Wikipedia talk:Non-free content/Archive 46

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Guernica on PTSD

While looking around, I realized that the image of Picasso's Guernica painting was being used as a header on Posttraumatic stress disorder. I removed it; this seems like a clearly decorative use to me. If you're interested, there is a thread on the article's talk page. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:34, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

I've had to address overuse of that image in the past, as well. It seems a peculiarly popular choice for illustrative purposes, with common arguments that it expresses a certain emotion or concept (like "war" or "trauma") better than any other image ever could. I'll admit one thing is unique about it, though -- I've never seen any other copyrighted painting that people want to use this way so often. In fact, I still see several uses that are questionable at best. Time for another non-free review, I think. Powers T 13:02, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Image/single cover issues

There is an interesting issue with the song Each Tear, its a unique case as it is a single which has four different featured artists (one for each release market) and so four different single covers. Standard practise and understanding is that more than one cover is not permitted unless there is significant rational e.g. different releases/versions/remixes and significant differences in the single covers. The full case and issue is detailed Talk:Each Tear and the article in question (Each Tear).Lil-unique1 (talk) 19:07, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

MoS naming style

There is currently an ongoing discussion about the future of this and others MoS naming style. Please consider the issues raised in the discussion and vote if you wish GnevinAWB (talk) 20:59, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Anyone care to have a look at this and give a comment on how the fifty-one non-free images can be reduced to something approaching normality (short of removing the whole lot, which would probably make the articler pointless). Could we not link to the external page where the images are hosted? Black Kite (t) (c) 11:28, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

  • I think the article in general is problematic, and not just for the mass overuse of fair use images. At first pass, it appears well referenced. But, it isn't. Refs 1, 3 and 4 reference another encyclopedia. Refs 8 through 16 are self referential to Wikipedia. #18 references an in-universe movie. 22 references an in-universe book. And on it goes.
  • Wikipedia is not a guide. We don't need to show every rank insignia ever conceived for Star Trek in order to have a comprehensive encyclopedia article about the subject of Starfleet ranks and insignia.
  • Unfortunately, this article falls into a general grouping of articles where there are significant number of people willing to fight tooth and nail for the current, mass overuse of non-free media versions. There are plenty of articles that, in their current intent, would be hamstrung by the removal of fair use images, and are little more than galleries of non-free media. Some other examples; Estonian Air Force (24 non-free images), Gallery of country coats of arms (25), United States license plate designs and serial formats (28), History of BBC television idents (32), Canadian Forces ranks and insignia (58). --Hammersoft (talk) 13:01, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I think the issue is dealt with more to the fact that this is beyond excessive detail for WP, particularly given that we have a relative decent resource (Memory Alpha) that we can point outside to for this type of stuff. I can see, for each "row" of images, a single image to give a taste of what that insigna is like, but we can't use them all. --MASEM (t) 13:15, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
    • I looked at the Estonian article; many are tagged as PD and fair use. That needs to be fixed. User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 17:05, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I have edited the article but not extensively and I am not "willing to fight tooth and nail" for it. However, I find the use of non-free images acceptable in this article (and the others listed by Hammersoft, for that matter). Sticking to this article, I believe that the lack of individual images "would be detrimental to [the] understanding" of the article (per WP:NFCC#8). Several are suffiently varied that a single example would not suffice. It would be possible to slightly reduce the number of "pip"-style images (there are usually only two "pips" each, used in various combinations, so repeated use of two images could replace a row) but I do not think that would resolve your problem entirely. The article itself has passed AfD (here) so I don't believe its notability or other article-based complaints can be considered an issue. To my mind, the most relevant non-free content criteria is WP:NFCC#3 (respect for commercial opportunities) and I believe that the article passes this; the main commerical opportunity would be the sale of replicas, which are physical objects and not hampered by a collection of images (any more so than the series/films would hamper this opportunity). There is no strict cap on non-free images, just a subjective case-by-case judgement. In summary, again, I do not find the use of images in this article to be a problem nor to be in breach of Wikipedia policy. My opinion applies to the other linked articles as well; sometimes there can be exceptions to a general guideline. - AdamBMorgan (talk) 11:45, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
    • I am also thinking some can be redrawn so they could become free. I noticed that with the Canadian article and I done it before for the Starfleet images. I will see what I can do about it. User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 13:14, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I think perhaps the point is being missed that Wikipedia is a not a guide. Having a comprehensive list of ranks and pictures of every rank symbol is being a guide. A complete revamp of the article is in order. Turning it into an actual encyclopedia article would dramatically reduce the number of fair use images and provide a significantly enhanced resource. As is, as I noted, this article is severely lacking in out of universe citations. If it were up for AfD, I'd vote it out of Wikipedia unless it was revamped into an encyclopedia article. This article is kind of like asking for the box score of a sporting event, and getting the complete telecast of the event in response. It's unnecessary, and counter to our purpose here. This sort of content is appropriate for the Star Trek Wikia, not here. --Hammersoft (talk) 13:30, 26 April 2010 (UTC)


I'm familiar with WP:NFCC, WP:IUP and the various other policies governing image use on Wikipedia...but I'm interested if anybody can explain the specific rationale behind one particular issue. Why do current guidelines prevent us from uploading a CC-BY-SA-ND image to Wikipedia, and using it in its original form? Clearly, it wouldn't be appropriate to create or release derivative works, but it seems that by hosting the original, we would definitely be within the spirit and letter of the licence and our copyright obligations. (Does scaling the image—e.g. for use in an article—constitute an impermissible derivation? That sounds like unsettled law to me....) TheFeds 04:43, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Because it is a restrictive license that after May 2005, it requires to be deleted on sight. It was decided by Jimmy Wales then and that is the policy we have gone by. User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 05:55, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict)The rationale is quite simple. Wikipedia is a free content project. The definition of free content used state that (among other things) if a license does not allow derivative works to be created it's not freely licensed, and so is considered non-free. It's not about complying with the law or the terms of the license, as you hint at there is no problem in that regard. It's simply a mater of project policy. Licenses that do not allow derivative works, commercial use or have various similar restrictions are simply not sufficiently free, and content on Wikipedia needs to either be fully free licensed, or used only when it fully satisfy the exception conditions provided by the non-free content policy. --Sherool (talk) 06:06, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
It's a little misleading to cite a definition of free content that wasn't created until long after the decision was already made. Zscout is more accurate historically. We don't use ND because it was not "free enough" to match the ideology of Wikipedia as specified by Jimmy Wales back in the early days of the project. For the most part, the project has gotten more likely to exclude content rather than more inclusive during the years since then. Dragons flight (talk) 06:26, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Yet we've grown our non-free content library to more than 350,000 images. --Hammersoft (talk) 12:46, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
  • TheFeds, have a look at the cc-by-sa-nd license and the cc-by-sa license. You'll note that on the latter, there is a circle shaped mark on the right that says "Approved for Free Cultural Works", which mark the former lacks. That's the crux of the difference and why we don't accept ND material. Wikipedia is a free content project. Anything we accept as being "free" must fit the definition of a free cultural work. ND doesn't. Therefore, we only accept such material under terms of our non-free content criteria. To us, it isn't free. --Hammersoft (talk) 12:50, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
    • Again, this is somewhat tautological. The only reason the "Approved for Free Cultural Works" is there is because Wikimedians created the definition of free cultural works and our Board approved it. Without that endorsement, CC would not have cared. That's just another way of saying it's not free enough because we decided it is not free enough. The definition does help to explain what we decided "free" would mean, even though the definition was only created long after the decision to exclude ND was already made. Dragons flight (talk) 16:17, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
I just realized that I included a superfluous "SA" term in the description; it looks like you all understood what I meant (CC-BY-ND)....
I find it interesting that we don't have a middle ground under the NFCC for works which have been explicitly licenced for re-use (so implications of fair use don't come into play), but which are less-than-free. This leads to a slightly perverse situation where we can include some unlicenced, copyrighted materials (the canonical example would be an album cover with a fair use rationale), but can't use some licenced works within the provisions of the licence (because we can't create a valid fair use rationale, despite the fact that we're being offered the media under less restrictive terms than fair use).
It was the rationale behind this state of affairs that was confounding me. TheFeds 16:25, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
There have been conversations (mostly off Wikipedia) about allowing NC, ND, education-only, and other restrictive licenses on WMF projects as an intermediate level of permission somewhere between free content and fair use. It is certainly true that "some rights reserved" should probably be understood as somewhat superior than "all rights reserved"/fair use. In general, one might imagine a system where NC/ND images were considered good enough to replace fair use images, but still subject to the condition that they should not be used if any truly free alternative exists. This has taken on added importance as newspapers and other large publishers have started releasing large numbers of images from their archives as NC.
Aside from the fact it would require a major change in policy at the WMF level (which is hard, but always possible), I think there are ~3 main objections to allowing a strategy that supports NC, ND, or other somewhat free licenses. 1) Any expansion of the use of content that isn't completely free, undermines our efforts to promote the creation of truly free content. 2) Image management is already one of our most complex processes, and this would make it worse, both for us and for reusers. 3) The compatibility of such licenses with our existing content licenses is untested / unclear. I suspect that the first point, that Wikipedia shouldn't expand its use of "non-free" content is probably already a sufficient ideological barrier to consensus here. However, it is the third point that is probably the biggest blocker for the WMF. For example, Mike Godwin offered a preliminary view while discussing this issue some time ago that including NC images in a CC-BY-SA text document may be an intolerable breach of both licenses (even if the CC-BY-SA content was not being used commercially at the time). I don't know of any particular discussion about ND, but I suspect there would be a similar concern. (Incidentally, there are still untested questions about the compatibility of existing licenses, such as GFDL-1.2 images and CC-BY-SA text, but generally content related to those unsettled questions are allowed to persist for mostly historical reasons. It is unlikely that the WMF would want to allow us to move into areas that have similar ambiguities in the future.) Dragons flight (talk) 17:41, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Dragons, if you're concerned enough about this, you can approach the Foundation about it. There's nothing we can do here about it. --Hammersoft (talk) 16:50, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

LOL, I've already have had long conversations with Erik Moller about it. I didn't think I was asking you to do anything. Dragons flight (talk) 17:13, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Sometimes, perhaps quite often, I think people seek their images to be ND quite narrowly to prevent images being re-used in a misleading way. For example, if the image was altered but then passed off as the unaltered original.

If I remember correctly, UK Crown Copyright images are ND, I suspect for this reason; as I think are some official Australian images, some Scottish Parliament images, and I imagine many more.

I suspect (though this may not always be the case) that the primary objection is not to derivative works per se -- for instance the image being used in a collage, or in some transformative way; but rather against the pictures being altered and then used to mislead people. One could imagine that eg an archive of historic pictures might want to protect its pictures from being altered and then used to present eg a false view of the holocaust; or a photograph of a politician altered and then passed off as genuine; or an image of a law being modified and then being passed off to give a misleading view of a statute; or a work by an artist altered and then passed off as the original. In each case the real objection here wouldn't be to the re-use, alteration, or derivative work as such; but rather to it then being pretended to be something it wasn't.

One thing, which I wonder if it might help, would be a CC license that allowed derivative works, but explicitly forbade misrepresentation. If such a license existed, and could be acceptable, I wonder if that might not let quite a lot more content become available on freer terms.

Might it even finally make it possible for us to license our own logo? (You may modify this image, but you must then make clear that it is not the Wikipedia logo)... Jheald (talk) 18:50, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Wouldn't that give the author a perpetual veto on reuse, since they could always claim that some new use misrepresents their intent? This is related to the "no restriction on fields of endeavor" requirement for free software. A key part of free content is the can use it without worry about whether the original author would agree with our use, even using it in ways that mock or contradict the original author's intentions. — Carl (CBM · talk) 19:34, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Yeah I can see the same problems. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:39, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
I was thinking more of a permission to reuse, provided that any alteration was accompanied by a message that this was not the original work. I don't think that would represent a veto. Jheald (talk) 21:10, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

My understanding was that there is a big practical argument in addition to the "philosophical" argument of promoting free content. It is unclear how much modification is allowed before the ND clause is breached, and we would have to watch over all ND licensed images and make a decision each time. The "absolute purists" have, in the past, argued that the change from a JPG to a PNG is a modification requiring attribution, for example, although I think this viewpoint is now a small minority. But is cropping a picture (something commonly done for encyclopedic purposes) the creation of a derivative work? Or the addition of simple labelling? All the time that we allow ourselves to breach the license under fair use (within WP:NFCC), we don't have to worry about such matters, but we would have to worry about them if we hosted them under their original ND license. I thoroughly support any and all copyright information that is placed on the pages of non-free images, including the existence of NC or ND licenses, but to allow another stream of non-free images onto WP would seem to create far more problems than it solves. Physchim62 (talk) 22:14, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

The use of -ND is very easily seen to be ruled out by the part of the Wikipedia motto "that anyone can edit". However I was wondering is we can use an item licensed with -ND as a fair use, but bypass the minimal use and low resolution criteria. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 22:37, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

AfD of note

Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/X Worship 2007. Black Kite (t) (c) 16:37, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Non-free image shared automatically on Facebook

Someone shared a link to the Ola Raknes article on Facebook, and the non-free image was transcluded with the shared link. Obviously this is a breach of the Fair Use licence. Isn't there some mechanism in place to notify sites transcluding bits of our articles for link sharing purposes that such images aren't applicable for transclusion? __meco (talk) 11:00, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

I doubt that Facebook is very concerned about non-free images. The only way they could detect the image is non-free is to look at the image description page; we do not have metadata available in the actual page HTML. — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:27, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
There is no such thing as a "Fair Use license". Fair use is a provision of US copyright law, and not an issue of licensing. So either the use is consistent with the law (and associated judicial precedent) or it isn't. In this particular case, Facebook is almost certainly fine, since thumbnails of internet content are usually seen as fair use (e.g. Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corporation). Dragons flight (talk) 12:08, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

Transformers articles - massive non-free overuse

There are plenty (edit: hundreds) of these articles overusing non-free material. Should they follow the standard and have one image in the infobox? The problem is that the characters look different in the many incarnations of the films/TV/comics etc., plus there are the toys. My take is one image, possibly two to show the alternative configuration. Thoughts?

... and those are just the ones with more than 6 images. There appear to be nearly 1000 articles about individual Transformers characters (see Category:Transformers_characters) and when I clicked on 5 random articles they contained 1, 5, 2, 3 and 6 non-free images respectively ... Black Kite (t) (c) 21:58, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

There's even a two-for-one special:this image manages to violate the copyrights for Scrubs and Transformers at the same time. That said, I'm not inclined to set an arbitrary limit. If someone could find a source detailing the evolution of Soundwave through thirteen separate incarnations, I think images to illustrate the point would be fine. As these articles stand, it's even hard to justify one image: are there any of these articles that are sourced to things independent of the works?—Kww(talk) 22:13, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
No, the fact that the character looks different in different media isn't important enough to justify a non-free image of each one (and four of the images in that article are of Soundwave toys). There's a Transformers wiki for such cruft. But you're right, the fact that so many of the articles are in horrible shape doesn't help. Black Kite (t) (c) 22:29, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't see a major problem here. Most of the robots have multiple incarnations and the details of each incarnation are discussed with multiple paragraphs in many cases. The sourcing of the text is weak or missing, but that's not really an NFC requirement. As long as each incarnation has its own extended discussion, I'd say it is fine to have an image for each one, especially since the images often make obvious tangible differences between the different versions. There are some images that could/should be removed, but most of them seem to be in line with fair use and our encyclopedic mission of helping people understand the evolution of the character. Dragons flight (talk) 00:04, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
It is a major problem. I skimmed the Soundwave article, and could justify 2, maybe 3 NFC images at most: one of his transformed-from-tape-record figures, and one from Revenge of the Fallen, and *maybe* Beast Wars one (but he looks like a croc/lizard, that's not difficult to replace in text). All the other images are loose derivatives of these. Just because the coloring changed, or the armor's a little different, is not sufficient to justify a new image; we are not a fandom spotter's guide. This is ignoring problems with the text and the like. These all need major trimming of NFC fat. --MASEM (t) 07:04, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Indeed. If the individual incarnations and toys are not independently notable, they can't support a non-free image. We aren't a toy catalogue or a film guide. I'll give these a week or so and then start trimming them. (Edit: not to mention that I suspect a large number of these articles aren't independently notable). Black Kite (t) (c) 17:33, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Individual incarnations are independently noteworthy and able to justify fair use images in my opinion, as evidenced by the extended discussion granted many of the incarnations. We are an encyclopedia that includes Transformers, and since we do include them, then we should do a good job of discussing them. A good encyclopedia entry on the topic ought to discuss the history and evolution of the characters in my opinion. I'd say Soundwave, for example, can easily support 6-8 images. Dragons flight (talk) 17:05, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
If it was independently notable it would be able to support a separate article. I'm pretty sure that if that was to happen they'd end up being merged back to the main article. We don't support multiple non-free images in list articles, which is what these are. Most of the images don't pass all 10 criteria at WP:NFCC, most notably 1, 3a and 8. Black Kite (t) (c) 19:34, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I agree with that assessment. Covering the evolution of a character using images, when the various designs are not separately notable from in-universe citations, is a form of original research. If you want put together original research on the subject, then go to the Transformers Wikia. This is an encyclopedia, not a guide. --Hammersoft (talk) 20:18, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, it's an encyclopedia... that includes Transformers. I assume it is a settled point that Transformers are generally eligible for inclusion (i.e. we aren't going to delete the articles.) Given that, I see no reason why we ought to defer the job writing a definitive historical treatment of the Transformers to some other site. I respectively disagree with you and Black Kite. In my opinion, this kind of treatment is generally within the scope of Wikipedia and fair use / NFCC. Personally, if we are going to cover the topic, then I believe we should write the best possible articles we can. The articles should be improved (citations!), but showing the evolution is a natural part of the coverage of the topic and should remain in my opinion. Dragons flight (talk) 06:13, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Nobody is saying Transformers aren't notable. That's not the point. We do not conduct original research here. It's important to understand that encyclopedias are tertiary sources for information, not primary or even secondary. Our job is to summarize secondary sources of information. The level of detail you aspire to in these articles creates a secondary source. Wikia can do that. We're an encyclopedia, and can't. If you want a complete compendium on everything Transformers, then Wikia is where you want to go. This is an encyclopedia, and we are not a guide. --Hammersoft (talk) 12:43, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
You're off-topic. If you think the article should be dismantled, then by all means try to do so. (I disagree there too, but that's not an NFCC issue.) If a long article exists which discusses multiple distinctive incarnations of the characters, then I'd say using multiple images to support that is appropriate. You seem to be saying the images shouldn't be used because the article in its current form shouldn't exist. If that's what you believe then you should be rewriting the articles rather than just debating the significance of the images. Dragons flight (talk) 16:06, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
This gets off-topic, but you should look at Writing about fiction - while we can cover notable fiction elements, it is not in the area of summarizing them as a fan guide, but instead to focus on the development and reception and real-world aspects. That is, you want the article to be as useful to the person who never saw, and will likely never see, "Transformers" in any shape or form, just as it is to the dedicated fan. Now, to NFC, this does not mean it is inappropriate to describe every incarnation of the character across a media franchise, but the thing is, taking the example of the Soundwave article, we can basically split it into three main forms, with various modifications here and there within each form (tape deck, croc, and satellite thing). Understandably, the robot-form of each main form would be unique enough for a picture, but not every sub-variation, nor necessarily their non-robot-form (eg, we can safely assume they know what a tape deck is , and a link can clear up confusion). Thus for minimizing non-free content, we need to focus on using as few pictures that someone reading the work can understand what they look like. If you can justify more by having sourced discussion of the changes or the like, that's better, but without that, these are close to being just decorative (merely identification) and thus any more than the basic forms is overuse. --MASEM (t) 19:04, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

@Dragons flight; I can certainly debate the appropriateness of images without being obligated to re-write articles in order to do so. Also, I disagree; talking about the essence of what an encyclopedia is vs. a Wikia type project is fundamentally on topic. I am not saying the images shouldn't be used because the article in its current form shouldn't exist. I'm saying if there isn't secondary sources supporting the notability of a given form, model, what have you of a particular transformer, you're in the realm of original research, and tying it to a non-free media representation of it is even worse. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:45, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

