouldn't have to argue about that."

I think he's basically arguing for (in license-talk-language) PPD.

I have heard that there is no real concept of the "PublicDomain" in the legal world. I hve heard that there is talk of officially recognizing a PublicDomain, that people can put their expressions and things into.

If it is not a legally defined territory, I believe we can use it. I believe we can say, "This is PublicDomain."

Our intention is clear, our notions are clear.

I learned that- you can make a contract with your neighbor on a piece of paper. You can say, in PlainTalk, "I'll do X for so-and-so, and so-and-so will do Y for me." You don't actually (legally) have to deal with pesky edge cases. And you don't have to use weird latin to write your contract out. It is a legally binding contract. I don't think that the legal community likes this, but I have heard that this is totally legal.

If the PublicDomain is not well defined, but our intentions are clear, I think we can just do it.

Yes, contracts don't have to be complex at all. Only lawyers like that. A friend of mine always advises against overregulating things. He thinks, for example, that often people spend too much time on licenses. Often, he claims, the preamble of these licenses would be quite enough. In Switzerland, for example, the intent of a contract will always be considered, no matter what the exact wording is. And I think this is good practice.

As for an "official" public domain: I remember being at a meeting where people considered starting an initiative to add such a concept to the Swiss constitution (since an initiative can only amend the constitution, not legislate). My friend and I asked them: What would this do, except provide for an "official" license? The primarily public domain license or something along these terms is just as good. In Switzerland, there are some rights you cannot give away using a license (such as the right to not be defamed by derived works and the right to be named the original author), but that wouldn't change with the addition of an official "public domain" to the legal framework.

Thus, adding "public domain" to the legal framework would just make it a tiny bit easier to free your text from all copyright restrictions. PPD is just as good.

One "use-case", if you can call it that, is to create a list of people who have marked their content as PPD, then use an automated tool to identify text on the wiki as PPD (I made such a script and posted it here, but now I can't find it). So it is possible to identify SOME of the freed text.

Hm... lemme see, what I understand about copyright could be written on the head of a pin. I do know that intuitively, I expect the information I add in here, or absorb here could only be done within a group context, and I want the information to be free for other people to use. I guess I dunno... I copied the PPD quote from Pir and Lion, since they seemed to express ideas that I have agreed with. I didn't understand the license, or what my responsibility was here.

If I didn't write anything on my own page, will it default to the licence on the bottom of every page? That's fine. I just want things to be easy. I naively trust that you have spent more time thinking about this, with more experience than myself.

I didn't mean to make a vote of no-confidence in the CW licence. I'll delete the PPD, since I don't think rocking the boat is what i meant.

Define external redirect: CommunityWikiLicenseDiscussionContinued

EditNearLinks: PrimarilyPublicDomain DocumentMode

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