Conservapedia talk:Copyright

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Dual users

As a dual user (and now a dual administrator) of Conservapedia and CreationWiki, I have some questions that I think every registered user of multiple Wikis should ask himself--and here is the best place to put the answers.

What obligations does a dual user labor under?

May a dual user submit content--and by "content" I mean that user's own words--directly to Conservapedia and to another Wiki?

If a dual user has already submitted content to another Wiki--say, CreationWiki--then how long does he have to submit that content to Conservapedia before having to do an extensive rewrite?

How extensive a rewrite would be required to avoid all questions of liability?

In asking these questions, I realize at once that some content requires an extensive rewrite because the "target audience" is not the same, and has different values and, for lack of a better term, needs. But if that situation does not apply, then a dual user might be tempted to submit exactly the same words to both projects. If a user is going to do that, then how many days apart may he do that and still stay within a legal definition of "a simultaneous submission"?

I am glad to have the opportunity to open a discussion on a topic of vital importance to Conservapedia. A firm policy on dual-user rights and obligations will go far to ensure that Conservapedia can get good content submitted to it.--TerryHTalk 12:15, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

Other Wikis embrace, mistakenly in my opinion, the copyleft approach. We do not. As a dual user, I suggest submitting to Conservapedia first because our copyright is less restrictive than other Wikis. If you submit to other Wikis first, then they might insist that impose the burdensome copyleft conditions on reuse of that material elsewhere. We impose no such requirements.--Aschlafly 13:46, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
  • Just on the broader point of comparing it to Wikipedia's license... Differences with Wikipedia and Wikipedia copyright both currently say that contributing material to Wikipedia prevents the author from re-using their work elsewhere. This is manifestly untrue. By U.S. law, authors automatically own the copyright to their work, and the GFDL has no clauses that reassign copyright ownership to anyone else.    If I write a poem all by myself, license it under the GFDL, and post it to Geocities, then I still own the copyright. The same holds for Wikipedia.     Wikipedia authors can and do multiply-license their works under other licenses in addition to the GFDL, which can include licenses that are more restrictive than the GFDL. --Interiot 13:57, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
That's not correct to the extent your work has been edited on other Wikis. I don't know if you are right about your unedited original work and what Wikipedia or other Wikis may require as a condition of submission there. The provisions governing submission on those websites would need to be checked.--Aschlafly 14:09, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
I should think that any contributor who built his contribution on his own machine, or otherwise re-created his original submission prior to any edits, would satisfy the original-submission requirement. Happily, any Wiki has a history section that preserves the source code of every version of every article since its creation, or perhaps fifty edits back. All that a user has to do is look back to how his article looked before anyone else edited it (not counting immediate reverts) and then view and copy the source. I maintain that a contributor who does that, should be able to dual-submit. But I agree--once the article has been edited by another person, it's not that submitter's original work product anymore.--TerryHTalk 14:16, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

As I (not a legal type - this comes from my experience as an artist and a writer in dealing with copyrights) understand it there are two issues here - original work and deritive work. In the case of original work, unless you assign the copyright or "irrevocably waive and relinquish all copyrights"[1] you own the copyright. You are free to license it however you want. You can put it on a gdfl wiki and you can publish it in a book, and that is not an issue (some publishers may want exclusive publishing rights in which case having published the material at a wiki means they won't be interested in it). The only thing you have to be aware of is that someone else can come along and use the material in a way granted by the gdfl and they are not violating your copyright. If the material is a deritive work - it is edits based on other edits of someone else's work, while you own the copyright to the edit, you have to abide by the licensing of the parent work - if it is gdfl, then that means if you want to publish the material you have edited, then it is also under the gdfl. --Mtur 14:17, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
I think both Terry and Mtur are right. Thanks also to Interiot for alerting us to this aspect of the issue.
By the way, those you who have influence with other wikis might persuade them to abandon their burdensome "copyleft" or gdfl licensing requirements.--Aschlafly 14:30, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
Could you remove that disconcerting "irrevocably waive and relinquish all copyrights" bit here? As an artist that kind of scares me. --Mtur 14:32, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
I've clarified it for you, but I don't see how to change what's in quotations without allowing people to cause problems in protesting copying of their entries. Do you have a suggestion consistent with the purpose of a wiki?--Aschlafly 14:38, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

From Wikipedia on multi licensing


All text edits to Wikipedia fall under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) with the copyright being retained by the original author.