My point is that the notably of the forms is irrelevant to NFCC. As long as they are being discussed at length, I am going to support their being illustrated. The question of whether they should be so discussed is a content issue that may need to be addressed, but as long as the articles take the general form of discussing each incarnation in turn, I am going to support illustrating each distinctive incarnation. Whether or not illustrations serve an encyclopedic purpose can only make sense in the context of looking at the encyclopedia article they appear in. If you think that purpose is wrong (e.g. OR, out of scope, etc.) then you need to be prepared to change the article, not just remove the images. Dragons flight (talk) 20:08, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
  • You have to support that discussion with reliable sources. As I've shown below, it's completely absent from the article. This issue isn't a content issue. It's a fundamental issue. See Wikipedia:Five pillars, #2. "unreferenced material may be removed, so please provide references". And again, I don't have to be prepared to take the article over and completely revamp it simply because I remove images. --Hammersoft (talk) 20:40, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
On the other hand, an object is a reliable source for its own existence; just as a film is a reliable source for its own plot. Jheald (talk) 21:12, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
"Primary sources, on the other hand, are often difficult to use appropriately." --Hammersoft (talk) 21:20, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
... as clarified at WP:PSTS: Interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation. (emphasis added). Jheald (talk) 21:31, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
This keeps on making me itch that we want NFCC#8 to require a picture to be tied to a secondary source to assert it is useful to an article. While an article can be notable with a few sources, filling it with dozens of NFC images because the rest is primary is really really dangerous practice. --MASEM (t) 21:26, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Well, we slipped down the slope of allowing fair use for identification purposes a long time ago, and there's basically zero chance of stopping it now. ~10k images in Category:Non-free comic images. <cough>I'm quite confident that all of those images have been mentioned in secondary sources. <cough> --Hammersoft (talk) 21:35, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm a little confused about what you're getting at here. You're certainly not asserting that our current practice is to require that all non-free images be mentioned as images in secondary sources? Croctotheface (talk) 07:33, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Transformers Wikia anyone? We're an encyclopedia, not a guide. --Hammersoft (talk) 18:08, 26 April 2010 (UTC)Also, I went through and checked 50 articles in Category:Autobots. Average; 2.6 per page. 32 of them has 2 or less (4 had zero). One had 12. I came across multiple non-free 3D art images tagged as free. I think perhaps we need to contact Wikipedia:WikiProject Comics for assistance in cleaning this up. --Hammersoft (talk) 16:18, 27 April 2010 (UTC)


Since we're focusing on the Soundwave (Transformers) article, I took a more thorough look at it, paying special attention to the references. Here's what we have:

  1. Time Magazine; no problem.
  2. Fansite. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  3. Fansite. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  4. Personal web site by a grad student at Ohio State. Violates Wikipedia:RS#Self-published_sources_.28online_and_paper.29.
  5. Fan site, and this one doesn't even know about. See WP:FANSITE.
  6. Fan site, and this one doesn't even know about. See WP:FANSITE.
  7. Fansite. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  8. "Animation corner" blogspot blog. Violates Wikipedia:RS#Self-published_sources_.28online_and_paper.29.
  9. Fansite forum. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  10. A good patent search. Ok, not bad, but couldn't we use US patent office? Otherwise fine, no problem.
  11. A dead link
  12. A dead link to a page.
  13. A dead link to a page.
  14. Fansite. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  15. Fansite. Not a very big one; ranked below 350,000 at Alexa.
  16. A dead link
  17. Link to Hasbro is the rights holder and creator of the line. This is a primary source. Primary sources can be used, but cautiously as it can quickly be original resaerch. See Wikipedia:RS#Primary.2C_secondary.2C_and_tertiary_sources
  18. Fansite. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  19. USA Today; no problem.
  20. Fansite forum. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  21. (I couldn't raise the site; kept timing out)
  22. Fansite forum. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  23. Fansite forum. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  24. Part of Entertainment News International, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  25. Fansite forum. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  26. Fansite forum. Big one, but a fansite nonetheless. No better than citing Wikia. Also see WP:FANSITE.
  27. An image from the transformers comic series, hosted on a site officially owned by Hasbro. Primary source. Primary sources can be used, but cautiously as it can quickly be original resaerch. See Wikipedia:RS#Primary.2C_secondary.2C_and_tertiary_sources

In summary, 15 fansite links (>50%), 4 (possibly 5) dead links, 2 primary source citations, 2 personal website citations, and just 3 unquestionably reliable sources. In short, the article is very poorly sourced and depends very heavily on in-universe references. If this article was stripped down to what is sourced to reliable secondary sources, it most likely wouldn't pass AfD. Looking at the actual reliable secondary sources, things get worse. Looking at just the first sentence of the article "Soundwave is one of the most recognizable characters from the original Transformers line due to his unique alternate mode, a microcassette recorder, and his distinctive, monotone, computerized voice.", the reference [1] doesn't support any of that. The reference only notes that Soundwave is available for $15. The second reliable source, to the patent registry for Soundwave, does not support the claim in the sentence it's attached to "It is generally thought that the head of the Soundwave toy was the inspiration for the design of the Decepticon symbol". The third reliable source (usa today) supports the sentence it's attached to.

So in terms of what is reliably sourced, this article, properly trimmed down to what is supported, comes out to:

Soundwave is the name of several fictional characters in the various series Transformers universes. The original toy was available for sale for $15 at Macy's stores in New York City in 1984[1]. In a USA Today online fan poll, Soundwave was one of the 10 Transformers that the fans wanted in the sequel, winning with 20% of the votes.[2]. A patent is on file for the design of the toy [3].

That's all you have for reliably sourced content. And this is one the most popular transformers? Dare I guess at the problems of the less popular ones? --Hammersoft (talk) 20:37, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Oh dear...

I've found another problem. There are far more badly overused articles than the one above, because there are lots of toy photos that have been uploaded under a free license (i.e. File:Prowl-universemm.jpg).... Black Kite (t) (c) 06:39, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

I think it's clear toy pictures fall under 2d reproductions of 3D art, and if the art is still in copyright, then there's clearly no free license to the picture. --MASEM (t) 06:53, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
And all Transformers figures are in copyright. However, it might not be as bad as I thought - it looks like the uploader - who has uploaded hundreds of these - is tagging them correctly at the moment, it's his old uploads that are wrong. Black Kite (t) (c) 09:30, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Transformers

I went to this project hoping to find people willing to work on the issues raised in this thread. What I found was a project essentially dead. I inquired about whether it was a live or not. Read the response for yourself if you like.

I'm thinking if anything is going to happen with these issues, it's up to us. --Hammersoft (talk) 14:44, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

Lady Gaga's Telephone

Just to be churlish about the high-handed, inflexible attitude to The Signpost book review case here at the constabulary: I wonder why a full 30-second "sample" of Telephone passes NFCC#2 ("Respect for commercial opportunities"). It contains the crux of the song and could easily be looped—despite the quick fade-down at the end—to provide a workable alternative to purchasing the intellectual property. The res is comparable to what many people receive via analogue radio. The formulaic trotting out of chord names may not sway the court as to educational context. It was the number-one hit in the US last week. Does that fact not have a bearing on NFCC#2? Is this not more likely to be actionable than a common-sense exemption from WP's internal rules about NFC in space categories that has no legal implications whatsoever in the real world? Tony (talk) 08:05, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree that the use of that clip doesn't seem necessary, and I don't think we should establish a practice where every article about a song may include a 30-second sample. However, the text of the article suggests the authors may not be thinking about such things ("Essentially, Gaga's in a club and her boyfriend keeps ringing, but she could not talk as she was drinking and dancing to her favourite song.") In many cases, authors are not aware of our NFCC restrictions, because they just come to Wikipedia to edit articles on topics they find interesting.
However, legal implications are not the point of NFCC; the point of it is to use only a minimal amount of non-free content even if we could use more legally. I suggest simply removing the Lady Gaga clip, if it bothers you. You would have my support. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:47, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Legal implications. Carl, legal implications are very much to do with the Foundation's policy; and there's a box at the top of en.WP's policy page that says "This page documents a Wikipedia policy with legal considerations." The second rationale of the policy is "To minimize legal exposure by limiting the amount of non-free content". In addition, the word "law" occurs twice in the style-guide "in a nutshell" box.
Subjectivity and asymmetrical knowledge. You say: "I suggest simply removing the Lady Gaga clip, if it bothers you." But it's not whether the use of this particular NFC bothers me or you or anyone else; it's whether it's within the policy. Are you suggesting that because I've temporarily cast myself in the role of enforcer, I should draw on my subjective judgement to determine the reach of the policy in this case? I would have your support, but shouldn't it all be more open, more predictable, less prone to on-the-spot interpretation? This is what bothers me. It goes to the heart of what is wrong with the administration of this policy—it's taken out of the skill-profile of editors and retained here for possibly arbitrary implementation by the troops. The clip has not been inserted by a visitor or newbie, but by the type of editor you'd expect to be familiar with the en.WP NFC policy. This is relevant insofar as editors and admins at large have no concrete examples to define, even loosely, where the boundaries lie. It seems to me to be a failure to communicate, to train, to engage.
Am I being wp:pointy? You bet. I want to be convinced that (1) the wording of the policy in relation to Foundation policy would gain community-wide consensus if tested; and (2) the administration of the policy is fair, consistent, efficient and effective. The response thus far reinforces my lack of confidence—it is of great concern. (However, while the generic implications are pointy, my raising this also concerns a genuine wish that such clips be treated consistently and fairly and reasonably. I have raised such queries from time to time on this page, as you know.) Tony (talk) 16:28, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Many aspects of NFC are subjective, and that is a reason why we have xFD for images and other NFC media. When the use of NFC can be objectively determined as unacceptable - NFC images that can be assuredly replaced with free images, or full high resolution images that clearly do not respect low resolution/minimal use, etc. - those can be CSD without question. If however there is a possible question of being actually useful, then we need to seek discussion on it instead of blanket enforcement; this can be done at the article in question or by putting down an xFD. Whether that clip meets all of the remaining subjective parts of NFCC (including #2 which is an interesting factor in this case) is a matter of consensus. --MASEM (t) 16:49, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Legal concerns are relevant, but they aren't the point, and they are almost always overblown. You're correct that this policy is not sufficiently precise, but that's a general flaw in all of our policy documents. — Carl (CBM · talk) 19:04, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Quick response (but not a full one). This being a 30 second clip of a 3:40 min piece (220 sec) is not allowed; the max is can be is 10% of the length (per Wikipedia:Music samples). I'm going to xFD that, but this is not meant to detract from the larger discussion. --MASEM (t) 16:34, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
WP:OTHERSHITEXISTS is rarely a very helpful argument. Physchim62 (talk) 16:37, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Sound clips are usually used in artist articles to give the reader/listener an idea of the sound of that artist. More than one may occasionally be valid if, say, the artist has had notable shifts in style or a major notable work. As well as (as Tony says) failing WP:NFCC#2, it also fails WP:NFCC#8 - I would be tempted to remove it per WP:WIKIPEDIAISNOTITUNES. I'm sure we could link to the 30-second authorised clip on Amazon if necessary. Black Kite (t) (c) 19:00, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
The difficulty is that the guideline on music samples is extremely accomodating. It would not be hard to read WP:MS as allowing one clip per song article, which unfortunately seems to be the way it has been interpreted for Lady gaga.
Getting back to Tony's complaint, this is what I find to be the most common problem with NFCC. It's like when a college student gets a credit card to cover "emergencies" and then uses it to buy pizza and beer. With NFCC, there are editors who see "some articles on songs can include song clips" and interpret it to mean "I should upload a sound clip for every song article". I agree that a more tightly worded policy would be nice. — Carl (CBM · talk) 19:24, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
This is an excellent point. We have gotten to a point of ennui with regards to NFC (as editors in general). We don't question the use of a cover image where the image otherwise is not commented on in the article on published works, which starts a slippery slope. The use of a sound sample from a song, eg, can be seen as another step of where we become too accommodating for NFC. At this point, we obviously have two routes. One is continue this ennui wrt to NFC, and agree that certain single-shot allowances are acceptable on some pages, or otherwise we start to enforce it (particularly NFCC#8) stronger and require that justification is present for what otherwise have been free-shot images in the past. In the former case, we could always check with Mike Godwin if this too much, but I suspect the answer is no (Godwin's suggested that if we ever have too much NFC per legal issues, he will be the first to tell us), so we can consider this as a viable option.
It basically boils down to philosophical interpretations of the two key NFCC drivers: #3a for minimal use and #8 for significance of the work used, and basically diverge along two paths. One path is where we consider images and media for identification as a routine part of a article (such as covers for albums, books, etc., or music samples for individual songs), regardless of how significant seeing or hearing that is to the article. The other path is a more rigorous application of NFCC#8, requiring demonstration of why the article would be unclear without the cover image or audio sample. (There is a third, more aggressive path, which starts from the assumption, "the use of NFC is exceptional to start with" and would beg the inclusion of any piece of NFC to be strongly asserted through review; however, this option I am fairly sure would never get consensus) For sake of argument, we should assume both approaches meet the Foundation's respective wishes for NFC, and would not get us in trouble legally with US law. The primary difference is how much of a "free encyclopedia" we are. We could approach the Foundation and ask them for their input, but I think we've tried this in the past, and generally the question goes to Mike Godwin, and.. well, see above -he'll tell us when its legally a problem. I know that if we had a strict !vote today, we would end up with a overwhelming number to go the wider allowance route, but that's not the same as a normal consensus-driven decision. --MASEM (t) 20:10, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
My opinion is that we are an encyclopedia first and foremost, and legal non-free content that meets our non-free content criteria and serves to provide identification of the work in question is a-okay. =) Powers T 10:53, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
It's tautologous that "content that meets our non-free content criteria" is OK. The question is whether the use of images "for identification" does meet it; this is an issue that has never really had consensus. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:51, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
For the purpose if identification is is unlikely that a full 30 seconds is required, and a 10 second piece would probably do. Identification is something that would be relevant to most songs, and would be important even if the content is not described in the text. This is one of Masem's drivers just above. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 21:30, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
"legal non-free content that meets our non-free content criteria and serves to provide identification of the work in question is a-okay"—that is exactly what the book-cover image does. It is standard practice in book reviews to include a cover image, and it does not compromise the Foundation's policy in the least. It is just as defensible than allowing the countless company and brand logos I see all over the place for "identification" purposes (and before people say "oh, I don't agree with that but I put up with it", the fact is that you have decided to allow them). Not granting an exemption for the book cover image, just because it's in WP space, is petty and bureaucratic, and is seen so by the community. I do not buy the "it is merely decorative" mantra; "decoration" should not be bandied about as a dirty word—in this context, it looks like spin to me. The near-hysteria invoked by my application for exemption is particularly odd when you think that the sound-file is still in the Telephone article after it has apparently been decided that it threatens the owners' rights to commercial opportunities (NFCC#2). I hope you don't think I'm going to remove it: I am in dispute with you, and I have formally stated my loss of confidence in the administration of the policy and its relationship to the Foundation's policy. I am merely observing how things are done, or not done, here. Tony (talk) 11:59, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
You start off responding to my post above, but then say "I am in dispute with you," a dispute of which I was not aware. To whom are you responding? Powers T 12:01, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, not to you; to the cohort on this page—specifically, those editors who regularly "enforce" NFC policy and make decisions regarding NFC usage. Tony (talk) 12:03, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
You came here to point out that non-free images are overused. You're right; it's simply impossible, with the limited amount of volunteer time we have, to do much about it. There are too many people who, either unintentionally or intentionally, ignore the underlying spirit of NFCC, which is to minimize our use of non-free content. You're also right that the use of non-free logos for "identification" is equally dubious. If you want to do something about that, go for it. It ends up being a morass, partially because there are too many distinctions to keep straight (fair use vs. NFCC; copyright vs. trademark; etc). If you're arguing that nobody can say anything about NFCC before all excessive non-free content is cleaned up, that's a non-starter for a project based on volunteer time.
For book reviews, the question is not whether book reviews "usually" have images; the question is whether the images are so fundamental to book reviews that they need to be included. As I pointed out, I read book reviews all the time in academic journals that do not include any sort of cover image, and these do a perfectly fine job as reviews. This is strong evidence that images are not, actually, required for book reviews. So the use of cover images would fail NFCC#1 even if the reviews were in the main namespace. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:51, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
To further from CBM, there's so much disregard for those editors that try to maintain NFC goals that it is near impossible to perform bulk actions on content abuses, and yet people don't come to the table to talk about it. Look at Hammersoft's talk page and archives; there's plenty of examples where people yell and verbally abuse him just because of some standard NFC image removals. Look at BetaCommand. Thus, trying to deal with the idea of covers as identification is impossible to force down throats and yet it's impossible to get people to clarify it (see the section above I tried to start about covers and lists and the like). There's nowhere near enough editors that are interested in keeping the mission to patrol on the entry point (ala newpages) to assure that each new piece of NFC meets criteria; we have bots to handle basic stuff (is the article its used in mentioned in the rationale? Is there a license? ) and sometimes all it takes is a source or added language to make a dangling picture essential to an article; thus, just because the Gaga song sample still sits there, or that we have 100,000 CD covers, should not be taken that those enforcing NFC has let those slip. It is just too large a job for the limited number of people that attend to this Foundation-mandated policy. --MASEM (t) 14:00, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
  1. "If you want to do something about [non-free logos], go for it."—Thanks, but no: I'm observing and assessing.
  2. "If you're arguing that nobody can say anything about NFCC before all excessive non-free content is cleaned up"—No, I want the administration of NFCC cleaned up and the relationship with the Foundation's policy clarified: both the administration and the relationship are opaque and apparently in a mess. How normal editors can know how to apply the policy I do not know; no wonder there are not enough troops for the task.
  3. "the question is whether the images are so fundamental to book reviews that they need to be included"—that is your construction. If "fundamental" is now the criterion for including NFC, almost no NFC would be used on WP. Could you exemplify what "fundamental" means to you, say, for a NFC image and music file? If you can't, it appears that all NFC should be removed forthwith. I see the word in neither the en.WP NFC policy nor the Foundation's policy. It concerns me that decision-making is based on such a personalised use of language, and that it seems to have strayed a long way from the Foundation's policy through the insertion of detail that can only be applied subjectively and asymmetrically.
  4. "As I pointed out, I read book reviews all the time in academic journals that do not include any sort of cover image, and these do a perfectly fine job as reviews." So what?
  5. "sometimes all it takes is a source or added language to make a dangling picture essential to an article" ... essential? I don't understand how a source can make a picture "essential" to an article. This word is like "fundamental": usually an absolute epithet, but in this context only in the eye of the beholder.
  6. "It is just too large a job for the limited number of people that attend to this Foundation-mandated policy." This strongly suggests that the situation is out of control and that a radical rethink is in order; it is why I have lost confidence. There was no shortage of time and energy above in pouring tripe over the notion of a book review in The Signpost and expressing inflated fears of a slippery slope, while more basic management seems beyond us (the Gaga song "still sits there"). Has the Foundation mandated this policy? Which version? Tony (talk) 15:14, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
  • One quick answer is yes, the Foundation actually used's NFC as the basis for their Resolution on NFC and as an example of the project-specific EDP that each needed to develop. Which version of NFC, I'd have to check, but I'm pretty sure it was the same basic ten points, give or take some langauge and a couple sub-clause changes. --MASEM (t) 15:25, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
    • Following up: The Foundation's resolution was passed on March 23, 2007. This revision of WP:NFCC is the last version prior to that date, so presumably the Foundation was using that as the example. While the structure is very different, the same 10 points that are the core NFCC policy are pretty much there and intact without any paradigm shifts. --MASEM (t) 16:28, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
If you'd prefer direct quotes from NFCC, it says "... 'Could the subject be adequately conveyed by text without using the non-free content at all?' If the answer to either is yes, the non-free content probably does not meet this criterion.". Since book reviews can adequately be conveyed without cover images (proof: I see book reviews without cover images all the time), the use of cover images would fail NFCC#1 even if they were in the main namespace.
This is the fundamental problem with the "identification" argument – it ignores NFCC#1 and NFCC#8 entirely. There is a de facto compromise in which we essentially permit certain cover art for identification even though it does not pass these criteria, but why that compromise should be extended to other namespaces is beyond me. Common sense says that nobody needs to know what a book cover looks like in order to make sense of a book review. Short quoted passages from the book would be a much more appropriate use of non-free content in that context. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:33, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
However the Wikipedia article is not a book review, it is about the whole book. Although the image of a book cover could be described in great detail, it would not satisfy WP:V, since no one else would have published such a description. So the argument certainly applies that the image contributes something the text cannot. The same applies to album covers, so we are not getting too far off topic! Graeme Bartlett (talk) 23:14, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
That's exactly the problem. If the cover of a book or item is so generic that no source has ever seen fit to comment on it, there's no much reason for us to show it. So not showing it at all would serve the same encyclopedic purpose. In the cases where cover art is truly of artistic merit, it is not difficult to find sources that say so. But the cover art of the Ice Ice Baby single is quite different than that. — Carl (CBM · talk) 23:25, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Quite willing to make some "compromises", but not others, I see—all at your pleasure. And the Foundation's "endorsement" is of an old version. The Motion of No Confidence in the handling of this policy, currently being drafted by serveral editors, might well invite the community to remove, for example, the extra bit that was inserted into NFCC#8 by the constabulary here in 2008 to make their job easier. Tony (talk) 02:51, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Be aware, there are a number of these "constabulary"s that recognize that most cover images on mainspace are likely in violation of #8 (even the original worded on March 23, 2007, which still nullified the use of images "decoratively"), but to take any steps to clear it would raise the communities ire despite the correctness of the action - hence my discussion above to either cement better the use of cover images without question or seek consensus on redefining this. You're asking to use something that is already in question (in merely a decorative manner and not aiding to full encyclopedic understanding) in a space we've already quarantined as free-content/undiluted by non-free content. --MASEM (t) 07:10, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Very much for the purpose of identification, since it's a distinctive book cover that readers may wish to recognise if they see it. There is a much weaker case for the Coca-Cola logo. In addition, its educational value lies in its graphical representation of the structure of the book, with three differently mapped globes moving into the distance. As I said before, I don't disagree with the piggybacking on top of space boundaries in WP to minimise the use of NFC: it is because this should be easily recognised as a common-sense exception that I came here seeking an exemption, to be greeted with hysteria and, in some cases, rudeness. And on that count, CBM, I don't need your advice on how to write a book review, thanks all the same. Tony (talk) 07:29, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
I would be a lot more confortable making an exception if not for two things: 1) Our general consideration of the use of covers was more firmly worded - by which, we actually figure out if we should allow "one cover per one notable topic regardless of relevance" or "require #8 to be met for each cover" and codify that. This would be relevant to this review. 2) based on the former point, the fact that it does seem possible to replace the cover image with a free text description (you've partially stated it, about the three globes) would likely be the last straw towards inclusion of the image if covers are expected to meet #8 more strictly. If, instead, the first point resulting in clear allowance for cover images regardless of applicability, then there would seem to be some allowance (though I would require that the image be clearly marked (exactly how, I dunno) as being an exceptional use in WP space.
There does seem to be some questions here that can be brought before the Foundation (via whom, I don't know), but specifically clarifying how they had envisioned the "with limited exception" phrase in #3, and whether that would include the space of the wiki's not specifically for readers of the work. They may stay mum on the issue, but any additional advice either direction helps resolve it better. --MASEM (t) 08:08, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
  • The practical thing to do before revamping the criteria, the guidelines and the ways in which NFC is administered on en.WP would be to find out how a few of the other WPs do it, in wording and in practice. The Foundation can't possibly be serious about its policy if it keeps no tabs on the 60+ projects in this respect. They all operate out of the same servers and are subject to the same legal constraints. It's shambolic, and again, I have lost all confidence in it. Tony (talk) 11:46, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Re some older posts by Tony1: the issue, as Masem said, is that "willingness to compromise" has to be balanced with the effort required to fix things. The "identification" issue has been unresolved for a long time. When I describe it as a "compromise" I am being very gracious; I could equally well say, as I believe, that most cover art in our articles fails the NFCC requirements but is used anyway because the grey edge of the NFCC requirements is very wide. I think the idea of an "NFCC enforcer" is interesting in theory but impossible in practice: violations of NFCC are so common that no small group of people could possibly correct them all. (As an aside, the Coca-Cola logo is actually a free image [1], so not covered by NFCC.) — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:50, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
On the contrary, the "identification" issue has been resolved since at least 13 June 2007, when the words "of that item" were added, to make absolutely clear that the requirement was for critical commentary on the album, not on the cover. Though this had long been the line taken before that date, reflected in comments like "The cover of an album is the best and only sensible illustration of an article about that album, for example" [2] by Jimbo Wales, 31 July 2006, himself styling himself as "at the extreme end of the spectrum" on fair-use content.
This reflects general consensus that showing the defining image associated with the album does add something important and significant to the knowledge we impart to the reader about it.
I find your objection to Tony's image even odder, to be honest. You appear to object because it will somehow taint the reusability of the encyclopedia (a questionable proposition at best, given that such use is considered fair game worldwide) -- when it isn't even an encyclopedia page Tony is proposing to use it on. So the encyclopedia won't be hampered by it in any way.
Yes, it's very important when approaching fair use always to have reasoned caution. But unreasoned demonisation -- to exclude simply for the sake of excluding -- is not rational, and serves nobody. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jheald (talkcontribs)
Excluding most non-free content simply for the sake of excluding it is one of the missions of our site. That's why we call ourselves a "free" encyclopedia. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:03, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
No. This is an argument that really needs to be put to bed. What our mission emphasises is the creation of free content, not the removal of non-free content. The one does not entail the other. Jheald (talk) 15:07, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
I think you will find that interpretation at odds with the actual history of the site. Our mission is to create a free-content encyclopedia, and in many cases that means that we voluntarily refuse to use non-free content that we could use in a perfectly legal manner. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:14, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
In some cases we voluntarily refuse to use non-free content that we could use in a perfectly legal manner. This is true. But look a bit more closely to see where and how we draw the line. It is practical reasoned assessment, not unreasoned demonology. Broadly speaking (1) we limit ourselves to what we are confident that a verbatim U.S. commercial reuser could use, reproducing the site wholesale and automatically, thereby denying ourselves additional leeway for being a non-profit. This informs most of the lines drawn in the WP:NFC guidelines. (2) we refuse any content that would inhibit alternate free images being brought forward. The is the strength of Wales' position in the comment I have already cited: publicity images are out, because they inhibit alternate free images; but album covers do not threaten free content, because they are not substitutable in that way.
We also have an aim of getting as much as possible of the sum of all knowledge to every human being, so they can access it and build on it as freely as possible. To the extent that non-free content can legally be used to add to knowledge and understanding in support of our content, without prejudicing free content, we use it -- and rejoice in the fact that U.S. law at least is sane enough to recognise the value in that. Jheald (talk) 16:00, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
When we use non-free album artwork, we lose our ability to negotiate for the release of that artwork under a free license. The ideal situation would be for the foundation to strike a deal with one or more publishing houses to allow a blanket release of low-resolution cover images for their books. That is the sort of free-content mission behind this site. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:02, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Considering our own legal people tell us that they're not prepared to release any images of Wikipedia's own logo as free content, how likely do you think that is? I find it almost immoral, the suggestion that we should be thinking of trying to get other people to do something, that, were we in their position, our own legal department would counsel strongly against. Jheald (talk) 18:09, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree that it's equally immoral that we do not release our own logo under a free license. I complain about that regularly, just not yet in this thread. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:18, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
(This back to Tony) The Foundation's resolution is entirely within US Fair use law, but simply even a more narrower enforcement of that and potentially allowed for further narrowing (see NFC-free wikis like Now, how they keep tabs on which language or sister project EDPs have been been passed and if they fit into their Resolution, I dunno. That's a question to ask the Foundation, though in part I would suspect Mike Godwin would be part of that process.
(This to Jheald's point) [3] The discussion that seems to be the focal of this change (the one you say established the identification issue) is certainly not one that enjoyed wide discussion or consensus, and still arguably requires more than identification (its this vague "critical commentary" that we're stuck with. If one reads the NFC, Allowable Uses, Images #1, considers how such images are used, and then WP:NFCC#8, there is certainly a discontinuity there without knowing what history has transpired. It would curious to know what the # of cover images of any media type added to the project would be as a function of time and to see if the change to NFC influenced their growth, suggesting it may have been a bad change. --MASEM (t) 13:34, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
If you look at the history, NFCC #8 came first, and has always been seen as the key editorial test for what as image needs to contribute. The words "[Can this image be...] adequately conveyed by text without using a picture at all?" were added to NFCC#1 by Seraphimblade on 17 November 2007. [4], effectively replacing text in NFCC#8 "Non-free media files are not used if they can be replaced by text that serves a similar function" [5], concentrating the focus of NFCC #8 on what is worth trying to communicate at all, and NFCC #1 on how it can be communicated.
This is still, in my view, the appropriate division of labour between the two to guarantee consistency. Arguably NFCC #1 is compatible with NFCC #8, because if an image does "significantly add to reader understanding about the topic" (which in my view the cover images do, and is the justification for having them), then the subject would not be adequately conveyed without them. It all depends what you think "adequately" means, and in my view it is NFCC #8 which gives us the defining operational interpretation of that word. The intention was never to set up a separate rival test to NFCC #8. But if some people that is an interpretation that could now be placed on NFCC #1, then NFCC #1 would need editing (again).
As to whether the language in "Acceptable images" has made a difference to the # of cover images of any media type added to the project, I am dubious. I suspect any effect would be lost in the turbulence caused by changing paperwork requirements, or the occasional drives to outright delete acceptable images simply for having rationales not perfectly made out. If the current wording has clarified that acceptable images are acceptable, then it seems to me to have been a good clarification. Jheald (talk) 14:56, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

