CZ Talk:Should we permit or disallow commercial use of CZ-originated articles?

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I wonder if the issue should be expanded a bit. Certainly the title gives the impression of a wider discussion.

As regards commercial use there are two discussions to have. One is, should the standard license of Citizendium allow commercial use? The second is, should the Citizendium Foundation sell "proprietary" licenses to commercial entities? The two are not independent. Various software companies (notably Trolltech, with their Qt library) have a business plan that includes releasing work under the GPL (which allows commercial redistribution) but also selling proprietary licenses to firms who do not wish to be held to the restrictions of the GPL.

The various aspects of this are all in place in the article but it should be made clearer at the start, no? —Joseph Rushton Wakeling 21:27, 23 March 2007 (CDT)

Assume the type of commercial use permitted or disallowed is circumscribed exactly by whatever differences are found between CC-by-sa and CC-by-nc. --Larry Sanger 21:29, 23 March 2007 (CDT)

Free for all, no one should be able to profit off it

I don't have a reason for why I believe this, but this feels "right" to me. I just think that this encyclopedia should be free for everyone and that no one should ever be able to make a profit from it. I think it should be volunteer based. The writers should be able to trace their work but since there is no money to be made, their rights to their work means very little. Articles are written in collaboration. The reward writers should receive is that they helped provide free, accurate, information to the world. In the ideal situation there could be 10 or more writers contributing to one sentence. Why do they need property rights? Why does Citizendium need property rights? Why would you sell this if it is available for free? Are you going to try to trick us later and make this a fee-to-access this encyclopedia? Are you going to sell this to Encylopedia Britanica? I think there should be a way to restrict others from profiting off our work, so they can't print it and sell it. The should be required to reference us if they use us as a source. I don't care if wikipedia uses our work. We should do whatever helps the greater good - provide quality information and have it be done in a way so that people who are skeptical of Wikipedia will respect Citizendium. -Tom Kelly (Talk) 00:08, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

I suspect Tom is expressing a very common sentiment with the first part of his post here. Particularly with the first sentence. It may not be a completely rationally conceived notion, but if it is going to be widespread among potential contributors, it certainly deserves to be taken into consideration. --Joe Quick (Talk) 01:29, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

I just don't see why the possibility of someone making a profit is a problem. It's not as though (assuming we went with the GFDL) anyone could make money (at least off rational people) by selling the information, per se, in Citizendium -- that information is available for free, so why would anyone pay for it? So the seller must be giving some other value-added -- maybe a nicely bound hardcopy, maybe organization and editing, maybe other original content, but something. As Dave Barry might say, call me a fearless defender of liberty if you must, but I don't see why we need trouble ourselves about it if other individuals want to enter into such a transaction. --Michael Ray Oliver 02:01, 30 March 2007 (CDT)

Too long

This section "There IS good reason to prefer to NOT let Wikipedia use our articles (with rebuttal to above)" is simply too long. --Larry Sanger 08:09, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

Just to check, are we allowed/encouraged to rewrite others' material here, if it's in the interests of clarifying the summary? I'm reluctant to do this without "official" approval since I don't want people to get offended. —Joseph Rushton Wakeling 12:10, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

Sure, why not? It's a wiki. --Larry Sanger 12:11, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

OK, I will try to make some substantial rewrites on Monday to better represent the structure of the debate taking place here and on the forums, and to more concisely express the important points. —Joseph Rushton Wakeling 20:14, 25 March 2007 (CDT)

CC-by-nc or CC-by-nc-sa?

It's been noted on the discussion forums that when people say "by-nc" they actually are actually using it as shorthand for the CC-by-nc-sa license, which includes the share-alike clause to ensure that derivatives cannot be distributed on different terms. In this document we should specify exactly what we mean — so what is it? —Joseph Rushton Wakeling 15:54, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

Gee, I just assumed that bc-nc meant by-nc-sa. So, yes, presumably we're talking about CC-by-nc-sa. --Larry Sanger 17:08, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

Pro Con List Commercial vs. Non

Instead of saying arguments for both, I'd rather see a pro / con list made... Then I'll read the arguments. Instead of discovering the pros and cons in the arguments. Break it down for the people who don't know the ins and outs of licenses. For example, why do we need a commercial license to allow wikipedia to use our work? Why don't we just let them copy it and edit it how they please... as long as they say that it originally came from us... like we do for wikipedia articles? What are pros and cons of GNU FDL for example? What is so bad about GNU FDL that we are opposed to adopting it? Why are we worried about people selling our work when it is available for free? Who is seriously going to pay for something when it is free online? -Tom Kelly (Talk) 16:26, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