This edit[2] is not correct in that manner.

1. We allow broader reuse of our material than Wikipedia does. By entering information on Wikipedia you are actually losing rights to your own material to the extent anyone else edits it, as you cannot then copy your entry for use elsewhere without complying with Wikipedia's burdensome copyright restrictions.

You still own the original material even after it has been edited. (ps: could you make that a wiki style numbering instead? It should make your life easier if you ever want to insert a point between it or if you use a local style sheet to change how ordered lists are presented) --Mtur 14:39, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

OK, you're right. I made it this: "you irrevocably consent to the display, copying, reuse or editing of your information, edits and entries, with or without attribution." And I'll fix the numbering also. Thanks.--Aschlafly 14:42, 6 April 2007 (EDT)
That is much better. Thank you. --Mtur 14:44, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

Can Wikipedia (or any Wiki) Stop Copying of Entries?

One editor here has suggested that Wikipedia (and other Wikis) never own any rights in any of their entries, and that Wikipedia (and other Wikis) cannot stop any copying of their entries even if in violation of the GNU license. Wikipedians, do you have a view on this? (We don't want to copy any Wikipedia here but this is relevant to our own copyright policies).--Aschlafly 19:51, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

Well, though I'm technically still a registered user of Wikipedia, I must disclaim anything more than a passing acquaintance with Wikipedia's copyright policies.
But I am an administrator at CreationWiki, and I am in at least weekly contact with their Chief Bureaucrat, Christopher W. Ashcraft. He says that he won't accept any verbatim copies from Conservapedia to his site, and he has advised all of us on his end not to copy stuff that we did not write over here. (As to things we did write--well, he doesn't mind dual submissions, and he said that simultaneous submissions are perfectly permissible as a matter of law. But I think he would agree with you, Andy, that we must submit our own words before anyone else edited them.)
Frankly, that's about all that matters. I'll tell you how I use Wikipedia: I go to their sources whenever possible, and where that's not possible, I rewrite. In fact, most of the time, I couldn't accept their content, because they have a POV that I don't share. And even as regards my dual submisions here and at CreationWiki, I can't always write exactly the same thing here and there. This project and CreationWiki have two different target populations and two different scopes.
Now as to whether anyone can stop the copying: I suspect that they could. I'll give you an insight from another context: firmware for a wireless router. When the company that currently owns the Linksys name incorporated code from the Linux operating system in the firmware for their WRT-54G family of wireless combination access point/routers, the Free Software Foundation sent them a cease-and-desist order. Linksys concluded that they just couldn't keep that code proprietary anymore, so they released the code. The result has been the invention of a number of "alternative firmwares" for that device. But it has also set a precedent that "copyleft" provisions are enforceable.
And even if they couldn't go to court--well, I'd certainly hate to see any of our dual users get blocked for unlawful copying. That kind of misunderatanding would truly be a crying shame.--TerryHTalk 20:33, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

The original contributors are the copyright owners (Wikipedia contributions aren't a "work for hire", and there's no other agreement to transfer copyright ownership), and the copyright owners are the only ones who have standing to sue for infringement. Outside of court of course, standing isn't strictly adhered to, anybody can negotiate on behalf of the copyright owners, particularly if they believe they'll be able to find and assist the people who have standing by the time a lawsuit could occur.