The problem with the Wales quote, like with much of NFCC, is that it is internally inconsistent. Wales said,

"My own view, which is at the extreme end of the spectrum I know, and therefore not (yet) formal policy in every case, is that we ought to have almost no fair use, outside of a very narrow class of images that are of unique historical importance. The cover of an album is the best and only sensible illustration of an article about that album, for example."

But most album covers are of no special historical importance (e.g. the cover art for Ice Ice Baby). It's absurd to think that every piece of printed material has "unique historical importance".

So I would interpret Wales quote in this way: It may be that the only sensible image for an album article is the cover art, and still be the case that we should not use the cover art, because it has no historical significance. In that case, we could simply have no image at all, and that would be fine. There is no reason to include an image simply for the sake of including an image – that is what "decorative" would mean. If we cannot say why a particular piece of cover art is of unique historical importance, or even of more interest than the average piece of cover art, then it's hard to argue that we absolutely must include it in our articles. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:08, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

The point is contextual significance. The design of the cover-art for the album Ice Ice Baby may be of no great significance in the overall scheme of things, but it is of historical significance in the context of the record Ice Ice Baby. For somebody who specifically wants to know about that record, then showing the defining cover art does add concretely and significantly to their knowledge about, and understanding of, the record. That is why it is not simply "decorative" -- and why our guidance quite rightly makes that call. Jheald (talk) 15:33, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
But at the same time, I could consider the Ice Ice Baby cover to be entirely replaceable with free text (describing color, fonts, layout, etc.) The article is fully comprehensible without the use of the image. (contrast to The Dark Side of the Moon or Abbey Road, both which are highly iconic, though technically replaceable with free text descriptions, and clearly historical, with discussions about the creation of the artwork in place). We need to be a lot clearer on exactly the purpose of most cover images that are otherwise presented but not discussed directly. I could make the argument that no infobox can contain NFC, such that if a cover image is significant, it can appear in the body of the article near the text that talks about it, which would make cover art a lot more consistent with all other NFC media that's used. --MASEM (t) 15:54, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Masem, you know the NFC full well enough better than that. The test is not whether "the article is fully comprehensible without the use of the image"; the test is what the image adds to knowledge and understanding of the subject, which would be lost without it. Jheald (talk) 16:09, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Actually, NFCC#1 addresses this point, given that "no image" is a free replacement for an NFC image, which gets to the text "encyclopedic purpose". Simply having an image to show what something looks like but with no additional context borders on having "encyclopedic purpose", unless we are willing to more explicitly define that. Again, this is back to that we either need to fully justify this is the case (that is is "encyclopedic purpose") or that we have to come down hard on such use without further discussion. --MASEM (t) 16:24, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
The question is not whether the cover art is merely relevant to the article, which is what "contextual significance" corresponds to. The question is whether the cover art has unique historical importance compared to the entire genre of cover art. Obviously cover art for an album is related to the the article about that album; that's no test at all. You completely ignore the meaning of "unique historical importance" if you take "unique" to exclude all comparison to other cover art. Has any source seen fit to comment on the cover art of this single? If not, that's a strong sign that the cover art is not actually of unique historical importance. Most cover art is this way; I just picked this example because it was easy to find. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:55, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
But NFCC #8 specifically identifies that it is talking about "contextual significance". I take on board that you personally seem to wish for a different test. But recognise that your wish is not where policy draws the line. Jheald (talk) 16:11, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
NFCC#8 also says, "its omission would be detrimental to that understanding". In the case of Ice Ice baby, the cover art is not in any way significant for understanding the song, so #8 is not satisfied. NFCC#1 complements this: "Could the subject be adequately conveyed by text without using the non-free content at all?". In the case of albums and books, the answer to that is almost always "yes", because book and album cover artwork generally is not a significant factor in the artistic merit of the work. For example, the cover of East of Eden (novel) shown there does not contribute to understanding the novel in a way that text could not, nor does it identify contemporary editions of the work. Its omission would not be detrimental to the reader's understanding. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:02, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
For discussion of NFCC #1, see above. As for the covers, I appreciate that you personally think they're worthless and don't have any interest in them. But other people do find them -- particularly album covers, but also first-edition covers -- a significant part of the work as a cultural item as a whole, which is what our article covers. Jheald (talk) 18:15, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
This is the problem: when pushed, nobody can identify any concrete facts that these covers convey, so instead it is argued that they convey some sort of "general understanding" which cannot be quantified or even precisely defined. It's not a compelling argument. If the cover of an album or book is truly of special artistic merit, there will be some source that has commented on it. Indeed, NPOV suggests that if nobody else has thought that a cover is worth mentioning, then its due weight for our purposes is very low. It cannot be argued that cover artwork is "essential" to understanding a novel if all the references about the novel manage to analyze the novel without worrying about its cover art. I am certain there is a great deal of Steinbeck scholarship: how much of it is devoted to cover art? How many reviews of the Ice Ice Baby single commented on its cover art? — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:26, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

Arbitrary break

  • Again, "decorative" is dragged out as though a dirty word. There is no hard-and-fast boundary between what is decorative and what is not, especially where identification, association, and easier memory by our readers is at issue. The simplistic notion of decoration is just spin in the hands of those who take an extremist view of Foundation policy, which contains prominent scope for exceptions.
  • In determining exceptions, I find the free / non-free distinction increasingly problematic. No, repeat no company minds their logo positioned in a high-profile article about them that comes at the top of a google search. It is good business. It is good publicity. It is why they pay big money to create the logo in the first place. To peddle the fiction that WP or anyone who reproduces its articles is in the least vulnerable to legal action over the presence of a company logo is crazy. So if there's no such threat, the simplistic boundary between free and non-free content has already broken down. It was undermined from the beginning by permitting the reasonable quoting of NFC text. This clouds the issue, and you've all been turning the other way for years, hiding behind this pious "we will be narrower than the law requires" dogma that makes no sense in many cases.
  • The time has come to take a more practical line on categories of NFC usage that bring no legal threat, and to raise the effectiveness of policing the legally vulnerable usage, like the Lady Gaga sound clip that is still up and running in the Telephone article, despite agreement above that it breaches NFCC#2. No one seems to care. Double standards. Get real. Tony (talk) 15:59, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
NFC has zero to do with legal repercussions or the like. --MASEM (t) 05:16, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
There is actually a good line between decorative or not. The lack of critical commentary that discusses the image pretty much is an assurance of decorative; that becomes for-identification when the image appears in the infobox.
The reason we are here now is because of the slippery slope of once one use seems of NFC in certain situations seems to be fine, we are flooded with more. The need that we had to eventually stop and do a mass sea change on the use of NFC in episode lists and discographies was because it became that much of a problem and only resolves with the large number of editors working towards the effort. We're likely at the same point with cover works; the problem is that the non-free content watches have been scared away from the work due to attitude of the type "well, its fair use/the company won't care/etc." and how they poorly respond against suggested removals. So yes, there are going to be lots of double standards because you're looking at a task that, if you presume takes one minute per editor to review and decide if an image is a problem problem, it will take 166 24/7 editor-days to complete starting from 240,000 NFC images. It is a slow effort, and one that you're asking for perfection from an impossibly small number of editors. --MASEM (t) 06:29, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure why I happened upon this, and I apologize if this is too much of a time warp to 2007, but what is "critical commentary"? That's a term that does not exist in U.S. copyright law (where fair use doctrine recognizes "criticism" and "commentary" as separate justifications for fair use, but as far as I know, it recognizes nothing called "critical commentary"). Why do we insist on using this phrase that has no meaning?
This dovetails into another criticism that I have of NFC/NFCC, which is that editors who remove content seem to believe that their actions are "enforcing policy" by definition. They either fail or refuse to recognize that they are in fact enforcing their interpretation of the policy. There's obviously a big difference between the two.
Third, I can say for myself that images that depict the article subject or a prominent element of the article (what the lingo of this page would call an "identification" purpose) is the most valuable part of the article. Maybe my view is not the consensus view, but I believe that we make articles significantly less informative when we refuse to allow them to be illustrated. Beyond that, as others have said, if we adopt some standard like "the image itself must be discussed within the article," then that just invites editors to go out of their way to discuss the image somehow. Croctotheface (talk) 11:52, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
We've always had the "critical commentary" problem, and the question of actually defining it has come up several times before, but it's pretty much impossible beyond meaning "more than just flat, factual data". Nor has there been any luck in discussions to change it. But I will say that the editors that enforce NFCC are not removing content on simply mechanical actions of NFCC#8, by far the most subjective of the NFCC criteria. Most of these are based on the more objective measures - where images are located, if free replacements are possible, or when the rationale or license doesn't exist. We can still illustrate articles with free content, there's no question on that. And text is still a powerful medium, possibly its use underused on this project. Remember there are some language wikis that have zero non-free content, and they still to be working fine.
We are pretty muich at a point where as a project we need to decide have we crossed a line. If we are willing to accept using cover art for such works, this pretty much is a statement that we should allow any piece of identifying art for a topic, and if that the only way to do so is from non-free, so be it. On the other hand, we are not too far off to decide to make a stronger requirement for usage, which will scale back a number of uses that are taken for granted but will make people think more about good rationales and the like. --MASEM (t) 13:21, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
I can't speak for "most of the editors who enforce NFCC." I suspect that you're probably right to say that most of the "enforcements" are for things like "no rationale" that are black and white, but those aren't the types of things that get people upset. If editors did not attempt to enforce their personal interpretation of the policy, and if the policy were clear, understandable, and widely supported, then there would not be the kind of arguments we see on this talk page. For what it's worth, "flat, factual data" probably would still be considered "commentary" within U.S. fair use law.
And again, my contention is that seeing an image of something is often the most valuable part for me as a reader of WP, not an editor. Obviously this is not my decision to make alone, but if it were, I'd be very much inclined to adopt the "allow any piece of identifying art" standard that you mentioned there. As far as the notion that an encyclopedia can exist without having any fair use content, I agree that it can, but it won't be as good. We could also have an encyclopedia that used as much content as possible as U.S. law allows. For whatever reason, we've chosen this balancing act over either of those approaches. So long as we're taking that tack, we're going to need to put forth arguments like mine that concern how informative fair use content is. Croctotheface (talk) 20:34, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
Well, usually people get upset when, oh take a real case of something Hammersoft sees 50+ reuses of a school logo and proposes removal, and BQZip01 feels they're all legit. Now, part of that is Hammersoft's discussion approach that influences how upset people get at the suggested removal, but it is also the fact that someone suggests a mass removal that will send people off against the NFC. (This is not to say who is right or wrong in that specific case) Basically, it's rarely the single image handling that is a problem but instead the suggestion of mass removal.
And to your second point, you're absolutely right that there's certain tracks we can go down, which is why I tried to start trying to codify why (or if not, why not) we accept cover images without too much question. If we answer that question and put the reasoning into words, the next step of defining other uses in a better manner will be easier. --MASEM (t) 21:20, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
In the case you mentioned with Hammersoft, I'll confess that I haven't read the discussion, but I suspect that at some point, Hammersoft's argument boiled down to saying "it's NFCC policy." If it didn't happen in this case, it's certainly happened in others. That kind of argument goes beyond what we could politely call a lack of diplomacy and into circular reasoning. Croctotheface (talk) 21:35, 3 May 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't think it's particularly fair of you to make a judgment about what I said when you (as you admit) haven't read what I said. And you're accusing me of circular reasoning? Wow. --Hammersoft (talk) 14:41, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
If you don't want to listen to what I say, that's obviously your choice. But if you want to discuss the matter, I'll just ask you: have you at any point said that your actions relating to criterion 8 of NFCC were a matter of "enforcing policy" or something similar? Croctotheface (talk) 17:38, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Of course. So has anyone who has taken action with regards to NFCC #8. Are you suggesting its unenforceable and should be removed because anyone enforcing it is flexing their personal opinions? --Hammersoft (talk) 17:49, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
I'm confused about why you dismissed statements I made despite that you knew they were true. But anyway, my point is that with something like criterion 8, there's going to be a wide range of opinions regarding what constitutes "significant understanding." When an editor's rationale for removing content is just that he is "upholding policy," or his response to someone making the case for why the fair use content in question does add significant understanding is to simply reassert that the content "violates policy," that is indeed circular reasoning. The debate is precisely about whether it violates policy. You're not having a discussion if you simply begin by assuming what you're supposed to prove. Croctotheface (talk) 18:27, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Huh? I'm confused by your first sentence. Maybe I'm forgetting something. As to the circular argument, I don't think I've ever done that. I'm certainly open to see places where I've supposedly done that. I do frequently remove content for failing #8, and doing so based on common practice. That doesn't make it a circular argument. There also happens to be the last bullet point on WP:NFCC, regarding burden of proof. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:39, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
I don't think it would be especially helpful to go back and find examples--I don't want this to be personal, so it may have been a mistake to respond to an example that mentioned you by name by mentioning you by name. All I can say is that I've participated in discussions where, after the side in favor of including some fair use content put forth their argument about why it was acceptable, the response was just to reassert that it "violated policy." If you're not doing that, great; all I want to say is that different editors interpret policies differently, and it's important not to conflate your personal interpretation of a policy with the policy itself. Croctotheface (talk) 05:01, 7 May 2010 (UTC)
Also, I want to be clear--you don't think that placing the burden on those who want to include the content means that it gives you or another editor veto power over including the content, right? That would mean that that any fair use content, even content that clearly is OK in light of the policy, would be removed permanently if a single editor objected. Croctotheface (talk) 07:58, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

I enforce policies here. There are policies I don't like. For example, I really dislike the idea that development articles in userspace can't have fair use images on them. The community doesn't support leniency for such development articles. Nevertheless, I enforce it when I come across violations of it [6]. There are also a number of practices that are common and well supported here but aren't necessarily present in policy/guidelines. I follow those precedents as well. There are some people out there who think I make up policy on the fly, operate on my personal interpretation of policy, want all non-free media removed, etc. It just isn't true. As to the burden of proof, the way in which that has almost always been used is in discussions at or similar to WP:NFCR. If you can't get consensus that a non-free image should be used, then it doesn't get used. That's the point of that phrasing in NFCC; not veto power for any individual editor to go around and zap all non-free content off the project. If it did, I'm sure my detractors would think I would mark all 358,461 non-free media for deletion. --Hammersoft (talk) 13:43, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

I don't want to keep prolonging this conversation; I think that I've made what I want to say pretty clear. However, I have to ask: do you acknowledge that every application of policy is necessarily interpretive? Sometimes the interpretation is obvious, but not always. When there's a disagreement, the disagreement is about how to apply policy, and someone who disagrees with your interpretation of the policy does not necessarily disagree with the policy itself. Statements here like "I enforce policies" really do make it seem like you believe you have everything figured out.
Also, not to be snarky, but you don't really conform to WP:Talkpage guidelines about indentation when you use those bullet points, which make the page hard to read. Croctotheface (talk) 01:16, 8 May 2010 (UTC)

JPMorgan Chase#Acquisition history

This section is the first time I have ever seen non-free images used with the {{Clade}} branching tree template. I take it this fails NFCC#8 since the logos are not really necessary here, right? Zzyzx11 (talk) 22:27, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

I know that the use of images in such trees are common in other publications, but have to agree that its overuse here. --MASEM (t) 22:37, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
I've removed them, and also the non-free logos in the other sections as they refer to companies that have their own articles that use the logos. Black Kite (t) (c) 22:50, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
A number of those logos could probably be considered {{PD-ineligible}}. Powers T 12:51, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Note that Black Kite also removed non-free logos from the History section of that article, where there were main articles on the predecessor companies already hosting the non-free logos [7] (though he also, I think inadvertently, removed two free logos). This was undone by User:Urbanrenewal [8]. I re-removed the logos [9], as Black Kite is correct. --Hammersoft (talk) 15:45, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Hypothetical consideration: tying NFCC#8/"critical commentary" to secondary sourcing

Based on the Transformers point above, I wonder if there is anything we can add to language (either NFCC or NFC) that suggests that meeting NFCC#8 should be done by having at least one secondary source talk about an NFC item, either directly or by its appearance, in order to really justify that item.

