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  • Writer's pictureConfic Magazine

Let Me /x/plain

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Culture & Community

Lack of Lepers

​Editor's Note: The following article is not legal advice and I am not a lawyer.




"You should think carefully before choosing a Creative Commons license."

— Creative Commons Website, F.A.Q



"The implications of this legal minutiae are mind-boggling... anything & everything written on the SCP Wiki prior to October 2013 is technically not subjected to the CC license, and enforcement of the CC license to SCP material and lore prior to 2013 might not be defensible in a court of law."


— This article


 

Table of Contents



The story, or stories, of the SCP Wiki and its Creative Common license are amazingly deep and involved. They are also rewarding if you stick with them, if only to ultimately conclude that the legal tangle that is the SCP Wiki is something no one truly understands.


Furthermore, it's a topic few can even hang onto for very long. For example, the trademark shenanigans with Andrei Duksin are certainly the biggest and most dramatic result of the SCP Wiki's Creative Commons license to date. It raised over $160,000 in support-outrage, saw English-speaking representation in Russian courts, and occupied most of the SCP Wiki's drama and official representation for the better part of two years.


Even still, nearly nobody has noticed, celebrated, or even mentioned that in April 2022, an appeal to the Intellectual Property Rights Court by the SCP Wiki’s legal representatives was granted, and ruled that Andrei Duksin's acquisition and possession of the SCP trademark was illegal. Andrei Duksin's possession of the SCP Wiki trademark was cancelled in October 2022.


"As a result of these rulings, and as of October 2022, Duksin no longer owns the trademark to the SCP Foundation in Russia and the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU).[5][6] An official announcement from the Russian branch of the SCP Wiki via their VK page states that further prosecutions of Duksin are pending, and being investigated by their lawyers.[7] Criminal proceedings are possible, albeit unlikely.[56]" — from the STANDWITHSCPRU page on The Containment Fiction Wiki

This should be a huge celebration. It should be like the Death Star exploding in the sky of Endor. Yet there isn't a mention of it in the official SCP Wiki Site News, or even an update on the GoFundMe page. (I have to wonder if it was even announced on the SCP Wiki's official Twitter, but there is no way in hell I'm going to go look there.) The progress and updates over the issue has been relegated to obscure sources, like this magazine, the Confic Wiki, and of all things an SCP ASMR YouTube channel.


Memory and focus in this space seems to be somewhat limited to the drama of current events. Remedying that, along with establishing a possible canon of education that new SCP Wiki staff should be aware of, is a function of the Confic Wiki, as it were.


While the Duksin Saga forced many to learn about the site's Creative Commons history, there's a ton more to the story. In fact, we haven't even scratched the surface yet. A lot of this detail is outside the scope of the space's interest or care, but hey, that's what this magazine is good for.


So grab your snorkel.

 

Part I: A Casual Dive


Take a close look at this screencap of the SCP Wiki front page on June 5th 2017.

Notice anything odd?



No?

How about when you compare it to a screencap taken two days earlier:



See it?

OK what if I put them side-by-side:



For those who haven't spotted it yet:



The Russian branch of the SCP is missing from the front page of the SCP Wiki. Not just missing, but intentionally deleted.


For 82 days in fact.


This deletion was the ugly result of a diplomatic crisis between the English (main) SCP Wiki branch ("-EN") and the Russian branch ("-RU") in 2017, a year before Duksin illegally trademarked the SCP logo. In a discussion — an argument, really — the -EN Licensing Team gave an ultimatum to -RU: fix your site or we will disown you.


How did we get here?


WikiDot allows site creators to choose what kind of license their content is released under. It can be all copyright, public domain, or Creative Commons. The creator of a WikiDot can choose from the variety of Creative Commons licenses; there are several. The default selection though is Creative Commons By-Attribution, Share-Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0). This is the license that someone would inadvertently choose for a WikiDot if they didn't know any better. This is the CC license for the SCP Wiki.


As a user wrote in 2012, once this was all eventually realized:


"Possible reasons are that the person who created the site didn't have the foresight to wonder if the SCP would get big, or simply didn't read or understand the differences, or benefits each would offer."

Yes, the Administrator who created the WikiDot didn't know any better and accepted the default setting, making all content automatically and instantly CC BY-SA 3.0. Who can blame him? Again, nobody understands this stuff, almost 15 years later.


Four to five years later, the SCP Wiki would realize what this license actually meant, and would start to enforce it across the internet in 2012.


