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This is merely an essay, open to editing and discussion by all comers in the hope of stating a valid principle. It is not site policy.

Wikialpha contains copies of some items, especially Wikipedia articles, with free licenses that require some degree of attribution to the original authors - most notably GFDL, which has extensive requirements, and CC-SA-3.0, which has lesser requirements. By special dispensation, Wikipedia is now using CC-SA-3.0 primarily, so this essay focuses on that license for now.

CC-by-SA 3.0

It should be clear that CC-by-SA 3.0 content needs to be described as such, with a link to the license, and not represented as public domain. It looks like at the present the template {{wp-cca}} is being placed at the head of article pages to indicate this fact whenever substantial text is being taken from Wikipedia articles.

Where author attribution is concerned, the text of the license requires:

  • Taking out credit on request - "to the extent practicable".
"If You create a Collection, upon notice from any Licensor You must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Collection any credit as required by Section 4(c), as requested. If You create an Adaptation, upon notice from any Licensor You must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Adaptation any credit as required by Section 4(c), as requested."
  • Giving credit otherwise
If You Distribute, or Publicly Perform the Work or any Adaptations or Collections, You must, unless a request has been made pursuant to Section 4(a), keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and provide, reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing: (i) the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied, and/or if the Original Author and/or Licensor designate another party or parties (e.g., a sponsor institute, publishing entity, journal) for attribution ("Attribution Parties") in Licensor's copyright notice, terms of service or by other reasonable means, the name of such party or parties; (ii) the title of the Work if supplied; (iii) to the extent reasonably practicable, the URI, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work; and (iv) , consistent with Section 3(b), in the case of an Adaptation, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Adaptation (e.g., "French translation of the Work by Original Author," or "Screenplay based on original Work by Original Author"). The credit required by this Section 4(c) may be implemented in any reasonable manner; provided, however, that in the case of a Adaptation or Collection, at a minimum such credit will appear, if a credit for all contributing authors of the Adaptation or Collection appears, then as part of these credits and in a manner at least as prominent as the credits for the other contributing authors. For the avoidance of doubt, You may only use the credit required by this Section for the purpose of attribution in the manner set out above and, by exercising Your rights under this License, You may not implicitly or explicitly assert or imply any connection with, sponsorship or endorsement by the Original Author, Licensor and/or Attribution Parties, as appropriate, of You or Your use of the Work, without the separate, express prior written permission of the Original Author, Licensor and/or Attribution Parties."

From this (especially the italicized text), this editor proposes that:

  • A link to a Wikipedia article, acknowledging the license, is sufficient for attribution.
  • A link to a deleted Wikipedia article is acceptable, because it is the link that was specified by the author when he submitted his edit for publication. Nothing in the license says that publication needs to be continuous, or online, or remain available in print. The link to the original publication on Wikipedia should be legally sufficient.
  • The spirit of the license encourages further attribution, and it is desirable, but not required, to obtain and provide more attribution data. This includes the helpful actions of Wikipedia admins who make the article history of a deleted article available.
  • It would be desirable if Wikipedia created an auto-attributor that would provide a list of the account names of all the contributors to a deleted article, no matter what its reasons for deletion or however heinous its content. But that's their problem. If Wikipedia disseminates an article, then refuses to follow through with providing attribution information, they're the ones not really sticking to the spirit of the license.
  • Deleted articles, like other out of print material, are indeed disseminated and copies exist. Google caches many deleted pages, even though they seem hard to find in a normal search: for example, [1] presently (7/19/11) turns up the full text of the much-debated Lewinsky (neologism) article. Unfortunately, [2] does not produce anything useful. also sometimes provides an option, but not in this case.
  • Since WikiAlpha doesn't directly receive notice of a Wikipedia "right to vanish", it may not be bound to honor it - but certainly if a user has vanished, there is no obligation to credit him back in, because the material is being disseminated under CC-by-SA 3.0 legitimately without his name.
  • Any method decided on to attribute editors here should allow for their removal if they so request.
  • This is just an ignorant opinion, not legal advice. Unless people here can afford a staff lawyer, opinions are all we have, and further discussion on the talk page would seem appropriate.