This is a very significant departure from current allowances and would remove much existing NFC (eg cover images) which is why I only toss it out as a thinking point.

Thus, we're looking for reliable secondary sources that say:

  • The look/sound of something was shown to influenced by another work, was created in a certain way, or critcally noted to resemble a more notable aspect.
  • The image/scene/sound was critically reviewed or discussed in significant depth

Possibly others, I dunno right now.

This removes images that are just there for "identification" - most cover images, obviously.

Why even consider this? Well, considering all the recent discussion, this makes the NFCC#8 issue more objective - if you don't have a source that discusses the need for an image, why have an image at all? Mind you, the word "should" needs to be in there, and there can still be cases where maybe a source doesn't talk about an image at all but we still include it because omitting it would make the article harder to understand. --MASEM (t) 22:22, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

NFCC #8 is really about necessity of use and I would not like to lose that aspect; I think that if we, hypothetically, wished to add a criterion such as you suggest, it would need to be an additional criterion (i.e. an eleventh), not replace #8. CIreland (talk) 22:29, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
So maybe not tie it with #8 but certainly with WP:NFC's acceptable uses and "critical commentary"? That keeps it out of policy - maybe temporarily staving off a massing NFC cover wash, but encourages more protactive incorporation of image discussions into text? --MASEM (t) 22:45, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I think it's a useful metric for evaluating a media file's passage of point #8. As such, it might be addable to the guideline, rather than the policy. Personally, I think this is absolutely the right direction to go. Yes, it would eliminate huge swaths of non-free content. As such, this would never be a popular addition and won't get passed. I can see a middle ground where this criteria would be applied only to media outside of the main infobox media. This would address the serious issues with the Transformers articles as noted above. I think you're on to something here Masem. This provides a good metric. --Hammersoft (talk) 22:48, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

It's a crock. It actually was tried once, if you look at the history, and was changed back again IIRC after less than a month. Not least because of the case law in Graham vs. Dorling Kindersley.

Bottom line: NFCC#8 says NFC must significantly add to user understanding, because that is what we should be about.

We're not here to "eliminate huge swaths of non-free content". We're here to use fair-use content appropriately. Removing content which adds to user knowledge and understanding is not a good way to go. Jheald (talk) 22:53, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

  • I never said we're here to "eliminate huge swaths of non-free content", thank you. --Hammersoft (talk) 23:15, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Not true. There is a reason these pages are not called "fair use content", because in that light, it is about when we are allowed to use fair use (the legal aspects). These pages are "non free content" which is when we make exceptions to the free content mission to introduce non-free content. We still want to serve the need of being a useful encyclopedia which we have come to accept as necessarily including non-free when it is appropriate; we need to avoid the mindset that we're including fair use however. --MASEM (t) 23:16, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Re: "Bottom line: NFCC#8 says NFC must significantly add to user understanding, because that is what we should be about." That is the major issue. The term "significantly" is vague. If I insist that some NFC is significant and my opponent argues that, yes, you are right, but significance in not sufficient, I have nothing to argue. Taking into account that the burden always rests on those who add the material, a usage of NFC can always be successfully contested using this scheme, so, almost any NFC can be removed. That is why strict criterion of significance must be introduced. --Paul Siebert (talk) 21:15, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

OK, this should be interesting

I've nominated a page for deletion purely because of its non-free content. I actually don't expect it to be deleted, but the discussion should be worth watching. Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/List of Canadian flags. Black Kite (t) (c) 23:28, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Lots of articles listed at Wikipedia:Database reports/Pages containing an unusually high number of non-free files are probably subject to heavy trimming if not outright deletion. Example; History of BBC television idents. 32 fair use images, 31 of them gallerized. References? 15, and 20% of those are to BBC itself. Reading the lead of the article alone smacks of OR. --Hammersoft (talk) 13:24, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Removing obvious violations, turned out interesting

Black Kite (t) (c) 17:53, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Suggested revision

In the law books, there are usually annotated versions. This is where the law is codified and written. Underneath, there are footnotes are ideas that are well accepted but officially not part of the law. I propose such section.

Under enforcement, the next section will be


1. Editors should consider providing a link to non-free content, such as a photograph, rather than engage in questionable use of non-free content.

(end of example)

I saw a picture of an island which is linked on the main page.

Rather than use a non-free picture, at the end of the article, the link could be added to list of external links. Suomi Finland 2009 (talk) 20:41, 23 May 2010 (UTC)

Death row in Texas

I found several photographs at - they were released by the State of Texas as part of a Freedom of information act request

Of interest are:

Because the inside of a prison is tightly controlled, how likely would I be able to use these images on NFCC justifications? I think it would be interesting to use the seal in an article about the capital punishment in Texas, and the image of the Polunsky entrance (if this is not possible to get from the outside) would be good in an article about the prison itself. WhisperToMe (talk) 20:50, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

The seal (Picture7) might be usable in an article about the Polunsky unit (but a better image of the seal could probably be found somewhere), Picture1 could be replaced with a free-license equivalent, and Picture12 does not appear to provide any useful information and so fails the non-free content criteria. --Carnildo (talk) 01:42, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
What free-license image would be able to replace Picture1.jpg? If someone drives up to the unit to try to get a photo of that sign and the guards do not permit him or her to do it, then would Picture1.jpg still be replaceable? WhisperToMe (talk) 11:41, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
File:TexasDeathRowSeal.jpg (Picture7) has been uploaded. So far I have been unable to find a better quality seal image. WhisperToMe (talk) 14:00, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
It's called a telephoto lens. Given an elevated location within a mile of the facility, I could make a replacement picture. A serious birder or wildlife photographer could add a few more miles to that range. --Carnildo (talk) 23:26, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Ah, I see. One needs to see who in Texas has a telephoto lens and ask that person to get the photo of the Polunsky Unit with the sign visible. WhisperToMe (talk) 20:58, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Considering Threshold of Originality - defining a tighter line

The logo discussion above reminded me of something else that I was considering regarding logos and the Threshold of Originality (TOO).

We know that this is a very vague concept in legal terms; there's certainly bright line cases where a logo passes the TOO (eg Apple Inc.), and cases where it clearly does not (eg Microsoft). We're left with a huge gap in the middle where "a combination of text and basic shapes" could go either way.

Because our goal is to be free content, and that we cannot easily second guess the TOO, I propose the following (language is flexible, I'm looking at the ideas):

  • Logos, unless otherwise stated from sources, should only be considered to fail the TOO, and thus be considered as a free-content image, if they consist of:
    • A single line of text in a single font without any "word art" effects applied (curved text, borders, drop-shadows, etc.)
    • A single simple geometric shape (line, circle/oval/arc, triangle, rectangle, trapezoid, or any regular 5-sided or higher polygon) used in conjunction with that text or by itself.

Any other logo art which uses more details, even if they can be easily replicated in an SVG image or the like, contain originality that we cannot assure fails the TOO, and for purposes of being a free content work, need to be considered as non-free. (This does not bar their use, just requires us to follow our NFC policy on them).

  • Word art is all subjective style and thus may be considered original
  • Multiple lines of text means there's a placement issue of subsequent lines of text that can be considered as originality and thus should be avoided (eg New York Life Insurance Company)
  • Once multiple geometric shapes are in place, their positioning, color, and the like relative to the text again all are artistic aspects that lead to originality.

This does mean that we are probably being overbearing on images that legally would not pass the TOO (eg remain free) if tried in a court of law in the US. But consider that this is the same logic we have an NFC policy over fair use: exactly when something is no longer fair use is only determinable in court, and thus a stricter policy that meets the free content mission is a better metric. Since it is basically impossible to otherwise assess the TOO-ness of an image, we should draw a bright line for ourselves, well beyond the fuzziness of the legal requirement, to avoid having problems in the future. --MASEM (t) 16:13, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

  • I think this makes perfect sense. We are deliberately more restrictive, and this parallels this. Also, Feist v. Rural (1991) case before the U.S. Supreme Court, "To be sure, the requisite level of creativity is extremely low; even a slight amount will suffice. The vast majority of works make the grade quite easily, as they possess some creative spark" (emphasis mine). I think the standard Masem proposes gives us a considerably clearer picture of where the threshold, for our purposes, exists. Right now, we have a hodge-podge of opinions, and a bunch of lay people enforcing/tagging based on their own interpretations of law. Also, putting this standard in place doesn't remove content; it just says we'll tag less immediately obvious cases as non-free pending further discussion. --Hammersoft (talk) 17:12, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
    • I think I agree. On Commons not too long ago, the Klingon flag was kept as PD-ineligible, which struck me as absurd. I think Commons should consider adopting a similar standard as that proposed above. (Although I admit I'm not convinced on the multi-line criterion.) Powers T 21:27, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
      • Well, take the New York Life logo. Instead of spacing between the lines, there is purposely no spacing, allowing the text to run into itself, and creating a certain effect. Other examples include:
        • The Home Depot; the multiline text is used to "fill" the orange box in a certain way that's artistic. (Note this is a commons image)
        • Reader's Digest both old and new logo involve position of one line with the other to enhance an artistic effect. (Note, also commons)
      • I have a feeling that we are going to have to engage commons on this and gain that consensus there too. --MASEM (t) 21:48, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
          • Oh, I understand; I just disagree. But then, that's your point; we should limit it to what everyone can agree on. I think you're among the first people I've seen suggest that multi-line text isn't PD-ineligible, though. Powers T 01:47, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
            • Ok, maybe I need to be a bit more exact: if it is multiple lines of text that is the same font and size and weight and color, arranged in a standard left-, right-, or full-justified or centered format, that likely would fail TOO and thus be considered free. But when you start having lines with different sizes or colors or fonts, that becomes sufficiently artistic. A case in point, the Weather Channel's current logo would fail the TOO, and thus should be considered free, since it is a single font of the same size and weight, and coupled with only one simply geometric figure. Alternatively, the Home Depot's logo does pass this lower TOO bound due to the differing font sizes. --MASEM (t) 17:57, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
  • This is something on which we ought to take advice from Mike Godwin. That's one of the reasons we have a general counsel, to give us counsel. On the one hand, we have a responsibility to minimise any legal threat to the site. On the other hand we have an agenda to increase the amount of clearly declared free content in the world. We therefore have incentives both ways; so we should seek a professional view, rather than trying to act as our own lawyers. Jheald (talk) 17:45, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
    • We already know what Mike Godwin's opinion is: there is nothing legally threatening the encyclopedia by our current use of logos. This is not a legal issue, but again a non-free content vs free mission one. Because of the vagueness of TOO, the only clear cases when a logo fails the TOO and thus can be considered free content are based on the guidelines above (or unless specifically sourced to a court ruling as to the nature of TOO-worthiness). Thus, just like we do with regular content - making the presumption of non-free unless shown otherwise, we should do the same with logos and other images that qualify under TOO considerations. --MASEM (t) 17:51, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
      • I don't want Mike's opinion of whether this would be legally permissible as fair use or not. What I want to hear is Mike's considered opinion on what is legally free and what is not. I repeat what I wrote above: we have a fundamental agenda to increase the amount of clearly declared free content in the world. If we give the impression that properly free content is in any way not free, then we strike badly at our agenda. That is why we assertively stand up to copyfraud, and we should be very reluctant to label images as non-free unless it is absolutely necessary. Jheald (talk) 18:04, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
        • You're not going to get that answer from Mike. He is not here to guide us on the distinction between free and non-free because it is not a legal issue. He has stated that we're presently in no danger of overuse of logos from a legal fair use standpoint, but fair use and the free/non-free distinction are two separate things. It is up to the projects to determine how much beyond the Foundation's resolution to adhere to the free content mission. --MASEM (t) 18:34, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
          • I disagree about this not being a legal issue. If we are going to be marking branding that companies paid thousands and thousands of dollars for as PD (even if we add the TM template), we need to be sure we are accurately and legally stating that these logos are not eligible for copyright. Clearly, I think setting guidelines is a great idea, and I think we'd be entirely in the clear with your guidelines, but seeking counsel's opinion about such guidelines wouldn't hurt, eh? -Andrew c [talk] 19:58, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
            • Ok, I should state that it's not a legal "we're about to be sued" issue that Godwin would get involved in, but exactly what you're stating: WP should not be in the position of determining where logos are public domain due to TOO save in the simpliest of cases that are well established. --MASEM (t) 20:16, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

While I think the idea of providing a definition to guide the licensing of logos is a good idea, I'm concerned that the wording above reflects what is here a pervasive misunderstanding of copyright in regards to text. Text is not public domain by virtue of being simple (i.e. failing the TOO), but by virtue of being a useful article. TOO, therefore, is irrelevant for text (the issue of shapes is another matter). Consider the headlight on this car; it's a work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium and is likely sufficiently original (given the aforementioned very low threshold). It is, however, free by virtue of being a useful article. Similarly, Eltra Corp. v. Ringer and the Code of Federal Regulations, among others, have found typeface to be a useful article, which makes the level of originality irrelevant (subject, of course, to the "separate recognition" caveat thereto). We should indeed endeavor to err on the side of caution when choosing between free and non-free, but the "effects" condition above (curved text, borders, drop-shadows, etc.) is far too strict, at least my virtue of being overly broad, imprecise and based on a misunderstanding of the underlying "legal" logic. Эlcobbola talk 19:19, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Again, its not a absolute "wikipedia-is-about-to-be-sued" legal issue here; we're already talking about the use of logos within the bounds of fair use. The problem is that people are assuming certain logos fall into the public domain due to TOO but with a questionable amount of creativity. (This is different from the idea of the inability to copyright a utilitarian design such as the car or font issue). Now, I am not against having a line that is farther out, but the important part is to have a line that is reasonably clear to us on WP where there is no guesswork involved and that we avoid the blurry area where TOO is not clear and would require a legal challenge to confirm. --MASEM (t) 20:16, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
I have zero concern about Wikipedia being sued and, accordingly, made no mention of it. Potential litigants would have an obligation to mitigate their damages by sending a cease and desist letter. As evidenced, for example, by the removal of the logo for the Sochi Olympics at request the Olympic Committee, such offending images are promptly dealt with. This is to say nothing of the fact that probably all images on Wikipedia qualify for fair use "in real life", independent of our propriety tagging and policies. That said, my only point was the concern about how typeface (text) and only text appears to be being addressed. Logos that are more than mere text or have text with original creative elements that can be recognized/exist outside of the utilitarian function are not covered by my comment. The discussion seemed to have been neglecting that TOO only becomes relevant if a work is not a useful article. Эlcobbola talk 20:32, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
I understand now. What I would say though is that while text is utilitarian, and thus the outright display of a word or two text in a single font cannot be eligible for copyright, the embellishments once you move away from a straight line of text all add a creative element to the image, diluting its utility in favor of expression. The only reason I would want to exclude word-art is that it is a brighter line than if it was included: take Google's logo, for example where we have both color and drop-shadows; it may very well fail TOO, but it is difficult to have language that assuredly affirms the Google logo as PD while excluding something like Ebay's. Being stricter is not going to harm us. --MASEM (t) 21:50, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
Being too strict does harm us -- or rather it harms what we set out to do: it marks material as non-free that actually is free. That is something we should get counsel's opinion before we embark on. Jheald (talk) 23:32, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
  • It's two different viewpoints. The way I view it, and (correct me if I'm wrong Masem) I think Masem views it is we should not be accepting 'free' content unless we are certain it is free. If we're not certain it's free, we need to treat it with caution. This suggestion provides a line by which the lay person can judge something as free without skirting anywhere near the edge of the law, as opposed to random users with their own interpretations of law making decisions, and then coming in conflict over those decisions. By having this line, we provide a point at which we can say "we need discussion and consensus on this one". Whereas now, none exists. --Hammersoft (talk) 12:51, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
  • No, that's right, and that's a good way to put it; we guarentee much less harm - legally and from intellectual property laws - by presuming non-free unless proven otherwise (which may generate a lot of false positives) than by presuming free unless shown non-free (which misses a lot of true negatives). We cannot decide when something is free outside the bright line bounds set by law (eg we can take into account dates of publication, etc., but we should not be judging on the fuzzy middle). --MASEM (t) 13:09, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Also as to the "harm" on educational aspect of WP, I don't see it. Non-free content on WP is not prevented, just restricted. For logos, there is typically only one article that uses them, the page of the entity the logo represents, and that's a reasonable rationale if the logo ends up non-free. Compared to the potential harm to the legal nature of the work, this is not a significant issues. --MASEM (t) 13:13, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't have a problem with taking a precautionary stance. I do have a problem with taking such a stance, if we haven't got qualified counsel's opinion on just how precautionary is necessary.
  • Our vision, remember, is to maximise people's freedom. We directly reduce people's freedom if we persuade them that a series of images (and by extension, other similar material that they may come across away from WP), if we persuade them that such images are not free, if in fact they are free. I'm surprised you don't seem to see just how harmful that is to what we stand for. The issue is not whether or not we could still use it on WP. Freedom is about more than just what we can legally use on WP. Jheald (talk) 13:50, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
  • "Our" vision is to write the best encyclopaedia we can. ("Our" in quotes as you can count me out now that there's more "NFCC enforcement" and politics going on around here than constructive encyclopaedia writing). --kingboyk (talk) 11:06, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Consider the Foundation's resolution; points #1 and #2 basically have the Foundation leave it up to the individual Wikiprojects to decide what EDP to take. In at least one case (, the project has opted for zero non-free images even though they are still operating under US's fair use laws and could use them. Thus, this should be taken as the ability for us to take whatever stances are necessary to distinguish between free and non-free. That said, because this change impacts images on commons, I think it needs to be discussed there and within reason brought to the Foundation's attention.
  • As the harm, it is the harm of misapplying licenses to IP that we need to be concerned with. IP moves from being non-free to free (or can start off free) ,but cannot move from free back to non-free; once the cat's out of the bag, it's impossible to put back into it. Presently, there may be logos marked here or on commons as free, that, if they were taken to court today and challenged, may be found to pass the TOO test and thus technically be non-free. Sure, I doubt that WP is going to be sued over that, but that hurts the integrity of the free-content mission, our first priority to adhere too. We should only be marking content as free if we are absolutely sure that is the case, and thus it is better to be wrong by mis-labeling a free image as non-free; that presents zero legal issues that WP has to worry about in the future at the cost of simply maintaining appropriate use of these "mislabeled" non-free images. We're still not removing the ability to use logos on pages of entities they represent, only that now a rationale is required (but logos generally have boilerplate text for that). --MASEM (t) 14:17, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
  • (@JHeald) I don't think the point is marking things free to make things freer to use. That doesn't make things freer. It leaves the decision among lay people to decide, with purely subjective guidelines, whether something is free or not. It's easy enough to say "published in 1907, so pre-1923, so free. Cool, I'll mark it free". That's objective. When you get into subjective areas, people operating on their personal opinions of whether its free or not are going to make mistakes. I see Masem's suggestion as providing an easy to understand mostly objective line; if you fall to the free side of that line, mark it as free. If you don't, bring it up for discussion so that multiple people can discuss it, rather than just a single person operating on their own opinion. Encouraging discussion about something that might or might not be free is a good thing, not a bad thing. It helps protect the project itself, the original rights holders, and downstream users of our content. If instead we retain the current situation of independent users operating on their own subjective opinions, downstream users have to face the reality that the graphical content they are trying to use might or might not be free. That defeats our purpose here. --Hammersoft (talk) 14:20, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
  • You still neither of you seem to be seeing my point. You're not qualified U.S. copyright lawyers, neither am I. Mike Godwin is, and a specialist in the area. If we give out an impression that the law is stricter than it actually is, that directly gives our imprimatur diminishing freedom. That is not harmless. I am not against adding an objective line to distinguish "certainly free" from "possibly free". I am merely pointing out that there is a real harm we can do if we give a misleading impression of where that line is -- something I hope you can see, because I thought you cared about freedom and the size of the commons. It's good that Masem has come up with a suggestion, but we should run it past the lawyer because this is something where we really ought to be advised by a qualified specialist. Jheald (talk) 18:21, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
  • But it's not a "legal" issue in the sense that WP's presently in trouble. Our current TOO bar, however subjective that is, is not set at a point that is causing legal problems for WP. (*note, I am saying this based on the last few things we've gotten from Godwin w.r.t. to images, in particular about tv logo galleries, in which he said "we're not in any trouble". One can certainly ascertain through Godwin if we are presently in any trouble, but generally, we're the first to know if there's a true legal problem). What the guidelines do here is now place down a second bar that includes less matter under the "free" qualifier. We are, from a "legal" standpoint, below the first bar, so we're not changing any legal issues for the Foundation. Instead, that bar is designed less about being legal and more about approaching the free content mission, only marking things free that we know for sure are free. Mislabeling free works as non-free is going to bring zero legal issues, thus requiring no input from Godwin specifically. The overall Foundation and other projects and editors, yes we do, but its just not this type of pressing legal issue. --MASEM (t) 18:33, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

