In our role as a provider of internet services, we have a fairly strong defense under theDigital Millenium Copyright Act, and a fairly strong responsibility. We can't be held financially liable for other people's actions, so long as we follow a reasonable take-down policy.
Nonetheless, I can tell you that my charitable instincts and love of knowledge will hit the wall if someone sues me. :-( --Jimbo Wales
Notice that I have added some more words at the bottom of the page when you go to submit. I think that the problem will mostly go away with this. People just need to understand that we don't want them to cut-and-paste from copyrighted sources!
There is no way to be 100% safe. But, hey, risk is a part of life. --Jimbo Wales
No need to feel bad. I'm all about the future, not the past. :-) Some of the paragraphs were exactly from the Nova site.
I encourage you, WcGing, to write a shorter article based on the knowledge you got from those articles...
We don't have to be particularly original, we just have to try to be correct, and most importantly of all, we can't give anyone an excuse to try to shut us down. So we have to put everything in our own words.
"If you love freedom of information, one of the most important thing you can do is respect copyrights! You can really hurt this project if you steal. So please don't do it."
Personally I feel that infringement is quite different from theft of physical objects. So while we need to make everyone aware of what the law prevents us from doing, I would prefer not to endorse the law itself as part of the project. Because after all, the reason I'm so happy to contribute to the 'pedia itself is that I know the world will always have liberty to share and change it - a nice change from the common greedy-feeling atmosphere of authorship.
Similarly, I'd suggest something a little less loaded than "DO NOT STEAL!" at the bottom of the Edit page. Perhaps "Remember - no copyright-restricted material!" or somesuch thing.
But that's just my NSHO. -J
But hereon this talk page, I will gladly express my opinion. :-) Neverminding the legal situation, I think that taking someone elses writings without their permission *is* stealing. Imagine, for example, if Microsoft took the Linux kernel and incorporated it into one of their products without doing the Right Thing and making their changes open and free! Wouldn't that be morally wrong, even if the law allowed it?
I think that free software depends on copyright, because in a public domain system, anyone can take freely offered software and make it proprietary. I think that's wrong. If the author sets conditions on the use, those conditions should be respected... even if the conditions are "don't reuse it". Copyright is really important for the freedom of information!
We can debate this here, on the CopyrightTalk page, but let me stress again, that my strong opinions about this don't necessarily belong in the wikipedia on anything other than a Talk page. :-)
When I say "DO NOT STEAL", I'm not taking a position on what the law ought to be, but I am taking a position on what is morally right. Just as it would be morally wrong for Microsoft to steal GNU code by making it proprietary, it is wrong for us to take a proprietary magazine and use it without permission. The moral issue is *consent*.
Yes, you are taking a moral position, and I don't quarrel with your choice to hold that particular one. But yes, you are in so doing taking a position on what the law ought to be, because IP is only "property" because the law defines it as such. The natural, instinctive, universal understanding of "property" refers to physical things which can only be used by one person at a time--if I steal your apple, you no longer have it. If I eat it, it is gone. There is, of course, a political debate over whether or not the state should protect an individual's right to sole control of his property; and on that score I am definitely in the capitalist camp. Stealing a physical thing, and depriving its owner of the use of that thing, I most definitely find immoral. If I grew the apple on my land, I expect to eat it. But ideas are fundamentally, objectively different. If I watch you plant an apple seed and water the sapling, and then I apply that same idea with my own apple seeds on my own land, I do not take away from your use of your things, I have merely used your discovery to my own benefit.
Now, in a modern marketplace, those with interesting or valuable ideas will naturally find it to their short-term benefit to be the sole user of those ideas. If you're selling apples, you'd just as soon not have the competition from other people selling their apples. The question, then, is whether or not it is right for a state to define certain ideas (like inventions, stories, music, etc.) as property, and define my use of someone else's idea (which does not in any way interfere with his use) as theft. If we do make that definition, then a creator has not only the right to use an idea for his benefit, but to prevent others from using it for theirs, protecting his market for businesses that use the idea. As expressed in the US Constitution, this is a pragmatic thing: we grant the creator this limited, short-duration monopoly so that he can make money, in order to encourage him and others like him to create other useful ideas, which will eventually become part of the public domain.
Of course in recent years, this pragmatic approach has come to be seen as a natural right, an end in itself rather than a means to the original goal (the creation of more useful ideas). The consequence is that the original goal has been subverted beyond recognition. Walt Disney, for example, is long dead, and presumably has little need of encouragement to create more ideas, yet copyright law still protects his "property" (most of which is based on stories from the public domain) and prevents it from becoming part of shared culture, which was the original goal. A large number of people favor at the very least returning copyright to its original bargain: a monopoly for a short time, which then expires and releases the ideas to the public. I personally think we could do without it entirely. I do not find anything inherently immoral about using someone else's ideas for my own benefit, or with him using my ideas for his. In fact, I find that to be the very purpose of things like language and society--to grow as beings by exchange and amplification of ideas, which (unlike physical things) are a limitless resource. In a world without copyright law, obviously traditional methods of making money from certain ideas won't work, and we'll have to be creative about business methods too. That doesn't scare me. Nearly all of my income comes from creation of IP (articles and software), but I do not fear the destruction of IP law, because creativity is a commodity that wil always be in demand, and consumers will always find a way to get it, just as they always did before the invention of copyright law (which is fairly recent idea). I have for years explicitly placed all my work in the public domain (except that which is done for my employer--but I work for a company that uses the software I write only internally, so they get no benefit from IP law).
I have written volumes on this topic, so I won't rehash all the arguments here, but I just wanted to clarify that support of IP law is a moral position that not everyone holds, and that if you really want to avoid bias as you claim, you should not so blatantly support that position in the very software that runs the system. And yes, I find even Stallman's use of copyright law to ensure free distribution wrong. For every article I produce for Wiki/Nupedia?, I will place a nearly identical one (with only my own work) on my own website released to the public domain, without restrictions. -- Lee Daniel Crocker.
Without IP law, to be sure, companies like Biddle won't have the allure of exclusive exploitation of your work to motivate them to sign contracts with you. But when they and the pirates you mention press gazillions of copies of your work, they'll only be helping to spread your reputation to gazillions of people. If they've somehow dealt unfairly with you, I'm free to take my business elsewhere and still be able to enjoy access to your work. And you as an author will have an audience that's exactly as big as it deserves to be, and an insanely huge wealth of others' work to build on when you sit down with pen in hand. -J
I didn't know where to put Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.
There is no discussion of moral rights (the most important one being the right to be identified as the author of a work). In some countries, France I believe, the moral rights are strong enough to control the use of original work. For example, I may not be able to place a painting by artist A in a context that is offensive to the reputation of artist A (this may include simply being placed next to another work). (contradicts last sentence of 1st para)
Not all countries have something exactly analogous to copyright. It is common in Europe for countries to have a right that would be better translated as "author's rights".
There is also public lending right (right to be recompensed when ones work are publicly lent). (contradicts last sentence of 1st para)
The author is not always the first owner of copyright (often it is the employer). This is pointed out later on in the article, but it contradicts para 3.
This is something I am currently researching (particularly with regard to IT). I may revise the head article at some point. Sorry this isn't very constructive yet.
Surely US sopyright law simply belongs in another topic?