For various legal and operational reasons, corporations will put up big bucks for stuff that is free elsewhere. --Larry Sanger 17:09, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

Can you give an example? -Tom Kelly (Talk) 17:12, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
MySQL for example, is available under the GNU GPL or a proprietary license if you want to pay for it, so the company doesn't have to pass on to their users the freedom that the GPL guarantees. --Phillip Stewart 20:41, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
Corporations may profit from it selling printed encyclopedias. -Versuri 08:55, 25 March 2007 (CDT)
Corporations may also profit by mirroring contents and adding ads to it. See and a gazillion wikipedia mirrors. Luigizanasi 21:51, 26 March 2007 (CDT)


the quote below is under this title Argument: A noncommercial license is incompatible with Wikipedia.

" Reply: There's no good reason to prefer to let Wikipedia use our articles

We are not in competition with WP, nor are we a branch of WP. What we are is a separate but similar project, with the same general goal of producing a free public encyclopedia by community writing and revision, but the specific goal of producing one with controlled expert review. There are good reasons to have both, and therefore they should both be done optimally after their different fashions. We want our project to be as good as possible, so we wish to use good attributed copyright-free material from other sources, subject to our editing and review. We also want to encourage their project to be as good as possible, and therefore want them to use whatever of our material may serve their good purposes, realizing that they will be subject to their processes of editing. "

It appears that this quote is saying it is OK for WP to edit our articles but it is under a title that says that there is NO reason to let them edit them. Why is this; what am I misreading? Does someone want to make this sequence of subtitles and then words clearer? -Tom Kelly (Talk) 17:31, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
I noticed the same. I moved things around in an attempt to clarify the logical structure. -- Jitse Niesen 21:04, 28 March 2007 (CDT)

So GFDL looks pretty good, what is wrong with it?

This is WP's license, correct?

I can't see any reason not to stick with GFDL. It's simple and will help knowledge get to the maximum number of people. -Tom Kelly (Talk) 19:06, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

Tom, if you think that no one should be able to profit off it, the license cannot be GFDL. GFDL allows commercial use. -Versuri 20:07, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
I see. So can we go GFDL until another license becomes compatible? It seems like the obvious choice to me. -Tom Kelly (Talk) 20:10, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
To become compatible, it must allow commercial use. -Versuri 20:14, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
So be it. Compatibility is more important in my mind. -Tom Kelly (Talk) 20:15, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
Be good and reliable is more important to me. -Versuri 20:27, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
I agree. The GFDL is an outdated license that is very awkward for an encyclopedia. Creative commons is way better, nc or sa, both are excellent. I would prefer sa though, since "commercial" is very ambiguous and blanket non-commercial may restrict otherwise beneficial redistributions. In my knowledge, non-commercial license means we cannot sell a paper version of Citizendium, am i right?. Yi Zhe Wu 23:18, 1 May 2007 (CDT)

Argument? "which license will help us grow faster?" and arguement (?) for 1 license?

I don't know if this should be considered or not, but wouldn't adopting GFDL help us grow faster? Or if we dual license then there is no reason for this argument, correct? Ok, so if we dual license, I would predict that the majority of our articles will end up being GFDL --just a hunch since mass numbers will start copying over files once we go public. Ok, scenario: what happens when we start a fresh file, then someone copies over a paragraph from WP?? Does that article suddenly switch from being the 2nd license back to GFDL? Won't this just get confusing? Will we end up with legal troubles when someone finds 1 sentence somewhere that is from WP originally and we have our 2nd license on the article? Is simpler better? Is a GFDL simplier, easier solution? Do the benefits of switching really outweight the cons? -Tom Kelly (Talk) 21:27, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

If the "second license" is non-commerical, the licensing cannot switch. If I start a new article in CC-nc, you simply can't add a paragraph from Wikipedia (or from a Citizendium article that uses GFDL). They have incompatible licenses (i.e., they place different requirements on future users).—Nat Krause 11:53, 25 March 2007 (CDT)
so this seems like a good reason to only have 1 license. Can you imagine how many violations we'd have if we had 2 licenses? Stick with 1 license GFDL! -Tom Kelly (Talk) 13:33, 25 March 2007 (CDT)
If you use GFDL, nobody can use anything that restricts commercial use. GFDL restricts knowledge. -Versuri 14:11, 25 March 2007 (CDT)
I don't think they restrict knowledge. WP seems to be spreading knowledge pretty well. -Tom Kelly (Talk) 14:27, 25 March 2007 (CDT)

