There is a critical need for each MediaWiki user to have several pieces of
information when preparing formal copyright registration. Quite litterally
MediaWiki software is making it illegal for us to do formal copyright
registration of the contents for all MediaWiki projects except for private and
corporate wikis where the contents are clearly owned by a corporation (and not
the Wikimedia Foundation). To finish this whole mess, we may have to get some
debates going on Foundation-l and Meta in terms of how it affects the Foundation
itself, and to socially request people to add this information.
Once this information has been gathered, there will have to be some policies
established on what to do with it, and how it should be released. For now,
include a "checkbox" that allows this information to be "published" on the user
information page. It should not be checked by default. If it is not checked,
the information can only be displayed to admins/bureaucrats/sysops/stewards. At
what level this information can be displayed if the user wants to stay anonymous
is a policy decision outside the scope of this bug report and should be
modifable in terms of MediaWiki software.
All of this can and should be optional for each user to fill out as they feel
necessary, and only needs to be put into the user information records. The most
logical place to enter this information would be in the "User Settings" page,
preferably on the "User Data" sub-section. Specific items that should be
settable for each user would include:
Required for Copyright
Full Legal Name: This needs to be fairly long for some users, and I'm not
exactly sure how many characters to allow here. More than one culture can have
dozens or even a hundred names, although socially they often use only 2-3 names
for contract purposes. That may be all that is really needed here anyway.
Country of Origin (Nationality): This is absolutely required if formal
copyright status is to be issued. This is also required under the Bern
Convention of copyrights and other copyright treaties. As far as
implementation, all that really needs to be kept is the ISO country code for the
nationality. To make it "clean", a simple drop-down box is all that is
necessary with a simple list of countries. An explaination that this is the
country they may have a passport from, or that they claim to be a citizen of.
Please include an option of "none" for nationality, and "other". For
explaination, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stateless_person
Current Residence (Country): Again all this has to be is just an ISO country
code, and is the country that you are currently residing in. This is not
necessarily the same as the country of orgin or the nationality, but simply
where are they at right now.
Optional for copyright registration, but asked for
The following pieces of information are asked for by the U.S. Copyright Office
(so should be included in this bug report) but are considered optional and not
legally required to complete copyright registration:
Year of Birth: A simple 4-digit year is all that is necesssary to keep track of
here, with a comment that it should be in the "common era" (not using Islamic,
Jewish, or other alternative dating system... I hope we don't get too many users
or language sub-projects that insist on these alternative dates, but it may happen).
Year of Death: Yes, this is morbid, but absolutely necessary as most current
copyright laws have sunset provisions of 50 to 100 years after the death of the
author. I would assume that this would have to be set by an admin (if an author
sets his own death date you can assume it would be more than likely a vandal).
How to get an admin to set this piece of information is out of my hands and may
require some creativity.
Address (snail mail) of author: Basically how you can be contacted by the
government once registration has been completed. P.O. boxes are acceptable, so
any way that you can get a first-class letter sent to you is reasonable here.
It should be a multi-line input box. If you try to get fancy here and have
separate areas for city/state/zip codes you are going to get yelled at when it
doesn't fit the postal format for another country, so don't even try.
Addtional information generated elsewhere
There is some additional information that can likely be generated elsewhere, but
may be subject to a future bug report. By being generated elsewhere, that means
it can be determined socially from talk pages, inter-user communications, or by
means that don't specifically require MediaWiki software.
Nature of the contribution: The copyright office asks what the author actually
did to warrent citation as a copyright claimant for a literary work. Usually in
the case of Wikimedia projects it will be "co-author", however some users simply
correct typos and do only minor adjustments to text, which may qualify them as
"editors". I don't even know how to deal with obvious vandals and if they
should even be counted as a co-author or a copyright claimant... likely not.
Again, this is beyond the scope of the bug report.
Work for hire: It seems unlikely that any Wikimedia project is going to be a
work for hire according to the U.S. Copyright Office requirments, but it may be
possible. For those few individuals who are hired by the Wikimedia Foundation
to write text, it may be pretty easy to keep track of them separately. As for
other MediaWiki users and installations, it is going to be in context for its
usage and how it may be used in a particular installation. Quite likely the
admins of the Wiki are going to know through social means rather than something
that needs to be kept track of.
Anonymous contributions: This is already dealt with in MediaWiki software quite
nicely, so it is already covered.
Psuedonym contributions: The problem right now (and the purpose of this bug
report) is because ALL contributions are currently Psuedonyms, with no way
to give proper citation of authors unless they explictly use their legal name as
the Psuedonym. This can give some legal heartburn to all involved.