I saw this article (from the AP on ESPN) today, about a push to bring the to bring a version of cricket called Twenty20 to the US. According to the article:
A Twenty20 game is a shortened version of cricket, completed in about 3½ hours to bring it closer to the length of other sports played in the United States.
Emphasis added. I wanted more information, so I went to the Wikipedia page on Twenty20 cricket, where I saw this sentence:
A Twenty20 game is completed in about three and half hours, with each innings lasting around 75 minutes, thus bringing the game closer to the timespan of other popular team sports.
Emphasis added. If you’re me, you’ll notice immediately the parallel structure of the sentences, and the fact that a thesaurus appeared to be used to change the words in the last clause (without actually changing the meaning). I cannot fathom that these are NOT copied from each other. The question is which came first.
This could have been an enthusiastic Wikipedia editor, so I checked the history page of the article, which tracks every change. It turns out that Wikipedia had it first. Here is a link to the 10 July 2009 version of the article.
Let me repeat, to be clear: Wikipedia Had It First. Which means an AP writer or editor cribbed directly from Wikipedia, changed some words, and put it in the article.
In and of itself, that is not the problem. Wikipedia is, in fact, fine with this.
The problem is copyright licenses. According to the copyright license that Wikipedia uses, if you use or re-purpose content from a Wikipedia article, the new work must have a “compatible license”. In this case, that means the article must…
- Attribute Wikipedia as the source.
- Have a “share-alike” provision in the license which allows others to copy and re-purpose the entire adapted work as they see fit.
That means the entire AP article should, by rights, be open to re-use. However, the AP violates Wikipedia’s license – the restrictive AP copyright license is NOT compatible with Wikipedia’s open “share-alike” license. So, the AP, as far as I can reasonably tell, is violating Wikipedia’s copyright by not attributing and not having a compatible license.
Of course, in a vacuum, this is an isolated incident. But, in the real world, this flies in the face of the AP’sclaims against Shepherd Fairey, the artist who created the iconic “Obama HOPE” poster. Details of this case, in bullet form:
- Mr. Fairey used a photo (found on Google image search) to inspire the look of the painting.
- Nobody (Fairey included) knew the the owner of source photo of the iconic painting at first. It was thought to be a Reutrers photo for a time.
- Someone tracked down the original, Fairey said, “yup, that one”, and the AP claimed ownership.
- Incidentally, the photographer claims to be the owner of the photo as well, and that the AP doesn’t own it.
- The AP claims that they deserve to “get permission”, and that the poster is a copyright violation.
- Fairey’s lawyer and the AP’s lawyer started talking.
- According to Fairey at a talk at the New York Public Library in March (which I attended), he was happy to pay the original usage rights he should have paid, but he did not know the identity of the owner.
- According to Fairey, the AP had some demands (take with grain of salt, but the guy seemed like a straight shooter).
- Demand 1: usage rights for the value of the photo after Mr. Fairey’s painting made it valuable. (Prior to that, it had one of the lowest usage rights for that type of image, which alone is anything but iconic.)
- Demand 2: Damages.
- Demand 3 (Possibly): A piece of the profits (since it was their photo that led to the poster).
- Fairey claims the use of the photo was clearly within the bounds of “fair use”.
- Fairey sued for declamatory judgement against the AP’s copyright claim on his poster.
Here’s an article on the Fairey matter.
So… The AP can crib other people’s work without following the rules, but a guy can’t use a photo in what is widely considered to be a CLEAR case of fair use? Well done, AP.
Yup… I got all that from an article on cricket in the US.