Creative Commons at MeFi June 25, 2010 11:34 PM   Subscribe

"All posts are © their original authors." This is unfortunate. It would be great to see MeFi supporting Creative Commons and the free culture movement.

Copyright is needed for legal reasons to protect Matt and the project. However there are better approaches than blanket old-school Copyright. For example, in the user profile section, a check-box option could allow users to publish their content with a Creative Commons license (several choices), or the standard Copyright. Flickr does this. LibraryThing does it (or something like it). Wikipedia allows for users to customize licenses.
posted by stbalbach to Feature Requests at 11:34 PM (75 comments total)

By reading this comment you have agreed to be bound by my terms.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:37 PM on June 25, 2010


Metafilter doesn't have the legal right to retroactively revoke copyright on all the posts made up to this date.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:38 PM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


It would only be great if we were all Communists.
posted by crunchland at 11:39 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Er.. does granting copyright to original authors even imply any sort of license? I am not a lawyer, but I don't think this is the case.
posted by cj_ at 11:43 PM on June 25, 2010


Creative Commons is meaningless unless you reserve copyright.
posted by idiopath at 11:51 PM on June 25, 2010 [20 favorites]


Is this something I'd have to say something worth copyrighting to understand?
posted by vapidave at 12:04 AM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hereby license all the comments I've made on Metafilter up to and including this one, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

Well, that was easy.
posted by lore at 12:04 AM on June 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


But then people could just re-publish MeFi or AskMeFi and add their own advertising and promotional junk the way so many idiots do with Wikipedia content.

Wikipedia should be free content but here Matt & co. work hard for this community, making some money through limited advertising (mostly to non-members who aren't logged in) is an important part of that work, and I have no problem with specifically giving them a license for my comments and not others at whatever point the TOS shows up. They're providing something very important in exchange, which is the best moderation and community management of any site on the web.

(Whereas Wikipedia has sort of the antithesis of best moderation and community management on the web and the stuff you're getting in the deal - high search rankings and potential immortality for your writings - is in some measure in exchange for having to put up with the moderation and community management of Wikipedia.)

Maybe as a compromise some sort of "content escrow" where MeFi is the temporary caretaker of the content and it reverts to a Creative Commons license in twenty or thirty years or so. I can see the advantage, even possibly to mathowie & co., of everything eventually coming under a single license so it can be moved around together outside of the actual Metafilter web site without having to deal with the rights of individual comment authors separately.
posted by XMLicious at 12:24 AM on June 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Ok upthread I was dismissive but is this an issue or a potential issue?
posted by vapidave at 12:42 AM on June 26, 2010


I don't think it really makes much of a difference at this point. Consider the example where I want to use someone's comment for some purpose, so under the current system I have to try to contact them to ask permission. If they are still a regular user and if they agree with the use I have in mind, they consent; otherwise I never hear back and I don't have permission. Now let's try that again under a system where users can specify a preferred license for their work in their user options. If the user no longer visits the site then they won't have relicensed anything and the situation is exactly the same -- no permission. If they do still visit the site but haven't made a decision about relicensing then I still have to contact them and ask permission -- the same situation as before. If they did relicense, then the only thing that the scheme saves is that I didn't have to go through the steps of asking -- but since they were an active member they would have been around to consent if I had asked anyway, so the situation is still the same. Nothing has really changed at all.

I guess the heart of what I'm driving at here is that this might have been a good idea if it was implemented from the start in 1999 but there was no Creative Commons then and so even if there is one today you still have to go through all the pain of contacting people.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:44 AM on June 26, 2010


Moreover, if someone does want their comments licensed under CC they can just put something like what lore wrote in their profile. There doesn't need to be any change in the site for that to be binding and kosher.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:48 AM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think Rhomboid has it: if all posts are copyright their original posters, people are free to license their posts under CC or whatever. So I don't see what the issue here is. Does it matter if there is a checkbox on your profile (which would take work to implement) rather than individual posters manually putting it in a comment or whatever in their profile?
posted by Justinian at 12:58 AM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hereby license all the comments I've made on Metafilter up to and including this one, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

Well, that was easy.


Not so fast. All posts are © their original authors. It says nothing about comments, and the terminology consistently used throughout the site and its users is that what I am typing right now, for example, is a comment and not a post. It even says "Comment:" in the label to the left of this text box.

