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As you may know, there is an effort called https://www.kiwix.org/ that aims to make available Internet resources offline. It is mainly used to distribute static HTML dumps of Wikipedia, but other websites are supported like the StackExchange network.

To be part of kiwix, the source must be Creative Commons or something open enough to allow re-use.

So what is the license of lobste.rs?


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    People hold copyright on what they write. When they post it on an online message board, they give the operators of the board an implied license to reproduce it for the purposes of the board. No further license is granted to anyone, unless you get it from the author directly.

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      This is my understanding as well. The overwhelming majority of online forums have an implicit license rather than explicit, back at least as far as mid-70s BBSs. It doesn’t seem like there’s any significant legal implications except that this kind of transformative reuse requires new, explicit sign-off from contributors. I’m sure a copyright lawyer could go on about important nuances, but the fact that BBSs, Usenet, and a billion phpBB forums haven’t burned down over it in the last 50 years make me pretty confident the common understanding is reliable.

      If someone here happens to be or know a copyright lawyer and would like to point to a standard reference or case law that would probably be more useful than us non-practitioners extrapolating from what we half-remember we’ve seen before or our hunches for how we’d like it to work.

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      According to https://lobste.rs/u/stsp you don’t own your content.

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        I’m confused that such a high profile FOSS contributor does miss the subtleties here so hard. Ownership (rather: Authorship) is not in question, the question is if the website owner has to allow you to retract things you have (through conclusive action) given them rights to use for. And whether you can demand them to do that work.

        The case is interesting, though, as this person has clearly not agreed that things posted here can be moved to kiwix, explicit or implicit.

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        If there’s no disclaimer to agree to when signing up, everybody’s own content should fall under their own copyright. IANAL, but that should be the only thing in all jurisdictions. If nothing is specified, you author it and so it’s yours :)

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          Copyright is unquestioned, though, licensing is the issue. @hobbified is correct that an implied license is the legal framework for this.

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            Yes, I apparently missed formulating out that part, @hobbified wrote what I wanted to write :)

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          I claim copyright (all rights reserved) on all my comments here.

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            Let’s not mutate the Facebook copyright meme here. You have copyright on all your comments as you do with everything you put down since 1976.

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              I’m aware of the Berne convention and the implicit copyright it confers to my comments here.

              I just wanted to let OP know that I for one am not OK with my comments here being archived[1] without my explicit permission.

              [1] in a public way, I’m not too bothered with people scraping content for their personal use.

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            I reckon, inline with our privacy policy, a certain realism is applicable here.

            There’s no explicit copyright assignment or license, so I doubt anyone can legally use or create derivative works from the links and comments here without the permission from each and every person involved. And adding an assignment clause or license to our non-existent TOS would be… interesting.

            So, sorry kiwix, you’re out of luck.

            But, to everyone who doesn’t give a fuck about this sort of thing: we’re eminently scrape-able.

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              All of my shitposts are under the WTFPL. These are usually certain (obvious) subsets of the legacy angersock posts.

              Everything else is Attribute-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

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                Anyone remember Voices From the Hellmouth back in…1998? Basically, the author took a bunch of Slashdot comments and published them and people were pissed.

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                  For those interested, here is the “Update on Voices From The Hellmouth” aftermath: https://news.slashdot.org/story/00/05/14/018222/update-on-voices-from-the-hellmouth

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                  There’s some interesting philosophical points when it comes to stuff like this.

                  • Is there a social license for anyone to publically backup web pages? eg waybackmachine
                  • Is kiwix a slow public backup?
                  • Are you allowed to cache or buffer web pages or data on the way to people without violating copyright? Why is this allowed? What are its limits?
                  • Is kiwix a slow cache or buffer?
                  • What problems would giving a social license for copying to Kiwix cause? Eg precedent for actually bad motives/people/outcomes?
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                    Are you allowed to cache or buffer web pages or data on the way to people without violating copyright?

                    Most jurisdictions have settled on some kind of exemption for digital copies as long as they’re A) temporary, and B) incidental to a non-infringing use. So CDNs are legal (but they have to be responsive to claims that they’re caching stuff that the upstream doesn’t actually have a right to distribute, and remove infringing material), your browser cache is legal, rendering a page into the framebuffer (which creates a derivative work from both the page source and some probably-copyrighted fonts) so that you can actually see it on a screen is legal, etc.

                    Why is this allowed?

                    Basically because the law doesn’t actually revel in absurdity (even if it often seems otherwise) and someone decided that it wasn’t worth outlawing the entire web.

                    What are its limits?

                    Fuzzy. Something like the Wayback Machine is not obviously legal, but their approach of opting out anyone who asks protects them — it’s much easier to ask than to sue. They could still end up in a ton of trouble, though, and statutory damages don’t require actually showing any harm done.

                    Is kiwix a slow cache or buffer?

                    I see the argument, but reasonably… no. Kiwix.org downloads the content from the sites it mirrors, transforms it, compresses it, stores it, and serves copies on demand to clients who ask for them. That’s not incidental caching on the provider side, and it’s not incidental caching on the user side. It does too much, too deliberately, to be anything besides just plain “producing a copy” and/or “producing a derivative”. So anything they ingest had better be permissively licensed or out of copyright.

                    What problems would giving a social license for copying to Kiwix cause?

                    I leave that to others to answer :)

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                      Note that Wayback Machine allows you to request removal. It would be problematic otherwise. See “How can I exclude or remove my site’s pages from the Wayback Machine?” here.

                      I think there is a social license to archive the public web, but if and only if you handle removal requests. Hence Kiwix is problematic, socially if not technically or legally.