Battlestar Wiki:Why Battlestar Wiki doesn't use the GFDL

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BSG WIKI Project.png This page is one of Battlestar Wiki's many projects.
This page serves to coordinate discussion on a particular aspect of this Wiki. The formal recommendations of a project may be treated as policies.

This is a derivative work from Memory Alpha, which is permissible under the Creative Commons license.

Many wikiwikis (including Battlestar Wiki's "godparent," Wikipedia) use the GNU Free Documentation License to protect their work. The GFDL is a copyleft license that is designed for the free distribution of software manuals and other similar documents.

Why the GFDL doesn't work for Battlestar Wiki

The GFDL does fit the wiki format quite well, allowing for free sharing and modification of the work in question and all derivative works. However, there are several problems specific to Battlestar Wiki that make the GFDL unsuitable for our purposes.

  • Duplication. A copy of that license, plus the copyright notice of the document must be duplicated along with the work itself. In practical terms, this means that any fan website would have to post a copy of the GFDL alongside even a single article that was reposted.
  • Combining. Documents combined with a GFDL-licensed work must also be released under the same license. Echoing the concerns of Memory Alpha's owners, Battlestar Wiki's owner thinks that it is unreasonable to expect fans to release all of their own work under the GFDL, simply to be allowed to use material from Battlestar Wiki.
  • Images. The GFDL makes no explicit mention of fair use rules in its terms. Images and other documents that are added to a collection must be released under the GFDL, which requires the explicit approval of the owner of the copyright.
  • Commercial use. The GFDL explicitly allows commercial use of material distributed under said license. However, because Battlestar Galactica is owned by Universal Studios, commercial uses need to be explicitly forbidden.

Because of these major restrictions, we have chosen to avoid the GFDL for all Battlestar Wiki content.

(There is one exception to the rule: Battlestar Wiki has adapted a number of documentation pages from Wikipedia and Meta-Wikipedia to help develop the policies and guidelines of the project. These pages qualify as an aggregate rather than a collection, because the documentation is clearly separate from the Battlestar-related material. The GFDL specifically states, "When the Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document.")

Why Battlestar Wiki uses the Creative Commons License

After researching the "copyleft" licensing, Joe Beaudoin came to the decision to adopt the Creative Commons licensing scheme. It not only protected the rights of Universal Studios, but it also allowed for contributions to come under a less restrictive—and seemingly anachronistic—license.

See Also