Wiki submission license, credits, and policy.

Matthew East mdke at
Fri Nov 11 16:07:36 UTC 2005

On Sat, 2005-11-12 at 02:58 +1100, Jamie Jones wrote:
> On Fri, 2005-11-11 at 12:15 +0000, Matthew East wrote:
> > > > 
> > > I must read Section 4 c of
> > > differently to
> > > you.
> > > 
> > > Section 4c
> > > If you distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly
> > > digitally perform the Work or any Derivative Works or Collective Works,
> > > You must keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and provide,
> > > reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing: (i) the name of the
> > > Original Author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied,
> > > 
> > > I believe the author credits are an assertion of copyright, and should
> > > be kept intact (if of course they are in the original document).
> > 
> > You are not reading it wrongly, you are misunderstanding what a licence
> > is. That section (and the rest of the licence too) simply refers to the
> > terms on which people can copy the material from the original document.
> > The wiki documents are original documents, not derivative works, as
> > defined by the licence itself.
> OK. I understand - any document originally created on the wiki need not
> have have the attribution on it. Documents such as mine, that were not
> originally created for the wiki, and have subsequently been inserted
> into the wiki, are derivative and that clause does indeed apply.
> Is that a correct interpretation ?

Nearly there.

Documents such as yours, that were not originally created for the wiki,
and have subsequently inserted are indeed derivative, but that clause
does NOT apply: the licence of wherever you took the material from

> > > > Having said all of this I do think that there are one or two
> > > > improvements that we can make. First is to make it clearer what licences
> > > > actually apply on the wiki, perhaps by incorporating a link to the
> > > > licence on main pages such as FrontPage and UserDocumentation. Secondly,
> > > > I think we can also make it clearer that we are happy to waive the
> > > > requirement that authors are specifically attributed in any reproduction
> > > > of the document, whether copied or modified. In my opinion, this isn't
> > > > strictly necessary, for the reasons I've outlined, but it wouldn't hurt
> > > > to make this clear.
> > > 
> > > I do think it is necessary to be specific about this. Perhaps a
> > > copyright assignment similar to what the FSF uses might be useful, so
> > > that eg I have copyright on my document, when it is contributed to the
> > > wiki, I and Ubuntu both have copyright over the wiki version of the
> > > document.
> > 
> > I will work on something to clarify things. However the solution, as I
> > see it, is to find a solution that makes it clear that the wiki
> > documentation is licenced freely, rather than the authors maintaining
> > any copyright over the material. It would make sense to seek a licence
> > which requires people copying material from the wiki to attribute the
> > source in a PROPORTIONATE way, i.e. to give credit to the wiki in a way
> > which identifies the collaborative nature of the source.
> > 
> > From what you say, it sounds like you are unwilling to work on the wiki
> > without retaining some level of copyright over the work: this is not
> > what we should aim at, in my opinion, and it is not the current
> > situation either.
> I'm afraid that is a misunderstanding, I am happy to contribute to the
> wiki - I am merely seeking the upfront clarification of the terms and
> conditions of contributing. I see it like this, why sign a contract that
> you can't read first ? The documentation that I contribute (so far), I
> didn't write just for the Ubuntu wiki, but even if I had, I would have
> still asked the same question. I would rather avoid having a split in
> the location of documentation, as I don't think it is in the users bests
> interests.

To be clear: there is no contract to sign. A licence does not bind you
as author, it binds people who wish to copy your work.

> To the best of my knowledge, under my local law, unless I assign the
> copyright to someone else, I retain that copyright. Now you have stated
> here that the wiki documentation is to be considered public domain, yet
> it is not stated on the wiki (that I could find). If that is the
> ubuntu-doc policy, and it is noted in a somewhat prominent place on the
> wiki, I'm happy to continue contributing, with docs written especially
> for the wiki not needing attribution.

As I said originally, there is a decent case for arguing that people
implied grant licences and/or waive their copyright by posting to the

In any case, I am already working on a spec which is aimed at clearing
up the situation.

> For documentation that was not written especially for the Ubuntu wiki,
> that I am the copyright holder of - please advise the terms and
> conditions of acceptance.

They are determined by the licence under which you release the
documentation, not by the wiki's license.

> I'm glad that my emails have prompted the general consensus of the
> intent behind the wiki to be made more clear.

Ok, I will start a new thread for comments on the spec.

mdke at
gnupg pub 1024D/0E6B06FF
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