That's just copyright law though, I guess non-copyleft licenses may behave more like contracts, I don't know. --Interiot 12:32, 9 July 2008 (EDT)


To place a photo on wikipedia, you have to have specific proof that you have the copyright holder's permission to post it. Here, you can post any photograph. That's a violation of copyright law. Czolgolz 01:39, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

Are you sure? The Sysops monitor all photograph submissions, and insist that everyone provide that proof in a free-text field. We also warn people that photograph submissions not in accord with our guidelines are subject to deletion. Wikipedia offers a menu of copyright-rationale choices. Perhaps Conservapedia would be well-advised to construct something similar, if only to make things easier on uploaders. But "anyone can post" is not a violation per se. Retaining a photograph in our image archive that we shouldn't have--now that might be a violation.--TerryHTalk 08:36, 9 April 2007 (EDT)

time to grow up?

Is Conservapedia mature enough yet to remove "To compare this with Wikipedia's more restrictive copyright policy, see Wikipedia copyright." from this page? We don't compare it to the copyright policy of the US government, or of paper encyclopaedia publishers, so comparing to Wikipedia here is not really helpful either.

I see this page is not presently protected, but it probably should be, as I believe only the site owner should change its copyright notice. --Scott 21:46, 13 April 2007 (EDT)

Thanks, I protected it at your suggestion.
As to your substantive comment above, Wikipedia's copyright requirements are burdensome. Conservapedia's copyright allows much broader and easier reuse. This is factual, well-supported, and no one seems to dispute it. Users should be aware of this.--Aschlafly 14:01, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
Thanks. If Conservapedia is supposed to be an alternative to Wikipedia, it shouldn't need to compare itself on every page. Someone wanting to know under what conditions they are contributing here, or whether they can reuse something found here, doesn't need or want to read the comparison any more than at the end of point 1 (revocable) "This is different to material published by the US Government which is released to the public domain and can be used for any purpose without restriction." or "Encyclopaedia Brittannica does not allow reuse of their published material." --Scott 19:34, 14 April 2007 (EDT)


This licence is simpler that the GFDL only at the expense of the vagueness inherent in the sentence "This license is revocable only in very rare instances of self-defense, such as protecting continued use by Conservapedia editors or other licensees." Much of the GFDL licence document is concerned with enumerating the precise conditions you must meet in order to be sure that that your right to use the material will not be revoked. By maintaining the right to revoke the licence under the poorly-defined grounds of "self-defense" users can't be sure that they actually have the right to use the material; Nor can they be sure that a use that is permitted at one time might be disallowed at a future time. In this sense the Conservapedia license is less free than the GFDL. I suggest that this clause is replaced with a BSD-style "no endorsement" clause.--Jalapeno 04:12, 15 May 2007 (EDT)

This encyclopedia is well appreciated, a needed response to Wikipedia's fatal flaws. I am for it. Nonetheless, Jalapeno is right. It is not really relevant that the GNU project is a left-wing, anti-American organization, or that the BSD license comes from the liberal fever swamps of Berkeley. The informal term "copyleft" may be etymologically annoying, but the idea the term represents is entirely sound. You just cannot have an open-source encyclopedia without a proper open-source license.
The Free Software Foundation (GNU project) has a left-wing anarchist bias, and I also reject that term "copyleft" because it implies that everyone who supports open source, even voluntarily or in a financial/promotional setting, is a communist liberal. Many right-wing people, especially the anti-Ayn-Rand libertarians such as Lew Rockwell and Stephan Kinsella, support open-source because it is opposed to restrictive government laws and government-empowered lawyers getting in your way of free markets and a free press, and/or does not follow Locke's definition of property (it does follow Rand's), and/or is/might be financially profitable in certain situations. The man who first commercialized (and coined the term) open-source, Eric S. Raymond of the Open Source Development Initiative, was a libertarian for many years and is currently a neocon. Linus Torvalds is similar, he came from a Finnish communist family but became a wealthy conservative due to his work on the Linux kernel. Other musicians with past fan bases (such as NIN) have turned to Internet marketing and have dumped their record labels, making some stuff open-source/CC and/or charging for another/a better product. So we should not claim that open-source and free-software are "liberal" but are voluntary contracts any political person can agree to. (Private contract is limited government conservatism, isn't it?) However, see my note below about public domain under the "Creative Commons Attribution 3.0" section regarding possible risks with Conservapedia doing waiver such as these. -danq 13:36, 6 February 2011 (EST)
There is a fundamental difference between an encyclopedia that allows free use of its material and one that restricts free use for the purpose of "stopping unauthorized copying or mirroring of entire parts of this site," as Conservapedia evidently does. If Conservapedia includes some old material that obstructs proper open-sourcedness, and if open-sourcedness (is that a word?) is a goal, then why not remove or sequester the old material? --Tannoce 08:43, 21 August 2008 (EDT)
The GFDL copyright is the one that needs improvement to ease reuse. Our copyright has worked well and is much more free and easy-to-use, except when the use is obviously destructive as outlined.--Aschlafly 09:46, 21 August 2008 (EDT)