@Jheald; I think I do get the point. We're just looking at it from a different viewpoint. But let's work with the point we seem to agree on; having objective line. You seem to agree that would be a good idea? If Masem's line isn't good, what is your suggestion? Also, I don't think Godwin will be useful in any respect here. As noted, Godwin feels we're already ok. Personally, this isn't to me about being ok with respect to the law. It's about making sure we're not mistagging things as free that shouldn't be. Placing those decisions in the random personal opinions of lay people who come and go here seems very misdirected. --Hammersoft (talk) 18:42, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

    • But we also shouldn't be mistagging things as not free if they are free, because that directly misleads people about their freedoms. This is a legal issue -- not in the sense that WP is likely to be sued perhaps, but in the sense that it is squarely a question about U.S. Copyright law. That is why we should seek qualified professional legal input. Jheald (talk) 20:03, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
      • Except the case of a legally free image being labeled as non-free has no harm of any sort to any party involved, which can be considered and rectified as an honest mistake in being too careful with our free content mission once the error is pointed out (whether from existing or new court proceedings that define the logo as failing TOO). The countercase is not true in the larger scheme of things, because we have no legal right to mark things free that are not free to begin with, and while we could say that was also an honest mistake, there can be legal repercussions of that. --MASEM (t) 20:22, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
        • Systematically diminishing the commons, making people think that free content is actually non-free, does harm. Just like giving in to copyfraud. It has a chilling effect on what people think they can freely use. That's why we should seek expert advice on our guidelines. Jheald (talk) 20:47, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
          • But do you know for certain if something like File:TheHomeDepot.svg is free? Again, I point to the fact that for every other type of image, we presume non-free until proven otherwise, which may qualify some free works as non-free but that's never hurt us before. We do have reasonable ability to judge from known cases of TOO where to draw a line that is far from being in the blurry area of TOO without seeking legal advice. And, again, I don't think we'd get any info from Godwin even if you asked him on this because it's not a pending legal issue. --MASEM (t) 20:57, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
            • Any time we identify some free work as non-free that hurts us. It hurts our users, it hurts the world in general, and it hurts what we stand for. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "not a pending legal issue" - it's an issue that is manifestly legal, and it's pending right here. If mean it is "not an immediate existential legal threat" to WP, that may be true; but Counsel is not just there for immediate existential legal threats. When we have a legal question like this, which will significantly affect some of the material we present to the world, we are crazy not to at least to seek to draw on the expert we have in-house. If Godwin says he is too busy and can't look at it, well fine. But we should at least consult as widely as we can, and try to get the best most qualified legal opinion we can. Is "The Home Depot" definitely free? Our existing practice and guidelines say yes. But I would be reassured, rather than it being just our say-so, if I knew that we could present that judgement as following from the assessment of a named specialist in relevant U.S. law. Jheald (talk) 13:11, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
      • @Jheald; We don't have qualified legal help to aid us in determining if a given image is free or not. That's the point of this; to provide a line on one side of which we need to discuss it, so lay people can agree together, as opposed to separately, what is and is not free. This isn't about making a sweeping change to the project. It's just about providing a reasonable line that is readily understandable to encourage discussion when cases become less clear than objective. --Hammersoft (talk) 20:33, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
        • But we should get qualified legal help in setting that line. Jheald (talk) 20:47, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
          • I don't see how Godwin can be of any greater service than the rest of us. This is an issue of identifying a clear, objective line that everyone can understand. Not a line that a lawyer says is ok/can understand. --Hammersoft (talk) 21:03, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
            • It's an issue of setting the right clear, objective line. Of not unnecessarily mislabelling any content that is free, and whose freedom should be upheld and actively asserted. Finding out where we can draw the line is precisely a legal question, on which we should try to get the best legal input we can. Jheald (talk) 12:51, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
              • Well, we're not making any headway here. You want a legal definition. We want a definition people can understand. I was hoping for some middle ground. Apparently, it doesn't exist. --Hammersoft (talk) 12:59, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
                  • I want a definition that people can understand, that reflects accurate legal advice. I don't see the problem with at least trying to ask for that legal advice. Jheald (talk) 13:18, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
                • What we would need (if we had to go that way) is a lawyer that had dealt with TOO issues and can outline the bar we set, but my understanding is that Mike Godwin doesn't have ability (he's WP general counsel, and nothing in his past suggests it; while an IP lawyer, it doesn't appear to necessarily deal directly with copyrights). --MASEM (t) 13:06, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
                  • But then he might well know who to approach who could give the advice -- perhaps a relevant specialist academic lawyer in a university department who might give WP an opinion pro bono. We're crazy, on an issue of legal substance like this, if we don't at least try to ask our own legal counsel for advice. Jheald (talk) 13:18, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
                    • Well, I've done my best to try to convey why this isn't a legal issue and failed. So, further words from me on that point will do nothing to aid the discussion. This proposal isn't going to go forward. Or at least, it's highly doubtful. As with just about every other attempt to clear the murky waters of non-free content on this project, this is firmly stuck in the mud. Sigh. --Hammersoft (talk) 15:22, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

This discussion now flagged up here at Commons:Village pump, and here on the Commons template talk page. Jheald (talk) 13:53, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Arbitrary Break

There appears to be a misconception on Wikipedia (and to a significantly lesser extent on the Commons) that only standard/publicly-available/etc typefaces (e.g. Times New Roman font, Verdana font, etc.) and/or "simple" typefaces/simple arrangements of text are ineligible for copyright protection. This simply isn't true under US copyright and trademark laws. If text falls within the definition of a typeface, it is not considered eligible for copyright; no consideration is given to prevalence or dispensation.

"Typeface" is a term defined by the House Report of the 1976 revision of the Copyright Act as follows:

"...a set of letters, numbers, or other symbolic characters, whose forms are related by repeating design elements consistently applied in a notational system and are intended to be embodied in articles, whose intrinsic utilitarian function is for use in composing text or other cognizable combinations of characters."[1]

It should be noted that "articles" in this case means "any medium in which it is used".
In Eltra Corp. v. Ringer US courts ruled:

"Under Regulation 202.10(c) it is patent that typeface is an industrial design in which the design cannot exist independently and separately as a work of art. Because of this, typeface has never been considered entitled to copyright under the provisions of §5(g)."[2]

The United States Copyright Office states:

"...mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring" ... [are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection]. Likewise, the [mere] arrangement of type...cannot support a copyright claim"[3]

So typographic ornamentation is not protected and neither is arrangement. While I agree that the line between what is merely text and what is not not text is not always black and white (Does this logo have ornamentation or a tail?, but there are also some things that are not just "simple" shapes that are not eligible for copyright. For example, the US Copyright office states unequivocally that a Fleur-de-lis is not eligible for copyright.

I'm not interested in expanding or contracting the definitions on what is acceptable on WP; making something more constrictive that what is legal is fine, but it should be based on sound reasoning and should be as concrete as possible. Much of the debate on WP could be solved by a concrete policy/guideline.

The "NY" New York Yankees logo is ineligible for copyright protection as it falls under the provisions of a typeface
The New Orleans Saints logo is ineligible for copyright protection as it is "not eligible for copyright" and "[a shape] which has been around for hundreds of years"

Given the above referenced material, I think the litmus test should cover the following three scenarios:

  1. Is this logo exclusively text whose "utilitarian function" is to be letters?
    If a logo consists entirely of letters, it is important to note the "intrinsic, utilitarian function" of those letters. As noted to the right, the New York Yankees logo consists of an "N" and "Y" whose intrinsic, utilitarian function is to be an "N" and "Y". No matter how ornate and no matter the arrangement, they are still letters and therefore ineligible for copyright and, hence, they form a PD image. This same logic does not hold for an image created from something like ASCII art. In such an instance, letters are arranged to form pictures and the intrinsic utilitarian value of the letters are used in a creative way amd in a manner inconsistent with its use as a letter. In short, ask yourself, "Are these letters, no matter how decorative, intended for use as letters, or do they have a purpose beyond the meaning of the letter like in ASCII art." 999,999 times out of 1,000,000 they are going to simply be letters and ineligible for copyright protection.
  2. Does this logo exclusively consist of simple/uncopyrightable shapes that do not form a larger picture?
    This is an example of when it gets significantly more murky. How many shapes does it take? Which shapes are eligible for copyright protection? Simple geometric shapes do not attain any copyright. Some are more complex, but are still PD nonetheless. What happens when you get two? or more? My point is that it doesn't really matter. They are still PD shapes. I think we can help ourselves to stay out of hot water by limiting it to simple geometric (or otherwise PD) shapes in arrangements that are limited to arrangements in a simple geometric shape. For example: three squares in a straight line we will label as PD. Eight squares that form another larger square would be labeled the same. Five squares arranged in the shape of a trapezoid are also the same. Like the example in #1 though, this has limits. If you arrange hundreds or thousands of squares and form something like a Bitmap image, this gets beyond the "simple" realm.
  3. Does this logo consist of text and simple shapes that separately meet the criteria of #1 and #2?
    If so, the image is PD. Example: The NY logo above is a blue square and text. Therefore, it is PD.

If it does not meet these criteria, then the image has the possibility of attaining copyright. In the interests of erring on the side of caution, for now we should label them as copyrighted even if they are only labeled as a registered trademark and not copyrighted. — BQZip01 — talk 00:11, 12 May 2010 (UTC)


  1. ^ U.S. Code Congr. & Admn. News, 94th Congress, 2d Sess. (1976) at 5668
  2. ^ Eltra Corp. v. Ringer, 579 F.2d 294, 298 (4th Cir. 1978)
  3. ^ United States Copyright Office: What Is Not Protected by Copyright?

  • There's a very large difference in copyright law between typeface (which is well established to be ineligible for copyright) and layout, again reflected when I mention the multiline text. For example, you're presuming the Yankees logo is ineligible for copyright because it is based on two characters from a font and a box. If it was just one character and a box, I'd easily agree, but the arrangement of those two character in the box is meant to create a certain look. We can't be sure reading the minds of the copyright office or a legal team, so we should take the stance of "presume non-free unless shown otherwise". Of course, with the Yankees' logo, it's moot because it's pre1923, so that's the type of evidence otherwise we can use to show it free. Same with the fleur-de-lis. Even though its a complex shape, it is a shape that dates back to the 1300rds and clearly cannot be considered original nowadays. So the proposed language is not meant to override where there is clear evidence of free-ness of an image. --MASEM (t) 13:09, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
    I again refer you to the basic question in #1. What is the "intrinsic utilitarian function" of the N and Y? If it "is for use in composing text", then it meets the verbatim vriteria of a typeface; the word "typeface" and "font" are largely used interchangeably. It may be to create a certain look, but the utilitarian function remains the same; the same is not true for something like ASCII art. Perhaps a better way to look at it would be to consider is it art with a letter in it or an artistic letter. If we can distinguish one from the other, I think we have our "black line".
    And I'm not "reading the minds" of the US Copyright Office, I'm using what they use: the law and their publications. Why shouldn't we do that? I'm not reading anything into it, I am applying black letter law.
    There are no policies or guidelines on Wikipedia which state that we should "presume non-free unless shown otherwise". If you have a link, please prove me wrong, but I am growing tired of people pushing such an agenda as fact/consensus when, in fact, none exists.
    Oh, and a fleur-de-lis isn't so clear. Lawsuits were threatened by the New Orleans Saints for copyright infringement of their design when they reached the Super Bowl. It was, of course, quickly shot down, but even in the "real world" people make the same mistakes. — BQZip01 — talk 23:12, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
    • We presume non-free until proven otherwise because WP has a free content mission and follows an exception doctrine police as per the Foundation's request. We require all media to be tagged with a license, even to demonstrate if it is free; if an image lacks this license, it is deleted presumed non-free per the Foundation's resolution.
    • Also, there is not an intrinsic utilitarian function for the layout of the two letters of N and Y in the Yankees logo. If they were laid out next to each other, as in normal text, then certainly that's utilitarian, but as soon as they are placed in that manner that is non-standard from any other printed text, it has an element of artisticness that, were the logo not out of copyright, may be sufficient to pass the TOO and make it non-free. The problem is we have no metric or means of second-guessing how that logo would be ruled non-free without a previous legal challenge to review. Thus, just like we presume non-free unless otherwise shown, we should be doing the same with logos even if that results in what may be free logos being tagged non-free. --MASEM (t) 23:51, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
      I disagree. I think you, and others, believe "presume non-free unless otherwise proven" is a policy when, in fact, it isn't. Obviously images need to be tagged appropriately as to their copyright status, but saying we presume it is nonfree until a label is placed on it is absurd. We may treat it under certain criteria (as in how to delete it), but we shouldn't assume something is nonfree just because someone missed a step in our abhorent upload process.
      No there is not an intrinsic utilitarian function for the layout of the two letters, but layout is something explicitly stated that is not copyrightable. If so, that same method of overlapping letters could be a copyright violation for every other team/organization that does the same thing with their logo.
      " soon as they are placed in that manner that is non-standard from any other printed text, it has an element of artisticness that, were the logo not out of copyright, may be sufficient to pass the TOO and make it non-free." As shown above (and below), that simply isn't the case.
      I agree that "[t]he problem is we have no metric or means [to determine] how [a] logo would be ruled [on]", but that is what I'd like to develop. We already have our WP:NFCC which we developed without a legal precedent. Why not have something like that to more clearly deliniate logos?
      I agree with Lingberg below when he says we shouldn't just label things nonfree because, "meh. I don't want to learn any more." — BQZip01 — talk 17:21, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
      • We have to assume that an image is non-free until proven otherwise by not only the points above by US copyright law: an image is presumed to be copyrighted as long as its been published. Now if you can positively show proven of publication before 1923, or other langauage that puts the image into the public domain (such as images that arise from the US Gov't), then that's our evidence that the image is free. Failing that, we must assume someone owns the copyright on that. Now, in terms of "fair use", we're not required to id the original copyright holder and thus show evidence either way of the copyright nature of the work, but we have decided that we need that for our NFC policy - images without such info are to be deleted. --MASEM (t) 21:12, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
        • Masem, again, no we do not have to assume that an image is non-free until proven otherwise. This is not policy, period! There is NO default position. You have to assess each image on its merits, not assume the person who uploaded it is committing a copyright violation unless you personally are convinced. A better standard would be to make a determination as to what is copyrightable in the first place and form guidelines that apply to all images. For example, photographs are copyrightable with the following exceptions, those that are faithful reproductions of PD 2D works of art. Beyond that, a PD source, a date of publication, or an uploader-created and licensed work are basically the only things that can bypass this. There is no reason we cannot set up similar criteria for trademarks. Something that may be useful for registered trademarks is that they are all categorized by their creators under various criteria to include "text only", "text and animals", "text and simple shapes", etc. We could easily use this as one method to show whether or not a registered trademark is copyrightable. Thoughts? — BQZip01 — talk 16:31, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
          • No, we do assume an image that lacks a license statement (even if it is a PD image) is non-free and inappropriate and delete it; that's policy. Now, on the other side, we don't have a means of reviewing every image by hand and affirming the license is correct, so if a user, intentionally or not, uploaded a clearly in-copyright image but tags it PD, it will likely sit there until noticed and reviewed and corrected. But it is again important: without any license information, we presume non-free and delete. Of course, this is by human hands and if they can tell its PD or the like, they can tag appropriately too. --MASEM (t) 16:47, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
            1. That is a far cry from "we assume images are non-free unless proven otherwise".
            2. It still isn't policy to delete an image on sight (or nominate for deletion) just because it lacks an image tag. I invite you to prove to me otherwise: quote/link to the policy which states this.
            — BQZip01 — talk 04:57, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
              • "A file in use in an article and uploaded after 13 July 2006 that does not comply with this policy 48 hours after notification to the uploading editor will be deleted." from the end of WP:NFCC. As the policy requires a license tag (#10b), this is what you're asking about. --MASEM (t) 05:09, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
                • That would be for non-free content only as this policy reflects. This rule does not apply to free content. Furthermore, it isn't instantaneous (there is a 48-hr delay). It still does not assume that an image is non-free until proven otherwise. — BQZip01 — talk 16:30, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
                  • Same applies to any image if its not labeled otherwise. See WP:IUP and WP:GID. We have to go by the fact that in today's age, copyright exists for anything unless proven otherwise in the US (where our servers are hosted). And no, it's not necessarily instantaneously, but the point is there: free content must be explicitly defined as free content to be treated as free content. Admins reviewing and deleting images of course should apply common sense (fixing a typo, identifying something obviously pre1923, etc.) but if the case is questionable and the submitted isn't fixing it, we have to remove it as non-free. --MASEM (t) 17:05, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
                      • I have read both of the pages you discuss and neither one advocates what you are saying. Copyright does not exist "for anything unless proven otherwise" and the "today's age" has nothing to do with it, only law. 1. there is no standard for "proof" 2. there are many instances where copyright is claimed, but not applicable; copyright applies to a lot of things automatically, but it doesn't apply to many others. I agree that free content should be labeled as such to be treated as such within Wikipedia. Admins should not delete something just because the case is questionable and the submitted user isn't fixing it. Admins should consider if the page can be improved and take the time to fix it (if possible). If it isn't possible to fix (i.e. clearly copyrighted and no possible FUR could exist), by all means delete it post haste. But if the image can be fixed, we should attempt to fix it: "If the page can be improved, this should be solved through regular editing, rather than deletion". Deletion because of an upload error, simple mistake, or simply not knowing what to do is ridiculous. — BQZip01 — talk 18:23, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
                        • Of course admins should try to fix it if it is obvious. But that's "should" and not "are required to". It is the onus of those putting information (and by extension, non-text content) to do the necessary steps to ensure it meets the requirements to be kept. If the case is not a clear instance of which way it should go, such as a monotone photo that may or may not be taken before 1923, we can't assume its free, and unless the admin just happens to know the source and confirm it either way, it is not worth their time to try to track it down and fix it and instead delete it. If that does end up a mistake, it can be reuploaded or undeleted. But you're mistaken to think that we can presume something is free without any other evidence to support that. --MASEM (t) 19:13, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
                          • I've never said we should "presume something is free without any other evidence to support" (I believe your interpretation that I disagree with your opinion and therefore believe what you believe to be the exact opposite may be part of the misunderstanding), but I am saying that there is not a default position period. Each image should be considered within our criteria. If eligible for copyright and there is no tag stating otherwise, it should be labeled as copyrighted and treated accordingly with simple FURs added as necessary (I'm tired of seeing company logos up for deletion when all that is missing is a FUR). If it is not eligible for copyright, it should be labeled as such and treated accordingly. If there is a question, it should be submitted to WP:PUF. If it is incorrectly labeled, that label should be fixed and the above rules apply. — BQZip01 — talk 20:29, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
                            • If is is copyrighted but not labeled as such, it is not the admin's responsibility to make the FUR, and in some cases, they can't make the FUR because they can't second guess the intent of the image. In some cases, like a company logo that's only used on the company page as the infobox logo, they can figure that out, but again, we do not require them to do this, it is an onus on the uploader. But now we're back to the "ineligible for copyright" works like logos. Unless there is information listed where this can be clearly made (such as a link to a photo on flickr that has the free licenses to reused, or text that says "scanned from a book published in 1903", admins cannot guess that the image is free, and thus must treat it as non-free, and as per our policy and the Foundation Resolution, delete it if its been lacking as such for X days. The same "treat as non-free by default" is the same thing with logos and the TOO. Unless it is a clear case of failing the TOO (as suggested by the points I've made), it is inappropriate for an admit to second guess whether the logo is free or not and should be marked non-free, though as I've suggested before, taking it to a larger consensus to affirm that or not. Unless there is absolutely clear information that asserts that an image may be free, we should never make that call for ourselves. --MASEM (t) 20:46, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Best Western logo -- ruled PD-ineligible by the Copyright Office