When it was founded way back in 2010, the Russian branch of the SCP Wiki decided to take its SCP content in an alternate legal direction than -EN's. Upon its creation, the -RU branch mandated their site's material to be under a non-commercial Creative Commons license. This meant no one could make money off of any Russian SCP content unless the creator gave permission. This was -RU's way of giving distributive and intellectual property control to its users for their original works. Fun fact: The -EN staff later thought this was a really good idea. I think this was a pretty wise move as well, and is one I think a lot of authors at SCP probably would agree with if given the opportunity to do it all over again (what, with all the YouTube content farms leeching off their work for large profits and all).


The problem: the commercial version and non-commercial version are not legally compatible. -RU is an explicit branch of SCP, and because SCP has a "Share-Alike" clause to their CC license (the "SA" in "CC BY-SA 3.0"), -RU had to publish with the same license. Though this discrepancy had technically been identified years earlier, it came to a head in this diplomatic crisis in 2017. You could say that ever since Dragonsnails, the -EN licensing team had increasingly taken itself and the subject of CC more seriously than ever.


Not wanting to undo the pretense of 7 years of content, a -RU representative noted that SCP existed prior to WikiDot, and the CC BY-SA 3.0 license only became active once it moved to WikiDot. So, the argument went, why did a WikiDot -EN branch get to arbitrarily decide the license for all SCP material everywhere (and on accident) when the original source material exists prior to the CC license on 4chan?


"... SCP-173 was initially published on 4chan with no license attached, [the] work was carried on to EditThis, for which I was also unable to find a license... Hence, the whole SCP idea, the concept of Sites, the article format all came before the transition to Wikidot and the BY-SA license."

In their rebuttal, members of the -EN Licensing noted that the original author of SCP-173, S. S. Walrus (later aka Moto42), released SCP-173 as Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 in October 2013. The licensing team member also addresses the interim and legal gray area between the initial publication of SCP-173 in 2007 and its release as Creative Commons in 2013. This person argues that the Creative Common license is "strongly" implied in this 6-year-long grey area by something called "an implied license." This is a completely flawed and incorrect argument that cannot possibly be true and is utter nonsense, but we will leave this alone for now, to return to it in a bit. It will be the last thing we deconstruct in this essay.


In addition to the implied license, the -EN licensing team also argued;

"there was no such thing as 'The Foundation' or any kind of shared universe until after the move to WikiDot. If Sites were referenced, they were only words and had none of the ideas attached to them. Nearly everything that comes to mind, apart from the standard SCP article formatting, when you think of "The SCP Foundation" was developed by the community on wikidot."

The purpose of this article is to show how almost everything in this -EN quote is wrong.


OK now grab your scuba gear. Two oxygen tanks.


 

Part II: Before the History of the Universe


Bluesoul's excellent SCP history opens with the following:


The SCP Universe was launched with a draft of SCP-173 on 2007-06-22 as thread 140042. This of course gave us many conventions that we still use now:
Item #:
Special Containment Procedures:
Description:
Site 19
Referring to the entity by it's SCP designation throughout the article.

But you would be, and likely will be, surprised at just how many other conventions that we take for granted today were also developed almost immediately on /x/ and later on EditThis. These conventions include, and are not limited to:


The Foundation

Conceptually, "The Foundation" as we know it today existed well before WikiDot, and was one of several competing names. While no definitive name for the organization existed on /x/, use of the phrase "SCP Foundation" was common. (Click here, search "Foundation".) The first known use of it was in an /x/ post in April 2008, and by Dr Gears actually.


While the fictional name "SCP Foundation" was set into the Creative Commons stone when the decision was made on WikiDot, by that point there had been hundreds of SCP entries written, and multiple in-universe utilizations of the name "Foundation". Lengthy discussions (if you want to call them that) took place on /x/ about the Foundation, what it is, what it wants, what its goals are, e.g. why it contains anomalies rather than destroys them.


It is safe to say here that the Foundation was an established concept and name prior to WikiDot.



Sites

SCP-173 included passing reference to Site-19, but this wasn't the end of the discussion on /x/. Site-19 was given a ton of lore and character there. All early SCPs were set at Site-19. An SCP-001 was written about Site-19 on EditThis in March 2008. Users made webpage domains and created forums on Invisionfree & tapatalk with the name "Site-19".