Migrating Solid Material to Wikipedia

As I read the above, GNU allows me to use my exact contribution elsewhere (but proving it was my contribution may be problemantic) but once others have collaborated on the article it may be "illegal" for me to cut and paste all or any edited portions of the article to Conservapedia, since it would now include other editor's contributions. Correct?

Therefore, if one wants to work with collaborators in developing a solid article on controversial issues subject to POV pushing at Wikipedia, one should start here at Conservapedia...collaborate...then copy the entire article over to Wikipedia, since there would be no restrictions on moving an entire article to Wikipedia or WikiInfo or any other GNU governed site. Is that correct?

Mostly, I'm looking for a safer ground to collaborate with editors who won't constantly disrupt the article by deleting facts that undermine their political position. Am I correct in my understanding that Conservapedia provides better safegaurds? For example, can a person who starts an article for collaboration unilaterally block a disruptive editor? Can one or more "approved" collaborators "guard" the article from someone who is disruptively trying to slant it in a different direction?

If all that I've described above is correct, I STRONGLY recommend that Conservapedia should have an article prominently linked here that encourages developing articles here with the intent of copying them over to Wikipedia (which surely has more traffic) once they are developed. Participating Editors then should, of course, watchlist the article on their Wikipedia accounts to help protect it from "blanking" of "inconvenient" facts.--MarthaVine 11:24, 17 April 2008 (EDT)

What you say is correct, but Wikipedia is a lost cause and I don't have any interest in trying to post good material there. Wikipedia does have lots of traffic but much of it is for non-educational (and sometimes biased) entries. If something good is posted to Wikipedia, then I don't expect it to last there.
However, feel welcome to copy your contributions to Wikipedia over to here, where we do not impose the silly copyright restrictions imposed by Wikipedia.--Aschlafly 11:30, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
At Wikipedia, it is possible for a group of contributors (whom you call "editors") to monopolize all collaboration on an article, even though this is expressly against Wikipedia policy. The abuse happens so frequently that Wikipedia itself calls it "tag-team editing".
  • Tag teams can block other Wikipedians from making contributions [3]
Here, collaboration can take place among those who are sympathetic with the project's goals. Trustworthy articles are the primary goal, so if any liberals want to submit reliable information they are welcome. Unfortunately, about 90% of new users arrive here determined to subvert the project. Perhaps you would like to help reverse this trend.
What you propose, however, in terms of a team preparing an article offsite for migration to Wikipedia, is best down on a wiki which uses a free license. I would be happy to work with you at if you are on the level. Forgive my caution, but I'd like to make sure before I invest any time in this. --Ed Poor Talk 11:41, 17 April 2008 (EDT)

Am I wrong to be sure that copying or migrating our articles to Wikipedia would be useless, because "THEY" would destroy it there anyway? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jerryankeedoodle (talk)

requesting change

In item 3, I recommend changing "the United States District Court sitting in the City of Newark, State of New Jersey" to "A COURT OF LAW IN TRENTON, NEW JERSEY". I would have made the change myself, but the page is protected.--MackHein 11:39, 9 March 2009 (EDT)