So, chances are you never had copyright in your comments in the first place, unless you asserted it yourself.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:23 AM on June 26, 2010


I would like $1 for every comment I've made.*

* If you favorite one of my comments I'll be kicking back a bit your way if you've signed up for my affiliate program. It works like this: I keep the first 50 cents of each $1 metafilter pays me--but the other 50 cents is split among every maxwelton Commenting Tree™ affiliate who favorites the comment. However, the first favorite on any comment gets to keep half of that $.50--if they can get another ten people to favorite the comment. Those next ten get to split $.12 of the remaining quarter--but if they can each get ten more people to favorite the comment, they'll get a bonus penny each. Don't despair if you're not in the first two braches of the maxwelton Commenting Tree™; if one of my comments gets over 50 favorites I will pitch another quarter back into the pot to be split among every person whose sub-favoriters are among those who pushed the favorite rank over 50. Now, this may sound like small change, but as I see more favorites and therefore have an incentive to make more comments, this will give you an opportunity to favorite more often and see your payout increase--if you're ready! Sally H. in Rancho Cucamonga has quit her day job and lives a life of hedonistic excess--she enjoys frequent spontaneous orgasms, eating M&M Blizzards all day without gaining a pound, and that annoying laugh of hers is now erotically musical--after just two months participation in the maxwelton Commenting Tree™. You don't need to make a financial commitment to get started! However, as many wish to jump start their earnings, I've compiled many tips, tricks and insider knowledge into an easy-to-understand PDF which you can purchase from the Midas Touch™ tab in my profile.
posted by maxwelton at 3:36 AM on June 26, 2010 [37 favorites]


Wikipedia should be free content but here Matt & co. work hard for this community...

I agree, Wikipedia editors are total slackers and I could probably whip up a Wikipedia clone from scratch in an afternoon.
posted by DU at 3:48 AM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, chances are you never had copyright in your comments in the first place, unless you asserted it yourself.

Now you're just talking nonsense. Copyright is an automatic right of the author of the work. It doesn't need to be asserted, and it cannot be claimed by someone else simply by saying so. You retain the rights to every comment and post you author regardless of what the footer of the website says or doesn't say.

The only reason some other sites can claim ownership of the copyrights of things that their users create is because they explicitly agree to transfer these rights in the terms of service which the user must agree to when signing up, which forms a contract. Metafilter has no such agreement (AFAIK), and without an explicit agreement of transfer the rights are the authors' alone. Obviously there is an implicit agreement to let the metafilter servers freely reproduce your post or comment, since that is what posting or commenting means, but granting the right of one party to reproduce the work is not the same as transferring all the rights, i.e. metafilter can't turn around and relicense them out to anyone else -- buying a copy of a movie on DVD is not the same as buying the movie rights.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:06 AM on June 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


So what, people could scrap the pages and reuse just the creative commons bits and cut out the rest, which they would know because ... they went through all the profiles to figure it out? Yeah, that's going to work.

Flickr can do it because all your content is compiled in one place, and each photo has it's own page (so you can copyright some and not others). Trying to do it here where everything is mixed together would make an unholy mess and be really complicated for what? Because you don't like copyright for some reason?

I don't want my stuff creative commons. I like that when someone scrapes metafilter and republishes it Matt can get them to shut it down (which he has done). Making everything messy and complicated would make that much harder to do without conferring any real benefits. If you want to let people reuse whatever you write then put a note in your profile now, there's no need to make a whole new system for this.
posted by shelleycat at 5:07 AM on June 26, 2010


Copyright is an automatic right of the author of the work.

Assuming that the work is original, of course.

But I was certain that copyright required that assertion - eg the © that appears on just about everything. Or do you think people go to that length for fun? Or because everybody else does it?

Without some kind of declaration the the effect of "hey, this is my original creation, and you can't go taking it and exploiting it for your own commercial ends" there's no distinguishing works subject to copyright from the mad rantings of Wino Bill over there on the corner.

Of course, your jurisdiction may vary, which is my patented way of weaseling out if I can't remember my I/P law properly.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:08 AM on June 26, 2010


I’m trying not to get angry at a Creative Commons ideologue coming in here trying to persuade mathowie to rob tens of thousands of users of their legal rights. You can’t force someone to sign on to your Creative Commons ideology.

