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CZ:Should we use GFDL or CC-by-sa for CZ-originated articles?

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Policy argument summary started March 26, 2007

The issue explained neutrally

At issue is the question whether the GFDL licence should be used for articles originating on Citizendium.

Affirmative: use only GFDL

To maintain compabitility with Wikipedia it is by far easiest to use GFDL throughout because it is the license Wikipedia uses for all its text.

1. Having 1 license is simpler and "simple is better". If you know how to take a multiple choice test, the answer is often the one worded in the simplest form. In an argument, the person with the most simple, concise argument often wins. Simpler is easier to work with. Using GFDL would keep our licensing issues simple.

  • "Simpler is better" is...simplistic. Complex issues are not best answered with simplistic answers, but those that broadly take all factors into consideration. Besides, how simple is it when I want to distribute 5000 copies of a one-page CZ article under the GFDL? Each copy has to have two additional pages attached, bearing the entire GFDL license, tripling my cost. That's hardly "free", and nine times out of ten, I will simply scoff at such a ridiculous requirement and seek an alternate source, even a less costly copyrighted source I can use by permission. By contrast, under a Creative Commons, the entire three sentence requirement will fit easily into the footer of just the one page.

2. People around the world are familiar with the concept of Wikipedia and have some idea of how their licensing works; we won't have to re-educate the masses.

  • Most people around the world are clueless about the GFDL, and the more they become educated about it the more they realize it is a monstrosity compared to Creative Commons licenses, which are much more widely known and understood (and understandable) than the GFDL.

3. You'll confuse and frustrate your users. Very few people (% of total # of people) actually read all of the policies at Wikipedia and I'm sure that if we grow big enough, few will read all of the policies here. Users hear that they can copy their articles over from Wikipedia, but if the article already exists under a different license, they cannot. Having GFDL would eliminate this problem.

  • If from Wikipedia, check the box. If not, don't. If you wrote it all at WP, just leave a note on talk. How is that difficult??

4.Can't add Wikipedia phrases to an article started under a different license. Having GFDL would eliminate this problem.

  • For articles begun under differing licenses, paraphrase sentences. To repeat, paraphrase sentences from articles originating from different licenses.

5.An article that has a similar cadence or underlying structure to a wikipedia article and is under a different license is possibly illegal. Many of our articles have similar cadence and structure to Wikipedia articles. (Please modify if this argument is not fully correct). Please see:

  • Britannica could make the same argument to WP. One cannot copyright cadence. Ask a poet. Cadence and structure, and even minimal copying, would all under de minimus.

6.Won't be able to merge or move articles easily, etc. Articles under separate licenses will not be compatible with each other. If we use GFDL for Wikipedia-originating articles and another license for CZ-originating articles then we will be unable to move content between those two licenses. Moving paragraphs between articles is frequently a very useful natural thing to do when working with a wiki, for example when merging articles. Making it impossible to do this will frustrate and confuse editors not interested in subtle legal issues. Having GFDL would eliminate this problem.

  • Indeed, many Wikipedians are frothing out the mouth at the chance to cannibalize CZ articles. See this list of their quotes, perhaps the most succinct being the following: "A larger number of lurkers from Wikipedia will, however, peruse the newly created articles on Citizendium and scavenge them. Given the public profile of Wikipedia, readers are far more likely to find the articles on Wikipedia than where they are originally posted, and Citizendium editors will be left wondering what they are working for and why".[1] On the other hand, the vast majority of Citizendium will find it a very unnatural thing to want to merge original content in with WP-sourced material.

7.Monitoring which articles originate or have any piece, word, cadence, or phrase from wikipedia will be difficult. It will be difficult to monitor when a line has come from wikipedia. We have no easy way to compare the articles and once we start having thousands and thousands of edits per day, one line or even a couple words could be added to an article of a different license and violate a license policy. We already have articles "slipping through" the Big CleanUp and are not getting "checked" as "from Wikipedia." This will continue to challenge us. Having GFDL would eliminate this problem.

  • Not according to the GFDL. Besides, a bot is already in early alpha that could handle this. Several could be let loose to do their task 24/7 365 days a year.

8.Take a poll - People care more about the information than who is profiting off the information. If you get another license to prevent some articles from being used commercially, it will be a headache and the majority of people probably don't care as long as they get the information one way or another.

9.Having two licenses is one more reason for people at Wikipedia not to join Citizendium.

  • Quite on the contrary, it is compatibility of licenses that is one of the main reasons articulated by Wikipedians themselves for NOT joining Citizendium. One example: "The Citizendium is there awaiting your brilliant efforts. You could spend there creatively all the efforts you spend here fighting trolls, casting pearls before the swine." - Bypd 07:55, 8 April 2007 (UTC) "Sure, the brilliant and academic will be among themselves, and that's how they'll stay.... If they do turn out a number of decent articles -- hey, we can go over there and copy-paste them here, the license being compatible :) - dab 20:16, 8 April 2007 (UTC)[2] Of course, some Wikipedians are here at CZ, trying to influence policy to enable the cannibalizing of the best of CZ into WP, where their first loyalty lies.

10.The pros of sharing Wikipedias information, in terms of information for Citizendium, outweigh the cons

  • Anyone can begin a CZ article sourced from a WP one, and improve it. We should expect that such articles will make up the bulk of CZ's corpus. In each and every instance, WP is welcome to take back that material. That is completely fair, give and take. However, we cannot expect that WP will improve CZ original articles such that we'd want to import them back. That would be take with no give. The sharing between the two should be fair, not lopsided to WP.

11.CZ's ideology will outweigh the negatives of content sharing

  • The importance of CZ ideology will be co-opted by full and complete content sharing. We need a percentage of GFDL-incompatible original articles.

12.possibly help save us from legal problems if someone unchecks the from wikipedia box. While we'll always have to recognize WP from any article that came from there, having 1 license may help with this problem.

  • Not according to the GFDL. Besides, per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, WP could not go after CZ for a CZ user individually adding content from WP, and neither could CZ go after WP. WP could only go after the individual user--unless of course we are informed about a problem by WP and take no action. That "Content is from Wikipedia?" tick-box is plain as day and there for a reason, after all. If that were not enough, consider The Doctrine of Unclean Hands. No one could possibly believe WP will have clean hands in this regard toward CZ. All CZ would have to do is show proof of one instance where WP hosted CZ content without attributing it and the lawsuit would be thrown out. CZ and WP basically already have an unspoken agreement to each do their best to attribute each other's material and not sue each other over the matter, because neither can be completely sure of having fully clean hands in the matter.

13. This last reason is emotionally challenging but something that is important to consider. If Citizendium fails, a GFDL license would allow our articles to be used by Wikipedia so that contributors would not feel like their time was totally wasted and their contributions amounted to nothing. However, think success, not failure.

  • I am sure we can find several better, non-dysfunctional homes for the content, where it will not degrade over time!

Negative: use CC-BY-SA

Please separate this discussion into discrete arguments

The GFDL is an old clunky licence which was never really intended for something like an encyclopedia. It requires redistributors to jump through annoying hoops to use content. CC-BY-SA is more flexible and more easily understood.

item - pinning our license choice to WP's license choice will allow equitable access to WP content, but also will mean unnecessarily burdensome restrictions on homemade content, eg no NC and 'by permission' in accordance with GFDL 'libre' principles.

item - to restrict NC and 'by permission' content in the name of freedom, however defined, seems rather illogical

item - The 'two cultures' argument is unnecessarily either/or (confrontational) in nature and therefore not in accord with reality. Lawrence Lessig seems to be nearing that viewpoint in his essay 'On the economies of culture'

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