[FM Discuss] wikimania '08 report

shunling chen schen at law.harvard.edu
Sun Jul 27 17:02:37 PDT 2008

Hi Adam,

Thanks for writing this up. Sorry for my belated response. Regarding to 
the question you asked Olivier, I was in the session and I think I 
understood it right - you were asking: "when will the WMF be considered 
as publishers?" or "by providing easy tools for people to generate PDF 
of collections, will that make WMF a publisher?"

I don't know much about French law, but I think what Olivier tries to 
argue - that the WMF should only be considered as a channel, but not a 
publisher/speaker, is true to the US federal law as well. The WMF is 
based in the US (main operation in CA and servers in FL), and as far as 
I understand, it has been careful not to expand its jurisdictional 
footprint so that it won't be rendered under other jurisdictions which 
might have more restrictive rules for service providers. Since the 
previous chair of the board is French and based in France, the French 
court could also have jurisdiction over the WMF in certain occasions. I 
will, however, refrain myself from commenting on the French law. Under 
the US federal law, two laws have helped to reduce the number of 
potential lawsuits against the WMF. The safe harbour clause in DMCA 
prevents service providing from being sued if the disputed content is 
taken down, and the Communication Decency Act has a civil immunity 
clause (including defamation claims) for service providers. In both 
cases, the WMF has to be considered as merely the service 
provider/channel, in order to qualify the immunity status.

To come back to Adam's question, my opinion is even the WMF provides an 
easy tool for people to produce collections of wikimedia contents into 
PDFs, the WMF might still not be considered as the publisher. Of course 
there are rooms to debate. But I think the WMF can argue that it is only 
providing a tool for users to come up with a collection of 
user-generated content. In other words, the WMF can simply argue that it 
did not provide any contents and did not direct users what kind of 
collections one can generate, and that the WMF remains as a service 
provider, but not the speaker/publisher.

Compare to what Wikitravel does - it pays people to do the edits. These 
paid editors are more likely to be considered as acting/speaking on 
behalf of Wikitravel, and thus more likely to make Wikitravel as 
publisher/speaker of the content. Where as in the case of the WMF, 
although there is an "office action" policy which says the WMF can step 
in to make changes/edits, my understanding is that the WMF would step in 
in extreme cases. It seems that the WMF turns complaints, either 
copyright violation or other civil complaints, to the OTRS teams, and 
refrain itself from making the changes itself.

Again, these are my own understanding and observation. I would love to 
see how other people see this issue.

> Next was the Volunteer Council meeting. This is largely about the
> internal workings of Wikipedia. The Wikimedia Foundation has a board,
> which is soon to have two chapter members (a 'chapter' is a language
> project) and two community members. It also has some other elected
> members including a chair and the 'honorary' position for Jimmy Wales.
> The board promote themselves as outside of the daily operations of
> Wikimedia Foundation projects and say they actively try to 'get out of
> the way' of Wikipedia et al. I can't comment on whether this is actually
> the case. However there seems to be murmurings within the
> 'community' (the nature of this in itself is hard to define) towards the
> establishment of some kind of Volunteer Council (VC) that will represent
> concerns to the programmers (who are mostly paid staff) and the board
> etc.
My understanding is that some community members worry that the WMF 
(office and the board) become too "professionalized," and wish to 
establish a channel to help the communication between the WMF and the 
community (whatever that is). But yes, like Adam said, it is still 
pretty much in the air now - even its main mandates are still under debate.
> Next day (day 3)...Mako (FSF) started with a presentation about free
> network culture. A short introduction into the issue of network services
> and what 'free' means in this context. What does 'free' mean for network
> services like Google, Facebook etc...do we talk about privacy, free
> code, free information, transparency? The GPL v3 does not address this
> critical issue although there is the AGPL which is considered by some to
> go someway towards addressing the issue but not far enough. 
I think what is the most unsatisfying thing to me is that since the 
AGPLv3 and the GPLv3 came out almost at the same time, and if the FSF 
considers the issue of network services as important, why did they not 
include the clause which makes AGPL distinct from GPL into the GPLv3 but 
allow the AGPL remain a separate license. Note that the issue wasn't 
even well represented in the drafting/discussing process.
> With regard to FM - if I
> can at all talk on behalf of others I met then I would say that people
> are impressed by FM and what we have done. I met many that love the what
> we do and some that have used our manuals and benefited from it :) 
And I would say this is an accurate observation! Congratulations everyone!


> ------------------------------
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.flossmanuals.net
> http://lists.flossmanuals.net/listinfo.cgi/discuss-flossmanuals.net
> End of Discuss Digest, Vol 14, Issue 21
> ***************************************

More information about the Discuss mailing list