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Comment: Todo: handle pages that have a specific license (=Dual license them).
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 * See also: wikipedia's [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:PD-self PD-self tag] and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain Public_domain page] ; wikimedia's [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Copyright_tag Copyright_tag] ;
 * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Granting_work_into_the_public_domain
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 * See also: [http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/columns/promoting_public_domain_creative_commons_cc0_initiative an article] ; [http://sciencecommons.org/weblog/archives/2008/09/02/progress-on-the-cc0-public-domain-waiver/ progress on CC0] ; wikipedia's [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:Cc-zero Cc-zero tag] ; Efforts [http://wiki.creativecommons.org/CC0_Feedback similar to CC0]

This page is an overview for choosing a new license for wiki.debian.org.

  • ?TableOfContents(2)


wiki specific constraints

  • As opposed to usual documents, wiki pages are usually made of lots of tiny contribution. Therefore the traditional notion of author probably doesn't apply as usually.

  • Some content should be moved to official material (website, packages, manuals, etc..) once it's mature. Preserving the list of contributors in the new documentation isn't always possible/practical (copyright to 10, 20, or 50 names ?).
  • Wiki have limited space to list copyright holders (when importing/exporting from/to other wikis).
  • Pages are sometimes merged, so we can't have different license for different pages.

License : Main alternatives

We want a license that permit to merge the wiki page in any Debian material (package, website, manual...). There are multiple alternative, but they can be sorted in three families

  1. Keep traditional copyright attribution to page contributors. (i.e apply one or more DFSG license, then list every contributors in the copyright section of the target document).
  2. Do copyright attribution to Debian Wiki. (i.e apply one or more DFSG license. Then, derived work should cite the URL of the original wiki). Creative common's [#cc-by] >= 3.0 is supposed to be particularly well suited for that.

    1. variant : add a statement that allow anybody to relicense the work under any DFSG compatible license, but (which make it practical to reuse content anywhere). ?BRBUT ?AndreasBarth pointed that The license "the author will pay anyone who uses the text 100 Euro upon request" seems DFSG-free.

  3. Public Domain like (i.e Allow anybody to reuse the work, without license incompatibility issue). Creative commons' [#CC0] is supposed to be well suited for that. But it doesn't address the problem of imported documents.

License : Desired features

This table summarize the desired features for the new license.



















[#Allow Derivative]






[#Allow commercial]



















Redistribution :

Allow to redistribute the content in various forms (raw, html, pdf, encrypted...) and on various media (packages, cd). This feature is Required.


Allow Modification :

Allow modification by others (add and remove). This feature is Required.


Allow derivative works :

Allow Debian derivative distribution to use the document. Allow to reuse content in package Documentation, etc. This feature is Required.


Allow commercial use :

Allow commercial Debian derivative to reuse the material. This feature is Required.

  • Debian has commercial derivatives. we want those distribution to be allowed to use our documentation.
  • ?Anchor(Attribution)

    Attribution / Give credits :

    Not required, and actually _not_ wanted.

  • Even thought we actually want to give credits / attribute a work to it's original author, I believe it isn't possible to guarantee that all work attribution will be preserved over time. Furthermore, the actual name of the author isn't always known). Finally the number of contributors for a given page can make it .

  • ?Anchor(Share_Alike)

    Share Alike :

    Preserve the license on copies. This feature is wanted.

  • However this doesn't apply except for [#PD PD] where it doesn't apply.
  • Proposed licenses

    Here are some proposed licenses for the wiki.


    GFDL 1.2

    [http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/fdl.html GFDL] 1.2 License ([wiki:DFSGLicenses Debian DFSG], [wiki:GNU_Free_Documentation_License Wikipedia])

    Attribution :
    The GFDL really focus on attribution, which is a feature we don't want that much.
  • http://wikitravel.org/en/Wikitravel_talk:Why_Wikitravel_isn%27t_GFDL

  • ?Anchor(MIT)


    [http://www.opensource.org/licenses/mit-license.php MIT] License ([wiki:DFSGLicenses Debian DFSG], [wiki:MIT_License Wikipedia])

    Attribution enforced :

    Copyright (c) <year> <copyright holders> [..] The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies However it also says or substantial portions of the Software.



    [http://www.opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.php BSD] License ([http://www.freebsd.org/copyright/freebsd-doc-license.html FreeBSD] copy, [wiki:?DFSGLicenses# Debian DFSG], [wiki:BSD_licenses Wikipedia]).

    Attribution enforced :

    Copyright (c) <YEAR>, <OWNER> ; All rights reserved. [..] Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

    ?Anchor(public-domain) ?Anchor(PD)

    Public Domain

    Public domain interpretation : [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/ Creative Commons], [wiki:Public_domain Wikipedia].

    Implicit public domain don't allow duplication :

    [..] The distribution of many types of Internet postings (particularly Usenet articles and messages sent to electronic mailing lists) inherently involves duplication. The act of posting such a work can therefore be taken to imply consent to a certain amount of copying, as dictated by the technical details of the manner of distribution. However, it does not imply total waiver of copyright.([http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain#.28Almost.29_everything_written_down_is_copyrighted wikipedia]).



    CC0 Waiver

    Creative Common's [http://staging.creativecommons.org/licenses/zero/1.0/ CC0 Waiver] ([http://wiki.creativecommons.org/CCZero wiki]; [http://creativecommons.org/press-releases/entry/7919 Press-release]) is a protocol that enables people to either assert that a work has no legal restrictions attached to it or waive any rights associated with a work so it has no legal restrictions attached to it (quote ).

    Notes :



    • GPL requires to distribute the source with the compiled version. Someone distributing a printed derived work would have to provide the moinmoin wiki code alongside.... Not convenient.
    • A copy of the GPL must be attached to the work... Imagine a 2 page leaflet (like the Debian release notes), with about 8 pages for the GPL license !

    • Is it legal to sell a GPL'ed book ? (for more than the cost of physical act of transferring a copy)


    Home made "allow relicense" license

    Create a home made license which allows to reuse the contents in a another work without giving explicit credits to original authors, if it's under any DFSG compatible license.

    • Pros : Probably what wiki.d.o contributors want.
    • Cons : Yet another ugly home made license.

    See also:

    Sample wiki licenses

    • Does [#PD] and [#CC0] actually allows to reuse some content in a work in a different License (In order to implement that work in any existing documentation).
    • Is [#allow-relicense] a legal concept ?
    • Does images, icons, diagrams and snapshots requires specific statements ?

    Implementation ideas