Can you make sure these arguments are captured on the main page? Thanks! --Larry Sanger 21:40, 25 March 2007 (CDT)

I think that only a paragraph is an authentic fair use. How can you know that Wikipedia doesn't use "copyrighted" paragraphs? -Versuri 10:58, 26 March 2007 (CDT)

Reply to "Argument: Commercial use facilitates competition"

While allowing commercial use facilitates competition, it is not a necessary condition for competition. Citizendium is just the sort of competition to Wikipedia that the argument posits as a potential good down the road in case Citizendium starts making bad decisions - CZ was started because people felt that some aspects of Wikipedia were irreparable. While Wikipedia is GFDL-licensed, and thus commercial projects can, and do, make use of its content, Citizendium is non-commercial, thus proving that a non-commercial entity can overcome the financial barriers to entry. In fact, some financial resources are available only to non-commercial entities. Anthony Argyriou 12:52, 3 April 2007 (CDT)

It's a sound argument, but I don't know what the phrase "thus proving that a non-commercial entity can overcome the financial barriers to entry" is supposed to mean. The context is whether to use a licence which allows commercial use or a non-commercial licence. However, project with licences allowing commercial use are often backed by non-commercial entities, e.g., the Free Software Foundation backing the GNU project, and the Wikimedia Foundation backing WP (for the same reason, I'm finding the phrase "competitors will have the example of Citizendium as a how-to guide for obtaining those resources for non-commercial competition" rather weak).
Perhaps the text on the CZ page can be improved a bit to clarify, but probably, I'm just being stupid. -- Jitse Niesen 11:51, 6 April 2007 (CDT)

Page is getting messy

The original format of the debate is getting a bit messy. Wish I had time to clean it up--but can someone go through and add proper headings, at the very least? --Larry Sanger 00:01, 6 April 2007 (CDT)

Hello Larry — can you give me an idea of what time frame you would like the summary done by? I had intended to do some major rewrites of the page this last week to better summarise and structure the different arguments being made both here and on the forums, but work commitments have got in the way so far. :-( —Joseph Rushton Wakeling 16:48, 7 April 2007 (CDT)

Explanation of new edits

I'm going back over this page now for the first time in many months. We've got a lot of work to do...

I deleted this:

It is easier to explain and justify free content as unrestricted content. Once we start restricting content, e.g. disallowing commercial use, the grounds for free content start to unravel. Our stance will be made more difficult whenever commercial uses are shown to be socially beneficial and supportive of open sourcing (etc), yet seem to be arbitrarily restricted due to an nc license.

This is merely suggestive. It says "the grounds for free content start to unravel." Grand. How do they unravel? The argument does not explain. In fact, I find the above text very annoying, because it suggests several arguments and very lazily omits to elaborate any of them. This page must contain complete, coherent arguments in relatively "universal" agreements. --Larry Sanger 10:43, 15 September 2007 (CDT)

Here are some more deleted arguments:

If you wish that Citizendium be free for students, there is no reason for allowing commercial use. If it allows commercial use, you will never be sure that it will always be free for people. Commercial interests will always be priority.
It will always be free online at, and by being compatible with wikipedia, the content will be better faster and will attract more users to help spread the knowledge to all.
Also, if you forbid commercial use, there will be no incentive of delivering information to areas that do not have internet access. Anyone with internet access will go to (especially students).

These points, whatever their merits, are irrelevant to the argument in question. The original argument was that "commercial" is ill-defined and so messy lawsuits are in the offing. These arguments are simply irrelevant to that point. --Larry Sanger 11:58, 15 September 2007 (CDT)

A deleted argument:

Reply to both Our real competition is Wikipedia. By going commercial, it will be our system against theirs and we all know wikipedia's system is flawed. Therefore, we will eventually win out. By having commercial license we can incorporate good wikipedia information in to our CZ started articles and then make it better -- this is competition. Without a commercial license we will be competiting on 2 different tracks instead of 2 different lanes in the same track (refers to running track race). Without a commercial license, we will not be able to easily use wikipedia information because of license conflicts. We will not be able to change licenses on an article once it is started under a different license.

This is confused. First, by having a license that forbids commercial use, we ourselves don't go commercial; we're a non-profit. Perhaps this is just a semantic point, however: does "go commercial" mean "make money by selling use licenses to for-profit companies"? Second, more to the point, the argument in question presupposes that we want to make it easy for people to fork CZ. The argument above doesn't even address the merits of this argument at all. --Larry Sanger 13:27, 15 September 2007 (CDT)