In January 2008, an Anon writes:

"site 19 could hold alot of the "lower level" "safe" items different facilities for the larger more dangerous ones"

But Site-19 was far from the only site mentioned, and the early Foundation was assumed to have several locations that housed anomalies besides it, each with different qualities and purposes.


For example, in September 2007 (9 months before WikiDot was created), "Site-192" was utilized in an "SCP-78". This opened the floodgates, and was followed in the same thread by Area 8, Site 12B and Site 989. Sites 34, 52, and 47 appeared in January 2008, and even unconventional takes were suggested like "Site GamaWest", "Site Alpha 45B", or the "G2 sites" (of the early SCP-008). A prototype version of a provisional site (one that is built around a discovered object, in-situ) appeared as early as January 18, 2008. SCP-256, first posted to /x/ in January 2008, takes place at "Site 76".


We could go on. There are 183 mentions of the word "site" in the captured /x/ archives that are not referring to Site 19, and that are not part of the captured typo in the original text of SCP-173 ("line of site").


It's safe to say that the idea of multiple Sites containing SCPs was developed well before WikiDot; far from "only words" with no concepts attached, as was argued by the -EN licensing team.



Object Classes

SCP-173 originally didn't have an object class, but of course it does now. In fact, most early SCPs didn't have them until EditThis, when a user by the name of Proxtown made it their prerogative to add object classes to SCPs that didn't have them. These were of the classical variety; Safe, Euclid, Keter... although these were poorly defined at that time. Numerous object classes existed on /x/ that went extinct, such as "Trinity (scientific) or "Undisclosed".


In the /x/ archives alone, "Object Class" returns 119 hits.


On EditThis, in January 2008, early-proponent and unsung hero Lofwyr wrote and posted an "SCP Object Classes" guide, detailing Safe, Euclid, Keter, and Neutralized. "Apollyon" came next in April 2008 in the initial SCP-927, along with a huge discussion about other object classes.


Spelunkers can from here follow Cooldude971's excellent historical essay on object classes for more.


Safe to say here as well, object classes also existed as formed prior to WikiDot, though they would be further developed and clarified there.



D-Class Personnel

D-Class Personnel were introduced in the first SCP-176, written on /x/, which specified that an unglamorous task was to be carried out by "Class-D personnel". In the /x/ post immediately after, D Class (“Class D”) are described as dispensable personnel “recruited from prison inmates”, and fit for highly dangerous and lethal assignments. It also specified “All Class D personnel must be terminated at the first of the month, and a new staff must be ready to replace them.” D Class personnel would be incorporated more into future early SCPs as well as be retro-included into SCPs that chronologically predated SCP-176, such as later versions of SCP-232.


There were also variations on D-Class personnel on /x/, introduced by as “Non-Standard” Class E and Class K personnel. Class E personnel were responsible for initial containment of an SCP object, and Class K personnel were those assigned to a Keter class SCP. K Class personnel were not allowed to interact with non-K Class personnel, or K-Class personnel from another Keter SCP object.


D-Class were well established prior to Wikidot too.



The Overseers

Lofwyr also created the lore of an O5 Council while on /x/, including 12 initial members, the designation nomenclature of "O5-#" to refer to them, and that they are too important to come into direct contact with SCPs. These would be incorporated into numerous SCP articles from /x/ and EditThis, such as SCP-002 written in January 2008 ("This may be waived by the authorization of at least two offsite O5-X Overseers"), or the initial SCP-006 written in March 2008, which stated:


"Under direct orders of the founder, this object is to be left only to those with Overseer clearance. Overseer Clearance Granted"

Lofwyr also established Security Clearance Levels 0-5, with each level based on the personnel’s allowed proximity/involvement with SCP objects. It is from this conceptualization that the Overseers are ultimately associated with Level 5 credentials, as “the O5”.


As you can see from the quote, even the figure of The Administrator was formed and utilized at this time as well.


Etc

Other concepts and elements established as part of the SCP universe prior to WikiDot that I haven't covered here include: cross-testing, decommissioning, redaction, containment breaches, security clearance levels, joke articles, subdesignations (e.g. SCP-XXX-1, SCP-XXX-2, etc), neutralized anomalies, discovery logs, testing logs, and more.


(Those of you wanting to go right spelunking can from here reference the Confic Wiki articles on 4chan's /x/ and on EditThis.)



So the statement "Nearly everything that comes to mind... when you think of "The SCP Foundation" was developed by the community on wikidot," is just not true; much of it was developed on /x/, well before WikiDot.


