While the Wiki has been set up there were a long discussion about the most appropriate license for an Oekonux Wiki on [pox]. This is a concentrated extract from that and later discussions. If you speak German you may be interested in a discussion about this license. This page is thought as a general reference to explain why License has been chosen.

General questions

What is the general spirit of all this license stuff?

The general spirit of all the licensing is more or less "Go ahead and copy the pages as you like and please be nice and put a link to the original source in the copy." wiki:Archive_pox:05085.html

Are there more motivations for this license stuff?

Another motivation than to simply have some protection for the content of this Wiki and its users is to understand if a similar idea as for CopyLeft could be applied: Compile a statement from the juristic terms that expresses our aims as exact as possible and (hence) will be contrary to the spirit of the IPR legislation. If we know how to do this the license could be changed according to the respective results.

Is all this carved into stone?

Well, we are not really lucky with the CreativeCommons license. The main problem is that it is not made for Wikis and thus not really suitable in all aspects. If there is a widely recognized Free license for Wikis then we may think about adopting it. So far CreativeCommons Attribution seemed to be the best solution.

Why (this) CreativeCommons license?

Why did you choose a CreativeCommons license?

There are a couple of reasons that using a CreativeCommons license is a good idea.


One of the most interesting features of the CreativeCommons license framework is that it is adapted to the different national law systems. This is an effort which can not be valued enough because it brings security to the applicability of a license and its terms.

Because the material contained in the Oekonux Wiki shall be used anywhere on this planet a license spelled out to the different law systems is very useful. Though this big goal is not completed yet the efforts for it are ongoing and there is little which is comparable in this respect.


Meanwhile The CreativeCommons licenses are among the licenses which are best known to many people. This means that it is clear what they mean and how they can be applied. For instance a firm can check the CreativeCommons license once and is then sure to be able - or not - to use material licensed by a CreativeCommons license. This makes the practical application of the license far easier than with an unknown license which may contain legal traps.


CreativeCommons actually offers a license kit made up of four building blocks which can be combined to some actual licenses. This way it offers the opportunity to find a license which suits a particular case best. We used that flexibility by choosing a certain combination carefully.

Actively maintained

There is a very active community of people caring about the CreativeCommons including the creation of national translations. This ensures that in the future CreativeCommons licenses will stay applicable even if things around them change.

Comprehensible on many levels

A CreativeCommons license is available in three formats:

Human readable

This is the Commons Deed part of the license. It explains the regulations of a license for the average user.

Lawyer readable

This is the Legal Code part of the license. It explains the regulations of a license to lawyers.

Computer readable

Each CreativeCommons license also has a snippet of RDF-encoded license information. This makes it possible for a computer to automatically evaluate the license of a given work. For the Oekonux Wiki you can see this snippet when you look at the source of an arbitrary page containing the license hint.

But isn't CreativeCommons far too complicated?

Of course a CreativeCommons license is a bit complicated if you look at the legal stuff. But probably if you want to ensure the goals of an international Free license there is no other way than the one CreativeCommons chooses.

Why didn't you include ShareAlike?

The main reason is that ShareAlike restricts the freedom of the users by not allowing redistribution under a different license. For software such a restriction is certainly an useful restriction because (much) software can be used without having the source code. Thus a restriction requiring a licensee to offer the source code to the receivers makes sense.

For text things are different, however. There is no strong difference between a readable text and its source code - at least not for the source codes of a Wiki. Thus ShareAlike makes less sense for texts - especially when the user is required to add a link to the original source as it is regulated for the Oekonux Wiki.

Why did you include Attribution?

We wanted to make sure that a reader of material from the Wiki knows its source.

Why didn't you include NonCommercial?

Because we have no problem if material from the Wiki is used in a commercial way.

Why didn't you include NoDerivativeWork?

Because we'd like to encourage derivative works.

Why this additional regulation?

What is the additional regulation good for?

The additional regulation we formulated is necessary because it is not obvious how some things in the CreativeCommons license apply to the Oekonux Wiki. Therefore we formulated this additional regulation to clarify these things.

Why did you define the Work?

The Work is a term used often in the CreativeCommons license. However, for a Wiki it is not quite clear what the work really is. Is it a single change adding a comma? Or a single text? Or the complete Wiki as a whole?