I have not read everything in here in detail, as someone just put a pointer here from Commons, but there do seem to be a couple misconceptions. Going by Copyright Office guidelines, either there need to be copyrightable shapes in a work, or the arrangement of non-copyrightable shapes must be creative. The big issue is "aesthetic attractiveness"; a simple arrangement that leads to something that simply looks really neat or creates a nice negative space effect doesn't qualify, I don't think. The Home Depot or Yankees logos are not close, I don't think. [The Yankees logo predates 1923, so there is no doubt either way, but it is two letters on top of each other -- very simple arrangement.] It is sort of like short phrases or slogans -- no matter how novel or creative they seem, they are not copyrightable. The Copyright Compendium states: In determining the registrability of a print, the copyright claim cannot be based solely upon mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring. Likewise, the arrangement of type on a printed page cannot support a copyright claim. However, if the type is so arranged as to produce a pictorial representation, the resulting image is registrable. Thus, an advertisement which utilized lettering to achieve a pictorial representation of a person can be registered. The basic arrangement of type on a printed page is not copyrightable (for that reason, they also reject copyrights in book layout, per the same document), so it would seems as though the arrangement itself needs to be non-simple if it is going to be copyrightable -- "non-standard" (i.e. something slightly different than a line of text) doesn't necessarily qualify by itself. We apparently need to ignore the visual effect the arrangement produces, and decide if the arrangement is creative in itself (i.e. would be it copyrightable pretty much no matter the shapes used). I'll post most of some content I wrote in a recent discussion on Commons.:

The U.S. Copyright Office distinguishes "aesthetic appeal" from copyrightability. In their Copyright Compendium, they state Quality, aesthetic merit, ingenuity, and uniqueness are not considered in determining the copyrightability of a work. By that, letters or text in a simple combination are not eligible, regardless of the effect they create (which is aesthetically pleasing, but not necessarily artistically creative in the copyright sense). From 37 CFR 202.10, In order to be acceptable as a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, the work must embody some creative authorship in its delineation or form. Letters are still letters in their form, so the only possible copyright claim would be in the arrangement, which has to be non-simple itself. From one of their rulings, It is true that some combinations of common or standard shapes or other unprotectible elements can embody sufficient creativity with respect to how the elements are combined or arranged to support a copyright. [...] However, merely combining non-protectible elements does not automatically establish creativity where the combination or arrangement itself is simplistic. Also in that ruling is that the Office does not consider a work's aesthetics, attractiveness, symbolism, visual effect, uniqueness, commercial success or design choices, nor the time and effort expended in creating the work. To me, the placement results in a nice visual effect, but as mentioned that does not add to its copyrightability. There is a collection of U.S. Copyright Appeals Board decisions here (a few things which were accepted on appeal, and many which were not); it can make for some interesting reading if you want to get in depth. Some of the rejected examples include the Best Western logo, the DUB logo (DUB Magazine), the decision already linked which was about a S-shape in a box, a rosette beaded design, the Nikken USA logo, a Bruce Lee Core Symbol, and a Heartagram symbol. All of this is specific to the U.S. -- other countries can be entirely different. Some countries will have a lower threshold (protecting graphic design in general through copyright, which the U.S. does not -- they have design patents), and some countries will be higher (Germany for example has a really high threshold -- they don't let trademark and copyright overlap much).

Another famous case was one involving a New York Arrows (soccer team) logo; it went through the courts who also denied copyrightability (seen in this PDF, page 45). I would probably read through some of those decisions to get a better feel of the "PD-ineligible" line the Copyright Office uses (which is guided by decades of court decisions we likely aren't aware of). They can give a much better idea, and shows PD-ineligible goes beyond simple "text" -- there are many PD-ineligible shapes, and PD-ineligible arrangements. Carl Lindberg (talk) 14:48, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

  • The point here isn't to ascertain a legal bright line to determine what is free and is not free. The written law and case law supporting this area is deliberately vague, as all possible scenarios can not be envisaged, but must be considered on a case by case basis. I don't think Masem, and certainly not myself, are trying to create a definitive legal line in the sand here. The government itself hasn't created one, and for us to do so would be dramatically overstepping our rights and abilities. The point here is create a line beyond which we should discourage solo, personal interpretations of the law and encourage discussion. --Hammersoft (talk) 15:27, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
    • Sure -- but the U.S. Copyright Office has more detailed guidelines, trying to answer the exact same question posed here (what is ineligible), trying for a balanced approach, based on law and many court decisions, and made with infinitely more experience and knowledge than we have. It seems like common sense to use their guidelines too. Those are not solo nor personal interpretations. Carl Lindberg (talk) 15:45, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
      • Of course not. But, do you expect the average person to read through all of that to come to a reasonable decision about the status of an image? What Masem proposes is a simple, easy to understand line beyond which discussion should be encouraged. --Hammersoft (talk) 15:47, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
        • Frankly, yes, when it comes to actual deletion (nominating if unsure is different). While we respect copyright, we should also respect the public domain with equal force, and should look for a balancing line. Deletions based on "I don't feel like learning more" aren't all that great, in my opinion. Also, a lot of the above seems to be about uncertainty surrounding aesthetic attractiveness, which the Copyright Office has stated very very plainly is not a consideration for copyrightability, so a guideline which hints that it may be is not a good guideline, I don't think. This stuff is, as you say, very complex with a lots of uncertainty, and there is plenty of room for debate -- but I don't like creating uncertainty in people's minds where the Copyright Office is quite certain on the matter. Trying to come up with a separate dividing "100% sure" line is just as difficult, in my opinion, and probably more -- it will almost always be possible to create uncertainty, and some people may well take such a line as the deletion threshold, which would be rather bad. A better approach may be to pull together some of explicit language on the matter, together with actual examples which were ruled uncopyrightable (I gave some above) and also some which were ruled copyrightable if we can find them (use on such a page would be fair use, I would think, if we have the graphics already for other reasons), to give people a better idea of the line without trawling through all the above material themselves. In other words, educate :-) I don't think the proposed guideline has any grounding in court decisions -- it appears to be based on personal uncertainty, which is understandable, but without (apparently) having read or being aware of much of the above. Carl Lindberg (talk) 16:17, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
          • This isn't a suggestion to encourage deletion of images. Perhaps that hasn't been explained well enough. --Hammersoft (talk) 16:27, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
            • Perhaps, but "failing the threshold of originality" implies that directly. And there are also several statements, "Word art is all subjective style and thus may be considered original", "Multiple lines of text means there's a placement issue of subsequent lines of text that can be considered as originality and thus should be avoided", and "Once multiple geometric shapes are in place, their positioning, color, and the like relative to the text again all are artistic aspects that lead to originality", all of which are directly discredited by the Copyright Office documents. Color and basic placement of text are generally not copyrightable elements. While there is certainly room for argumentation, the proposed guidelines expands that way beyond (sourced, authoritative) boundaries. To me, the proposed guideline is based around misconceptions -- are there any sources which support those original statements? Carl Lindberg (talk) 16:39, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
              • Meh. What was a simple proposal now has the flight capabilities of a lead duck. It's amazing to me how non-free issues always get stuck in the mud. Always. Thanks for your input Clindberg. I think we're done here. Anyone want to put a resolved tag on this? --Hammersoft (talk) 16:47, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
                • No. We shouldn't put a "resolved" tag on this. We definitely ought to try to come up with some summary guidance notes as to what we believe is PD and what isn't; what sources that view is based on; and where people can go to for a more detailed presentation of the issue. That guidance might even include areas where we decide that flagging an image "Could be free, but we're not going to chance it" is the best course. But above all the guidance needs to be based on accurate legal assessment. Jheald (talk) 17:10, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
                  • Its apparent from the dialogue here that such a meeting of minds isn't going to happen. For example, we still disagree on the legal aspects. As with many other non-free proposals, this isn't going to fly. I'll exit the conversation now. If (hopefully) the remainder of you can figure something out, I'll be quite impressed. --Hammersoft (talk) 17:38, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
                • [e/c] Why? Nothing is resolved at all. Why not work towards a consensus here or on a separate page? Lindberg, thanks for the updated information. What are your thoughts about using my 3 guidelines stated above? Too much? Not enough? — BQZip01 — talk 17:21, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
                  • Sorry for not getting back to this. As for your rules... closer, but I'm not sure they are correct. Letters aren't just utilitarian, they are a method of communication (they have denied copyright on a completely original alphabet under those grounds), and are also age-old symbols where typeface is considered minor variations thereof (note one of the cases where a S-like shape was refused, even though it wasn't necessarily meant as a letter). From looking at decisions, the Copyright Office will look to see if any of the elements are copyrightable in themselves, and if not, if the selection and arrangement is creative in itself. For the first part, copyrightable shapes, 37 CFR 202.10(a) says In order to be acceptable as a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, the work must embody some creative authorship in its delineation or form. That means that color choice etc. does not matter -- they are looking solely at the outlines. For the second part, selection and arrangement... one court case (Satava v. Lowery) said that not just any combination automatically qualifies for copyright protection, but rather "a combination of unprotectable elements is eligible for copyright protection only if those elements are numerous enough and their selection and arrangement original enough that their combination constitutes an original work of authorship". The Compendium states (§ 307.01: A compilation is registrable if its selection, coordination, or arrangement as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The greater the amount of material from which to select, coordinate, or order, the more likely it is that the compilation will be registrable. Where the compilation lacks a certain minimum amount of original authorship, registration will be refused. For one example which *was* ruled copyrightable, see here: A magazine copied Reader Digest's main page layout, using similar fonts with similar layout, along with other similar elements, and the totality of the whole was considered to be a copyright violation (though since the second magazine only did two issues that way, total awards from the case were $500). The Compendium in section 625 goes into other (non-graphic) examples; a compilation of 15 songs may be given its own copyright on the order alone (i.e. a completely different ordering of the same 15 songs would be a separate copyright). But, ordering 2-3 songs isn't enough, and ordering 15 songs the same way they were played at a concert also wouldn't qualify (the ordering was not original authorship). This may be my own take on things, but for arrangement itself, maybe think if the arrangement would still be copyrightable if all the elements were squares -- it may look ugly, but that is an aesthetic judgement which has no copyright relevance. That in itself isn't quite enough, because if there are a large number of elements, then font or color selection can enter into it as well. Usually with logos though, there are just a handful of elements at most, and quite often they are not creatively arranged. Carl Lindberg (talk) 17:33, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Arb Break 2: Peer review proposal

Given the above, let me offer a slight change, as this is more now process rather than just outright advice:

  • When one encounters a {{PD-ineligible}} image, they should look for the following:
    1. If it falls within (some set of rules, similar to the ones I propose, but this is not to say we can't expand those), then there should be no contesting the license template. (I'd like to see an additional template or added argument to this one that points to where these rules reside). In otherwords, these are cases that we have zero doubt as to the freeness of the image due to failing TOO.
    2. If there is legal precedent that it fails TOO, that should be linked in the PD-ineligible template so that the source of the legal aspect is clear.
    3. In cases where it is obviously it passes TOO (non-simple artwork for example like the ING logo) then of course the license should be changed and removed if on Commons; if contested, it falls to the case below. Just like the upper threshold of point 1, where we set the obviousness bar for failing TOO, we could find some logical rules where passing TOO is obvious as well.
    4. Otherwise, if you feel it may pass the TOO (thus failing to be original), then it should be brought to some consensus review (if this was on WP:NFCR but I suspect this needs to happen at Commons.) A rationale discussion is held and a decision is made if we are going to consider it as free. If the case, then we add a pointer to that discussion (just as one would for an AFD result) to the license or as a new template so that it would not be scrutinized in the future. It should be noted that on a no-consensus result, we need to consider the image as non-free (as that being the default assumption unless proven otherwise).

Now, we could add another step, and make any image tagged initially PD-ineligible pass through a review process where it is confirmed or not (eg doing step #4 for all images); admins can determine the obvious cases 1-3 first but any other logo image that is the murky betweens could be discussed so that one user (the uploader) doesn't unilateral decide upon uploading of the image. However, that's extra process that might be a bit heavy to do. But I still think that if we are serious about considering this, we need to established the upper bound of non-original works, and lower bound or original works as best as we can in an objective manner, and then work through every PD-ineligible image to add in the extra template parts for obvious cases or place the rest on a list that we need to then process through via consensus where they fall.

We also should make a template for and other projects that use NFC that identifies a logo that went through this consensus review process and was found to pass TOO, and thus moved out of commons or marked NFC, such that a user can be encouraged to seek out a legal document that affirms that logo as being PD-ineligible and thus allowing it to be brought in - that is, if we overclassify a logo that would other fail TOO as having pass TOO and being non-free, that's our correction mechanism. --MASEM (t) 17:39, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Masem, you bring up some good points. I agree that an automatic review might be the best option and clear "rules" are certainly the best option. However, I also think that there is a problem with your analysis, namely that TOO is not the ONLY factor in play here. The US Copyright office says that fonts with ornate typographic designs cannot be copyrighted. While they indeed require a level of creativity (which I acknowledge the bar for TOO is set very low), they are not protected by copyright. — BQZip01 — talk 21:41, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
I've never said anything about fonts, only that the use of multiple fonts may become artistic and pass the TOO. It's clear a typeface isn't going to be copyrighted. --MASEM (t) 22:29, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
Well, multiple fonts in and of itself most often doesn't matter either -- they are just as uncopyrightable. Same with color choice; it *usually* doesn't matter for items as simple as logos (where there are just 2-4 elements in total). That is not absolute of course; if you are talking about arrangement of 20-30 fonts it may well be different. Colorizing a photograph or movie has been ruled copyrightable I'm pretty sure, and the owner of this website did win a copyright case on one of her quilts (not sure it is the one pictured, but probably similar). Because there were a large number of color choices and non-simple arrangement of them, a copyright was granted. Note though that the copyright is only on that specific coordination and arrangement, not the "feel". Also, be rather careful of attaching any significance to aesthetic appeal (i.e. how "neat" or "ugly" something seems); that should be irrelevant. In the Bruce Lee Core Symbol decision, they try to make that clear: ...the Copyright Office does not make aesthetic judgements, the attractiveness of a design, its visual effect or impression, its interpretive meaning, its purported symbolism, or its commercial success in the marketplace are not factors in the examining process. The question is whether there is sufficient original and creative authorship within the meaning of the copyright law and settled case law. (emphasis theirs). To me, many of those factors are being considered in many places in this discussion.
A review process is not a bad idea. These tags have definitely been abused on Commons at times. But... that presumes people doing the reviews have a decent idea of the actual line, i.e. have read up on some of this stuff. And while making a "no review needed" line is a good idea in theory, in practice that line is a completely personal definition, and can double the amount of argumentation (since the PD-ineligible line is already contentious, and that has tons of court cases and other documentation available, whereas a "no review needed" line has almost none). There can some rules -- obviously a pure-letter logo in one font is fine, so that is one example, but trivial variations on that (say the Home Depot logo) are just as obviously fine to me, but maybe not to everyone -- thus unneeded arguing, since the only line we really need to be concerned with is what the law and case law says. The very best thing may be to make galleries which demonstrate some of the aspects, especially including examples of what has been ruled not copyrightable, and (if possible, maybe links only) examples of what was. Pictures are probably worth more than a thousand words in this case. It would be best to teach everyone (uses and reviewers) on this stuff. Carl Lindberg (talk) 17:33, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
Which makes sense, particularly if we implement new {{pd-ineligible}} templates that reflect on the 3 possible cases: trivially fails TOO (based on the proposed set of rules), established in case law as TOO, or has achieved consensus to be considered TOO. Image galleries become easy to create from that point, so when a new consensus is needed for a recent upload, we can review it. The key here is that only the most trivial cases should be determined by one person, and thus the need for a line that's pretty obvious and clear. Maybe as we work more the line can be inched out, but initially we should take a rather strict line where everything beyond it is put to consensus testing. --MASEM (t) 23:33, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
How about the Microsoft 4 color logo? Or the Symantec Yin-yang circle... --Tyw7  (☎ Contact me! • Contributions)   Changing the world one edit at a time! 13:04, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

I have tried to collect the images mentioned above at commons:Threshold of originality#United States. Also, the [Forstmann 100% Virgin Wool label with inwoven fleur-de-lis was was not eligible for copyright (Forstmann Woolen Co v J.W. Mays Inc). /Pieter Kuiper (talk) 14:03, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

That is awesome, thank you for that. (One note: be careful of the "CCC" logo; while they hint that it would likely be uncopyrightable on its own, the registration was refused on other grounds, namely that it was cropped out of a previously-registered (and thus copyrightable) work, and so was refused because the crop was not a copyrightable act, not directly on inherent ineligibility). And frankly, the original logo isn't dramatically more creative, but it does have non-common shapes in it, which I guess was enough to put it over the line. (Not that reviewers at the Copyright Office are always consistent -- the Office also refuses arguments based on comparisons with other works; they try to understand the principles and judge each work on its own.) Carl Lindberg (talk) 17:33, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Review requested of actions at Joran van der Sloot

I'm inviting comments on my image removal from Joran van der Sloot.—Kww(talk) 18:26, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

I think it was justified, due to very substantial noncompliance with NFCC, which the proponents persisted in, without really making an argument based on the policy. In fact, given that this article is presently getting tens of thousands of page views a day, Kww's actions were necessary and appropriate.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:30, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
Completely fair. Clearly not a free image, and thus considering NFCC, as it doesn't show any faces, it has no NFCC#8 bearing (completely replaceable by text). --MASEM (t) 18:35, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Concur with removal. The fair use rationale is very weak, and does not overcome WP:NFCC #8. --Hammersoft (talk) 18:49, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
  • This is a question about whether a file passes NFCC. The uploader is required to fill in certain information, which they did, so the image could not be deleted on technical grounds - it's fair use or lack thereof could only be established by consensus. At the time Kww removed the file the best reading of the talkpage was that there was "no consensus", and while a discussion is taking place backed by a file deletion review and there is as yet no consensus it seems better to wait until there is consensus before acting unilaterally. Since that time more editors have offered their opinion, and consensus has moved in a definite direction, so now there is something to act on. I personally see how NFCC could be met in this case, but it is everyones responsibility to respect community consensus, so I fully support the fact that the file is no longer used in the article. Weakopedia (talk) 09:31, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
  • These are two distinct things: any file deletion review would be answering the question "is there any possible use for this file?", which is a distinct question from "Is this particular use of the file in accordance with WP:NFCC#8." The answer to the second one was a resounding "no" from all editors that directly addressed WP:NFCC#8.—Kww(talk) 15:14, 11 June 2010 (UTC)

Can editors familiar with our fair use policy please join the discussion at Talk:Gaza flotilla raid#Fair use images? There are several news agency photos being used under a fair use justification that may be flimsy. Fences&Windows 13:22, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

Note that at least some of the images being used have already been listed at WP:NFCR#Gaza flotilla raid images. VernoWhitney (talk) 15:02, 13 June 2010 (UTC)


The BP article has a logo on the infobox. Is this really fair use? There are many photos of petrol stations with the BP sign. These are free use. Isn't free use preferred? Suomi Finland 2009 (talk) 20:18, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

We use clearly identifiable logos , free or otherwise, to identify companies. While someone could take a picture of a BP station sign, our use to identify the logo from that sign would not fall under normal fair use allowance (the purpose being to show the logo, not the station; that would be equivalent to a photograph of a copyrighted painting). --MASEM (t) 20:32, 13 June 2010 (UTC)


In WP space (i.e., a Signpost article on published research about WP), can I reproduce a scattergraph from an academic research paper freely downloadable from the Internet? The scattergraph concerns support and oppose votes in RfAs on en.WP. I see a "Copyright 2010" followed by the publisher's name and "All rights reserved". It's the seventh in this google ranking page. Tony (talk) 09:14, 13 June 2010 (UTC) PS And to what extent can I reproduce and discuss their research findings, i.e., expose their detailed data, without breaching copyright? Tony (talk) 09:38, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

Data are not subject to copyright; text and images are. So you could take data from the article to reproduce your own graph, if that's possible. You could contact the authors and get the original dataset. Fair use for images from scholarly articles is a grey area:[10][11][12][13]. You can discuss their research findings to your heart's content, just don't plagiarise their presentation of them. Fences&Windows 13:22, 13 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. Hmmm ... a grey area. It can't be fair use, of course, in WP space. Tony (talk) 14:27, 13 June 2010 (UTC)
I think we agree that that is best and safest practice. On the other hand, there is a considerable question as to whether the scatterplot represents any original artistic expression, or on the other hand whether it is merely a simply functional representation of the underlying data. If there is not any original artistic expression in the scatterplot, then there is nothing in it that would attract copyright, and so it would be public domain, and so free for use anywhere on Wikipedia. Jheald (talk) 18:00, 13 June 2010 (UTC)
This is intriguing. The scatterplot (indeed all of the graphical representations) required very basic skills on a program like Excel. There's nothing special about them, and the colours chosen—well, they were arbitrary. Graphing such as this is commonplace nowadays. However, the data the graphs express is presented nowhere else in the article—no tables or lists (this is typical where there's a huge amount of data, such as the study produced). Without those numerical data, I couldn't reproduce the graphs properly—I mean, I could spend hours faking them, but they'd be different at very close inspection; who would bother? Now if the graphs were something special, such as a 3D representations of something that is quite difficult to express clearly in a graph, into which some original thought went, I'd be more inclined to call them original in themselves.
I note that research articles reproduce graphs from other publications when they want to, say, compare their data with those of the other study; and I'm practically certain journals don't send letters to each other asking for permission to do so, although the authors and, in the bib. at the end, the publisher, is always cited.
So where does this leave me? Remember, fair use is not allowed in WP: space. Is this free material? Tony (talk) 16:04, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
The safest way to do it would be to email the lead author of the study and ask for a copy of the data they used to create the plot. I'm afraid I'm unsure as to the status of graphs, since they're simple but the data could be displayed other ways. <shrug> VernoWhitney (talk) 20:32, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
Too much bother. What strikes me is that the graphs provide findings that are expressed nowhere in the text—that is, they provide actual data-points; however, it would be next to impossible to confabulate the data set in reverse from the graphs. I don't see why the data-points in their basic Excel charts are copyright if quoting text and explaining findings isn't. Tony (talk) 03:01, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
Check out Enguage Digitizer. It is an open-source free (GPL2) application that turns scans or screengrabs of graphs into numeric data for use in spreadsheets such as Excel or Gnumeric. One could use that in turn to create fresh charts free of any prior "design elements" but showing the same data.LeadSongDog come howl! 14:55, 16 June 2010 (UTC)

←That is a useful comment; but it exposes how ludicrous the rigid application of "copyright" is when data have to be degraded to be presented: any researcher will be upset to find their data expressed in a graph that is numerically even a little different from theirs (actually, it's falsification, since a graph implies that it's based on real data, not reconstructed). The choice of red and green as the two colours on the original graph? Wow, I could use blue and purple by clicking a button—the clicking of colour buttons on Excel can't possibly be considered inventive or artistic. Heck, I could sue the neighbour for painting their house the same colour as mine ... What if the product, in terms of data-points, is indistinguishable from the original because the reverse-engineering software is so good, or the data-points few and simple? This is getting silly. I won't bother, although thanks, I'll bookmark the link.

