Non-free images on Wikimedian projects
Before you continue to read this post, consider:
- If I don’t know something new related to this issue and you know, please let me know that.
- I don’t support non-free content, but at least a significant minority of Wikimedians support it.
- I was thinking to write this to foundation-l, but I am tired of long and usually useless discussions there about some important issues. So, if anyone is willing to read this, it is visible enough to the community.
A year ago WMF Board decided that non-free images shouldn’t be used on Wikimedia projects by default. If some project is willing to maintain non-free images, it should organize some kind of logistic support for that (I think that this includes a lawyer who would work on particular issues).
In practice, maybe a couple of Wikipedias (so, only Wikipedias, not all projects in a particular language) would be able to do so. AFAIK, community on English Wikipedia decided to keep non-free images (of course, in a rational amount), community on German Wikipedia (maybe all projects in German, too?) decided before the Board’s decision not to keep non-free images and I really don’t know what other projects did. (I would like to know what is going on French and Japanese Wikipedias.)
So, we are here, a year after. I may guarantee that not more then 10 of more then 700 projects made any kind of decision. And I am almost sure that only English Wikipedia is fulfilling necessary conditions.
Communities smaller then English or German are rarely able to make some important decision for themselves. For a lot of decisions 80% (consensus-like majority) is necessary. And if it is not of interest of people who are able to be loud and to do a hard work for getting what they are willing — decision will never be happened.
This means that Board’s decision was de jure fine (“leaving an option to a particular communities”), but de facto it was a nice worded decision to remove non-free images from all projects except English Wikipedia.
And is this fair?
Instead of that, it is possible to make carefully managed non-free.wikimedia.org (like Debian’s non-free packages were selected: if some software has free option, it will not be included; if some weird license, almost free, is used and software is useful, it will be included there etc.). And, personally, I think that this is a Borad’s responsibility.
The main problem with not doing anything is making a lot of space for problems inside of smaller communities. At least one community was hardly affected by indirect consequences of the Board’s decision a year ago. But, it was only because people from that community read foundation-l emails.
After the March, a lot of smaller communities will be faced with deletion of their non-free images. And only after that we would be able to see a real consequences of this decision and poorly driven issue from the beginning to the end.
I could talk about that more, but… If there is a will for changing anything, thing will be changed. If there is not, I may talk much more without any result.