Well OK so what? It turns out this has mind-boggling existential and legal consequences for the current state of the SCP Wiki as a Creative Commons entity.


Ready oxygen tank #2.


 

Part III: A Multitude of Legal Sins


You can observe the SCP Wiki's legal awareness of its Creative Commons license bloom alongside the realization that something was horribly, horribly wrong; that the SCP Wiki was in grave legal danger and had been for years. It was like swimming in shark-infested waters, finally able to see below the surface.


In 2012, and taking inspiration from the Russian branch, the SCP Wiki staff attempted to change the CC BY-SA 3.0 license to a non-commercial version "to stop the bleeding" of third-parties profiting off the back of non-paid SCP authors without their permission. The discussion is fascinating to re-live, as slowly over time, the crew discovers and realizes the terms of the license that was accidentally chosen for them, and that there was absolutely nothing they can do to change the license.


To sum it all up, user and former Admin thedeadlymoose wrote:



"But here's a key thing I think we're missing. Every single solitary article on this site is a derivative work of SCP-173. Therefore, if SCP-173 is under one of these licenses, so is everything else derived from it. It all comes down to that. If Rhett is right, we must re-release everything under the new [non-commercial] license. Everything. If Rhett is wrong, we cannot change the license on anything, including future derivative works. I do not see any possible middle ground that would allow us to just put new works under the new license, because these new works will be building off the old stuff, and therefore, carry on its license. Am I wrong?"


In another thread about licensing questions later in the same month, user RhettSarling writes:



"the original copyright holder can change the license theyre [sic] choosing to have their work distributed under, and any future derivatives will have to abide by it"

For context, this was when the SCP-2000 contest was taking place, and was well after the SCP Wiki had received some mainstream attention. Around that time, members of Staff began reaching out to those whose claims of ownership could, as the result of these oversights, cause a lot of damage to the Wiki. They found Moto42, thanks to his initial stop by on WikiDot only days after the creation of the Wiki. Soon after, Moto42 officially released the text of SCP-173 unto Creative Commons in 2013.


Master Administrator DrEverettMann added only seven minutes after Moto42's comment releasing SCP-173 as CC BY-SA 3.0: "And before anyone asks, Staff have, in fact, confirmed his identity as the original author."


There needed to be no legal dissonance between the initial nominal copyright of the SCP-173 text, the legal reality at that point, and the CC state it was currently represented as on the Wiki. Moto42 officially and explicitly releasing SCP-173 as CC BY-SA 3.0 would, like a game of Othello, instantly turn all the questionably legal content on their site CC. Right?


No. If only.


Let's circle back to the 2012 thread where the staff realize what the CC license actually is. When they were debating whether or not they could change the CC BY-SA 3.0 license to the non-commercial variant, user RhettSarlin wrote:



"a CC license that gives us and the authors greater control over things is a very good thing. voting yes on that. a question though. if all new material was covered under this, but all old material under the prior CC, then no old material could be covered under this license as i understand it. but what qualifies under old material? references to things like the SCP foundation as a whole, the various groups of interest, maybe even the format of the articles all might potentially fall under the jurisdiction of the original CC. IF that is the case, then wouldnt any further use of them HAVE to be maintained under the old CC? if i am incorrect please tell me, because i'd like to be in this instance. that'd be an enormous pain."

And according to the Creative Commons website, shared in another thread:


"This change will only apply legally to new things. Just new things. It does not retroactively affect anything. When we move stuff to the new site, it will be under the new license, but it doesn't matter for anything except new things published."

The key point here is that the original author of a work can choose to release something as Creative Commons, but once they do, it is forever Creative Commons. They can change the particular license under Creative Commons, say from commercial to non-commercial, but the change cannot prevent those who made derivative works operating in the original Creative Commons license; only subsequent ones from that point onward. The Creative Commons license does not have the power to backdate and retroactively convert previously released derivatives under its legal purview.


In other words, when Moto42 released SCP-173 as CC BY-SA 3.0, it covered all new SCPs from that point forward. It did not retroactively cover the derivatives made from SCP-173 before October 2013; some 2,000 of them, and all the attendant concepts bundled under the umbrella concept of "The SCP Foundation".


While the -EN licensing representative swore that anything and everything SCP was definitively CC, user RhettSarlin had written in 2012:



"Though now that I think about it more, the term "SCP" and "Foundation" and various other things did come about BEFORE the move to this site and the adoption of CC. So a significant portion might actually not fall under CC, but instead not be covered by any license at all due to not having been originally created and submitted under CC (unless they had some other license on the site before wikidot)."


