Wikipedia talk:Image use policy/Archive 4

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The story so far (please edit for accuracy)

Black Widow/JoanB is annoyed that people delete images on the basis that they may be copyright, even though the uploader affirms that they are not breaching copyright. Various arguments have been put forward as to whether or not Wikipedians are legally required to police copyright. Some contributors have stressed the importance of international copyright law in determining this.


JoanB: I'm not qualified to decide whether any photo placed here on Wikipedia is copyrighted or not.

Joan, what do you want us to say? Copyright isn't easy to understand, the law has changed over time, and the law is different in different countries. I can say the following with a high degree of confidence: "The photograph of Juliette Binoche in question is almost certainly protected by copyright." Notice that I didn't say that our use was illegal, but that the picture is *almost certainly* protected by copyright.
Second, you keep asking how do we know to trust each other when people say that something is safe to use. In this regard, pictures are no different than text. Every time someone posts some text to wikipedia they are attesting that the text being submitted is safe to use. We usually believe that claim until presented with evidence to the contrary. With the case of photos, however, it is usually obvious that the person posting it wasn't the original photographer, so we end up in these squabbles more often.
Finally, you keeping talking about the "owner" of wikipedia. I don't think that there is anybody who is the "owner" in the sense that you mean it. While there is an owner of the computer that hosts wikipedia, they do not own the content of wikipedia. -º¡º
By owner, I mean the one who is legally liable. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but for certain if someone sues you or me for copyright infringement or whatever else we might do at Wikipedia, they will name the owner in the action, and it is the owner who will pay big legal fees and be ordered by the Court to provide the defendant's computer source. That was what happened in the recent ruling on Kazaa, at least accortding to the New York Times. JoanB
That is a good question. I guess until a court decides for wikipedia, then nobody knows who would be "legally liable". It is easy to imagine that if some court ordered the current host to stop hosting wikipedia, then wikipedia would just move to another host. -º¡º
For all practical purposes, the owner of Wikipedia is Jimbo Wales. Should someone else host a fork of Wikipedia, he, she or it ("it" being a corporation) would be the owner of that fork. That having been said, there is virtually no legal liability on Wikipedia's part for good faith copyright infringement. Other things being equal, Wikipedia (or a Wikipedia fork) would be required to delete copyrighted material once a copyright claim was brought to Wikipedia's attention by virtue of a cease and desist letter. Accordingly, the only legitimate reason someone should be concerned about uploading potentially copyrighted images is quality control. [Note: This should not be construed as a legal opinion or as constituting legal advice.] -- NetEsq 22:58 Apr 16, 2003 (UTC)
But I still own the copyright to all the stuff I've written (unlike the case for GNU, where we have sign over - on physical paper(!) - the rights to our work, thus ensuring FSF is the sole owner of GNU code), so Jimbo owns physical bits but not much of the content. The Wikipedia situation is a little more like Linux, which has literally thousands of separate copyright owners in many different countries. Stan 23:17 Apr 16, 2003 (UTC)
I would take it even further: if there is no legal liability: the copyright holders can edit any infringements themselves. No need to bother Jimmy Wales about it. Failure of the copyright holder to remove the infringement constitutes an implicit license for WP to use the image. >;-) branko
If there is virtually no legal liability on Wikipedia's part for good faith copyright infringement why are people arguing about it and going about upsetting erstwhile contributors like Dave Farquhar by deleting their photographs? JoanB
Good question. -- NetEsq 23:06 Apr 16, 2003 (UTC)
Amen. It should be possible to be squeaky clean without freaking out. I notice a User:Tarquin apology on User talk:Dave Farquhar BTW. Stan 23:17 Apr 16, 2003 (UTC)
This is why I suggested above (way above now) that there should be a one week time out on deleting images, and a reasonably consistent policy for sysops to follow. The irony is that later the same day I managed to violate my own guidelines by incompetently misreading a date - mea culpa... Martin
Another question. If people are going to question others and decide to delete the photos, then how do we know that the photo on the page of User:MyRedDice is him? All we have is his say so. See how ludicrous this gets. JoanB
Regarding my own photo, if you have reason for suspecting a copyright infringement, then you could indeed consider deleting it. Perhaps you have seen me uploading many copyrighted images, and therefore consider that this one is copyright? Perhaps you have seen the image elsewhere online with copyright markers all over it? Perhaps there is no information about copyright on the image description page?
As a non-sysop, you can't delete the image yourself. Instead, you should (in my opinion) add the boilerplate text from wikipedia:boilerplate text (adding specific reasons) to the image description page, remove the link to it from my user space, and add it to wikipedia:votes for deletion. If you genuinely suspect that it is a copyright violation, then that would be entirely reasonable.
Of course, the image has not been uploaded by a routine violator of copyright, it does have an appropriate image description page, and you will almost certainly not find it anywhere else on the web. Thus I don't see that you can reasonably suspect it of copyright violation. Perhaps you should pick a better example? ;-) Martin
To the contrary, that makes it a good example, because now you have to discuss the argument, not the example. branko


