April 14, 2009 · Lessig
I can’t begin to describe how rewarding it is to see the voting start on the question whether WIkipedia should exercise an option granted to it by the Free Software Foundation to relicense Wikipedia under the CC-BY-SA license. I am very hopeful the community will choose to exercise that option.
This is an issue that has been close to my heart for years now. I have been pushing the idea of license interoperability explicitly since about September, 2005. The argument is a simple one: We need a guarantee that free culture lives on a stable, interoperable licensing infrastructure, so the weakness of any one won’t bring the whole enterprise down. To that end, we initially began conversations with the Free Software Foundation to see whether we might make the FDL directly interoperable with the CC-BY-SA license. For perfectly legitimate reasons, the FSF didn’t want to do that.
But critically, they also didn’t want to weaken the Free Culture movement by forcing Wikipedia to live with a license that was not originally drafted with the full range of relevant culture in view. So the FSF amended the FDL to permit wikis licensed under the FDL to relicense. Wikipedia is now deciding whether to do just this.
My dream is that this will start in a serious way the process we scoped out 3 years ago. We’ve already been in discussion with the Free Art License community about making their license interoperable. I’d love to see that happen generally. In my view, the critical question is what freedoms the license supports, and whether it supports it well, not who wrote the license. We’ve got a long way to go to getting there. But it would be a critical first step for the Wikipedia community to support this crucial change.
Again, as Stallman said in a different context:
“If we don’t want to live in a jungle, we must change our attitudes. We must start sending the message that a good citizen is one who cooperates when appropriate….”
Vote here (if you’ve made more than 25 edits to Wikipedia).