Quoting Niall Walsh (linux at esatclear.ie):
> Perhaps, if they feel their professional reputation or some project they
> are involved with is being tarnished under their name. Or else it
> could be for malicious reasons.
> The individual content authors have complete power in deciding how their
> work is licensed/copyrighted, no disputes there. That doesn't mean
> that ILUG cannot dictate terms under which it will accept such work.
There are real concerns, here: Writings with one's name on them can
have fairly serious personal consequences, and suggesting that one
permit arbitrary parties to edit the text that appears under one's name
is inherently touchy.
Here's an odd little cautionary tale. During late beta testing prior to
release of kernel 2.2 in mid-1999, I maintained on a daily basis a Web
page called "Rick Moen's Notes on Upgrading to Linux 2.2" on a local LUG
site, as a principal member of the LUG's Web team.
A very passive-aggressive volunteer who had root on that Web server
decided he didn't like me, unilaterally deleted my shell account on that
host, and then threatened the LUG officers that he'd get the LUG's
monthly meeting space at $BIG_NAME_SILICON_VALLEY_COMPANY cancelled if
anyone revived my shell account. The officers were embarrassed but
decided after some private discussion to do nothing.
I told them I had no serious problem with this outcome, as I had other
productive uses for my off-hours -- but could not allow the
aforementioned Web page to persist in an unmaintained state, for reasons
including obsolete content on such a page tending to make me look bad
by association. I said: Either provide me a means to resume page
maintenance, or delete the LUG copy so I could have a canonical version
Weeks passed. I sent a gentle private reminder to the LUG vice-president.
He asked for patience. I reminded him that what I'd sent the officers
was not a request for a favour, but rather my requirement of corrective
action pursuant to my copyright title -- that the LUG was committing a
tort against me, which I would rather not litigate.
After about one more week, the vice-president told me he'd go ahead and
delete the page for me, but that I'd have to keep it quiet. I told him
again that this was not a personal favour and that I owed nothing in
return, but that I saw no reason to worsen his political problems.
He did as announced, and I reposted the page to
http://linuxmafia.com/cabal/2.2kernel/ , where I maintained it until it
ceased to be relevant.
The LUG's official response to all of this was interesting: The
president made no mention of having sanctioned the backstabbing of a
key volunteer and violation of his copyright, but _did_ announce a new
policy: Henceforth, the group would accept only Web pages submitted
under a forkable licence -- impliedly so that volunteers could not
require their pages' removal in the future.
My suggestion is that, sure, it would be useful for ILUG to encourage or
require forkable licensing of some sort for submitted Web content -- but
that there should be at least a polite understanding, even if not
formally stated, that the LUG will always accomodate authors wanting
their work to be removed. Fortunately, EU and Irish provisions for
authors' "moral rights" are probably helpful, here.
> But what if the article is simply credited to me but is no longer what I
> wrote? The least you seem to be suggesting is that all edits/additions
> should be clearly attributed.
Many would argue that the attribution mechanisms of wikis and similar
formal version-control systems suffice to counter this objection -- but
the problem remains of naive readers who don't understand how to
interpret version histories and diffs. So, yes, it's a real issue.
For my writings, I tend to use forkable licences for works that are both
living documents and reflect little or nothing about me personally,
e.g., http://linuxmafia.com/ssh/ . By contrast, for pieces whose state
_does_ reflect on me personally, such as
http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Licensing_and_Law/forking.html , I've used
deliberately proprietary, non-forkable licensing like this:
Copyright (C) 1999-2004, Rick Moen.
Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire article are
permitted in any medium provided this notice is preserved.
For my personal "rants" collection, http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/faq/,
I was torn: Some parts of it are technically useful, and I wanted to
allow creation of derivative works that don't reflect on me as author.
Also, I had no objection to mirroring the entire thing verbatim,
especially after I put a pointer to its canonical URL at the top.
Eventually, I arrived at a unique compromise:
Copyright (C) 1995-2004 by Rick Moen. Verbatim copying,
distribution, and display of this entire article are permitted in any
medium, provided this notice is preserved. Alternatively, you may
create derivative works of any sort for any purpose, provided your
versions contain no attribution to me, and that you assert your own
authorship (and not mine) in every practical medium.
The second sentence exemplifies a concept invented by _Linux Journal_
editor Don Marti, which he calls "bastard reverse copyleft". (Its
legal effect is untested.)
Cheers, Never anger a bard, for your name sounds funny and
Rick Moen scans to many popular songs.
rick at linuxmafia.com -- Stephen Savitzky
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