Feel free to discuss this specification at the bottom of the page.


There is currently no licensing policy expressed on the Ubuntu team wiki and this has caused confusion about whether material can be copied into it and from it. This spec attempts to develop a licensing policy for the team wiki only, in a similar way to that which was adopted for the documentation wiki.


The Ubuntu team wiki does not currently contain any express definition of licensing policy. This means that there is confusion about whether material can or cannot be copied (for example by other projects).

Licensing the material on the wiki under a free license will also mean that it will become possible to copy material from other free sources.

Further, there are reasons of principle to implement such a policy:

  1. Ubuntu is an operating system promoting free software.
  2. The very nature of a wiki is that it should be a collaborative effort which encourages the free use of information.

The current copyright notice states that the copyright belongs to Canonical. This seems likely to be legally inaccurate, because copyright belongs to the individuals who create the material, and can only be assigned to another legal person (such as Canonical) by a signature in writing of the copyright holder. We should also take the opportunity to seek to evaluate whether Canonical's purported copyright over wiki material can be put on a principled and lawful footing.


  • A copyleft license should be used.
  • The CC-By-SA license is a good choice, for several reasons:

    • It is used by many other parts of the Ubuntu community (e.g. the documentation, the Ubuntu forums, the Official Ubuntu Book)
    • It is a popular and well known license.
  • There should be a possibility for users to depart from the license where appropriate for non-text items (such as artwork, or code snippets). Free licenses should be used for such items.


A page "License" will be created and populated with the new information. This page can essentially be copied from the help wiki, save that it should state that the license applies unless the particular wiki page states otherwise.

A footer will be added to the team wiki theme which states:

The material on this wiki is available under a free license, see License (link) for details

The wiki will be configured to display the license information on the page edit screen by adding the following lines to

    page_license_enabled = 1
    page_license_page = u'License'

To be completed after outstanding issues are resolved.

Outstanding Issues


  • As stated above, copyright in the material on the team wiki seems likely to belong to those persons who created the material.
  • With the help wiki relicensing, the approach taken was to send an email to explain the reasons behind the transition, and to encourage any users who disagree to come forward to discuss and resolve any potential problems. This email was sent to those users who have posted to the wiki since it has been running on moin (a script will be necessary to get a list of those users with their email addresses from the Launchpad authentication and wiki databases). The email was also be sent to the main ubuntu mailing lists, and in general the information should be distributed widely. Then, after a reasonable period, details of the license were put on a prominently linked wiki page, and in the footer, and the wiki was configured so that when creating, editing and/or saving a page the user knew that the material added is released under the CC-By-SA license.
  • This method was questioned during a recent CommunityCouncil meeting because it does not ensure that express consent is obtained from each copyright holder. The only fullproof method of relicensing material is to (a) ensure that material is assigned to a single copyright holder (such as Canonical), or (b) obtain express consent from all copyright holders. For existing material on the team wiki, either option involves getting some express agreement from all the contributors to the wiki.

  • It is unrealistic to expect that we can obtain express consent from every contributor to the team wiki. As a result, we have two options:
  • Only apply the new license to new material. This is extremely impractical because it seems extremely difficult to distinguish on the wiki between new material and old material: because of how the wiki works, new material will be intrinsically linked with old material, and adding a license to the wiki would prima facie constitute relicensing of all the material in it.
  • Adopt the same approach as with the help wiki, in an attempt to contact as many users as possible, on the basis that (a) given the nature of the wiki as a collaborative project and the philosophy of the Ubuntu project generally, it is very unlikely that users will object to the change and seek to enforce their copyright rights, (b) those that might do so would be likely to respond to the call for feedback, (c) in the unlikely event that an individual does complain about an infringement, the infringement should be capable of removal by removing that individual's material.
    • Having said that, if material created on the wiki makes its way onto the CD, an infringement would be impossible to remove.
    • Having said that, the current position is that the material on the wiki is non-free, so if it has made its way onto the CD already (e.g. by appearing in freely licensed software), and no one has complained about copyright violation so far, relicensing the material seems to make a complaints less likely, rather than more likely.

  • mdke to investigate whether copyright assignment can be achieved in some way other than via a written signature, such as via a declaration on the wiki edit page.


  • insert comments here

One use case to consider is that of Canonical developed Training documentation. Currently we develop our materials separate from any community documentation efforts and all training materials are fully copyrighted by Canonical, Ltd. In the future we would like to examine joint efforts of developing documentation. Using a CC-BY-SA license would ensure that both sides could develop and reuse materials. Canonical could only use community developed materials if it is willing to re-release under the same license. (added by Belinda (Dinda) Lopez, 12 Jan 2010)

WikiLicensing/TeamWiki (last edited 2010-01-12 17:11:35 by c-98-195-219-156)