Alternative dispute resolution

A more "free market" solution would be to eliminate all mention of U.S. Government courts altogether, and provide for the settlement of copyright-related disputes through some sort of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) - perhaps mediation as a first step and then arbitration. If any litigation did occur, it would reduce the cost and time required to resolve it. A typical ADR boilerplate clause reads thus:

Arbitration of all Disputes. As a material part of this Agreement, the parties agree that any and all disputes, claims or controversies arising out of or relating to this Agreement or the purchase of the Property, shall be determined by confidential, final and binding arbitration in Newark, New Jersey, in accordance with the then-existing rules for commercial arbitration of the American Arbitration Association. Disputes, claims, and controversies subject to final and binding arbitration under this Agreement include, without limitation, all those that otherwise could be tried in a court to a judge or jury in the absence of this Agreement. By agreeing to submit all disputes, claims and controversies to binding arbitration, each of the parties expressly waives its rights to have such matters heard or tried in a court before a judge or jury or in any other tribunal. Any award shall be final, binding and conclusive upon the parties, subject only to judicial review provided by statute, and a judgment rendered on the arbitration award may be entered in any state or federal court having jurisdiction thereof. Notwithstanding the foregoing, each party agrees that before undertaking the aforementioned arbitration, they shall submit all disputes, claims or controversies to a mutually agreeable mediator in an attempt to a informally resolve said disputes, claims or controversies without the need for arbitration.
NathanLarson 12:39, 1 March 2010 (EST)
It would only be "free market" if we decided to put it in the contract. I for one have closed many Web site accounts for fear of someone bringing a charge against me where I have no means of self-defense and would be stuck paying not only the Web site owner thousands of dollars, but everyone's "legal fees" to the arbitration forum. Plus, if I am correct it costs companies money to join/fund these forums. I suggest we put as many waivers in as we need, such as waiving the right to a jury trial to discourage long cases and class-action suits. But to involve ourselves in something like this where we not only risk lacking the ability to pay and/or putting the financial safety of one editor/administrator/visitor against another, people's lives can be destroyed over a single debate about something. Conservapedia is not a multinational corporation, and we get picked on/spammed by liberals and atheists, both celebrity and troll, quite a bit. -danq 11:12, 6 February 2011 (EST)

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

The Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license is a pretty good one. It's not a copyleft license like the GFDL or Creative Commons Share-Alike licenses, so cumbersome contractual entanglements pertaining to derivative works are avoided. Functionally, it's not all that different from a public domain license (see this page), except that it's perhaps on firmer legal footing. (There is still some question as to whether a copyright owner is allowed to release his work into the public domain.) I don't think it would be such a bad idea to migrate this site to Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. NathanLarson 15:33, 1 March 2010 (EST)

NathanLarson et al, I thought you should know that Creative Commons at some point introduced something called CC0. It is a list of waivers, not a license, and it waives not only the copyright but all of the "all rights reserved" which come with copyright (this doesn't include patents or trademarks). If any part of waiver is not legally possible, the unwaivable rights are re-waived in a "public license fallback", and if that doesn't work, you agree to not to pursue any legal action against others regarding the work. I have applied this to my journal/poetry/opinion blog, but in terms of something like Conservapedia, every editor and administrator would have to know that there is no "taking back" of anything other than deleting it from, discouraging automatic spidering using ROBOTS.TXT, and asking/requesting/begging people. Also, there is no attribution requirement, so people can claim not only full credit for our work but partial credit as well (they cannot claim anyone here endorses it). For example, those liberal and atheist spammers can take whatever content they want, pervert it into something else, and claim it it was based on real Conservapedia content, so long as they don't say it's approved/endorsed by any of us. Links: CC0 FAQ [CC0 main link CC0 legal code. Personally I think it would be too much of a hassle to put out press releases on what is and isn't genuine all the time, especially with people like Jon Stewart making fun of us on national TV. I just thought I'd share info on the new CC0 system with NathanLarson and anyone else who happens to read this, and why I feel Conservapedia shouldn't do it. -danq 10:59, 6 February 2011 (EST)
Thanks, Nathan. The owner of this site is a licensed Attorney and not merely a wiki-lawyer, however. --ṬK/Admin/Talk 19:46, 1 March 2010 (EST)