"If people are going to question others and decide to delete the photos, then how do we know that the photo on the page of User:MyRedDice is him? All we have is his say so. See how ludicrous this gets."
Paraphrased "If people are going to question others and decided to delete their text, then how do we know that anything User:MyRedDice writes is actually written by him.", to which I answer, we don't know. We believe people until presented with evidence to the contrary. -º¡º

I would add, it is REALLY important not to let people get the impression that other countries are irrelevant for copyright. This is not to say that they necessarily have to police things, but rather that if they ever do have to or choose to, getting it right matters - and unfortunately a US-centric approach might trip some people. PML.

All right, Netesq, why is what you are doing, stopping telling people about non-US copyright possibilities, not vandalism? Granted, the information remaining is correct, but it is incomplete and likely to produce the impression on some Americans that they are covered when in fact they are not. This is not saying that you don't know, but that all should be told just in case. So, what is wrong with telling them?

If I don't see an explanation or a reversion within a few days I shall report these repeated suppressions as vandalism. PML.

Please be advised that I am currently in the process of researching international copyright law and its larger implications for Wikipedia. IMHO, such issues should be discussed on the Wikipedia copyright page and *NOT* in the very limited context of Wikipedia's image use policy. If you disagree, then feel free to report anything you want to anyone you want. -- NetEsq 02:11 Apr 17, 2003 (UTC)
That's my fault -- I moved everything from Village Pump to here, because originally it was only about the image use policy. I considered moving some of it to Wikipedia talk:Copyrights, but even now, almost all of the examples and case studies used in this debate have been about images, so I thought we may as well keep it all together. -- Tim Starling 02:17 Apr 17, 2003 (UTC)
Hardly your fault, Tim. PML and I were having a small edit war, and it may or may not have been resolved by my explanation above. In any event, PML has raised a very important issue that -- as far as I can tell -- has *NEVER* been addressed by anyone. The simple answer is that conflicts of law regarding Wikipedia copyrights would be resolved by United States law, but the question is very deserving of further research. -- NetEsq 02:40 Apr 17, 2003 (UTC)
Two points: It wasn't about the determining jurisdiction, it was about why we should stop telling people the extra stuff (why remove it without a strong reason for removal?); and, there's the area that I ducked in and did something in once it reminded me, like the King James I Bible, real cases where other countries' rules are stronger (the safe bet is the non-US way, when in doubt). The reasons you gave above are not reasons for deletion of broader context, they are reasons why you would decide any particular case without referring to a broader context. Which is no reason for depriving others of that, as near as I can tell. If I am wrong, by all means show me. PML.