Therefore we made a definition for the Work which should give answers to all possible questions. However, it is not completely clear whether we were sucessful with this.

Why did you define the Licensor?

In a Wiki it is not obvious who the Licensor is. Therefore we made a definition here.

We moved the responsibilities of the Licensor to the Oekonux community as a whole. On the one hand this is to make it easier for authors who do not need to take these responsibilities on. On the other hand the Oekonux community as a whole can be expected to have a higher stability than for instance single authors. For instance the Oekonux community can be expected to make decisions furthering the goals of Oekonux which does not always apply to each single author. Thus making the community responsible ensures a durable availability and maintenance of the material and thus improves the general usability.

Why did you define the Original Author?

The Original Author is an important term in the CreativeCommons license. In a Wiki, however, it is not quite clear what authorship really means. It changing a comma considered authoring? A few words? A single page?

To clarify this we defined the Original Author. Also we defined what needs to be done so an author is considered being supplied. Because a Wiki offers some automated facilities for such tasks this is not obvious.

Why did you regulate international applicability further?

Just in case there are uncertainties.

Why did you define the associated Uniform Resource Identifier?

Just so it is clear what is meant by Uniform Resource Identifier in this case. In particular the regulation requires deep links in the Wiki which is easier for the user to follow.

Why did you not choose license X?

Why did you choose a license at all?

We thought about the option to have no license at all. However, if there is no license at all then the respective national law governs the use of the available material. This usually means some copyright "protection" which is not what we intended. Thus we decided to have a license to ensure the freedom of the readers of the Wiki.

Why didn't you choose a simple license?

Simple licenses have the problem that they leave a possibly big number of insecurities. This is because they do not address the complex issued of copyright law. This limits the usability of the material.

Moreover there is no well-known simple license so each potential licensee needs an extra effort to check whether the licensed material can be used. This makes the licensed material less useful.

Why didn't you use GFDL?

GFDL is generally not well suited for a Wiki. For instance it requires that you add a complete copy of the license to your text which is rather ridiculous for a page of say ten lines.

Also GFDL is a license which requires the licensee to use the same license. For the maximum usability of the Oekonux Wiki we considered this not a good idea.

But Wikipedia uses GFDL?

Indeed Wikipedia uses the GFDL. However, the Oekonux Wiki in many ways differs from Wikipedia so the reasons for using a particular license also differ.

Also please refer to an explanation of why Wikitravel does not use GFDL.

Why didn't you use Public Domain?

Public Domain licensing is possible in the anglo-american copyright tradition. In the continental European tradition there is no such thing like Public Domain so this is not an option actually.

Why were using several licenses no option?

Because of simplicity. Would we have allowed several different licenses in the Wikis then the general usability of the Wiki would have been reduced because one would need to check his/her rights for every single page.

In addition imagine a text governed by license A containing changes governed by a - possibly incompatible - license B. Which license would apply at all? And to what exactly? Stuff like this may make a lawyer's day but for a Free project this is simply a nightmare.

Compatibility questions

What about integration of copyrighted material?

Any material external to the project and governed by a license incompatible to the Wiki license may of course not be included in the Wiki without permission of the rights holder. However, this will be rarely necessary. Free material governed by an incompatible license is usually available in the Internet anyway and there is no problem in setting a link to an external source.

Is there some law which overrules all this license stuff?

As far as we know this is not the case. National law such as the German UrhG usually only regulates the default cases where no special licenses are agreed upon by the contractors. If this would be different a license would make no sense at all.

Can the license be changed?

To change a license of a big body of material with possibly hundreds of authors is not an easy thing. However, the CreativeCommons Attribution license opens up the potential to change the license to something more suitable if the need really arises.

Is the license compatible with PublicDomain works?

No. However, it is possible to have special regulation with interested parties. So, if you are keen to integrate stuff from the Oekonux Wikis into your PublicDomain work please approach us.

Signed contributions stop certain uses - was that intended?

Indeed given the Attribution license together with the current additional regulation signed contributions pose a problem: You may not copy signed material and remove the signature in the copy. That effect was not really intended. In a future version this may be replaced by a formulation that the original author is never named in the sense of the license.


OekonuxWiki/Help/LicenseFAQ (last edited 2006-09-27 18:49:35 by StefanMerten)

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