Copying text from wikipedia not allowed?

In this thread, a copy/past from a wikipedia article was deleted on the basis that it was too extensive to be considered fair use.

As noted by a poster in the thread, wikipedia specifically allows reproduction of its content, so there’s no copyright issue here. Fair use isn’t any more relevant than if the poster had, for instance, copied an extensive abstract of “Hamlet”.

Could the mods/admins weight in?

First of all, I’m an engineer, not a lawyer. So if I’ve mucked this up, someone please correct me. My understanding of it is this:

Wikipedia does allow copying of text but they don’t just throw everything out into the public domain where there are no rules. Certain conditions have to be met, and I don’t believe that Lukeinva’s post meets those conditions. Specifically, as I understand it, there are requirements for proper attribution (which I’m not sure that a link whose source is obscured by text qualifies as) and notice of license (there’s no license notififcation in Lukeinva’s post). As I understand it, using the URL instead of a text alternate in the link probably would have sufficed for the attribution part.

No biggie. You can still copy sections of Wikipedia articles under fair use. Exactly how much is “fair use” gets debatable, but the general guideline here at the SDMB is you can copy small portions of things with no problem, but don’t copy entire articles. Lukeinva’s post copied almost the entire article, which is why I removed it.

If someone who is a lawyer or an expert on these things has a better understanding of it, please correct me.

I’m not an expert, but Wikipedia itself says that links are okay for attribution: “To re-distribute a text page in any form, provide credit to the authors either by including a) a hyperlink (where possible) or URL to the page or pages you are re-using […] or […]” The use of or indicates that merely one aspect is sufficient.

The bigger problem is one that we’ve not been observing: “Each copy or modified version that you distribute must include a licensing notice stating that the work is released under CC-BY-SA and either a) a hyperlink or URL to the text of the license or b) a copy of the license.”

Hence, for anything beyond fair-use allowances, you need to include something like the following: “Above Wikipedia citations are licensed under the CC-BY-SA license.”

(I don’t believe you can use the GFDL license because it would be incompatible with the license you agree to for all posts on the SDMB website, as a requirement of the GFDL is that the work using the quotation is released under that license. I might be wrong on the incompatibility, but then you’d still have to explicitly license the post under the GFDL, which would again require a license link.)


It might be that The Powers That Be of the SDMB have decided that having a general policy for all quotes is a lot easier on them in the long run that trying to find out the policies of each and every site individually.

Regardless of the copyright issue, in this particular case Lukeinva just copy-pasted a wall of equations with no explanation of how they applied to the subject. It was virtually useless as an answer to the OP, and really didn’t serve much purpose that a simple link couldn’t have accomplished.

That sums it up in a nutshell. We don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to go tracking everything down; we just prefer short, quick quotes (“Fair usage”) and links. Standardization.

Exceptions are permitted in a few cases (for example, if you the poster are the author of the longer piece.) But they’re few and far between, and generally require a statement at the time of the long quote (not sixteen posts later).

When I first started reporting copy/pastes from Wikipedia to the moderators years ago, this was the rationale I used. (I do not remember at the time if a mere link to the license was enough to satisfy their license requirements.) They did remove the content of the posts that violated the copyrights of Wikipedia’s contributors.

So mods get to delete posts they deem “virtually useless”? That sounds like a terrible policy. I mean, we already know they’ll lock MPSIMS threads that they feel are too mundane or pointless, but wiping out posts that are ‘virtually useless’ (and in who’s opinion) that doesn’t seem like a road we should go down.

Depends on the forum. The example was in General Questions. Colibri explained why it was useless in that specific case.

If, in the opinion of the moderators/adminstrators of the SDMB, the posts are useless, you won’t see them for long. We been goin’ down that road for 14 years.

So, if a mod deems a post “virtually useless” (Colibri’s words) in a “specific case” (your words)…that mod can delete the post. I don’t like that. I don’t think we should head down that road. But could you clarify that for me, because if that answer is “yes a mod can delete a post they feel is useless” I’d like to start a thread about it rather then derail this one and if the answer is “No” then, what happened is something entirely different and, honestly, I’ve got no dog in that fight.

Well, yeah, we’ve seen that a million times here, but that’s not what happened with Lukeinva whose been here for 3 years and and almost 2000 posts.

You’re completely misunderstanding what I said. I was referring to deleting the cut-and-pasted part of the post, not the post itself. By leaving the link, and deleting the cut-and-pasted text, nothing was really lost. In fact, the part of the post that Lukeinva actually wrote himself was not cut.

If we started deleting GQ posts that were completely useless most threads would be much much shorter.:wink: I’ve only ever deleted posts because they were rules violations such as spam or trolling, or duplicates.

Here’s what you said “Regardless of the copyright issue, <snip> It was virtually useless”
So even if there wasn’t a rules violation, you seem to feel it should have been deleted because you felt it was useless. At least that’s they way I’m reading that post.

Besides, who cares if it was worthless that was one person’s opinion. Maybe it wasn’t worthless to someone else. Sure, they could just click on the link, they could also just go to wiki and find the article, maybe the entire post should have been deleted, no point in wasting all those pixels.
Nothing was lost (in your opinion) but what was gained in doing it?

I’ll admit, this is pretty minor, I’m just not happy with the idea that the mods are now deleting things that they feel are virtually useless.

In how many threads can I post the entire script of The Bee Movie until you change your mind?

A)The mods would declare that a copyright violation and you’d be warned for it.

Let’s try something else. Someone asks a question about L Frank Baum’s writing style. You, in your infinite wisdom, post The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, in it’s entirely and with no comment. Just drop it and run. Ok, um, whatever. A few days later, someone asks a question about the ending of The Picture of Dorian Gray. You don’t answer it, you just post the entire last chapter. Well, you’re probably going to get a mod note. You do it a again, you’ll probably get a warning, you keep on keeping on and eventually you’ll end up getting banned which is what Samclem was hinting at in the second part of post #10. That, I think, is fine. It falls under the “Don’t be a jerk” rule. But what I don’t like is for posts to be edited for no reason other then a mod deeming them “virtually useless”.

Also, if a mod really felt strongly that a post was just simply too long, they could just wrap spoiler tags around it. That’s a common way to make [your own] very long post, much shorter. But said mods need to remember that a post being to long, or to BOLD or too red or too annoying is really only their opinion and if it’s not violating board rules they shouldn’t (IMHO) be editing what other people wrote.

Links are always the way to go … quote the minimum necessary, link the rest.

If you do that you’ll be good to go.


We’re not talking about posts in general, we’re talking about quoted material that’s too long. “Too long” is, of course, not a well-defined term. Some things are obviously “too long” (e.g., your example above about quoting an entire chapter of a book). But even the “fair usage” test is wobbly around the edges, so some moderator subjectivity may be involved.

And please note in all of this, we’re leaving LINKS to the full quoted material, so that no content is lost. (Poster can say, “please note the last chapter” and provide a link to the online book.)

What? No smiley? Not sufficient! :smiley:

(Joke taken. But really, don’t do do this.)