[uf-discuss] Discussion of public domain declaration template usage

Andy Mabbett andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk
Wed Jul 25 16:21:20 PDT 2007

In message <C2CCF51F.927A7%tantek at cs.stanford.edu>, Tantek Çelik 
<tantek at cs.stanford.edu> writes

>On 7/25/07 2:29 AM, "Andy Mabbett" <andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk> wrote:
>> I made this edit in the light of Manu's well- intentioned, but misguided,
>> request that changes be made to the template:
>> ml>
>To be clear, such changes are NOT going to be made to the template.

I'm not prepared to take your word for that; not least because you might 
not be here at some point in the intermediate future.

>Here's why:
>The text of the template was taken from Wikipedia, deliberately, as-is in
>order to be clearly consistent with the Public Domain Declaration there.
>That's the safest thing to do for a number of reasons (consistency, not
>introducing unintended changes etc.).

Copying a template from Wikipedia is no guarantee that it won't change. 
The wording on the Wikipedia template could be - and has been - changed 
at any point. Any changes which are made, will be subject to community 
consensus and debate - unlike changes made to the microformats wiki. 
There are no "editors", with additional rights over other users, on 

Not only that, but if you read Wikipedia's copyright statements, I think 
you'll find that you have no right to put a page containing a template, 
lifted wholesale from Wikipedia, into the public domain; you'd be 
breaching the copyright belong to the original author(s) if you didn't 
attach a GDFL licence.

>We are essentially saying we believe that Wikipedia has done the right thing
>with respect to their public domain declaration and are joining that in that

Legally, that's meaningless.

>Anybody wanting to change that should take it up upstream as it were, take
>the debate to the Wikipedia's public domain declaration.

That would have no bearing on rights over material on this 'wiki'.

> We don't want the
>debate about public domain wording here.  Any further issue with that can be
>taken up with Rohit per the instructions on his user page.

That experiment with open governance was short-lived; it's just five 
days since Rohit opened discussion on the matter, on this list.

>> I would STRONGLY advise anyone thinking of placing their contributions
>> into the public domain to "subst" the template (or use their own wording),
>This is NOT the method of inclusion of the template used by Wikipedia, and
>thus it is NOT recommended on that basis.

As I have already pointed out, anyone who chooses to do so may "subst" 
the template onto their user page, rather than transcluding it.

>This is also a REALLY BAD IDEA due to the fact that if any subtle changes of
>wording of public domain declaration occur across people's user pages, then
>it becomes much harder to determine if they are consistent or not to place
>pages which people have jointly edited into the public domain.

So changes might be made to the template, after all?

>It is best for the community for everyone to use *one* public domain
>declaration, period.

That assertion is completely without foundation or justification.

>  And if that declaration needs to be corrected due to a
>typo etc., it is better that *everyone* get those fixes and stay consistent.

Typos, or changes to them, can have significant consequences in legal 

>Frankly Andy, due to your use of the {{subst}} method, you have now added
>additional time cost to determining if any page *you* edit in particular is
>consistently in the public domain or not with respect to all other public
>domain contributors.

Frankly, Tantek, that's bullshit.

>I'd like you to please reconsider and use the direct template inclusion form
>on your user page for the good of community.

No, I'm not writing you or anyone else a blank cheque.

>> rather than calling template which may be changed in future, to a form of
>> wording with which they do not agree;
>See the above.  Such changes, of *any form* from what the text said in
>Wikipedia is undesirable for any reason, whether everyone agrees or not.

If *any form* of change is undesirable, then hard-coding the text onto 
individual user pages should present no problem.

>In addition, you can bet that if anyone *does* change it, there will be
>sufficient people watching to raise red flags and point that out.

"Bet" being the operative word - I don't gamble with my legal rights.

>The *only* type of wording changes I can see occurring are if Wikipedia
>changes *their* public domain declaration wording, it is likely that we may
>and will follow suit, to stay in sync and consistent as it were.

"if ... likely" doesn't carry much legal weight.

>> Tantek's justification for the edit was that he was reverting to the form
>> of wording used by Wikipedia. As has become clear, Wikipedia and this
>> 'wiki' are run on very different lines, with the former having far more
>> openness and accountability. Wikipedia uses "subst"  on other templates;
>> and anyone who chooses may "subst" thir PD template.
>Wikipedia uses the direct template inclusion on the Public Domain
>Declaration {{ }} and thus we will recommend that as well.  We're not using
>other templates from Wikipedia at this point so what they do on other
>templates is irrelevant.

What they do with *this* template is to allow *either* transclusion or 
SUBSTitiution. They also have other, alternative PD templates.

You may wish to again dismiss my concerns, out of hand, as mere 
argumentativeness, but if they're not addressed now, they will be back 
to bite the community later.

Andy Mabbett

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