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Neil Harris wrote:
Christopher Mahan wrote:
--- Neil Harris <usenet-aflbMylNHbUjX+cr6OkN1Vpr/1R2p/CL@public.gmane.org> wrote:
I agree: there can be many partners, and there's no reason not to be partners with many people and organizations. But with the Wikipedia brand becoming more and more valuable, and official trademark recognition in the offing, there needs to be an official process for registration of Wikipedia/Wikimedia partners. In particular, I believe that the Foundation will have a legal requirement to defend its trademarks Real Soon Now, and not doing so risks losing the rights over that trademark and becoming a genericized trademark.
Any value the wikipedia brand has comes from the content of the wikipedia. The content itself does not "belong" to the Wikimedia Foundation. The brand, well, I could not care less. Be careful that you recognize value where it really is.
The content belongs to its original copyright owners, and increasingly, the Wikimedia Foundation is their official copyright agent. The community is deeply tied up with the Wikipedia name and reputation; if there's no community, there will be no encyclopedia. The name (and logo) are a banner for everyone to unite around.
Trust me, the brand is worth a great deal, in both moral and monetary terms: people want to contribute to "the" Wikipedia, not a fork, for example, and donors want to fund the "real" Wikipedia project, not one of the hundreds of knockoffs. The brand symbolically holds the community and initiative together, and symbols have great power. Even the strongest Free Software advocates like Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds jealously protect the GNU and Linux brands; and for good reason.
If things were to fall apart, the community _could_ realign around a different organization, with a different name: consider x.org vs. xfree86 -- however, that would be an option of last resort, after some assumed failure of the current Wikimedia initiative, which is what the Foundation exists to prevent. Hence the important of good branding and trademark policies.
The Foundation urgently needs an official policy before anything damaging occurs to the Wikipedia/Wikimedia brand. An official partner list page would be a good idea: so the Foundation can say "if you're not on this page, you're not an official partner, and here's how to apply to be a Wikimedia partner, dear Bill/Melinda [delete as applicable]"
Do we? Is it so important that we "recognize" our "partners"?
Yes it is. Partnership implies two-way consent. On the other hand, the GFDL makes all the content available to anyone, without any need for recognition or permission save that explicitly given in the GFDL. And letting self-designated "partners" use the trademarks without explicit permission leads down the slippery path to genericization, which has the potential to severely damage the project.
I say the opposite is true. We should have a policy that says: "It does not matter how much money, content, or goodwill you send our way, we are not putting your logo or anything else in the wikipedia. Our NPOV policy would prohibit that, now that I think about it.
It would be kind of like saying "This unbiased beverage report brought to you by our Partner: Pepsi"
I agree with you on this. Partner recognition should be kept well clear of the content. Which is why I recommend having partnership info on the Wikimedia Foundation site, not in the project content.
There are some very important points here in the matter of intellectual property law. I have long believed that in terms of copyrights the big argument will not come over the inclusion of copyvio material in some Wikipedia article, but over the willingness of Wikimedia to defend the collective rights of its multitude of licensors. The collective has a history of removing copyvio material when it is found, often to an extent that far exceeds what may be required by law. We only need to be aware of the copyvio material before we act.
So far, I believe that those who have used the Wikipedia material have been reasonably willing to be compliant when advised of the GFDL. What happens if someone bluntly and stubbornly refuses? What tools do we have that we are willing to use to enforce compliance? Who has the personal responsibility to take the necessary legal steps? Prosecuting cases can be more difficult than defending them. The fact that our collective rights are primarily not fiscal ones makes protecting them more difficult in a judicial system that reduces all disputes to dollar values as the lowest common denominator. A lawyer working on contingency fees knows how to calculate 30% of nothing.
I remember well the first "24" who was chased away when I arrived three years ago. (He should not be confused with the more recent and now more familiar one who really was a PIA.) Anyways, the first 24 was concerned with a set of ideas in economic theory based on different kinds of capital. He considered such things as social capital, educational capital and environmental capital, all of which should appear on some kind of balance sheet. IIRC he was mostly criticized for presenting original research, but some of which I had heard already heard about in other sources. The point in raising this is that we need to look at capital in other than monetary terms, because that may be the one common idea that underpins all movements for the free distribution of knowledge. In the matter of partnerships being big has certain advantages; it allows us to be in the driver's seat. We can, for example, charge a fee for the right to call oneself a Wikipedia partner while doing very little else in return. A single page which shows the logos of all our partners would be enough. That would only be there as verification that someone that calls himself a partner really is.
Picture this: We have, by volunteer effort alone, created a half-billion dollar gorilla that can't be sold (though not for a lack of willing buyers). Its physical assets are a tiny depreciating server farm, and a little pocket change in the bank. Enron could only wish to have done so much with so little? That's the ultimate futures trade by the libertarian capitalist king of a socialist monarchy.
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