They did not. Per the EditThis Terms of Use around the creation of the SCP EditThis, all content was assumed to be the poster’s original content, and in contrast to WikiDot, was not automatically subject to a Creative Commons or other copyleft license. In addition, below any new page on the EditThis was the following notice:



"Please note that all contributions to Scp Wiki may be edited, altered, or removed by other contributors. If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly, then don't submit it here. You are also promising us that you wrote this yourself, or copied it from a public domain or similar free resource (see Project:Copyrights for details). DO NOT SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION!"

WikiDot's Terms of Service at the time stated:


"Copyright policy Each of the Wiki Sites can choose individual license for content ("Site License"). By posting Content to any of the Wiki Sites you agree to follow this Site License and make the Content your author available under this license. If your content does not follow the Site License it must be clearly stated. You are not allowed to post, modify, distribute or reproduce any copyrighted material, trademarks or other proprietary information that belongs to others without having permission or appropriate license or its license is incompatible with the Site License. Wikidot.com may terminate any User account and remove any unauthorized material from any the Wiki Site. We also reserve the right to remove any Wiki Site that repeatedly contains illegal materials. If you believe your copyrighted work has been posted on any of the Wiki Sites without your permission and against the license under which it is distributed - please contact us via email: copyright@wikidot.com."

This all started with one dude posting to /x/. A bunch of people copied him and wrote derivative works. They compiled them on platforms that explicitly said to not post what wasn't your own work, stealing IP and breaking ToS on both counts. By the time it got to WikiDot, it was all CC.


The irony (or perhaps the fittingness) of the current SCP Wiki staff's legal paranoia for matters today is dwarfed by the distress and horror of the early SCP Wiki. The mismanagement and redefinition of SCP content as Creative Commons by virtue of being posted to WikiDot could have been destroyed at any moment by any pre-WikiDot SCP author by simply emailing "copyright@wikidot.com".


 

Part IV: The Six Year Hole


We can now, at long last and finally, return to the defense stated by an -EN representative in the 2017 licensing crisis that attempted to cover the gaping hole in SCP material between 2007/2008 and 2013. This is the "implied license". Let's get the direct quote for placement:



"-RU: You're most likely wrong about the license being applicable to other works of Russian authors, as SCP-173 was initially published on 4chan with no license attached, work was carried on to EditThis, for which I was also unable to find a license. -EN: See above. There has yet to be any evidence presented that we are "most likely wrong" on these matters. For reference, here's the man we have confirmed for being the original author for SCP-173 releasing all derivative content under CC-BY-SA. In the intervening period, CC-BY-SA 3.0 is strongly established as controlling via an implied license."

The statement links on the words "implied license" to this and according to it, an implied license is:


"... a license created by law in the absence of an actual agreement between the parties. Implied licenses arise when the conduct of the parties indicates that some license is to be extended between the copyright owner and the licensee, but the parties themselves did not bother to create a license. This differs from an express license in that the parties never actually agree on the specific terms of the license. The purpose of an implied license is to allow the licensee (the party who licenses the work from the copyright owner) some right to use the copyrighted work, but only to the extent that the copyright owner would have allowed had the parties negotiated an agreement. Generally, the custom and practice of the community are used to determine the scope of the implied license."

As the language of the above quote suggests, and as can be confirmed in other sources discussing implied licenses, they are a nebulous and undeveloped legal concept, and a deep grey of legalese.


The -RU representative responds to this, saying that the term "implied license" doesn't exist in Russian law, according to their lawyer. What legal literature I have found in English discusses implied licenses in strictly formal settings, as common-sense supporting clauses during the establishment of legal contracts; paper and signature things. Indeed, in the quote above, it mentions an implied license only in terms of an already-established, official licensee-licensor, contractual relationship ("the party who licenses the work from the copyright owner"), which of course never occurred in the case of Moto42 and the SCP Wiki.


Playing the implied license card was... a stretch, to put it mildly. The licensing team cited "implied intent" to cover their legal tracks during the gap between 2008 and 2013, because somewhere inside, they knew this was still a large question mark.