As ever, though, voluntarily supporting Creative Commons licensing is never enough for these people, who fundamentally want copyright abolished – starting, in this case, with the copyrights held by MetaFilter contributors. (Forcing Creative Commons licensing would abolish certain rights held by MeFi contributors immediately.)
posted by joeclark at 5:15 AM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think stbalbach is thinking of forcing anyone to do anything, but rather giving them the right to choose. But I also don't think it's metafiter's place to push an ideological agenda, and that's what this is. Metafilter isn't here to 'support the free culture movement'. If a user wants to they can do it on their own, leave the official part of the site out of it.
posted by shelleycat at 5:21 AM on June 26, 2010


joeclark, if you'll read the post, he's not saying that Creative Commons licensing should be mandatory here. As others have pointed out, people can already do this anyway, and it hasn't turned everyone into Creative Commons-worshiping communists.

I actually like the idea of having an option for licensing posts under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license - but like lore has pointed out, since content is already owned by the individual creators of it here, anyone can just do that after the fact, and having a checkbox somewhere for that just seems a bit redundant.
posted by ellehumour at 5:31 AM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


But I was certain that copyright required that assertion - eg the © that appears on just about everything. Or do you think people go to that length for fun? Or because everybody else does it?

It used to. It does not anymore. The © symbol is a formality nowadays; any original creation is legally considered to be copyrighted to its owner on the moment of creation.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:31 AM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


in your jurisdiction! weasels away to watch the eclipse...
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:33 AM on June 26, 2010


Yes; that law is specific to the US.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:37 AM on June 26, 2010


Anyway, this doesn't seem like a very User Friendly approach.
posted by gman at 5:38 AM on June 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


Metafilter wants to be free.

For five bucks.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:59 AM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


the © that appears on just about everything. Or do you think people go to that length for fun? Or because everybody else does it?

In the US it hasn't been necessary since 1989. I'm pretty sure the Berne convention (which is signed by 164 countries) also does not require it. I don't know why people continue to do it. I think they're just aping everyone else.

no distinguishing works subject to copyright from the mad rantings of Wino Bill over there on the corner.

There is no difference between the two; drunken rantings have copyright protections just like everything else. You could take a picture of your TP after wiping and that would be copyrighted. The sorts of things that cannot be copyrighted are things like lists of pure raw data like rainfall numbers or phone books, steps describing a process like recipes, and areas where copyright has never applied like apparel/fashion.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:00 AM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait -- we're not all communists?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:20 AM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


So if while reading metafilter comments I wish to refer to a comment I've just read (in a new comment of my own) I copy/paste that comment in my comment so you know what I'm talking about, am I violating that commenter's copyright? ( I've written clearer sentences)
posted by Hobgoblin at 6:29 AM on June 26, 2010


Nah, that'd be fair use.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:40 AM on June 26, 2010


If I write © in Comic Sans, do I still have copyright?
posted by lukemeister at 6:47 AM on June 26, 2010


Yes, but hipsters won't take it seriously.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:57 AM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


the © that appears on just about everything. Or do you think people go to that length for fun? Or because everybody else does it?

I can think of a few reasons:
- fun
- because everyone else does it
- it prevents people who think that the © is necessary from assuming that in its absence the copyrighted material is public domain (this can cause all kinds of mischief)
- it identifies the copyright holder, in case someone wants to contact them to seek a licence
- it ensures that nobody can argue "I thought it was public domain" when sued for infringement (which might, in some cases, let them avoid paying certain types of compensation for infringements done before they were informed of the existence of the copyright)
- its ubiquity helps to cement in the minds of the public a general view of "intellectual property" as a natural part of civilised life, like those shitty "you wouldn't steal a car" ads that I change channels to avoid watching every time I rent a DVD.

Nah, that'd be fair use.

No such thing here, I'm afraid. All we have is fair use's weak and sickly cousin, "fair dealing".
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:01 AM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, but hipsters won't take it seriously.

Great. Thanks for Sufjaning the thread.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:04 AM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


the © that appears on just about everything [...] hasn't been necessary since 1989. I'm pretty sure the Berne convention (which is signed by 164 countries) also does not require it. I don't know why people continue to do it. I think they're just aping everyone else.