Interpreting Conservapedia:Copyright

I do not have any U.S.A. legal training, and I am uncertain as to how to interpret some aspects of Conservapedia:Copyright.

Perhaps someone can answer these simple questions relating to Conservapedia articles (excluding pictures, talk pages, user pages, etc.):

  • Are Conservapedia articles in the public domain?
  • Are Conservapedia articles copyrighted?
    • If 'yes', who owns the copyrights?

I would be grateful for some definitive answers. RolandPlankton 17:41, 23 April 2012 (EDT)

This probably isn't sufficiently definitive, but here are my thoughts based on some googling and a not-yet-complete legal education: Since 1988, no registration is required (generally) to create a copyright. This means that any contributor who edits here (assuming that the edit is eligible for copyright protection), is automatically granted a copyright in his contribution. Over at Wikipedia, edits can only be made after agreeing to release the copyright for use under their license. No such requirement is made here, which I believe means that the individual editors retain their copyrights. The fact that Conservapedia has a copyright policy is functionally of very little use. It would only apply in the rare cases where an editor here has assigned his copyright to the site (assuming that's even possible) or explicitly licensed its use under the terms of this page.
So, to answer your specific questions:
  • Not generally, though any article content which was previously in the public domain would remain so.
  • Articles themselves are not copyrighted, but individual contributions are (assuming they're sufficiently original to qualify for protection)
  • The copyright for any individual contribution is owned by the contributor, unless such copyright is waived or released. Since there is no general mechanism here for release, it is likely that very few releases have occurred.
--JustinD 22:09, 23 April 2012 (EDT)
JustinD, thank you for your prompt response. RolandPlankton 02:34, 24 April 2012 (EDT)
I'll take a stab at this
Are Conservapedia articles in the public domain? No. There is a broad license to reuse Conservapedia content with or without attribution, but it is revocable. Additionally, it may be subject to the termination of transfers rule that allows for authors to revoke licenses after 35 years.
Are Conservapedia articles copyrighted? Yes, to the extent that the work is creative and original.
If 'yes', who owns the copyrights? The individual contributors. Conservapedia receives a nonexclusive license, not an exclusive license, and not an assignment.
GregG 03:52, 24 April 2012 (EDT)
Greg, how do you know that "Conservapedia receives a nonexclusive license"? You're more deeply involved in this than me, so I'm sure it's there somewhere, but I couldn't find anything like this. Thanks. --JustinD 14:43, 24 April 2012 (EDT)
I've just noticed that Conservapedia:Copyright states that "you" (presumably users?) "irrevocably consent to the display, copying, reuse or editing of your information, edits and entries, with or without attribution." So I suppose that's plausibly a granting of a license, though I think it should probably be clearer. --JustinD 21:07, 7 May 2012 (EDT)

The language of this copyright is vague, and a license with clearer language should be used.

If you don't require sharing under the same license but still want users to cite the source, you can use the CC BY license, which allows commercial or non-commercial use of the text, as long as it is credited with a link to the source. If you don't want to allow commercial use, but show any non-commercial use with a link for credit, you can use CC BY NC. If you want to allow any use without attribution (public domain), you can use CC0. Wikipedia and some other websites don't allow copying the content of this website, as the text of the license is ambiguous and also allows the revocation of the license at the discretion of the site owner. If a more standard license was used, the content (especially the less political content) on this website could be reused in more places. ChenXiansheng (talk) 01:52, March 9, 2023 (EST)