I found an article that is totally on point: Conflict of Laws Issues in International Copyright Cases By Peter K. Yu. Basically, there is no "right" answer when it comes to international conflicts of copyright law, and anyone relying upon Wikipedia's GFDL in a foreign jurisdiction does so at his or her own risk. Accordingly, Wikipedia:Copyrights should be modified to reflect this fact, and THIS ARTICLE SHOULD STAY THE WAY IT IS. -- NetEsq 04:20 Apr 17, 2003 (UTC)

BUT, that is NOT "this article should stay the way it is". The "way it is", as it were, INCLUDES non-US information - or else goes back to holding no information on the point. Anyway, that link relates to someone's view of what is right and NOT to what people should be told/allowed to go and see for themselves. Either way, US-centric is wrong. PML.

"relying upon Wikipedia's GFDL in a foreign jurisdiction does so at his or her own risk".
The GFDL is a licence to use the content in any medium. Not any US medium. If you are uploading content that is public domain under US law, but copyrighted under EU law, then you may not licence it under the GFDL.
Not exactly. The GFDL is *PROBABLY* a valid license for content that is public domain under United States law, whether that content be foreign or domestic -- the jury is still out on this one -- but public domain content may be defined differently in another jurisdiction. In other words, international law has not yet caught up to the concept of public domain content being repurposed via the Internet, and each jurisdiction can -- and will -- make up its own rules. -- NetEsq 14:56 Apr 17, 2003 (UTC)

Ericd said above: "Fair use doesn't even exist in France for instance". That's not true: [1]. Fair use provisions in France are similar to those in the US.

Did you seriously read this page ?


Here is some cut and paste this is a quotation isn't it ?

III. France A. Fair Use

Article L. 122-5 of the Intellectual Property Code Provides:

When a work has been divulged, the author may not prohibit:

(1) Free private performances taking place exclusively in a family circle;

(2) copies of reproductions strictly reserved to the private use of the copyist and not destined for any collective use, with the exception of copies of works of art intended to be used for the same purposes as those for which the original work was created;

(3) subject to the condition that the author's name and the source are clearly indicated:

(a) analyses and short citations justified by the critical, polemic, pedagogic, scientific or information character of the work within which they have been incorporated;

(b) reviews published by the press;

(c) the diffusion, even in its entirety, by the press or radio-television, as current news, of speeches intended for public delivery in political, administrative, judicial or academic assemblies, as well as public political meetings and official ceremonies;

(4) parody, pastiche and caricature taking into account the laws of the genre.

B. Public Domain

The duration of copyright under French Law for published works is life plus seventy years.

I'm going to save my comments on NetEsq's statement above for Wikipedia talk:Copyrights, where a similar discussion is taking place. -- Tim Starling 11:32 Apr 17, 2003 (UTC)

Rapport du Conseil d'état à propos de l'utilisation loyale «une telle exception (fair-use) ne s'inscrit pas du tout dans la tradition française en matière de propriété littéraire et artistique. » Ericd 17:50 Apr 17, 2003 (UTC)

So it doesn't fit at all with your tradition but it's part of your laws. I see. So if someone copied work owned by a Frenchman citing "fair use", would the owner sue the infringer, expecting the court to ignore statutory law and France's treaty obligations? -- Tim Starling 01:05 Apr 18, 2003 (UTC)
Sorry but the above article doesn't refer to fair use. The title is not a part of the Intellectual Property Code. And the content refers to private use and citation. Is there any treaty about fair use ? I doubt.
Ericd 07:51 Apr 18, 2003 (UTC)
Fair use is a common law concept allowing copies to be made for criticism, research, citation, etc. The US codification of it (Section 107 of the US Copyright Act) is similar in its essential elements to the quoted text above. There is a treaty about fair use: you may have heard of it, it's called the "Berne Convention". Specifically Article 10. And next time you reply, please use a language not in Babel Fish. Otherwise it's way too easy :) -- Tim Starling 12:10 Apr 18, 2003 (UTC)

I didn't delete anything that seems to be the same strange case of unreported edit conflict that happened to 172. Ericd 18:10 Apr 17, 2003 (UTC)