There are two reasons:

1. If you're prosecuted for copyright infringement, there's a defence known as "innocent infringement" if you violate copyright because you thought something was not copyrighted. Innocent infringement can mean the difference between $200 and $150,000 in damages. The defence carries no weight if a notice of copyright is used.

2. If you recognise the need for it to eventually expire, you may note the date of first publication so that people can tell when the work's copyright does expire. You may believe it to be the right thing to do.
posted by Mike1024 at 7:09 AM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Moreover, if someone does want their comments licensed under CC they can just put something like what lore wrote in their profile.

Yeah, that seems pretty straightforward to me, too.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:11 AM on June 26, 2010


It would be great to see MeFi supporting Creative Commons and the free culture movement.

I'm a free culture dork. That said, I think it makes more sense for this to be something that people individually choose to do if they want to, not the default setting on the site. I like CC stuff generally and didn't mathowie work there when it was just starting up, back in the Lessig days? Pretty sure he did. That said, it's tough to explain CC licensing to people, choosing a license for other people seems arrogant and while we're okay with people making their own decisions about how freely they want to share their contributions, I think a blanket "you MUST share" isn't the way we want to go.

Put another way, I interact with another Q&A site sometimes where the default on all your commentary is "this is available to be freely shared unless I specifically say it can't be" and always feel that it's an attempt by the site owners to hang on to the option to monetize the content wholesale at some point in the future [since only they can really grab all the data except that which has been specifically opted out] which makes me vaguely uneasy.

Flickr and LibraryThing and Wikipedia all have user account setups where the user can alter their content at will. We don't. I know it's sort of boring and normal, but we think this is the best way for people to understand exactly what the legal back and forth is as far as what you have rights to and what we have rights to. Having a way to do this with something that might be considered more shareable and re-mixable like Music contributions would be an interesting idea.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:30 AM on June 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Did I miss something? It doesn't read like stalbach is asking to change the default copyright, just to give the option in the user prefs.

That aside, is there some reason individual users just couldn't put a statement in their bios?
posted by mrmorgan at 8:29 AM on June 26, 2010


Did I miss something? It doesn't read like stalbach is asking to change the default copyright, just to give the option in the user prefs.

Correct.

is there some reason individual users just couldn't put a statement in their bios?

In theory yes. In reality few (if any) do. Thus, the proposed feature. Jessamyn?
posted by stbalbach at 9:01 AM on June 26, 2010


I like CC stuff generally and didn't mathowie work there when it was just starting up, back in the Lessig days? Pretty sure he did.

Yeah, it's amusing that this post implies Matt doesn't know what CC is.
posted by smackfu at 9:02 AM on June 26, 2010


Another free culture dork here. I think the onus on creative commons sharing remains with each of us & our respective profiles. Don't make it a MeThing.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:11 AM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


That aside, is there some reason individual users just couldn't put a statement in their bios?

There is no reason they couldn't, and this in my opinion is the way to go.

I don't think your customizable-license idea is a bad one in abstract, stbalbach—like you say, there are sites that do this—but I don't think it's worth doing on Metafilter for a few reasons:

- Folks' content is not clearly compartmentalized in its display on the site. Whereas a flickr photo appears on a page by itself, a comment on mefi is just one in a thread, so you've got a display state of heterogeneous licensing from comment to comment. Neither cluttering up the bylines with licensing info nor introducing a modal view that shows/hides differently-licensed comments sounds at all attractive to me as a way to try and approach that.

- Beyond that, the normal flow of conversation here involves a lot of quotation, which means we'd be introducing a situation where comments could be implicitly relicensed (or implied, incorrectly, to have been relicensed) whenever a CC-person quotes a (c) person or vice versa. That's a nightmare tangle right there.

- Unless we make some sort of ONCE YOU GO CC, YOU NEVER GO BACK dictate (which I think is a non-starter), the stated licensing status of any given user's content could end up in flux as they change from one license to another. At that point we'd either have to implement a whole license-auditing system to track for what period a license was in place (to deal with potential hijinks with opportunistic license changes) or have a situation where the license can change without any notice or evidence and that change is now on Metafilter's, and not the user's, lap in some sense. Yuck.

