Monday, November 19, 2007

Fair use...again

The issue of fair use is up for discussion again, and while we seem to be making slightly more progress then is usual, we still don't have many concrete answers to show for our efforts. Every time the issue of fair use comes up, there are the inevitable people who suggest banning fair use outright (I'm normally one of this group, although recently i've favored a less dramatic resolution as a potential compromise). When we talk about banning fair use images, people always bring up a large train of all the broad categories of images that we will "lose", although a close inspection of these kinds of lists often yeild little fruit: Coats of arms and currency, while useful in WP articles have yet to find much of a home on WB. Software screenshots are another area of concern, but not nearly as big as one would assume. Many of our best software books are about open-source software, not proprietary software. There are a few books about proprietary software, however, that would really be hurt by removing fair use.

Logos have been a surprising sticking point. The [[Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book]] for instance has some recognition from the Pathfinders, and uses the Pathfinder logo under fair use. Removing those logos would take away a certain amount of credibility for that book.

In lieu of banning fair use entirely, we are considering a system where fair use images need to be "approved". That is, for a fair use image to be allowed on the server, satisfactory justification for why that image is needed in the first place, along with proper citations will be required. This is in response to many abuses of fair use tags in our image collection, many of which are improper, unjustified, unattributed, etc. This is a result of our relatively small staff of image patrollers, and a large span of time from the beginning of the Wikibooks project until just recently where a laisze-fair attitude about images was prevalent.

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