Hi Andreas,

2016-01-26 13:17 GMT+01:00 Andreas Kolbe <jayen...@gmail.com>:
> In my opinion, Wikidata's CC-0 licence undermines that, because it allows
> re-users to cut the chain between the end user and the data's original
> source.

If I understand, you are concerned about verifiability of information
in Wikidata. What is completely unclear to me is why you are mixing
verifiability and copyright or, in other words, why you think that you
can solve the problem of verifiability with copyright.

Licenses are for copyright, not verifiability. Using a different
license will not solve your verifiability problems.

# Is CC-BY for Wikidata a good idea?

CC-0 or CC-BY (or any license) are based on copyright law. Broadly
speaking (but IANAL), "facts" are not copyrightable because they lack
originality which is one of the conditions required by copyright law.
In this sense, no single statement that you find on Wikidata (e.g.
Barack Obama was born on 4 August 1961) is copyrightable.

For collections of facts (i.e. datasets) the situation is much less
clear and it is not easy to decide if collection of data/facts are
copyrightable at all. The doctrine of the "Sweat of the Brow" [1a][1b]
indeed the originality requirement is relaxed and the fact that "skill
and labour" was put in creating a collection of data is sufficient to
give rise to copyright. This view has been recently rejected in some
court cases by the European Court of Justice (see Football Dataco &
others v. Yahoo UK ! [2a][2b]) ruling that it is not sufficient to say
that putting together a collection of facts required some sort of
effort (even quantifiable in monetary terms) to give rise to
copyright. In Football Dataco v. Yahoo the dataset consisted in sports
event results, but the same applies also to other contexts such as the
digitization of (public domain) photographs or OCR of (public domain)

As a Wikimedian, I am more than eager to support the idea that scanned
versions of PD photos and texts should remain in the public domain. I
do not want to invoke this kind of principle to be able to claim
copyright on the Wikidata dataset so to be able to apply the CC-BY
license. This is also the position of other projects like Project
Gutenberg [3].

On the other hand, in many jurisdictions the moral rights [4]
associated with any work, e. g. among other the right of having the
paternity of a work attributed, are perpetual and can not be
transferred or waived. In fact the CC-0 legal code says: "A Work made
available under CC0 may be protected by copyright and related or
neighboring rights includ[ing]: moral rights retained by the original
author(s) and/or performer(s); database rights; [...]".

So the problem of which is the justification for having Wikidata
released under CC-BY remains.

# Licenses and verifiability

Besides the problem above, even if we could use CC-BY and make use of
"Sui Generis Database Rights" (see section 4 of CC-BY legal code [5])
I am not sure your verifiability problem would be solved. CC-BY
requires the reuser to provide "[...] attribution, in any reasonable
manner requested by the Licensor".

This means that I could build a page replicating (part of) Wikidata
data, maybe mix them with other sources and the add a link to the
bottom of the saying "Data from Wikidata (c) Wikidata contributors
CC-BY (+link to the item and item history for author names); source A;
source B; ...".

This would completely satisfy the attribution requirement but do
little to solve the verifiability problem because, basically, you can
not use copyright to force anybody to use a particular design of their
website and/or database and maintain the "verifiability chain" for
each statement.

To conclude, the verifiability problem is very important for all the
projects, but I am very skeptic to the idea that  copyright licenses
are the means to solve it


[1a] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweat_of_the_brow
[1b] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikilegal/Sweat_of_the_Brow
[2a] http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?&num=C-604/10
[3] https://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Gutenberg:No_Sweat_of_the_Brow_Copyright
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_rights
[5] https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode

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