ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


SnowI really just wanted to post to say that Valparaiso got hit with about two feet of snow, and it is awesome. Our street is outside of the city (yes, we live in the greater metropolitan Valparaiso area!) and so it has not been plowed and is not likely to be plowed any time soon. And so, the image at left pretty much captures what I see when I look out my window.

But, when I went on wikipedia to get the image in question, I found that my use of it is subject to something called the GNU Free Documentation License, the purpose of which is "to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document "free" in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not being considered responsible for modifications made by others."

Now, I often use images on this blog that I find on the Wikipedia Commons. I do so because images on Wikipedia Commons may be freely reused without permission. Increasingly, however, I find that images on Wikipedia are now subject to this GNU license, which is fine, except that it's damned hard to know how to comply with it! The GNU license states:

You may copy and distribute the Document in any medium, either commercially or noncommercially, provided that this License, the copyright notices, and the license notice saying this License applies to the Document are reproduced in all copies, and that you add no other conditions whatsoever to those of this License.

Okay, so, for example, with respect to the image I'm using today, how do I reproduce the license when I copy and distribute an image on this blog? Is it enough that I provided a link to the license (as I have done) or am I supposed to cut and paste the license into each blog post that contains an image subject to the license (which would be ridiculous)?

In addition, the license provides the following:

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:

Copyright (c) YEAR YOUR NAME.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.

A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

It seems to me that this "freedom" is more trouble than it's worth.

I do want to give credit where credit is due.

So, thanks, Sean the Spook, for this lovely picture of Long Mynd in Shropshire, taken on February 24, 2005.

It reminds me of home.

[Jeremy Telman]

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