Earlier, I said it was impossible for this to be covered by an implied license even if it applies, and I'll address that now. The -EN representative goes on to write:


"Given Moto42's awareness and general (albeit distant, but matters surprisingly little) positive support for the wiki as CC-BY-SA was implemented, the implied license is fully controlling under the relevant law." [bolding mine]

The representative writes this because of that time, as discussed, when Moto42 came by the SCP Wiki on WikDot to comment:


"Hello, my name is Moto42, AKA "The USS Walrus". I am the original author of SCP-173. When I posted it to 4Chan's /X/, I had not expected it to be remembered by anyone more than a week later, but had intended to make similar documents on about a weekly basis. Then I lost internet access for a week and a half and other interests pushed the project out of mind. Then I found this place. Wow. I'm really impressed with how you have all taken the original and run with it like this. A lot of these are very original and entertaining (The Coffee Machine being my favorite so far.). I just wanted to say hi, and introduce myself now that I have found this site."

This was on July 30, 2008, merely days after the WikiDot was set up. Because the SCP content was, at that time, officially CC content, the -EN representative claims that an implied license existed at that moment, and so covers all SCP content from 2008 to 2013 (the "fully controlling under the relevant law" stuff is straight up chest puffing, doesn't mean a thing).


But a big problem exists: it has already been made clear that no one involved understood the meaning or implications of a CC license at all until 2012, five years later.


The argument the -EN representative is making is that an implied license existed because Moto42 came by "as CC-BY-SA was implemented", and was seemingly OK with the zero-day selection that WikiDot imposed by way of default settings. But how could Moto42 possibly be said to have passively approved of all SCP content becoming CC two weeks after it happened, plus in the span of a comment that amounts to "wow", if both sides of an implied license — assuming one even exists — were oblivious to its implications for five more years?


The concern intensifies as we look to the creators of WikiDot itself, who didn't meaningfully discuss what a Creative Commons license means for its Wiki farms until 2010. There, they had to clarify between content licenses vs source licenses. So not only did the SCP Wiki creators not understand the implications of releasing material as CC, but the creators of WikiDot itself didn't either.


How could have Moto42?


Let’s assume that an implied license was present and valid. Even then, the argument still fails.


One line in the quoted definition of implied license sure does sound like SCP; “The purpose of an implied license is to allow the licensee… some right to use the copyrighted work… to the extent that the copyright owner would have allowed had the parties negotiated an agreement.” It seems plausible that Moto42 would have come to an agreement with the SCP Wiki if they had the foresight to lay one out — though this seems so based on the circumstances of the “agreement” five years later when CC was already irrevocable. Maybe their agreement even would have been for CC BY-SA 3.0.


Except that the SCP staff tried to implement an LLC and even incorporate themselves as an official business circa 2012, and were obviously not interested in dealing in Moto42 or giving his contribution any consideration at that time. (The SCP Wiki staff tried this again in 2014 and again as late as 2017.) It would be very hard to argue that a mutual agreement over CC BY-SA 3.0 had been established in 2008 when one side of the agreement was attempting to centralize intellectual property & monetary control a few years later, and without Moto42.


So in many ways, at least three by my count, the idea of an implied license is not only inapplicable here, but impossible.


I can see your oxygen tanks are emptying. Let’s head back up the way we came.


 

Part V: The Bends


SCP concepts are today treated and enforced as Creative Commons by virtue of an accidental and unintentionally illegal rebranding of pre-existing SCP content that was initially not subject to those terms. A hasty mop-up job in October 2013 began intellectual property coverage from that moment forward, but could not ensure it for material prior.


The acquisition by the SCP Wiki on Wikidot of concepts previously released on 4chan and EditThis is as Creative Commons is as legally flawed of a move as Duksin's attempt to do something similar many years later, though of course the SCP Wiki's rendition of it wasn't evil and malicious like Duksin's actions were. The SCP Wiki was naïve and innocent.


Nonetheless, SCP Wiki's claim for all of its foundational content as Creative Commons is a form of legal theft on par with applying a trademark to CC material; just in this case, applying a CC license to non-CC material.


The defense against this — and, to be fair, one that I believe would likely hold up in court, if only because it's far too gone & too late to matter by now — is that the copyright law at the time of and just prior to the SCP Wiki's creation was too nebulous and lagging at that time to define properly. This situation — the exchange of ideas, styles, & content in the legal gray area of artistic rights in the setting of rapidly-developing technology — is a lot like AI art today... which is its own irony with respect to SCP's avid rejection of it.


