DebianWiki > Wiki Is Not GFDL

Translation(s): none


We could change it to be really a public domain and collaborative project . PedroM

Please see for the copyright. I believe the current statement, similar to what is used on WardsWiki and MeatBall, accomplishes a "public domain" and collaborative project. I do not see what switching to GFDL would accomplish. --MichaelIvey

Since you retain your copyrights for your words, I cannot relicense it, or take it out of the "Public Domain." -mdi

Although I havened read the GFDL (yet), I think a FSF license is alright. Still documentation is not the same as a wiki... The GFDL might not be a good choice for a wiki? (I have to read it)

I would suggest reading a license (any license) before advocating its usage. I don't think the GFDL is suitable for anything, especially considering the current opinion of many, myself included, that it isn't a free license. -mdi

"The recommended license for any (new) document in Debian is the GNU General Public License" The GNU GPL license is a good license I think. (I did read it)

Anyway a transition to another license is not possible as you MichaelIvey clearly state you do not own the contributions, so you can't republish them under another license. And as the current license will not allow people to copy the text without restrictions, a change in the license will have the implication that all work must be considered lost.

I might not be right about this. If someone could make a proper legal analysis of the current copyright? And all of it's implications?

Tim Blokdijk

The current copyright page is a recent statement of the facts as I see them. I never collected anyone's copyright, and I do not wish to. -mdi

For the record, I never advocated the usage of the GFDL. And I'm not the one suggesting DebianWiki is licensed under the GFDL.

Anyway, as content from this wiki cannot be copied under the current license it's not possible to make documentation for debian in this wiki. Text can not be taken out of this wiki to make a "how to" for example. (Unless all contributors allow it to be which is not practical on a wiki)

Another problem is that if your take the server down the "us" is the undefined entity that has the permission to publish the words people have submitted. Who is "us" enough to start another server with a back-up of this wiki?

Well there are probably more things that can be a problem and effectively remove a/all contribution(s) from the "public domain".

We can start now the GFDL from now, for the new pages . And for sure, all my work can be used in the public domain (excepting by this peoples that donĀ“t give their work in the public domain; if Linux / Debian is GNU, a Debian wiki must be in the same way ).

Tim Blokdijk

Some thoughts:

  1. if Linux - Debian is GNU, a Debian wiki must be in the same way ... I disagree. The Wiki is not the same as the OS. It can be different.

  2. Debian does not consider the GFDL to be a free license.

  3. I'd like to repeat that. The Debian project does not consider the GFDL to be a free license.
  4. I don't think anyone is suggesting that the content in the Wiki shouldn't be used by anyone and everyone. I, most certainly, am not suggesting that.
  5. Who is "us" enough to start another server with a back-up of this wiki? ... I'm happy to provide a tarball of the database, plugin/archive and plugin/page_metadata directories to anyone who asks. If enough people want it, I can make that an automated process.

  6. GPL/GFDL != Public Domain
  7. I would really like to stop talking about licenses and copyrights. Can anyone engaged in this discussion offer examples of things ... specific things ... that they would like to do with Debian Wiki content that they currently cannot do?

  8. My preference is to continue to view DebianWiki as a giant bathroom wall. Don't write anything you don't want everyone to see, and the janitor to clean later.

  9. If this is going to be a real problem, I would consider a ?CreativeCommons license (?CCBySa?) ... however we would have to take all of the current content offline and start over. I don't see a way to relicense everything, or do a half and half solution.


A specific thing not possible is making a ?HowTo in this wiki and then republish it on the Debian website.

?CreativeCommons ?BySa is not practical as all contributers need to be given credit. With a wiki the list with contributors will soon be longer then the actual content. :) ?CreativeCommons Sa might be better? Personally I think that we can better have a unrestricted license. So it's possible to change the license later (right?) to something else after a proper legal analysis and discussion and republish the existing content under this new license?

Tim Blokdijk

I think there is some mixup in the communication so far. I think the problem is that the bathroom wall concept means that the information on the Wiki is in fact public domain (that is anyone can do as they see fit with what is on the wiki), however the copyright statement says that the original author continues to hold the copyright on the material, which means that they have to be contacted before one is allowed to do anything with the material (and much of the time the material is unattributed).

Personally I would like everything I write to be available for use by anyone, but unless you make that the specific policy (i.e. public domain or free-as-in-speech licensed) what you have is not a bathroom wall because the control of the material published on the Wiki remains with the author. If you wish what is on the Wiki to be legally available for backup, reposting by anyone, reuse in a GPL'd HOWTO etc, you need to make it clear that this is the intention (which IMO is best done by stating that all material on the wiki is automatically released under the GPL, though the original author holds the copyright on the material).

This situation is basically why the GPL was created in the first place; the object is for material to be free-as-in-speech without rendering the material public domain (i.e. no copyright).

I think the point Tim is making is that under current laws in most western nations the current copyright statement means that you cannot use the content of the Wiki without the risk of litigation. Sure it is technically feasible to do whatever you want, but legally is another matter entirely. I can take whatever I want from a corporate website and do anything with it if I want too (at least the plaintext content), but if they find out they'd probably sue. Just because something is technically feasible, or ought to be obvious, doesn't mean that's the way the law works. The legal system sucks, especially when it comes to intellectual property.

Just to be clear: I know for a fact that under U.S. and Canadian laws that placing something in the public domain means relinquishing your copyright. That is, something in the public domain is not owned by anyone including the original author. That, and the fact that something that is 99% public domain, with 1% new material can be copyrighted and not public domain, is why the GPL was created.

HTH DanielDickinson

-- FranklinPiat 2007-10-10 19:19:57

Here is the bug report :



GeoffB 2008-07-25 20:43:33

Choose ASAP

Let's figure out what the community wants, so we can choose a license.

Common desires in this community are, I think:

  1. open license - must allow reuse in any kind of context, including commercial.
  2. copyleft/share-alike - to keep it public domain.

The major 2 licenses meeting these criteria are:

So to me it looks obvious that CC-BY-SA is the best default license. There may be other licenses that also meet the criteria, but we would have to consider the compatibility - CC-BY-SA is a very popular license, so it means we have compatibility with many other sites.

Note that the license has to be as open as the community as a whole wants it to be. If an individual wants to be more open than that, there is no problem with this - they can release their own contributions jointly under another license, e.g. CC-BY, or (if they want to keep the share-alike clause, but at the same time allow use by sites using an NC clause) CC-BY-NC-SA.

Regarding the previous contributions which are not under an open license - we should do what we can to release these (getting contributors to release their past contributions), but doing nothing is not in the spirit of free knowledge and software. By not specifying a license, the site is by default the copyright of individual contributors. This is a disaster. Please, let's get a consensus on this ASAP.

Edit: Realizing that the Debian project seems to have not made an announcement yet on their view of CC-BY-SA 3.0, it is probably best to wait for that to be clarified - and then make a decision ASAP. --Chriswaterguy 2008-12-25

::Thanks for the links. (I don't know whether you added them now, or I overlooked them before... & I can't find a history page - not used to MoinMoin.) --Chriswaterguy 2008-12-28

See Also