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It is possible for authors to add explicit tags to their contributions to indicate how they may be redistributed, modified, etc - typically, to grant additional permissions that are not normally given, or to note that content has been copied from elsewhere with a different copyright situation.


On some wikis, the use (or absence) of WikiSignature?s acts as a de facto permission tag. For example, on WikiWiki, people are discouraged from reworking signed text, but may act more freely with unsigned text. When looking to redistribute content, people are encouraged to follow the signature links and look for contact details and permission grants on the various HomePages.

Another similar-but-different convention is Wiki:SignedDocumentMode - the use of "Contributors:" tags. Like signed ThreadMode, this allows people to try to get all the permission grants, at least providing that AnonymousDonor isn't one of the contributors.

The idea of CommonContent is also similar: content written by a CommunityMember is donated to the community as a whole, but the same is not true for non-members.

Copyleft tags

In general, tags which offer additional permissions are a better thing than tags which offer reduced permissions (equivalently, additional conditions). Thus a permission tag of AlsoCopyLeft? would be better than a permission tag of OnlyCopyLeft?.

On first sight, OnlyCopyLeft? has no problems: CopyLeft permits derivative works, redistribution, etc, just as do the implicit copyrights associated with contributing to a wiki. So if the content is "freer" than the default, then where's the evil?

The evil is in the ReworkingProblems. To incorporate a copylefted text into another text, you have to release the complete work as CopyLeft. If the copylefted text stayed separate, there would be no problem. But as things get edited, reworked and mixed together, the copylefted text would be integrated with non-copylefted text, creating a new work that must also be copylefted. Here's an overly simplistic example:

Copyleft could be problematic on this wiki. --AntiCopyLeftUser

Yes, but it may offer certain advantages that should be considered. --OnlyCopyLeft?, ProCopyLeftUser

WikiGnome comes by later and changes ThreadMode to DocumentMode by combining the two texts:

While CopyLeft could be problematic on this wiki, it may offer certain advantages that should be considered.

Copyleft licenses require that texts incorporating copylefted material can only be distributed under the appropriate license. Now AntiCopyLeftUser's text must either be released under a copyleft license or WikiGnome's change must be undone. The problem, in short, is this: copylefted text cannot be integrated with non-copylefted text without one of the two authors agreeing to re-license it.

Because of this, work contributed to MeatballWiki as OnlyCopyLeft? (or similar) will be deleted. OnlyCopyLeft? can only work as a wiki-wide policy.

Note that this is not restricted to inline PermissionTagging - the same problem would occur if ProCopyLeftUser had an OnlyCopyLeft? tag on their homepage. Also note that if ProCopyLeftUser had instead contributed under AlsoCopyLeft? or PrimarilyPublicDomain, then this problem is essentially eliminated: WikiGnome can happily rework the page as if the permission tag did not exist.


PrimarilyPublicDomain is just one of many possible ways to introduce special copyright regulations with contributions. If PermissionTagging became common habit, pages would be cluttered with different copyright tags. Allowing this and more can make the copyright situation arbitrarily complex.

Special copyright statements do not add value to the content. For the reader it's just noise. For the writer it adds an additional dimension to think about. A contributor would have to think not only about the content but also about whether a change does fit in legally. It would be an additional hindrance to contributing and reworking.

PPD contributions (as an example) bypass the general copyright regulations of the community and so shows disrespect towards the community rules and the community as a whole. It's a weird attitude towards the community, like "you will get my car as a present" ("Oh, fine") -- "but everyone must be allowed to use it" ("No, thanks").

Therefore I recommend to rule out contributions that are connected with special conditions, here at MeatBall and in any wiki that is concerned about its community and autonomy.

-- HelmutLeitner (reworked)

I'm just not sure whether it should be about "permissions" or even more general about "conditions". Perhaps ConditionalContribution?? -- HelmutLeitner

Perhaps PermissionTagging is one means of expressing ConditionalContribution?, but there are others. And I don't think my (for example) use of PrimarilyPublicDomain is an example of ConditionalContribution? anyway - I'm not saying that I'll only contribute on the condition that my text remains PPD, and marking my text PPD doesn't set conditions on its use - rather, it reduces conditions on its use. So keep them separate, I think. --MartinHarper

It would be cool if we had a formatting rule like this:

 <license PPD>

that would render a block of text with a colored vertical bar to the right and an image corresponding to the given license type, linked to a description of that license. -- anon.

In line with the direction PageTranslation is taking all these new features, I'd suggest:

 TextLicense? PrimarilyPublicDomain

-- ChrisPurcell

It isn't HumaneInterface. Making readers think constantly about copyrights is distracting. Readers first! Your writing is not so great a gift to the wiki that you may set conditions that make it annoying for the readers. I'd rather delete your text than watch copyright notices with crazy syntax start popping up everywhere. Using English was fine. -- SunirShah

True. Is what I've done on WhyWikiWorks tasteful enough? Would it be better or worse (both, I think) to mark licensing information in the source text only? (I.e., use comments that are hidden at render time.) -- anon.

This is a less intrusive way to do PermissionTagging. If users don't care about copyrights, they could simply set it to not display at all. -- BayleShanks


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