Sylvain (Jamendo‘s CTO) just got back from a Wikipedia/iCommons party in San Francisco where he taped a very exciting announcement from Jimmy Wales : Creative Commons, Wikimedia and the Free Software Foundation just agreed to make the current Wikipedia license (the GFDL) compatible with Creative Commons (CC BY-SA). As Jimbo puts it, “This is the party to celebrate the liberation of Wikipedia”.
(UPDATE: Official resolution from the Wikimedia Foundation, thanks Florence!)
Here is a transcript (feel free to send patches) followed by a quick analysis of the announcement.
Jimmy Wales: So the really fabulous thing about Creative Commons is that CC has designed a full spectrum of licenses that people can use to share their work and these licenses are ported to different jurisdictions around the world and they are easy for normal people to undersand.
If Wikipedia had been founded after CC it would certainly have been under a CC license but it didn’t exist at the time, so we started with a license called the Free Documentation License which is a good license but very complicated and very difficult to use.
So a couple of years ago, Larry and I were walking in a park in Barcelona and started talking about license compatibility and how important this is. So he and I started a project to try to find a way for Wikipedia, which has become by far the largest repository of information in the world, and the largest repository of freely licensed information that ever existed by far and we said, “How can we make this compatible with the whole CC movement ?”
So we went through a long process of negociation with the Free Software Foundation, many many different conversations, very complicated and with lots of legal aspects.
What I’m happy to announce tonight is that just yesterday the Wikimedia Foundation board voted to approve a deal beetween the FSF and CC and Wikimedia. We’re going to change the GFDL in such a way that Wikipedia will be able to become licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.
So this is not as some people speculated on facebook my 58 birthday party … this is the party to celebrate the liberation of Wikipedia.
Audience: Hooray / woooo / Larry, Larry, Larry!
Lawrence Lessig: So there are 3 great things that happened to my life. Two of them coming from my wife, this is the 3rd greatest thing that ever happened to my life, Jimmy. I’m grateful to your visit, thank you very much, you are just welcomed, thank you.
So what does this mean for Wikipedia? A lot of people will now be able to legally mix Wikipedia and Creative Commons content. This announcement marks the end of a lack of interoperability of the licenses that was making the content less “free” for the users.
Contrary to the old title of this post (thanks to Larry for the clarification) Wikipedia is not switching to CC. It actually made a deal allowing the community to relicense the content of the wikis under a BY-SA license. So it’s now up to the Wikipedians to choose whether they do or not.
Anyway, Creative Commons will definitely have more weight and credibilty tomorrow than it had this morning. 4 out of the 10 biggest websites in the world now integrate Creative Commons.