Improving license text

An LWN reader was confused about the license of Fedora Magazine articles. We currently say:

Fedora Magazine aspires to publish all content under a Creative Commons license but may not be able to in all cases.

This is not helpful. The Terms and Conditions go into further detail, but there’s still some ambiguity. Specifically, it’s not clear that “Red Hat original content” applies to articles, particularly articles submitted by non-Red-Hat employees.

So I propose the following:

  1. We explicitly add “Contributions are assumed to be licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 3.0 unless otherwise specified.” to the docs about submitting articles.
  2. We modify the footer to say “Fedora Magazine content is published under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 3.0 except where otherwise specified”.
  3. We work with Red Hat Legal to update the Terms and Conditions to make this more clear.

Thoughts?

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I think that your proposals are the logical direction to take. Clarity is important.

Part of @bcotton’s suggestion is a good idea. The other part isn’t, and I can explain why in each case.

  1. This is a good idea. No one should be unclear about the licensing under which they submit. Although it’s always a good idea to check T&C somewhere you submit to, we can’t expect everyone does this. So I support this 100%.

  2. This is not a good idea. The reason is that the content of a web page contains numerous elements, including Fedora branding (trademarks) and the theme which are specifically not offered under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license. That means that if you put a new footer on the page that generally establishes CC BY-SA 3.0 licensing, you’ve created a discrepancy in terms on that page. That could be taken by someone (even if we think they’re fundamentally wrong) as licensing trademarks appearing on the page under that license, which is a no-no.

    Let’s not create that problem. We already have a footer that indicates the T&C and says that’s where people can find the licensing and other information about how we offer content, and what we expect from contributors to the site. Let’s stick with that. (Now, you might think this is purely a common-sense matter but I assure you many IP attorneys will not agree.)

  3. I don’t think we should reach out to Legal without a more specific idea of what’s unclear. Right now the T&C spells out very clearly (to my reading) that, other than the theme, the trademarks, and anything else that is specifically otherwise licensed, content is under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license. That seems cut and dried to me. But if there’s another problem we need to solve here, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to seek a change.

Paul

For point 2, your objection makes sense. I think the issue, though, is the specific wording, not the general idea. The T&C wording is dense and not obvious to readers who haven’t had the joy of thinking about these sorts of things for fun. Section 6 of the T&C in particular does not make the definition of “Red Hat original content” clear. Clarifying that would go a long way. I think the root cause is that these T&C (which are basically Opensource.com’s T&Cs, too) are boilerplate that probably originated with Red Hat websites, not community-driven websites.

But I also think we should have a user-friendly summary of that if we can do it in a way that makes it clear that trademarks are excluded. I see that Opensource.com uses the same language, so that might be a hard hill for us to climb with legal anyway.

Yeah, there was an initiative a few years back to align all the various T&C’s out there so they were all up to the latest best practices for “legal eagles.” One thing we could do is put a user-friendly summary on the Magazine docs, but also include language something like this:

“The terms and conditions of the Magazine are found here[URL]. If something in this documentation conflicts, the Magazine’s terms and conditions always govern.”

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I kind of don’t see this as an issue, maybe the person who originally was discussing it was referring to Fedora website proper, which is vague. In any case, reading the Fed Mag site license statement conveys the message pretty explicitly without obscure legalese. But, having said all that, it is important to make sure the intended info is digestible and improve it where lacking. Like Ben said about the fun of reading T&C doc’s. :roll_eyes:

Quick question: do we require the FPCA for magazine writers? Because that covers #1, and is importantly different from “CC-BY-SA 3.0 unless otherwise specified” because it gives the Fedora Council the opportunity to also license as a “later default license” if we decide to, at some point, switch to CC-BY-SA 4 or 5 or whatever.

Quick question: do we require the FPCA for magazine writers?

That’s a good question and an excellent point. I don’t know if the FAS auth plugins for WordPress or Taiga (or Discourse for that matter) require FPCA. If they do, then we do indirectly. If not, then I think we should make that explicitly part of the process.

For discourse, the current ToS (https://discussion.fedoraproject.org/tos) says:

Participants on this site must follow the Fedora Code of Conduct.

All user contributions must be under an acceptable license for Fedora as defined in the Fedora Project Contributor Agreement. User contributions which do not state otherwise are licensed under the Current Default License, which is Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 as described in the FPCA.

Note that this was explicitly cleared by Fedora Legal. I’m happy to let people participate in discussion here without requiring that checkbox (participation is consent), but there may be more value in being explicit for Magazine articles.

For the record, the LWN comment: https://lwn.net/Articles/836318/ (the comment is not paywalled).

Also, while updating the T&C, we need a refresh for the RH address at the end. I guess we at least need to verify the information is still valid (phone, etc) with Legal. The fax is still good, the phone from RH.com page was moved and the company was moved to a different address.

That’s using openid, so it kinda depend on FAS. I can take a look for details (as i already have to search for the Fedora Autologin plugin, who seems to have a bug)

(familiar) suggestion from:

The text of and illustrations in this document are licensed by Red Hat under a Creative Commons Attribution–Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (“CC-BY-SA”). . . . Red Hat, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the Shadowman logo, JBoss, MetaMatrix, Fedora, the Infinity Logo, and RHCE are trademarks of Red Hat, Inc., registered in the United States and other countries. For guidelines on the permitted uses of the Fedora trademarks, refer to https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Legal:Trademark_guidelines.