This is further evidence that WP needs to move on from the simplistic application of rigid copyright rules, and concede that there are instances where nothing is threatened and practicality is served by more flexibility—this is an extension of the debate about book cover illustrations in Signpost book reviews, in late April. Tony (talk) 03:09, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

You're going to have to take that stance up with the Foundation, since they only allow us to use non-free content to forward our education mission; the back-end of how WP works is not part of that. --MASEM (t) 03:47, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
The actual text of the Foundation is expressed in general terms and open to interpretation. If it weren't, why do the 280 WPs have significantly different attitudes and practices? Tony (talk) 03:55, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Fair Use

I was advised to post my question here again: is it possible to upload this picture under a "fair use"-rationale in order to use it in Edwin Sutherland? -- Wo st 01 (talk | rate) 17:25, 16 June 2010 (UTC)

The answer is "very probably". First however, you should make a reasonable effort to find a free alternative (though I did a quick google and I don't think you'll have much luck). Also, you should endeavour to find out who actually owns the copyright for the image - that's not mandatory but it is extremely helpful to content reusers. CIreland (talk) 15:42, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

An interesting milestone in NFCC compliance

As of just now [14], the project is as close as possible with current detection methods to being in compliance with WP:NFCC #9. Prior to BJBot_3 coming online in January of 2008, there were more than 2000 violations in userspace alone. When DASHBot_5 came online in January of this year, there were more than 1000 violations (I routinely saw in excess of 1400). The daily report of NFCC 9 violations showed 76 violations as of 20:00 UTC yesterday. All of those violations have been removed. There are certainly a few remaining violations, but they are all new violations since yesterday. So far as I'm aware, this is a first. --Hammersoft (talk) 16:48, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

That's outstanding. VernoWhitney (talk) 17:01, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

I realize this is only tangentially related to this policy, but I thought editors with an interest in images might want to take a look at this. Commons has been developing a proposed policy regarding sexual content at commons:Commons:Sexual content. It is now stable and ready for review by third parties - please look it over and provide any feedback on the talk page. We want to move forward on adoption soon. Thank you! Dcoetzee (talk) 22:58, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Is this theft?

This actor was very famous and had many photos taken of him, even fans taking photos of him. Surely we don't have to stoop to theft from the TV programme? and Jack Lord Suomi Finland 2009 (talk) 19:59, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

  • Since he's dead, and no new free license imagery of him can be created, the general rule of thumb around here is we do accept non-free imagery for depiction purposes, as in this case. There might be free license imagery of him available, or somebody might be willing to release imagery of him that was previously copyrighted. If that happens, we'll replace this non-free image as soon as we are aware of the free imagery. If he were alive, we'd delete this image even if we didn't have a free license image of him at this time. --Hammersoft (talk) 14:41, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

Non-English Wikipedias and fair use

Which non-English Wikipedias accept fair use images of copyrighted building images?

I want to know which other Wikis I can post an image of the Air France head office in (so far the image is on the English and French Wikipedias, and it is not eligible to be posted on the Spanish Wikipedia) WhisperToMe (talk) 16:48, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

meta:Non-free content has a table with pointers to the individual project policies, so that should be a good starting point. VernoWhitney (talk) 16:58, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
Thank you very much :) WhisperToMe (talk) 17:03, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

Request for Exemption


I am seeking an exemption from the Non-free content policy for the ongoing Wikipedia:Contributor copyright investigations/Arab League in order to convert the list of images to a gallery to aid in sorting out copyright violations from allowable subject matter. Anybody for or against my proposal? VernoWhitney (talk) 15:19, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

I'll note that if such an exemption is granted, it will be temporary. On completion, CCI pages are blanked. And while CCI pages can hang around a long time, I think this one could be cleaned up relatively quickly with the attention of an image contributor. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 15:30, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Why do the images have to be displayed on the page rather than just linking them? (i.e. use [[:File:Bagpuss.jpg]] to yield File:Bagpuss.jpg). Seems unnecessary to faff about getting exemptions. CIreland (talk) 15:47, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Mostly because there are 312 (if I counted right), and I don't want to have to click through to each one to see whether it's a map or a flag or a photo in order to sort them. VernoWhitney (talk) 15:58, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't want to throw bureaucracy into the face of common sense. Please don't take this in that way. However, I don't see the justification of convenience applying here. Each image still needs to be reviewed, not just glanced at in thumbnail mode or in a gallery (same effect). The image description pages need to be seen in order to evaluate each image on a case by case basis. Yes, it's a lot of images. That's unfortunate, but we sometimes run across situations like that. If you want to group them together by flag, map, photo, logo, etc. then group them that way in separate linked lists. While technically speaking, exemptions to WP:NFCC #9 can exist, in practice they don't. Looking at Category:Wikipedia non-free content criteria exemptions, the only page in that category is a page for a bot that hasn't been run in two years [15]. The other categories in that category all link non-free files, rather than displaying them. Even Wikipedia:Graphic Lab/Illustration workshop does not permit the display of non-free images in its workspace, and they have a much stronger justification for doing so than is the case here in my opinion. --Hammersoft (talk) 16:10, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • There are a couple ways of doing this without requiring the exception.
    • If you have the Navigation Popups gadget enabled in your preferences, hovering over an image will bring up a thumb of that image and other useful details. It is sufficient to rapidly determine the diff between flags, maps, and photos.
    • You could create a file off size (local computer) that would be the page with all the images within in. Then, opening a spare browser tab, you can copy that file into the edit window and PREVIEW the page, which will show you all the images without actually storing it.
    • I would expect that there's some functionality of AWB that could be used here to help, how, though, I don't know. --MASEM (t) 16:18, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Don't ask - just do it if that is the easiest way for you to do it. Prodego talk 16:21, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Prodego, VW's problem is that if he "just does it", a bot will revert him. CIreland (talk) 16:22, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Yes, something will have to be done about that. Prodego talk 17:06, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

I did just do it and then fought of DashBOT since it apparently doesn't respect the category and I thought I got the bots|deny tag set up correctly, but then Hammersoft removed the images and the category and told me to come here, so here I am. And yes, I am aware there are other ways to do it, but popups doesn't work on the computer I'm stuck with most often due to some wonky configuration issues, and the whole point of the category is to make maintenance such as this easier. If other people were willing to slog through it as it is currently it would already be done and I wouldn't be here, so I'm trying to make my job easier so it actually will get done. This seems to be the same logic used at Wikipedia talk:Non-free content criteria exemptions/Archive 1#Proposed addition for the one page that still is in the category. And re:Hammersoft, I'm not intending to be snarky, but part of your reason for opposing granting exemption is because exemption isn't granted? VernoWhitney (talk) 16:30, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Ignore that and just get the bots to ignore the page. You want the images to be visible for a short time to improve Wikipedia - you shouldn't have to come here to do it. (In other words - Hammersoft should have let you do what you were doing, you did the right thing.) Prodego talk 16:56, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
You can also review the old revision of the page for reference. –xenotalk 17:08, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
That works for the 5 images that already were in the gallery - unless you're suggesting that putting everything into a gallery like I want to, watching it get reverted, and then working from the old revision is somehow more kosher than getting a temporary exemption. VernoWhitney (talk) 17:21, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

As several people have said, a temporary use on a page explicitly dedicated to sorting out copyright violations is fine. I restored the category; it should be removed when the images have been sorted. The whole point of the "exceptions" system is to allow for this sort of thing, and people would not be suggesting so many alternatives if there were really no benefit to seeing the images. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:37, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Thank you. VernoWhitney (talk) 17:51, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Carl, I don't agree with this. I'm not going to edit war over this of course, but the addition of the exception has not achieved consensus here. Verno, yes I'm saying an exception is a very rare thing. In practice, we don't have them. That's reality. There is a possibility of one, but we'd need a strong rationale for doing so. The only rationale that's been provided is that it would be more convenient for you, a person encumbered with a computer that does not satisfy your needs, to do something. That's not adequate justification for an exemption. Yes, I'd like to see the work done. No, I don't want to see policy violated out of a need for convenience for a person lacking the computer they need. That's not a strong reason. Rather the opposite. Is there some other reason that lends credibility to this request other than your need of convenience? --Hammersoft (talk) 17:57, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Prior to Verno's recent work there, nobody has touched that CCI since you last did in January. CCIs are only opened where there is strong reason to believe copyvios exist. I would suspect that if an exemption means we rectify the possible widespread copyright problems with any kind of timeliness, it's probably well worth it. Whatever copyvios remain from this guy have gone ignored for five months. And if the work isn't done in timely manner, it seems like it would be easy enough to restore it to its non-exempt status. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 18:02, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't see that as an argument to grant an exception. That's an argument that the area needs more volunteers. As I noted, the graphic lab has a considerably stronger reason to have an exemption than the here proposed convenience of a single editor. They don't have an exemption. I fail to see a need to grant an exemption in this case for an editor with a lacking a computer who finds it inconvenient to process these images in the policy compliant ways proposed. --Hammersoft (talk) 18:06, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
Let me explain my thoughts. It seemed to me that people were suggesting all sorts of "behind the back" techniques that were intended to do exactly what the gallery tag would do: to show the images so that the maps could be sorted from the photographs, etc. I was about to just write a quick toolserver program that would display all the images for VernoWhitney. But then I realized it would be farcical to write a program to show the images, just to avoid adding a single line to the page itself to allow the images to be shown. Other people have suggested similarly convoluted strategies, such as putting the galleries in an older revision to hide them from the bot.
My impression is that this "exception" is temporary and related only to sorting out one batch of images. I presume that will happen pretty quickly, and then the exception can be removed. The "exemptions" section of the NFC policy seems to directly relate to this sort of management. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:07, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict) x 2. Let me just point out that there was no policy violation, as the page was in the category and WP:NFCC#9 specifically allows exemptions. Nowhere do I see it stated that there must be consensus for the category to be added, so I was violating no policy by adding it. As to the justification, the page is being used to ensure compliance with the policies of WP:COPY and WP:COPYVIO, which means it is being "used to manage questionable non-free content" as defined at Wikipedia:Non-free content#Exemptions. Cheers. VernoWhitney (talk) 18:07, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • First, there is and was a policy violation. Adding the page to the category was done by the editor asking for the exemption. I objected to it, and asked the editor to seek the exemption here. No consensus has been achieved that this exemption is proper. Yet, the category has been added back. I find that improper. If we don't need consensus to add a page to the exemptions category, then anyone can add their userpages with userboxes containing copyrighted content. That's obviously not how it works.
  • Second, the "convoluted strategies" are to assist the editor with a computer that is apparently lacking. Yes, we could provide an easy solution without the convoluted strategies. Yet, we're doing so for a single editor. If this "solution" were for the good of the many, rather than for the good of the one, I'd be happy to grant an exemption for the entire subset of CCI pages carte blanche. But that's not the case. We're asking for an exemption here for a single editor. If you want me to sort the images into maps, flags, and photos, hell I can do that right now without having to resort to violating WP:NFCC policy to do so. Just give me the word that that is what is needed, and I'll do it right now. --Hammersoft (talk) 18:11, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
    • That would be wonderful. I have only a vague idea of what is being sorted out. VW and/or Moonriddengirl: can you clarify what needs to be done, exactly? — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:13, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Just for reference, I just went through the 45 images in this section, sorting them into four groups (flags, photos, maps, graphics/logos). It took me 12 minutes. My work was edit conflicted, and what Verno did made my edit impossible (not his fault of course) so I didn't apply it. But, 45 images in 12 minutes to alleviate the need to sort. If I had applied my save (can't now), we wouldn't need the exemption anymore. --Hammersoft (talk) 18:30, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict) First, Hammersoft, I'd love more volunteers. :) Sadly, my perpetual talk page ad hasn't proved that successful, any more than my last sad little attempt to drum up interest at AN. :( (Though I must say, we had a temporary influx that was very nice!) If you know where they're lurking, please please please send them on. :) I'm not the one working on this CCI; I'm currently working on a batch of infringing art articles, but what's needed here is for this content to be sorted, reviewed, repaired and/or tagged as necessary so this issue finally put to bed. That seems to be what he's doing at the moment: [16], [17], [18]. Verno's been putting in overtime at CCI lately. Since images are not my major area, I'm afraid I've been bypassing this particular CCI for some time. :/ If you want more specifics and are willing to do the legwork, you might want to stop by Verno's talk page or leave him a TB, since he seems to be in "work mode." As of a few days ago, we had 28 CCIs, and I do believe he's trying to get that number down before the backlog gets much larger. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 18:35, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • And you did just before I posted. So back to Vermeer with me. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 18:36, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • My offer was rejected. C'est la vie. But, once his sorting is done there's no reason to maintain the galleries, is there? They can be converted back to linked lists very easily (a couple of minutes work at most, and I'll do it happily). --Hammersoft (talk) 18:38, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • I should think so. I'll ask him to explain here if he has further need and how it might be implemented, and I personally appreciate your willingness to pitch in. As I said, our need is dire! --Moonriddengirl (talk) 18:51, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Okay, my sorting is done and I don't know of any further work that would need the galleries that can't be done just as easily via looking in history, so if you could turn it into a linked list again while keeping the comments next to the image links, that would be much appreciated. VernoWhitney (talk) 19:06, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Ok, I'll get to it right now. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:11, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Done. I've removed the exemption category and the DASHBot deny tag. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:18, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • FWIW, I support the temporary exemption if it makes it easier on the user completing the oft-thankless task of cleaning up copyright infringement. –xenotalk 18:43, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Non-free photos of living animals

We generally can't have non-free photos of living people, but is there such a rule that forbids the use of a non-free photo of a wikinotable animal, or could one be used with the appropriate rationales? Mjroots (talk) 05:50, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

It would depend greatly on whether a free photo could be created. For example, a non-free photo of a common zoo animal would probably be replaceable, but a non-free photo of a very rare animal might not be. I think this would have to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. The rule for people is just that, in almost every case, non-free photos are replaceable, and we have included this in the policy because it is such a common question. — Carl (CBM · talk) 10:31, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
The animal in question is someone's pet, but it is notable enough for an article on Wikipedia. Mjroots (talk) 19:07, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
If it's a pet, it's tame, and we can reasonably expect a free image can be obtained. I'd consider the same restrictions. --MASEM (t) 20:39, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
  • I think the same abstract situation applies to animals as it does to humans. Is the animal alive? If alive, is creating free license imagery impossible for (insert fantastic reason, like life imprisonment for example). There's not a question of whether it's easy or not to create free imagery. The question is can it be created. --Hammersoft (talk) 20:12, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
    • If we are talked a specific animal (in this case a living pet) then yes, the same idea as to why we refuse non-free of living people apply. I would also argue that what we could call "common" animals - ones that can be found in a zoo or are wildlife that easily co-exist with humans (deer, squirrels) etc. - should nearly always have a free image over non-free barring common-sense exceptions. All other animals - those hostile to humans, living far far from populated areas - we can allow non-free since there is no reasonable expectation someone can get a free image of them. --MASEM (t) 20:39, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
  • I'd disagree on the "hostile to humans" part. I've got photographs of wolves and grizzly bears, and I'm trying for other local "hostiles" such as mountain lions. The hard part isn't staying safe, it's finding them in the first place. --Carnildo (talk) 22:40, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
All those can be found in zoos or nature yes, free photos are reasonable. --MASEM (t) 22:43, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
  • I was wondering about this when Varanus bitatawa was on ITN a couple of months ago. This is a critcally endangered lizard which has only just been described by Western science, and which only lives in a remote part of the northern Philippines. I would say that it is a candidate for non-free image usage: I for one wouldn't be shocked by a non-free image appearing in the article. Physchim62 (talk) 23:48, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
  • I agree with that assessment. --MASEM (t) 00:46, 3 July 2010 (UTC)

Okay, so kicked off by an inadvertant use of the non-free File:Jessica Biel on the cover of the magazine Gear.jpg which made it to ANI, and my subsequent removal of the image from Gear (magazine) to be replaced by their logo, I'm broaching the topic of under what conditions is it acceptable to use a Non-free magazine cover. And so I pose two related questions:

  1. Is it acceptable only if the particular issue is being discussed or are they allowed for the depiction of the magazine in general?
  2. Does it make a difference if there is a free logo (i.e., {{PD-textlogo}}) available to be used for the magazine in general?

As it stands {{Non-free magazine cover}} explicitly states it is to be used "to illustrate the publication of the issue of the magazine in question". This was originally placed into the template back in August '05. This particular phrasing/narrow interpretation was challenged at least in June '06 and February '08 with no changes being made to the template. The arguments for changing the template and the general use of magazine covers generally revolve around the more flexible allowances in other similar templates, such as {{Non-free newspaper image}} which is allowed "to illustrate either the publication of the article or issue in question" and {{Non-free comic}} which allows it to illustrate "the periodical comic book series of which this issue is a part".

In the interest of full disclosure I will answer my own questions with the opinion that the use for depection of the magazine in general fails WP:NFCC#8, see in particular the corresponding guideline at WP:NFCI #1 which states that cover art is not suitable for identification without critical commentary. (I will also note that this portion of the guideline appears to contradict the established practice regarding at least book and album covers, and so that can be an extra-credit question: How to resolve this dichotomy?). For my second question I feel that it also (when lacking critical commentary) fails WP:NFCC#1 as the encyclopedic purpose of general magazine identification is served by the logo itself.

