AcaWiki:License change proposal

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Contributions to AcaWiki are published under CC-BY as the project was started with a seed grant which required CC-BY. Moving to CC-BY-SA has been suggested several times, including:

Should AcaWiki change to BY-SA? As the advantages and disadvantages of each are largely symmetric, the advantages of each listed below. Please add/edit/reference.

All BY: All articles BY (status quo)

  • Current license, no effort
  • Some in Open Access, closely related to AcaWiki, see BY as the ideal (for research publication; unclear how that carries over to other kinds of works)
  • AcaWiki summaries can achieve dissemination in proprietary contexts
  • AcaWiki summaries can be incorporated into BY works


Support, oppose, comment, question? Add yours.

All BY-SA: All articles switched to BY-SA

  • License question will be resolved; otherwise would come up periodically
  • Could incorporate material from Wikimedia-hosted wikis or other BY-SA works. Examples:
  • Some people strongly prefer SA/copyleft; might not contribute to AcaWiki otherwise
    • I can only speak for myself, but a major reason that I prefer copyleft is to avoid what I could call "modification lockout": I contribute a free summary to AcaWiki, someone elsewhere legally uses it CC-BY with modifications, but the modified version is not licensed CC-BY, and so I cannot legally further modify or build upon the modifications. This is not merely hypothetical: a real-life example is when Wikimedia France used a modified AcaWiki summary; AcaWiki is legally locked out of copying back this modified version. This case is particularly ironic given that Wikimedia's intention was to share back the modifications, yet AcaWiki's license locked itself out!
  • Summaries are usually brief, and their use in many contexts "fair"; the additional license condition may not be a practical barrier to some dissemination
    • This is a murky point. As I understand it, the shorter the content, then the more difficult it is to consider its reuse "fair", but IANAL. Ochado (talk) 04:52, 21 February 2013 (CET)

Possible means of license switch

  • As of a given date (e.g. April 1, 2013), AcaWiki changes its license to something like this: "All contributions prior to April 1, 2013 were licensed CC-BY. As of April 1, 2013, all new contributions are licensed CC-BY-SA."
  • If a switch is carried out, a full dump of the database as of the day before the switch should be created and made permanently available for download. That way, anyone who does not want to be restricted by the ShareAlike condition could access CC-BY versions of all articles before the switch.


Support, oppose, comment, question? Add yours.

  • Weak support. Tangible benefit for project (able to ingest more material). I'm not overly enthusiastic about BY-SA, but neither am I enthusiastic about BY. If existing license were public domain, I might oppose, but it's not. My independent contributions will be public domain regardless, as they are on Wikimedia projects. Mike Linksvayer (talk) 04:07, 21 February 2013 (CET)
    • Removed "weak" qualifier, find Ochado's statement compelling. Mike Linksvayer (talk) 21:38, 21 February 2013 (CET)
  • Strong support. I started a list above of some sites from which AcaWiki might be able to source summaries. I really believe this license change could open the door to a lot more contributions to AcaWiki. Ochado (talk) 04:36, 21 February 2013 (CET)

Default BY, opt-in BY-SA: Default BY, but relicense specific articles BY-SA when such material is incorporated

State that Acawiki will not add any licensing restrictions that included or transwikied material doesn't require. So: Any page that is solely the work of its acawiki author would be CC-BY. Pages that incorporate CC-SA material would become CC-SA.

It is always safe to use material you find on Acawiki under CC-SA restrictions; but if you confirm that it was purely the result of edits on Acawiki, you can use it under CC-BY.


  • The whole point of BY is to make reuse easier, especially in the far future. SA bodies of work slowly grow year by year, making everything that touches or interoperates with them SA. If you want abstracts and summaries in general to be BY - and they will of course build on one another, use the same templates and formats, merge and split - you have to build a primarily-BY repository.
I see two kinds of reusers:
a) casual reusers who can't be arsed to figure out copyright details, and
b) other archives / scripted knowledge-mining reusers, looking for comprehensive sources for other large-scope projects.
For the first group, the reuse page can start with the sentence
"You can use any material from this site under a BY-SA license."
For the second group, we should generate as much CC-BY material as possible, since that material will be much more broadly reusable in any complex multi-element derivative. For them, it can say
"Some material is also available for use under CC-BY: for details see <copyrights page>"
To really be a good archive, it would also say
"Some material such as categories and other metadata are available under CC-0; for details see <c. p.>"
  • I think this variation would be too confusing and burdensome on reusers--they would have to dig through and interpret history pages to verify the correct license that applies to the current version. Ochado (talk) 03:29, 22 February 2013 (CET)
  • I propose the following implementation to incorporate both BY and BY-SA:
  1. A new SMW property "License" will be created.
  2. All existing articles will be filled in with the default value "BY".
  3. In the page edit view, users will be given the option to set the license for each edit they contribute.
  4. The default value for all new edits will be "BY".
  5. Users will have the option to set the license for their edit to "BY-SA". There might be a brief text encouraging BY contributions, but requiring BY-SA in the case of incorporating BY-SA content.
  6. If a user sets their edit to "BY-SA", then that article's license will switch irrevocably to "BY-SA"; no editing of the license property will henceforth be permitted (except perhaps by an administrator or bureaucrat)--this could be perhaps enforced with a protected template. It would be nice if the template could also display a link to the last version of the article with a BY license--this could be useful for those who want the BY version. I don't know how this might be implemented, though.
  7. Perhaps creating a BY-SA article can be done by anyone, but switching license for an existing article from BY to BY-SA would be a flagged revision requiring verification by an administrator.
Ochado (talk) 00:30, 25 February 2013 (CET)
This is do-able, though adding a licensing field to the summary form is annoying: boring and confusing for any contributor who don't already care too much. But if we're going to have such a field, I demand a CC0 option. :) We might also use this juncture to clarify that all metadata (such as bibliographic info and categories) is public domain, explicitly CC0 going forward. We should do that no matter what, right? Ochado, would implementation of the above proposal un-prevent you from contributing going forward? Do you think that would be the case for others demanding copyleft? Mike Linksvayer (talk) 00:19, 6 March 2013 (CET)