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From 30th July, Akvopedia will change its license from the GNU Free Document License to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license. With this move, we’re following many other wikis – and it means we’ll be able to freely exchange materials with them.

Today Akvopedia content is covered by the GNU Free Document License (GDFL), a “copyleft” license that permits the redistribution, creation of derivative works, and commercial use of content while authors retain copyright of their work, managed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The problem is that the GFDL was originally designed for software manuals, not for wikis, and is therefore not ideal for online reference works.

Many people have recognised this, so a more suitable license was created: the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 (CC-BY-SA version 3.0). The CC-BY-SA license was specifically designed with the needs of so-called “Massive Multiauthor Collaboration Sites” in mind, such as Wikipedia and Akvopedia.

It has the same freedoms as the GFDL, but several advantages:

  • It’s used by many bloggers and other creators of online works, so we can share with them more easily
  • It’s more practical for making printed works (you can reference the license rather than printing the whole thing)
  • It has a useful “human readable” summary
  • It has a “mark”, a linked image, which helps readers know what permissions they’ve been given, and helps search engines to index pages by permissions.

To make it easier to move wikis from the GDFL license to the CC-BY-SA license, the FSF has made specific provisions in the latest version of the Gnu Free Documentation License (GFDL) for this migration. The latest version grants parties that currently use the GFDL license to migrate their content to the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license, until August 1st, 2009. Hence us making this change before the end of July.

In June 2009, Wikipedia has made the change from the GDFL license, and other sites such as Appropedia and Ekopedia have followed suit. For Akvopedia, it’s logical also to change our license. As the basic freedoms, rights and obligations stay the same, this should present no problem. The change means easy and continued sharing of content with other projects, such as Wikipedia, Appropedia and Ekopedia, which have also just moved over.

If anyone who has contributed to Akvopedia should feel that the move to the new license would pose a problem for the content they have contributed, we will of course help in finding a solution. In that case, please contact me at m.t.westra@akvo.org.