Wikipedia and Creative Commons

At last night’s party for Jimmy and Heather — congratulations on the move of Wikimedia to San Francisco — Jimmy Wales announced that the Wikimedia board has approved a path for migration of Wikipedia’s use of the GNU Free Documentation License to the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license. We’ve had our own discussion about CC licensing here at The Conversations Network, but our challenges are nowhere near as complex as those that Jimmy faces. Not only is Wikipedia the single largest (usable) repository of human knowledge, its content has been created by a huge number of people and is used and abused by even more.

As Lawrence Lessig explains — and it’s an important issue — this isn’t a done deal yet. As I understand it, the Wikimedia board’s resolution merely initiates a process that now requires approval of the Wikipedia community, however they’ve decided to define it.

So don’t assume you can immediately rush out and reuse Wikipedia articles on a CC share-alike basis. But unless there’s a glitch in the community-approval process, this does seem like something that’s likely to happen. Congratulations to Larry, Jimmy and their respective teams for pulling this off. The clarity and simplicity of the CC licenses will benefit everyone.