- Even at that, the licensing thing would be very, very broad-brush. We're talking here about a per-user license swap. What Flickr does by comparison is a per-photo licensing option, giving folks the choice to change their default licensing preference over time as a convenience but fundamentally tying license to the individual piece of content, which honestly seems like the only real sane way to deal with optional licensing to me but would require a ridiculously thorough system to function on mefi. What if someone only wants to CC portions of their work? Their comments on the blue but no their posts on Music? We'd have no facility to support that without doing a ton of extra work and storing a big pile of extra data for any participating user.

Again, I don't think the idea is bad in any general sense, but these are the sorts of things that I think make it impractical for mefi. We don't really deal in the distribution of isolated chunks of creative work, and we're not set up to treat posts and comments in that fashion, and the default state of retaining an expectation of copyright on all work by the contributors is by far the simplest and least fuckery-prone approach we have.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:15 AM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


People are still talking about copyright and CC licensing as if they were alternatives to one another. You can only license CC if you have the copyright. The CC licensing is a favor you do that offers rights to others, rights you can offer because you hold that copyright, that they would not otherwise have. You cannot CC license someone else's work, or work that is already in the public domain.
posted by idiopath at 9:30 AM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


For my part, I tend to lazily lapse into "CC" vs. "(c)" not as a matter of confusion on that point but because it's a little less wordy than e.g. "(c) with additional CC grants" vs "default (c)" and maps pretty cleanly onto the practical use cases in question, but the point is totally taken, idiopath.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:49 AM on June 26, 2010


All posts are © their original authors

Huh, weird. Am I the only one who always thought that this was a kind of CYA measure wherein we state that all content in each FPP is copyrighted by the original authors of the content in each link, and that no mefi poster is asserting that the content was their work?
posted by elizardbits at 10:01 AM on June 26, 2010


I never interpreted it that way, but I often wondered if it was a CYA measure for Matt, so he wouldn't be legally responsible when someone posted a message that detailed how to get rid of a body, or how to make methamphetamine from cough syrup.
posted by crunchland at 10:25 AM on June 26, 2010


Hobgoblin: So if while reading metafilter comments I wish to refer to a comment I've just read (in a new comment of my own) I copy/paste that comment in my comment so you know what I'm talking about, am I violating that commenter's copyright?

No. That is fair use for the purposes of criticism or editorial:

"[A] reviewer may fairly cite largely from the original work, if his design be really and truly to use the passages for the purposes of fair and reasonable criticism."

I am, for the record, completely happy with the way copyright assignment is dealt with on MetaFilter. A model where I continue to own my own words is one I would like to see continue. The only Creative Commons license I've any interest in is a Rights Reserved license.

I am, however, happy to license for $0 should you wish to compile a book of my MetaFilter wisdom. Have your agent call my agent and we'll talk.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:03 PM on June 26, 2010


Although Matt can't stop people from using a sharing license, it doesn't necessarily benefit him to encourage sharing either. As it is, for a potential content re-user, there are too many owners, too much work to ask permission from each one, too many orphans (owners unreachable). MeFi content, in effect, remains "locked up" at MeFi. This obviously benefits MeFi who in effect has a sort of monopoly on the content. In effect, the individual "owners" of MeFi each have little pieces that are worthless alone, while MeFi itself owns nothing, but in effect gets all the benefit of the whole, because there is no realistic mechanism to legally share the content en masse. It's why sharing licenses were created in the first place, to fix a Copyright system that wasn't designed for the nature of digital content.

We talk about protecting rights holders, but there is also something called tragedy of the anti-commons, where there are so many rights holders, it creates gridlock and nothing can get done. No ones going to re-use your brilliant MeFi post in a "Best of MeFi" book, because it's too much bother trying to contact 2,000 people and negotiate permissions for a book that sells 5,000 copies and makes the publisher $500 in profit total. MeFi content is essentially a cultural cul-de-sac, which in the medium to long term means obscurity and forgotten. Which is unfortunate as there is some good content here. Compare this with Wikipedia content, which has a sharing license and will most likely survive longer in whatever form.
posted by stbalbach at 12:17 PM on June 26, 2010


Anyone care to send a cease & desist to mefi vs youtube then?
posted by pwnguin at 12:32 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anyone care to send a cease & desist to mefi vs youtube then?

Parody. Protected use.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:14 PM on June 26, 2010


Anyone care to send a cease & desist to mefi vs youtube then?