Not a problem, Ericd. I figured it was a computer snafu, but I wanted to make sure that the deletion was not intentional. I'm sorry this came across as an accusation. Mea culpa! -- NetEsq 18:19 Apr 17, 2003 (UTC)

I've just removed something from the policy page about " If you use images from the US based Wikipedia in other countries' Wikipedias..." there is no such thing as the "US" pedia. All pedias are international. -- Tarquin 09:41 Apr 18, 2003 (UTC)

I think that's missing the point. It's not about the encyclopaedia aspect, it's about the mechanics of publishing and how that brings it under this or that effective power and/or authority. It seems at least dangerously misleading only to cite US copyright and thereby risk other dangers coming up. At least if no warning is given, reasonable people know they are on their own - but if only US stuff is cited (which has to do with enforcers at the door, not -pedia issues) reasonable people might make the mistake of thinking they have complied with what they need to, when they have actually talked themselves into trouble. That is what I want presented round here, and (say) Netesq's approach just doesn't address that. Frankly, I see no reason not to leave things like that in, even if they are irrelevant. And if they are NOT - well, it's one of those "don't bet what you can't afford to lose" things. Netesq and Tarquin aren't settling the substantive matter, so it remains a bet. PML.

ok - then someone reinstate that note, but say "All Wikipedias are international - don't assume that merely US law is sufficient" - or something. It was a fair warning to give people, but rested on a fundamental misunderstanding. This is just a problem with PD though. If it's your picture or text, it's yours all over the world. -- Tarquin 10:24 Apr 18, 2003 (UTC)

Please note that the following disclaimer already appears in this article:

Please note: this is not the official copyright policy - merely a reminder and additional tips

As such, there is no reason to discuss international copyright issues in this article, and it is clumsy and cumbersome to do so, inviting all sorts of pointless discussion. However, an appropriate disclaimer in re international copyright issues can -- and should be -- discussed in the context of the Wikipedia:Copyrights article. -- NetEsq 14:02 Apr 18, 2003 (UTC)

I agree (hey, I wrote the note). I'm going to mercilessly refactor these pages shortly - if you have any attachment to your words, save them now! :) Martin

PNG alpha channel

Moved from Wikipedia:Village pump

Alpha channels in PNG files - can I use them? It's a logo (a college shield) but the image has a white background. I'd like to make the background transparent instead (and smooth the borders of the shield so they blend into the background), but I understand IE does not support the PNG alpha channel. Cgs

No, it doesn't work. I can't remember the details, but someone once uploaded a picture with an alpha channel, and I happened to come across it. I was using IE6 and it just came up as a black box. I downloaded the picture, removed the alpha channel and reuploaded and it worked fine. -- Tim Starling 11:51 Apr 24, 2003 (UTC)

Yes, IE is broken, but that's no reason not to use a proper image for people who have real browsers. It's not too hard to create a PNG with a full alpha channel pre-composited onto a white background. Such an image would properly blend with any background on compliant browsers, and would be viewed as white box with the contained image on IE. Wikipedia has nothing at all to say about the matter: whatever you upload, we'll send to the browser. We have no control over how the browser will render it. Most standards-compliant browsers like Mozilla, Opera, Safari, etc., will do just fine. LDC

Indeed. Anyone who is dumb enough to use a fake web browser such as IE deserves what he gets and if the page displays at all, he should consider himself lucky. We should adhere to the standards... it does not matter if most people can view the image or not... that is irrelevant... what matters is following the standards. The standards are most important, not the users. JL
Gee, could you lay the sarcasm on a bit thicker? I think I've met a few users who wouldn't quite catch it.
And of course it's the standards that are most important. For Bill & Co. to break, that is, while not giving a fig about their users. If you get a browser from such people, of course you're going to have a less-than-ideal browsing experience.
Didn't I see you slipping some of that pesky MSWord encoding kind of cruft into an article somewhere? -- John Owens
Didn't I see you slipping some of that pesky MSWord encoding kind of cruft into an article somewhere? Wasn't me, Sheriff. All previous sarcasm aside, when I do web work, it's with an aim to make it viewable by the largest number of people (which would preclude MS specific codes and the use of any feature, standard or not, which would reduce its usability). JL
http://www.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=Current_events&diff=858154&oldid=858137 -- John Owens
Huh. That's interesting. My apologies...was not done intentionally... my browser must have done that without my explicity making that edit. I'll have to look into this and will use 'a real browser' to edit Wikipedia if I can't get it to stop that.