The implications of this legal minutiae are mind-boggling. For example, as it stands, the O5 Command is technically the intellectual property of the pseudo-anonymous user called Lofwyr, not of the SCP Wiki, and cannot be forced into CC by Moto42’s 2013 statement. This makes all of the developed lore around the O5 council, as well as the O5 Command staff forum, an infringement. Furthermore, anything & everything written on the SCP Wiki prior to October 2013 is technically not subjected to the CC license, and enforcement of the CC license to SCP material and lore prior to 2013 might not be defensible in a court of law.


That doesn’t mean utilizing pre-2013 SCP material outside the CC license is legally correct; just that the SCP Wiki licensing team has zero purview to enforce a takedown or complaint. For this material, CC is enforced because of a lack of understanding. No merchant who the SCP Wiki contacts will be able to grasp these details within the time it takes for a DMCA takedown to be enacted; it's as simple as that.


What I'll end with for this analysis is what the retrospective implications are for Duksin, given these revelations.


I am glad Fuksin (oops, typo) lost. But it is still scary to realize that if Duksin or his lawyers knew of these details presented here, they may not have completely lost the legal case. They would have had an argument that challenged and weakened SCP's argument; namely that the CC license couldn't apply to things prior to 2013, this including the SCP logo (created in 2008). Also, Duksin's artbooks primarily include SCPs from Series 1 and 2; pre-2013. That means the SCP Wiki technically has no established legal basis for applying the CC license to much of Duksin's books, and he was much freer to pirate intellectual property ownership of those articles, if not the logo itself.


Again, that still means he would be stealing intellectual property from someone, just not the SCP Wiki, who would have no real reason to be in the courtroom. It would still be copyright violation, just not with respect to the SCP Wiki or its CC license.


Also implied in this are merchants between 2012-2013, and for any products, ever released, of SCPs that were written before October 2013. These merchants were told to take down or mis-license their products as CC BY-SA 3.0 on the basis of a legally gray, incomplete, and improperly obtained license. Similar to the just desserts we've seen for Duksin, enforcing an improper license on merchants in this way allows for legal cases claiming damages, the merchants seeking legal recourse and monetary relief.


 

Part VI: Surfacing


So the -RU representative during the diplomatic crisis in 2017 was correct.


The removal of the -RU branch from the -EN main page in 2017 was misguided. The -RU had just as much of a legal argument and opportunity to create a WikiDot and apply a non-commercial license to the pre-existing material as the initial -EN wiki did. The -EN licensing team were either too sure of themselves or too unwilling to consider that to be the case, despite being the designated experts.


We should cut the past -EN licensing team some slack, because these were young adults attempting to do their best in a dense, professional's field of tangled definitions and terms. On the other hand... maybe that should have softened -EN's self-assuredness, and attitude of supposed definitive legal authority. In any case, in retrospect, -RU is likely glad it acquiesced to -EN over its license, or the Andrei Duksin threat may have been dealt with very differently... or not at all even.


The looming, unresolved legal implications for this are truly stomach-plunging, but only in theory. In reality (a place, I have to say, that the SCP Wiki licensing team rarely occupies), this is unlikely to mean any real-world legal activity. I want to end with this because the SCP Wiki has a long history of acting as though it is a bigger deal (and so a bigger legal target) than it actually is to the larger world.


From an outsider's perspective, I've always found this a touch humorous, but I don't support adding fuel to that fire. Making deep, sweeping policy decisions on the basis of theoretical boogeymen (cough cough) is a form of intractable paranoia and intellectual frailty that has only gotten worse with time at SCP, and is an erratic, out-of-touch-with-reality, and destructive way to operate a community.


But everyone should take a chill pill because the bottom line, real truth of any and all legal matters regarding the SCP Wiki is this and will always be this:





And the irony is because the CC license prevents the SCP Wiki from officially operating in a monetary sense. No centralized money to be had = no real legal threats out there.


The SCP Wiki got in on the ground level, sat on it until the legal reality was too far gone to fix, similar to SCP-173's image, and is for all intents and purposes, has been grandfathered into its rights to enforce the incorrectly-applied CC license for material before 2013.





What's that you say?







Oh, heavens no. Let's not even get into The Backrooms.








© Lack of Lepers

© Confic Magazine




 


Other Confic Magazine articles involving Creative Commons:



Lack of Leper's linktree: https://linktr.ee/lackoflepers



This will be the last Confic Magazine post I write. For more information, see here: https://www.conficmagazine.com/news-1/lack-of-lepers-vanquished


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