Your input is appreciated. VernoWhitney (talk) 19:17, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

The only time - outside of use for identifying the magazine - to use a magazine cover is if the cover itself is a subject of critical commentary. The only immediate case of this that comes to mind is the darkening used by some magazines in O. J. Simpson murder case. --MASEM (t) 19:41, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
I guess I wasn't quite clear enough. From what I can tell it's fairly well established that you can't use, for example, a magazine cover with a person on it just to have a picture of that person, barring situations such as the one you just mentioned. The question is more along the lines of can a particular magazine cover be used to identify the magazine at all? VernoWhitney (talk) 19:55, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
I want to thank VernoWhitney for raising this issue in such a considered and constructive way, especially since he was proposing an image deletion his attitude and good faith is particularly impressive. I find the image policies inconsistent and very difficult to understand.
VernoWhitney mentioned the question of critical commentary, which I feel exists for the cover of Gear magazine (it and the first cover image are discussed in the article) whereas the cover image of GQ featuring Ryan Gosling seems to have been an arbitrary choice, and the article makes no mention of the cover being notable. In contrast film posters and DVD covers do not seem to require any critical commentary at all and seem to be used purely for identification.
I do hope a more consistent and fair policy can be formulated and then applied widely and not selectively. I appreciate all efforts to clean up this mess even if it does not result in retention and it means many images need to be deleted, at least it will be fair and understandable going forward. -- Horkana (talk) 19:48, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
Oh, I misunderstood, but I will say this: I believe a logo for the magazine should be used before an arb. cover. This avoids several issues - we're using minimal use (it's usually the primary logo that is of interest , not the magazine layout), there's no issue with which issue to use, and sometimes it may be possible replace the cover with a free logo that fails the threshold of originality. --MASEM (t) 20:02, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
Existing practice seems to be all over the map. In some articles about a magazine a cover is used in the infobox (e.g. U.S. News, The New Yorker, and GQ), in others just the magazine's logo (e.g. TIME), some use an old PD cover (e.g. National Geographic), and in at least one (e.g. Vogue) no image is in the infobox but a cover is used in a section with commentary about the cover. —RP88 (talk) 20:13, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm hoping to get consensus to either a) go through and start picking out the ones magazines that use non-free covers only for identification or b) change the NFC guidelines and the template and make it clear that covers are allowed for identification regardless of subject matter (album/book/newspaper/magazine/etc.). VernoWhitney (talk) 20:17, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
Cover art is being used to identify the subject of articles (and no strict requirements that there be critical commentary about the art itself is needed). Whether this is correct or even advisable, I presume is your question. I know that if we suddenly say that cover art isn't OK, it is going to upset a lot of people (and then we are probably also going to have a lot of weird one line sentences added to articles like Journalist Mr. X said the cover art is "phenomenal". to try to add "critical commentary" in order to keep the precious images. As is, it's sort of like we have a working compromise, in that we allow one non-free image of cover art in the article about the work (whether it be a book, record, or magazine). Maybe a special case can be made for magazines, since they always have logos? But don't books have text-only title pages? And can't we just crop the artist and title text out of album covers or use the info on the spine? Slippery slope indeed.-Andrew c [talk] 21:29, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
I would say that only in the case of newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals which have a logo should we use the logo over a random cover, if one is able to isolate the isolate from the rest of the cover; if this isn't possible, a cover should be used instead. For normal books, the book cover is best. --MASEM (t) 23:23, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
Why not a title page instead of a book cover? I also think this creates an "unfair" situation where one magazine gets to show it's cover, but another does not. I think magazine cover layout is an interesting topic, or at least almost as interesting as book cover design and illustration. There is also cultural significance with "cover stories" and "covergirls" and so on. I mean, perhaps I am just playing devil's advocate, but if someone is asking us to work on drawing distinct lines in the sand, your suggestion seems a tad arbitrary. I'd be curious if there were an examples of a newspaper or magazine cover that would be required to be shown due to a lack of a logo. Do you have any examples in mind? Perhaps we could just do away with freebie magazine covers used only for identification of the subject of magazine articles. -Andrew c [talk] 00:05, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
If there's consensus for it, then I think that (no freebie magazine covers for identification) is the line in the sand I'd like to go for, since it's already supported by the template. (As far as I know every other template supports the use of a cover for identification.) VernoWhitney (talk) 01:10, 12 June 2010 (UTC)
The purpose is not just to show the logo, it is to show the whole way the magazine or newspaper presents itself on the news-stand -- something significantly more informative than just the logo. That is why it makes sense to show the whole cover. I think you will find that is almost universally the standard applied for newspapers. If there is an oversight in the "magazine" template then it should be corrected. It also serves to make the treatment of newspapers and magazines all of a piece with how we treat other media properties. Jheald (talk) 17:53, 13 June 2010 (UTC)
The newspaper template already allows for a cover image to identify the newspaper in general. I am aware that the magazine template is out of line with the other templates (and general use), but it appears to be the only one in line with the guideline at WP:NFCI #1. Am I correct in understanding that your stance is that both this template and the NFC guideline need be changed? VernoWhitney (talk) 18:51, 13 June 2010 (UTC)
I can understand that some newspaper/magazine/other periodicals will have a very identifiable look by the arrangement of elements on the page (WSJ and USA Today come to mind), but we always seek out free over non-free. Logos of many magazines and newspapers have a good likelihood of being free due to failing the threshold of originality (being just a font), and thus for identification of the work for WP's purpose, we should aim there. If the layout of the newspaper is commented on in the body, then I can see the use of a sample cover to show that. But for most of these, layouts of covers change issue to issue, and thus not significant. --MASEM (t) 19:02, 13 June 2010 (UTC)
NFC #1 says that a non-free item should not be used if it can be replaced by something that serves the same function. For the reasons I set out in my comment, the logo does not serve the same function as the cover. The informational value (and fair-use non-controversy) of showing such a cover is accepted for all media, and explicitly okayed in the guidelines. Magazine covers are no different.
As has been gone over endlessly, the issue is not whether something is "commented on in the body", it is that it adds to reader understanding. Yes, obviously each issue has a different cover; but the cover style of a particular title is something characteristic, which is why we inform our readers by showing it. Jheald (talk) 15:09, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't disagree that we have an accepted standard of allowing some NFC as identification for a notable work (where there is critical commentary on the work, not necessarily the image), though have argued this is a present bane in dealing with discographies, etc. But that's not the issue. The consideration here is trying to reduce the amount of non-free work without harming the encyclopedia. Free >>> non-free as long as it serves the same purpose. The point you're arguing - that the visual aspects of the cover or front page layout of a magazine or newspaper is a critical factor - is what I take issue with, because for many of these newspapers or magazines, there's nothing special about the layout on the day-to-day/week-to-week periodical. The key identifying element nearly all the time is the logo - the thing that sticks up on the top of the magazine or newspaper to make it easy to find when searching a newsstand and what people are going to associate the work with. As many of these logos likely fail the threshold of originality, they can be used freely over a non-free cover without any loss to the reader. I am sure there are cases of the standard periodical cover design being iconic itself - and thus discussed in other sources - which would allow for a cover image to be used in the body of the article to demonstrate this, still leaving the magazine logo in the infobox and allowing for easy identification.
I will also point out that we don't have direct allowance (or disallownace) for magazine and newspaper covers even though they are presently used a lot though not consistently. We have two allowances that we can consider, #1 (Cover Art) and #2 (Logos). By "cover art" that implies creative arrangement of elements to make a work, as would be the case for many books, albums, and video game covers. I don't think this can easily be applied to a newspaper front page layout - its there for visual impact, and incorporates copyrighted images in a manner that attracts the eye but in a functional manner. I'm not saying with 100% it isn't art, but it is definitely less "art" than most other cover media. On the other hand, the Logo provision easily allows for such usage.
And as I write the above, I realize a third problem comes to mind. Here or on another page, there was a discussion about images from the flotilla raid that were press corp photos - images we specifically forbid using even under claims of fair use (because that claim is very weak w.r.t. commercial opportunities). If we use a newspaper or magazine cover that includes news agency photos somewhere within them, we run into the same problem - yes, the newspaper/magazine has the permission to republish them (we hope), but we do not. That makes including covers with these difficult.
We also add in the problem of people wanting to have a personal preference for which cover of a periodical to use. Newspapers aren't as a problem since rarely a single story takes up the whole page, but if you take a magazine that usually has a singular image for the front, you can imply bias one way or another if it is not carefully chosen.
I strongly recommend that we normalize all periodical works like newspapers and magazines to using logos to better meet the NFC. This does not disallow the use of a general cover image if the cover layout is significant and discussed, or of a specific cover image if that cover is discussed in detail relative to the newspaper/magazine. But we reduce non-free use without harming the work or reducing the understanding of an article by using logos over covers for all such periodicals. --MASEM (t) 15:42, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
If someone were to take a selection of magazines that you followed, blacked out their logos, and then showed them to you, I think you might be surprised at how readily you would be able to identify them, one from another. The point is not that the designs are "iconic", it is that they are characteristic. And that is why showing them adds something useful to reader informativeness.
This relates to "identification" too. If you look up all the various discussions there have been about WP:NFCI #1 over the years, you will find an underlying double rationale presented: (a) that this helps readers know that they have come to the right article; and (b) that it shows what the publishers have chosen for themselves to make their item identifiable. As the thought-experiment with the blacked-out covers shows, showing a characteristic cover layout does add to (a), but even more it squarely it informs the reader per (b) -- which is the key reason that we accept that, as a blanket class with no further questions requires, cover images satisfy NFCC #8.
The other side of why we accept cover images is that they are universally accepted as "fair use" -- even eg French Wikipedia allows them, operating under EU rules. In the real world this kind of use of this kind of outer matter is simply not controversial. Nobody will chase Wikipedia for using them; nobody will chase any of our downstream reusers; nobody will think anything bad of us for having used it. Use of a cover by other media to stand for and identify a magazine is simply part of the landscape. There's no NFC #2 issue, because the agency knows this is how covers are used -- it is already priced in by the agency knowingly licensing it for use as a cover image.
WP policies are designed to address practical realities. The bottom line here is that there is no practical benefit in our not using a cover in this situation -- not to us, not to anybody else. It would merely - completely unnecessarily - impoverish our readers. Jheald (talk) 16:50, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
I disagree with your thought experiment. You'd not only have to block the logos, but all headline text, unique photographs, and the like, and leave being only the graphic elements and general layout. Again, some are easily id'd by that (National Geographic comes to mind), but those are expectional. The logo is an indicator that just as clearly, if not moreso, assures the reader they are at the right page, that a cover image, particularly if the logo is buries due to the size of the image. (This, btw, is a very weak need. In paper, yes, when you are flipping through pages, that is a good argument for using a visual indicator of being on the right page, but not for electronic versions).
Also, this is not about fair use; covers as used as they are now certainly fall within fair use. NFC exceeds fair use to assure minimal non-free material is used to address the educational nature of the material. Unless the cover's layout has a clearly stated iconic aspect that is discussed, one is simply presuming the cover has iconic nature to use it over a simpler and likely free (due to lack of originality) logo. --MASEM (t) 17:29, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
The point is not whether the cover is iconic, it is whether it is characteristic. A cover of Time magazine, for instance, can immediately be told apart from a cover of The Economist, even with the logos blacked out; and both would readily be distinguished from the New Statesman or Atlantic Monthly etc. A cover of Architectural Digest, say, or BBC Gardens Illustrated, with their restrained rather formal style sets these titles apart from a more mid-market title such as BBC Gardeners World magazine. The cover of Radio Times conveys a different personality than TV Quick. And so on. Showing the readers a characteristic cover therefore adds distinctively to the informativeness of the article for them. As with other forms of cover art, we hold that this is sufficient to justify what is, given that the entire purpose of the cover is to make the product recognisable and identifiable, a very slight fair-use taking. Jheald (talk) 11:17, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
There's the catch. As the template and the underlying NFC are written we don't hold that this is sufficient to justify the use of magazine covers without critical commentary. VernoWhitney (talk) 12:27, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Exactly - we cannot presume something's iconic or a key characteristic without a source. If there was no other way to provide an identifying image for a periodical, I see no problem with covers and thus allowing the implicitly iconic/characteristics without statement be used, but we have a way to use possibly free content; if there's no source to say anything about the iconic nature of the cover, then the free content (or reduction of non-free by using just the logo as opposed to the entire cover) replacing the cover image is not harming the reader's understanding of the article. If the cover is documented as iconic as I'm sure it is, this warrants an example of said cover in the body of the article, but for most periodicals this just isn't the game. --MASEM (t) 12:34, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
A number of points to clear up in the above. (1) At issue is not reader understanding of the article, it is reader understanding of the subject of the article. (2) The question of whether something adds or does not add to reader understanding is an editorial judgment to be made by editors, and if necessary the wider wiki community. It is not dependent on sourcing. (3) We are not just seeking an image for the sake of having an image; at stake is informing the reader. (4) It is not required that the cover is a "key characteristic" of the title; what is being claimed is that to show the characteristic cover-style shows something generally informative about the title, which more than justifies the (universally accepted in the real world) fair use of a cover image. Jheald (talk) 17:26, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
So if I skip past my objection that covers are allowed for so many others things, and then consider the statement "We cannot presume something is iconic" the problem is then what kind of critical commentary is required to justify including one cover and not another? We are left with inconsistent difficult to understand guidelines like we have now, where only a few articles include magazine covers, either by oversight or by expert Wiki editors who have fought to keep a notable cover image.
To give an example. The cover of Gear magazine that brought me here in the first place, I would argue is the most notable cover that magazine ever had, but we got here because although there was some commentary on it another editor didn't think it was notable enough. There is no clear line.
This all seems like justification for what we have now, and unfortunately doesn't make the situation any clearer or easier to understand for editors. -- Horkana (talk) 12:58, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
I'm saying that for periodicals - newspapers and magazines - the logo is the right thing to have in the infobox, and avoid the use of covers there. If the cover is iconic (as sourced by references) or other similar reason, it can be added in the body. For other works, which are not periodically published, cover art makes sense. --MASEM (t) 13:05, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Okay I'll admit that is actually a little clearer: The default position is no covers for periodicals, you say. Still it will be difficult difficult to know what is the vague criteria of notable enough to include a cover. -- Horkana (talk) 14:27, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Actually to be clear: right now, the default position is that a periodical cover is appropriate for identification in an infobox (Which is probably why there's a lack of consistency of this in actual articles). However, as a result of this conversation, I believe we should re-assess that position, and consider that nearly always, a logo is going to be able to serve the same purpose for most periodicals, and these types of logos are ones that would have a good chance of being free content due to lack of originality; thus by replacing the cover with logos, we better serve the free content mission. There are cases like Time where we would then have the logo and then likely a separate cover image in the body of the article to highly its iconic nature, but that cover image is rarely going to be necessary as most periodicals don't have such iconic imagery. --MASEM (t) 15:07, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
This should be a fun project. Face-smile.svg By my count there are 3,124 images tagged with the template which should be gone through, checked for usage, possibly modified to create a logo, and then possibly moved elsewhere in an article or removed entirely. VernoWhitney (talk) 15:29, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Or alternatively, 3,124 images which fully satisfy NFC 1 to 10 and should be left well alone. Jheald (talk) 17:32, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, which is why I want to make it clear this would need to be by-consensus change to NFC. Nor would it be a rush to replace them - it's not like we had "free" images suddenly tagged non-free and needed removing. --MASEM (t) 15:37, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Clearly it needs consensus and should be done over a period of time as it isn't in keeping with standard practice up until now, but I'm not seeing that this requires a change to NFC, as I thought WP:NFCI #1 already covered it - it's just the part of the guideline which isn't followed by every other template or common usage. VernoWhitney (talk) 15:56, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Note that WP:NFCI #1 establishes that it is sufficient that a cover is being used for identification for it to be acceptable; it doesn't say that it is necessary that the cover is being used for identification, nor that identification is the only justification for use. It is simply that identification is a particularly weak justification for use, but NFCI #1 underlines that even this is acceptable. Jheald (talk) 20:03, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Except for the fact that it says "not for identification without critical commentary" (emphasis added). VernoWhitney (talk) 20:08, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Look at the wording again. It specifically addresses this. There needs to be critical commentary on the underlying thing -- the magazine in this case -- not necessarily on the cover itself. Jheald (talk) 20:17, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
I've read it, it says "that item" (i.e., the issue of the magazine), not "the series of which that item is a part" (i.e., the periodical). VernoWhitney (talk) 20:22, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
I wrote it. The intention was never to be as narrow as you make out. "That item" could equally well be the magazine in general. As Masem points out, that is the customary understanding; and policy is supposed to follow customary understanding, not the other way around. Jheald (talk) 20:44, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't see that it was ever made clear in the discussion leading up to your change, and if it was perfectly clear then the template would've been updated and I likely would've never started this conversation. Precision matters. VernoWhitney (talk) 21:55, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Precision matters, yes. But unlike Anglo-Saxon statutory construction, WP policy interpretation is not predominantly based on microscopic lexical analysis. It's recognised that policy drafting is a work in progress, a groping towards expressing in words how we do things, rather than revealed truth engraved in stone. Hence the well-worn phrase "policy follows consensus", rather than the other way round. Clear consensus is needed to overturn customary understanding. Jheald (talk) 22:22, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
I understand that, and I would be fine if the consensus is to clarify the NFC guidelines and the template to firmly establish that covers are allowed for identification regardless of subject matter, so long as the policy/guideline is clarified. VernoWhitney (talk) 22:31, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Now that's getting into the part that's subjective no matter how you look at it, which is how much commentary is sufficient to pass WP:NFCC#8 (and this applies to every non-free image). I personally look for multiple sources which allow at least a couple of sentences describing the image (such as for Brandi Chastain for Gear where three sources are cited). VernoWhitney (talk) 15:14, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
The answer is very simple. No commentary is required to pass NFCC #8. The test is whether the image sufficiently adds to reader understanding (of the subject of the article). Jheald (talk) 17:16, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Apparently we'll have to agree to disagree about that one, but it's getting off topic anyways. VernoWhitney (talk) 17:41, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Check the archives. It's been discussed often enough. Jheald (talk) 20:03, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Jheald's right on this aspect - the present is acceptance of non-free imagery in the infobox or lede about the work being discussed in the page is acceptable (with some cavaets like free replacement, BLPs, etc.). The counter-example is the use of non-free in discographies or the like where there's no discussion of individual elements of the list/table.
To be clear, I am not proposing any NFCC changes. I am proposing discouraging the use of "cover art" for periodical works in favor of the logo for identification purposes (in infobox or lede). --MASEM (t)
As I read it using non-free imagery in the infobox is acceptable because the article itself provides the critical commentary. VernoWhitney (talk) 21:19, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
But if we can replace it with something free that serves the same purpose (and in the infobox, it is likely only for identification), then clearly we need to do that. Even if the logo is possibly non-free, just an image of a logo is less a problem than a cover with logo and several other creative elements. --MASEM (t) 21:21, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
Even if I'm wrong on the critical commentary part, we agree there. VernoWhitney (talk) 21:56, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
My contention is that it does not serve only for identification (in the narrow sense of reader recognition). The whole cover is also valuably informative in conveying how the magazine presents itself (as per the examples I gave above), and that also needs to be taken into account. Jheald (talk) 22:03, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
And that would be part of the community consensus decision to determine if this is truly the case. Myself, I can see this being true for a small number of magazines but not the general majority, and thus would rather see a logo in the infobox, and in the exceptional cases, the cover image used in the body of the magazine next to text to describe the icon nature of that cover style. But that's myself. --MASEM (t) 22:26, 16 June 2010 (UTC)

Given the lack of recent replies and the failure to reach a clear consensus here, would an RfC be the next step? VernoWhitney (talk) 13:30, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

RFC: Use of periodical logos over covers for infobox/lede

Should we discourage the use of covers of periodicals for infobox/lede images in favor of logos of these works? --MASEM (t) 17:47, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

Current practice in Wikipedia allows for the use of a selected cover of a magazine or newspaper or other periodical to be used as an image for identification (in the lede or infobox) of that periodical within the article about that periodical; such uses don't require commentary on the cover itself but only of the periodical.

It has been suggested that it may be better to meet Wikipedia's free content mission goals to discourage the use of such covers in favor of the periodical's logo should it be available strictly for a periodical's infobox or lede section as means of identification. This change would be implemented through an additional criteria in WP:NFC#UUI. The rationales for this change are as follows:

  • There is a good chance that a logo, particularly using a plain text font, will fail the Threshold of originality that is necessary to create a copyrighted work. We freely allow the use of such logos as per normal free content image use policy, though must still take into consideration of trademark issues associated with these logos. As we strive to use free content whenever possible, this is a positive step towards meeting the free content mission
  • Many magazines and newspapers covers features photographs or artwork that have been created by another person; while the periodical is presumed to have the rights for republication, it does not change the non-free aspects of the original work coupled with any additional artistic elements from the periodical itself. A press photo in the middle of a cover image is still a press photo. To remove this concern, we can limit the cover to just the logo and exclude the other artistic elements that complicate copyrights.
  • The selection of which cover to use out of a periodical's full history may be a subject of significant debate and edit warring. On the other hand, the logo is a fixed aspect that requires no debate to use.

This is not meant to prevent the use of periodical covers in other situations. For some works, it may be impossible to remove the logo from the cover image (particularly for older works) and a reasonable scalable vector graphic cannot be drawn as a replacement; the use of a cover image as identification would be acceptable here. In other cases, the cover layout may be iconic or highly recognized, as attributed by sources, and so a cover image can be used within the body of the article to demonstrate this feature. --MASEM (t) 17:47, 23 June 2010 (UTC)


On the off chance that anyone will actually read this who hasn't commented above, I am in favor of the removal of covers from periodical infoboxes wherever it is possible to replace it with a logo (SVG or PNG). I have no objection to a cover image being relocated to the body of an article provided there exists discussion of the particular cover or the layout or any other reason which would allow it to provide contextual significance. VernoWhitney (talk) 16:18, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

If the logo is noncopyrightable (many are), there is no question—we must use free content over nonfree, with no exceptions permitted. If the logo is also copyrightable, one nonfree image over another makes little difference. I don't like the free passes for "identification" anyway, but that's a different discussion. Seraphimblade Talk to me 17:51, 5 July 2010 (UTC)