Emacs sux, VIM forever. Or even better, UltraEdit. I use Excel to do my washing and take the kids to school. Linux is for people with too much time on their hands, or people who think hacking Windows with SoftICE is too challenging. Java is part of a hardware-manufacturer's conspiracy to make really slow programming languages so that people have to buy really fast computers. And IE (or IE/Avant) is good enough for me, thank you very much. :) -- Tim Starling 04:27 Apr 25, 2003 (UTC)

Or there are those of use who just continue leaning on old Netscape 4.X -- though there's that little problem of not being able to edit files > 32K. Java, in any case, is an obscenity -- a new four-letter word. I can't tell you how many times I have to sit and wait until some sleazy Java script executes until I can do any more web work, or how many times poorly-written Java has crashed my system. That's the bottom line -- Java allows crappy programmers to inflict their mistakes on your system against your will. jaknouse 15:12 Apr 25, 2003 (UTC)


Can some clever person please sort out the silly b*lls up over pictures of Wallace - two of 'em, William and Alfred, where they were both just called "Wallace.jpg" like this: Image:Wallace.jpg ... and guess what, poor Alfred has been overwritten by Bill's memorial plaque! I would love to sort this out but have not a clue how to even start. Do please enlighten me, if you feel like it. I am sure that somewhere in an FAQ I have seen the dangers of this imprecise naming mentioned ... thanks. Nevilley 18:44 Dec 10, 2002 (UTC) oh and I'm sorry if this is the wrong file for this, just call me a stupid newbie. :)

First, never upload files with overshort names like that! Give them nice, long, descriptive names that will never be accidentally overwritten; or at least not by something completely unrelated. Second, when encountering such: you can revert an image to a previously uploaded version by clicking the 'rev' link in the image description page (click the image to get the image description page; you must be logged in for the revert link to work). Clicking on the date of a previous version let you look at the older revision; you can save it and re-upload it under another name. I've moved these two out to image:William Wallace memorial plaque.jpg and image:Alfred Russel Wallace.jpg and deleted the useless ambiguous title. --Brion 23:44 Dec 10, 2002 (UTC)
aha! That's the bit I didn't understand - I thought there might have been a way within the wikipedia software to sort it out - I didn't realise you'd need to save it and upload it again. And this, btw: "First, never upload files with overshort names like that!" is preaching to the converted, (unles it's closing the stable door after the horse has bolted ... I'm having a metaphor supply crisis) insofar as I was trying to sort out the mess but was not the one who caused it! Thanks very much for the advice. Nevilley 00:02 Dec 11, 2002 (UTC)
Not aimed at you, just advice for the general reader. :) --Brion 01:13 Dec 11, 2002 (UTC)
Thank you so much - clealry I was being oversensitive, sorry. :) Nevilley 08:21 Dec 11, 2002 (UTC)

BTW, the software shouldn't let somebody upload a file with the same name as a file already on the server without obviously warning the person that they are going to overwrite the active version of a previously uploaded file. --mav

Yes, I was thinking that - of course for the c*ckup to happen it requires the user to not choose a sensible name (and/or not check that the name has not been used), but it would certainly help them to realise the oncoming booboo if it warned them. :) Nevilley 00:27 Dec 11, 2002 (UTC)
I'll see if I can hack that in. The upload subsystem is dark and scary and may have monsters lurking in it... --Brion 01:13 Dec 11, 2002 (UTC)
I really need to get round to refactoring this page... above moved from village pump archive Martin 23:13 Apr 27, 2003 (UTC)