Viacom just called. They said, "good luck with that."
posted by crunchland at 1:21 PM on June 26, 2010


Oh, an I/P thread.
posted by edgeways at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


We talk about protecting rights holders, but there is also something called tragedy of the anti-commons, where there are so many rights holders, it creates gridlock and nothing can get done.

I'm not sure there's anything to be done. The gridlock seems completely theoretical and its application to anything resembling reality is untenable. What possible scenarios can you see being an issue with the current state of copyright around here?
posted by Hiker at 2:35 PM on June 26, 2010


Yeah I guess I'm looking for a use case here. I sort of get wanting mash-up-able photos and videos and music to be repurposed into multimedia stuff, but when people are just sitting around talking/typing at one another, I'm curious how you see people inhibited at this point. All the text is available from the infodump and we've seen people do some fun and interesting stuff with it. I'm not sure how having a per-user CC license available would change the trajectory we're on.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:43 PM on June 26, 2010


Compare this with Wikipedia content, which has a sharing license and will most likely survive longer in whatever form.

But again the crucial difference here is that Wikipedia was lucky enough to have the GFDL available when it was conceived, whereas Metafilter predates it. It really only works if you do it from the onset, because otherwise you still have the situation where if you want to use content from a thread you have to contact every person that participated because you cannot retroactively change licensing without people's permission.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:12 PM on June 26, 2010


Parody. Protected use.

That doesn't work; it's not fair use to use Metafilter comments to parody another site (Youtube).
posted by Justinian at 4:06 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The practical use case I'm thinking of is really that MetaFilter Network Inc., as the single common licensee of everyone's comments (a license which is only implied at this point, technically, because there isn't and hasn't been an official Terms of Service, just the "All posts are © their original authors" statement) might cease to exist some day, in which case effectively no one could legally publish a copy of a thread without contacting and getting every contributor's permission / license. At least not until seventy years after we all have died, or whatever ridiculous horizon public domain is at these days.

(In particular preserving AskMe threads for posterity seems like a worthy pursuit.)

That's why my thought was to include in the TOS (and via some brief explanatory statement to everyone who accepts the TOS) a provision that all of a user's contributions would fall under a Creative Commons license at some more reasonable point in time, say twenty or thirty years after you post it or maybe sooner if people are amenable. I realize that this would only affect future contributions to the site.

Hiker - for a real-world example of the gridlock problem, as I recall someone once came to the Wikisource project offering some English translations of Latin texts that had been made collaboratively on a web forum somewhere. But because the translating forum didn't appear to have an explicit copyright policy the responding Wikisource editors refused to host any translation unless each contributor to it could be contacted and rights obtained from them.
posted by XMLicious at 4:23 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


where there are so many rights holders, it creates gridlock and nothing can get done.

Good. I don't write things here for them to end up in a book or on some spammer's site covered in ads. I fully expect I'll leave some day and forget about metafilter and I won't have to worry about trying to keep track of everything I've left here. I would not have joined or contributed if I did not have this protection from the start (yes, I did actually think about it before paying my money). Matt does a great job of making money from the site as it is, which I'm really happy about, but I see no reason why every random link dump spammer should be allowed to do the same thing. I also don't see why it's a problem for someone trying to write a book to have to do some work rather than just lift stuff wholesale and publish it out of context.

Plus cortex did a great job of explaining why it would be the mess my instincts said it would be.
posted by shelleycat at 4:42 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


All the text is available from the infodump [...]

The text that's in the Infodump is user names, tags, post titles, and deletion reasons. The text content of posts and comments is not included, though we did recently get comment length statistics in there.
posted by FishBike at 5:13 PM on June 26, 2010


As ever, though, voluntarily supporting Creative Commons licensing is never enough for these people,

Oh.
WOW.

As ever, though, blah blah blah is never enough for these people.

Quick -- guess what you sound like!
posted by Deathalicious at 5:49 PM on June 26, 2010


Metafilter allowing the creator of the post retain their ownership of it is so much fucking better than other sites who sneak in ownership in their t&c's. If you want your comments to be cc then go for it. Knock your fucking self out. Feel free to modify this comment.
posted by Elmore at 6:02 PM on June 26, 2010


I think Justinious is probably right on the fair use thing -- just ask Penny Arcade how well it went when they parodied American McGee using American Greeting's Strawberry shortcake characters.

