[acawiki-general] Wikilit question about site license

Mike Linksvayer ml at gondwanaland.com
Sun Mar 11 23:11:25 EDT 2012

On Sun, Mar 11, 2012 at 19:36, Chitu Okoli <Chitu.Okoli at concordia.ca> wrote:
>> If you're not importing materials from elsewhere, I'd suggest CC-BY.
>> Actually I'd even suggest CC0 especially if your site is to be
>> transitory. Or make sure you specify attribution to some stable URL
>> with copyright info about the materials, or make sure waive the
>> attribution requirement.
> We expect to specify a working paper, and eventually a published journal article, for attribution. So, the source of attribution would be long-term, even though the site might not be. Moreover, if we export the data, the data should survive the possible demise of our site.

Make sure the paper includes "copyright notice or licensing
information for the Work" (the dataset, not the paper) -- see 4(c) of

>  I don't understand your argument here for recommending CC-BY or CC0, but ...

If you mostly wanted the dataset to be used more than you wanted uses
to involve sharing back. I see that sharing back is a primary concern,
so I wouldn't recommend CC-BY or CC0.

>> But if one of your main goals is to push
>> other sites toward CC-BY-SA, obviously you should use that
>> license...
> We have no intention of pushing other sites to doing anything. Our preference for CC-BY-SA is simply that just as we are sharing our data with others, we hope that if others transform it in ways useful to us in the future, they would share these derivatives with us, without locking us out through enforcing all rights reserved copyright (whether of their own volition or due to publisher requirements).

That's equivalent to pushing other sites toward CC-BY-SA for practical
purposes. I did not mean "push" pejoratively. Your rationale
completely makes sense.

>> IIRC CC-BY was
>> chosen as AcaWiki started from a small grant from the Hewlett
>> Foundation's education program, which generally requires CC-BY. That
>> grant is obviously long over and AcaWiki could move to CC-BY-SA. I
>> think it would not be a bad idea to given that I think we're pretty
>> interested in ingesting info from elsewhere, and CC-BY-SA presently
>> maximizes ability to do that. And/or AcaWiki could depend on fair use
>> and other exceptions.
> If this is the case, then we would almost certainly go with CC-BY-SA for our data release. If I can pitch in my opinion as an outsider who would like to get more involved with AcaWiki in the future, switching AcaWiki to CC-BY-SA would likely significantly increase people's contributions to it. (I believe Wikipedia's popularity is critically related to the copyleft provision of the GFDL it initially adopted.) There's something rather chilling to free contribution about the possibility that you could be locked out of the fruits of your own contribution by some opportunist who commercializes your contribution and then tries to sell it back to you. As the Bible says, we shouldn't muzzle the ox that treads the grain....

Has anyone published on the importance of copyleft for the popularity
of Wikipedia or other projects? I suspect copyleft is often helpful,
but this is just a gut feeling that I think merits much closer
examination -- I'd guess tens of thousands of emails, not to mention
other forms of communications, have been sent debating the optimality
of copyleft and permissive licensing, almost exclusively based on gut
feeling, which is a bit sad considering how central license choice is
seen to be (which is also a bit sad, but that's another topic). But
this is a tangent. If there are any relevant papers I would love to
summarize them. :-)

>>> is there a feasible way to release CC-BY-SA data, yet
>>> somehow make the data available for AcaWiki?
> I'm hoping someone could suggest if there is a way to still contribute our data to AcaWiki with its CC-BY, even if we do release the dataset CC-BY-SA.

You could multi-license it. This wouldn't make sense in theory, but in
practice it would work. Or AcaWiki could rely on exceptions and

If other people involved in AcaWiki are ok with it, I'm ok with
switching its licenses to CC-BY-SA going forward, or at least using
the import of datasets from your project, when available, be a trigger
point for doing so.


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