But I think the point here is that data munging like this is considered fair game even if the fine print disclaimer says otherwise. For all the "I don't want spammers profiting from MeFi!" (as if CC-BY-NC doesn't exist), you might want to investigate the status quo of MeFi copyright infringement first. mefi vs youtube was the first thing that came to my mind, but a quick Googling of statistically improbable phrases from the blue suggests the current copyright policing effort isn't panning out. And really, who would invest their time making sure nobody else profits from your website? It's bad business sense. RSS feeds are a great boon to the people who contribute (in some small sense) to Mefi, while sending out cease & desist letters doesn't pay any bills. I suppose if the Internet Detective Squad wants to hunt a few down there's no reason to stop them, but I'm guessing this is mostly a game of whac-a-mole.

I guess what I'm saying is that the Internet is a culture of asking for forgiveness, not permission.
posted by pwnguin at 6:12 PM on June 26, 2010


I'm sure bits of this place get used all over the internet and I don't care enough to go track it all down. But when someone really obviously just yanks the whole page and throws on some ads we tend to find it and Matt has had them closed down in the past. Why take that option away?

I also don't see the slightest problem with the Wikisource example given above. If I went to some effort to contribute something like a translation to a site I participate in and feel a connection to that doesn't mean I'd automatically want that work given away to some other site I might not like or care about, so going back and checking with the original authors seems to me to be the right thing to do (since it appears permission wasn't granted when the work was originally done). Yeah it makes it more difficult, that's what happens when you benefit from other people's expertise

(And I'm sure some of you think I'm mean and selfish and I don't really care. I collaborate widely in my professional life and have always been very generous with my time, knowledge and samples from my experiments, possibly even too much sometimes. But it's done under an explicit agreement where everyone knows where things stand from the start (and due credit is given) not some random idea that 'information needs to be free'.)
posted by shelleycat at 8:04 PM on June 26, 2010


READ CAREFULLY. By reading this post, you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies ("BOGUS AGREEMENTS") that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.

Thus spake the Cory. The bold was my change. Let it be written, let it be done.
posted by Splunge at 8:17 PM on June 26, 2010


I also don't see why it's a problem for someone trying to write a book to have to do some work rather than just lift stuff wholesale and publish it out of context.

This is pretty much my take on it, too. Sending 2000 "Hey do I have your permission" e-mails as a prerequisite for publishing a book doesn't really sound so unreasonable to me.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:49 PM on June 26, 2010


MeFi content is essentially a cultural cul-de-sac, which in the medium to long term means obscurity and forgotten.

You say that like it's a bad thing that needs to be fixed. It's not.

I doubt that I'm the only person who likes MeFi as just a place for folks to talk about $topic. I sure as hell don't approach it as a possible path to the limelight.
posted by CKmtl at 10:33 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter isn't here to 'support the free culture movement'.

Right. Because first someone would have to explain what on Earth a "free culture movement" is.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:40 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's basically about preserving 'forgotten' heirloom strains of yogurt.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:56 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's basically about preserving 'forgotten' heirloom strains of yogurt.

I think there may be one of those in the back of my fridge. Now I have an excuse to not clean the fridge, I'm preserving it's natural habitat!
posted by shelleycat at 4:14 AM on June 27, 2010


Mine's like a little outpost of Thailand. You can still use curry pastes that have been deepening their flavour in the back of the fridge for six years, right?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:53 AM on June 27, 2010


Sounds like a question for AskMe, Ubu.
posted by crunchland at 5:32 AM on June 27, 2010


or research for an answer...
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:44 AM on June 27, 2010


Choose your Copyright license:

1. Standard (C) Copyright [default]
2. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial (to learn more click here).

[1-2]: ?
posted by stbalbach at 6:57 PM on June 27, 2010


Wouldn't you need to also provide mechanisms to filter MeFi by the user's copyright license, say if you wanted to do anything with them? It seems a sparkly albeit hidden pony if you just have 5% of a userbase change their copyright stance on a site.
posted by cavalier at 11:56 AM on June 28, 2010


That was an awfully weasely and passive aggressive means of continuing this discussion in the BBS Doc thread, stbalbach.
posted by cavalier at 4:35 AM on July 6, 2010


« Older Return of the Grouse   |   ibouquets for all! Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments