Wikipedia:Non-free content/Cover art RfC

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The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Conclusion - In general, artwork used in infoboxes qualifies under non-free content criteria #8 in that the article and image work together to justify its use. Therefore detailed dicussion of the artwork itself is not necessarily required in the body of the article. - Hydroxonium (H3O+) 05:37, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Appropriateness of cover images per NFCC#8[edit]

Is the first clause of "Acceptable image use", regarding the use of cover images on articles about the work pictured, in the guideline WP:NFC at odds with the requirement of "contextual significance" from the non-free image policy WP:NFCC#8? --MASEM (t) 16:46, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

The purpose of this RFC is to resolve an issue that has come up several times in the last few months on WP:NFC and WP:FAC regarding the use of cover images that are presented in the infobox for a copyrighted work, where there is no further discussion of the image within the body of the text. While WP:NFCI#1 clearly calls out such cover art as acceptable, recent discussion has raised the question if our treatment of WP:NFCC, particularly #8, requires a stricter measure.

For reference, the language we look at is as follows.

For WP:NFCI#1:

Some copyrighted images may be used on Wikipedia, providing they meet both the legal criteria for fair use, and Wikipedia's own guidelines for non-free content. Copyrighted images that reasonably can be replaced by free/libre images are not suitable for Wikipedia.

1. Cover art: Cover art from various items, for identification only in the context of critical commentary of that item (not for identification without critical commentary).

For WP:NFCC#8:

8. Contextual significance. Non-free content is used only if its presence would significantly increase readers' understanding of the topic, and its omission would be detrimental to that understanding.

Some history[edit]

In 2005, there was discussion on Jimmy Wales' talk page [1] and at the Non-free WikiProject to try to identify cases where images would clearly fall into US Fair Use law, thus making their use on Wikipedia unquestionably legal. For cover art, Wales and the editors used the case Bill Graham Archives vs. Dorling Kindersley [2] which affirmed the use of cover images in articles discussing the work as falling within US Fair Use. What we know today as WP:NFC was essentilly born from this discussion ([3]).

The existing content of WP:NFC prior to this change became WP:NFCC, and quickly started to take the form in which we see NFCC today (see, for example, a July 2006 version here [4]). The fundamental ten-point criteria were used as a basis by the Wikimedia Foundation to establish their Licensing policy for all Wikimedia projects, using the's version of NFCC as an example of an Exception Doctrine Policy.

Since 2006, neither the above section of WP:NFCI nor WP:NFCC have seen significant change outside of wording and clarification. However, what may have changed is a stronger commitment by editors to assure that Wikipedia maintains its free-content mission and minimize the use of non-free images.

The dispute[edit]

The fundamental dispute involves the use of non-free images of cover art for albums, singles, movies, TV shows, video games, books, and other works, where the cover image is simply displayed in the infobox of the article for the work in question, and no other significance to the cover is provided. This does not affect cases where the cover art is discussed in some detail within the body of the article (eg, Abbey Road)

The dispute arises from what is seen as the present conflict between minimizing non-free use and an established guideline for cover images. Some see that WP:NFCI#1 cannot co-exist with WP:NFCC#8 - if the cover is being presented without specific discussion of the cover, it is decorative and fails the policy WP:NFCC#8; thus WP:NFCI#1 should be removed. Others see that covers provide necessary identification information like branding and labeling that are implicitly necessary and significant to the article even without any commentary of the cover, and thus there is no conflict between these two statements.

The goal to resolve the dispute is to determine where consensus sits between these two points as to determine any action that is necessary. If consensus finds no issues between WP:NFCI#1 and WP:NFCC#8, then there is little that changes from present workings today; cover images will continued to be allowed for articles on the copyrighted works they represent, and some small language change may be needed to clarify this issue between WP:NFCI and WP:NFCC. If it is found that consensus agrees that there is a conflict and WP:NFCI#1 is inappropriate, then there will likely be an organized mass purge of cover images that lack discussion in the article; this may have other effects (such as the use of non-free logos) on the other WP:NFCI allowances.

There may be other viewpoints between these two extremes that should be considered. Editors are requested to show support or opposition for any of the viewpoints listed below, or provide their own statement. At the closure of this RFC, an uninvolved admin will be asked to review the results to determine the outcome, if necessary.

Viewpoint 1 (core argument): There is no conflict between WP:NFCI#1 and WP:NFCC#8[edit]

WP:NFCI#1 and WP:NFCC#8 do not conflict. Cover images may be used in the infobox of the article on the work the cover represents without any additional discussion of the image itself.

Support (Viewpoint 1)[edit]

  1. --Jayron32 17:03, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  2. - J Greb (talk) 17:07, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  3. Erik (talk | contribs) 17:11, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  4. EdokterTalk 17:12, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  5.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 17:26, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  6. Michig (talk) 17:57, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  7. SteveBaker (talk) 18:58, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  8. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 21:17, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  9. --RL0919 (talk) 22:03, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  10. Jheald (talk) 23:09, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  11. This option should be restricted to just one album/book/video/etc. cover per article unless there is critical commentary, and I think this is the common practice application of this, too. I regularly see extra non-free images removed from articles when they are merely for decoration. Having the album/books/video/etc. cover in the infobox allows the reader to immediately identify the topic. As long as the image is smaller, low resolution, and limits are placed on where these images can be used and how many can be used (all of which are currently done), I think we are well within both the spirit and the letter of the policy. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WikiProject Japan! 07:20, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  12. Cavie78 (talk) 16:14, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  13. --TÆRkast (Communicate) 19:59, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  14. Croctotheface (talk) 21:50, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  15. Visual identification of the subject is important in and of itself. Visual identification of the subject significantly aids understanding. - hahnchen 22:09, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  16. DragonZero (Talk · Contribs) 02:24, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  17. Mike Allen 03:04, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  18. DocKino (talk) 06:51, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  19. There is no conflict. NFCI1 calls for critical commentary of the album. And the album cover helps identify the album in a way that can not be done otherwise. Hence the presence of the non free image does "significantly increase the readers understanding of the topic". I see no reason to assume that topic here means topic of image rather than topic of article. Taemyr (talk) 10:14, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    An article’s topic (in particular, that of an album) is almost always well-defined by the article’s first sentence. Please add discussion in the discussion section. — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 10:55, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  20. The average potato chip-eating, Halo-playing visitor is not going to understand what the article is about without the cover art. SharkD  Talk  18:12, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  21. While I personally think my viewpoint is closer to how things really are done in Wikipedia today, this proposal is closer than #2 or #3 to my opinion.Jinnai 21:33, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  22. IllaZilla (talk) 09:43, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
  23. /ƒETCHCOMMS/ 15:43, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
  24. Infobox images of cover art comply with both NFCI1, because the article constitutes critical commentary about the work, and with NFCC8, because cover art is normally an integral part of the work – readers must see it to be able to appreciate and understand the work and its description in the article. The same applies to brief sound or video excerpts of the work.  Sandstein  15:51, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
  25. -Atmoz (talk) 22:47, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
  26. Whatever happened to the fair-use whitelist? Wasn't that meant to address this issue? I thought the understanding for years had been that cover art in infoboxes was beyond debate, regardless of whether the article discusses it or not. Daniel Case (talk) 00:50, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  27. Believe it or not, Fair Use is a fairly flexible doctrine, certainly more so than we seem to typically acknowledge. I don't see any potential problem with using album covers even if we don't mention them in the album articles. The covers represent the work. Kaldari (talk) 03:08, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  28. This is precisely what Fair Use was intended for. Of course, I think that Wikipedia should be willing to use a broader brush in general with non-free content that is unlikely to be replaced and furthermore unlikely to cause harm. SnowFire (talk) 03:31, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  29. Cover art is an integral part of an album's identity. --Cybercobra (talk) 05:21, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  30. --TorriTorri(talk/contribs) 08:29, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  31. -- RoninBK T C 09:48, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  32. Same as book covers, website captures, movie posters, etc. ˉˉanetode╦╩ 12:56, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  33. This is zealotry getting in the way of making an encyclopedia. - Smerdis of Tlön - killing the human spirit since 2003! 16:00, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  34. DCGeist (talk) 23:10, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  35. The image is representing the whole item being discussed in the article. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 23:19, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  36. --GrapedApe (talk) 05:30, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  37. Tony (talk) 10:50, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  38. Gyrobo (talk) 16:31, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  39. This has always been my view. If anything the NFCC should be modified to make the acceptability of such use more clear. Eluchil404 (talk) 22:08, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  40. Absolutely, per Eluchil404OwenBlacker (Talk) 00:20, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  41. One cover image, yes. Multiple images, certainly not. Stifle (talk) 17:32, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  42. Absolutely. This understanding is the longstanding, overwhelming consensus, it's completely legally safe, and the covers add significantly to the articles. In most cases, the cover is integral to identifying the work to the public. postdlf (talk) 21:24, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  43. Support. BOZ (talk) 23:34, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  44. Support. Camw (talk) 14:16, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
  45. Support Matthewedwards :  Chat  07:46, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
  46. IbLeo(talk) 06:14, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
  47. 28bytes (talk) 19:51, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
  48. Acather96 (talk) 09:49, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
  49. Sadads (talk) 02:58, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
  50. Jafeluv (talk) 12:08, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
  51. indopug (talk) 08:40, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Oppose (Viewpoint 1)[edit]

  1. The licensing policy limits the use of these works to within narrow limits, yet this category is responsible for more non-free content than any other. Epic fail. Further, the album covers are replaceable, as Commons:Category:Vinyl_records proves. --Hammersoft (talk) 17:54, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
    • I may be missing something, but... how exactly does a genaric vinyl disk replace an ablum cover? Especially those that have never had a vinyl pressing? - J Greb (talk) 18:23, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
      • The point being that free content images of CDs/Albums can be obtained. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:16, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
        • More to the point how does this commment impinge on the question of whether these two rules are in conflict? SteveBaker (talk) 19:49, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
          • The CD/vinyl covers are probably derivative works so some of what we have on the Commons probably cannot remain (unless there is something else that is keeping them there, such as age). User:Zscout370 (Return Fire) 21:15, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
    • Actually; those vinyl lables are equally protected by copyright as album covers. So if those are allowed on Commons, surely album covers are allowed here. EdokterTalk 22:15, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
    • Umm, are people supposed to blow up the images of the vinyl records and identify the albums by examining the grooves? SharkD  Talk  18:18, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
      • Oh absolutely! What a perfect image! Thank you ever so much for posting! --Hammersoft (talk) 18:24, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    • I can't agree with this basic premise. How can you take a photograph of a non-free image and then turn around and claim it as a free image? By that rationale, I could take every non-free image I could get my hands on, and reupload them all to Commons with only MSPaint and the PrintScreen key. -- RoninBK T C 09:58, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  2. Omission of a picture of an album cover would be detrimental to readers’ understanding of the article? Nine times out of ten, the album cover is not even mentioned in the article. — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 20:35, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
    • NFCC #8 does not refer to readers' understanding of the article, it refers to the understanding readers get of the topic. If what the album cover looks like is considered an important part of the encyclopedic understanding that an article should be providing about the album, then including the cover can add something significant to reader understanding about the topic whether or not particular aspects about it are discussed in text. Jheald (talk) 23:03, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
      • Okay, so where the topic of an article is a gramophone recording, a generic picture of a gramophone record can help the reader understand the topic. Or we could make some topic icons, e.g. musical notes emanating from a loud-speaker or some such. — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 13:08, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
        • You seem still to be missing the point. When NFCC #8 talks about significantly adding to reader understanding about the topic, that does not mean understanding that the topic of the article is elephants rather than kangaroos; rather it means that the image must contribute some valuable information about the topic of elephants. Similarly, the cover image of The Wicker Man soundtrack album, or whatever, has up until now been considered legitimate because presenting the cover adds something of value to the information about that album that the article conveys -- ie adding to reader understanding about that subject. That's what it is that NFCC #8 requires. Jheald (talk) 18:57, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
          • Cover art is part of the marketing of a product (and thus the animals example is not analogous). It often follows a standard formula: picture of the band, scene from the book/film/game/etc., in which case, a particular instance is rarely significant. Cover art also varies between editions/prints of the product and between countries—futher evidence of its insignificance compared to the content of the product. Some products carry no cover art; the "Hey Jude" single for example had no cover art in either the US or the UK and yet it became best-selling in both countries—would you argue that punters couldn’t understand what it was they were buying? — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 17:10, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
  3. By the blanket terms above, it does conflict, and additional clarity is required. See my comments below. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 20:36, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  4. (See Comments for more.) Soundvisions1 (talk) 20:47, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Comments (Viewpoint 1)[edit]

  • NFCC#8 does not actually state, nor seem to require, that the non-free content is discussed. It does state that it must be contextually significant, and in my opinion for works of art whereby the cover of the album is the SOLE visual identifier, and thus impossible to replace otherwise, this makes a compelling reason to allow the cover of the album to be covered by NFCC. This is not the same as other topics, where a free alternative identifier could be created, for example on articles of living persons. Albums (and other similar media) have a sole visual identifier, and as such, seem to fall under fair use policy for use in the article itself. --Jayron32 17:07, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
    • This is parallel to my thinking, but others disagreed with my application: in cases where cover art is not the sole or main identifier, is it still permissible? For television seasons, cover art does not have the importance or promotional aspect that a film poster or video game cover has, for instance, being an aftermarket product. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 17:23, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
      • Which suggests it may be worthwhile to explicitly say "Covers for works of X, Y, and Z-type media can be used in this manner, but not for works of A, B, or C". And it should be stated that just because we exclude uses of covers from A,B, or C without any additional commentary, if the commentary is present, they qualify (eg, a specially-designed TV season DVD cover that can be discussed in the article). --MASEM (t) 17:34, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
        • Of course. I seem to recall a particular home video image that was relevant because it had been released and specifically marketed to different regions based on some sort of feedback from the last release, but I have no idea what it was. Too bad, it would have better illustrated what I am referring to :\ Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 18:52, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • I would be okay with the removal of cover images if the article is only a stub form, since the writing says to use images for identification only if there is critical commentary. I do not think this is enforced very much, as I sometimes see a proliferation of cover images regardless of article content. Erik (talk | contribs) 17:13, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • There is also a question on the free content side to consider: Why, in an article on a notable work - book, magazine, or record in this case - published/produced prior to the early to mid 1920s, would an image of the cover be included? The assumption would be to help the reader fix in their mind and understand what the topic of the article is - essentially what NFCC#8 requires of non-free content. If that logic is correct, there is no conflict within the policy when dealing with more current publications or products - an image can be used to clarrify what the topic is for a reader, but that image is likely not going to be a free one. This seems to be consistant with the guideline WP:NFC#Images point 1 - where the item isn't the cover, but what the cover is attached to. - J Greb (talk) 17:25, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
    • This is the crux of the matter. I'm afraid though that it will get lost in posturing from those who would like no restrictions on non-free content at all and from those who would like to delete every last bit of non-free content. Anomie 18:57, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • When it comes to identifying the work as a whole, often the "cover art" (be it a film poster, a DVD cover, or an album cover) is the only piece of illustration that has been provided that is used to convey the experience of said subject. I don't necessarily believe this is the case for television episode articles (unless they have posters designed for them, which some do), as you're using a screenshot in these cases for the infobox and it is in this case that I would argue some critical commentary on this image would need to be found. Otherwise, what is to say that any of the other screen images are not a better representation of the episode as a whole. But, in the cases of films, TV shows, TV season articles, straight-to-DVD films, musical albums, I believe that when you have a full article discussing the topic as a whole that the cover art is by proxy "commented upon" when it is meant to be an overall representation of said subject.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 17:30, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • There is no conflict between the rules. Rule #1 says "Cover art from various items, for identification only in the context of critical commentary of that item (not for identification without critical commentary).". The key here is that the word item doesn't refer to the cover art (the phrase "Cover art from various cover art" would make zero sense!). So the rule is clearly saying that we can only use cover art from various items if that item is discussed. It doesn't say that the cover art itself has to be discussed. Hence, in an article about some video game (the "item" in this context) - then under Rule #1 we may use the video game's cover art because "the item" (the game, not the cover art) is discussed. What we can't do (under Rule #1) is, for example, to use album cover art in an article about the musician who recorded the album unless there is some discussion of the album in that article. Rule #1 is not violated in the case where we use cover art but never mention the art itself in the article - that's very clear cut. Rule #8 is trickier. It says that you can only use the cover art if it adds "significantly" to understanding and its omission wouldn't' "detract" from understanding. That's a tougher sell for cover art - but it's definitely not contradicting what Rule #1 says. You may argue that cover art doesn't pass Rule #8 because it's not "significant to understanding" the album/game/whatever - and you might argue that these rules need amendment - but neither of those things are being discussed in this "View". Hence, I can only support this view. SteveBaker (talk) 19:15, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • The above thread covers a lot/most of my feelings already. Having pointed readers to that, here I will say that NFCI 1 says, in part, that cover art can be use "in the context of critical commentary of that item" and than stresses "not for identification without critical commentary." Many people who comment seem to only read that alone not looking at all the other examples or the policy. A such the discussion, as I see it, is really about the use of such phrases as "critical commentary" and "sourced commentary" as it relates to the meaning of "context". In the above discussion it was pointed out that "critical commentary" for cover art did/does not mean discussion of the material itself but "critical commentary" really means the subject of the article itself = the needed "commentary". That is much different than what one would find if one reads the bulk of discussions on non-free material, including the examples both of "acceptable use" and "unacceptable use". This "commentary" concept is taken to mean one thing - there must be some sort of text in the article the directly concerns the non-free material in question. For example albums contain audio - but in order to use an audio clip in an article about the album the clip must be "accompanied by appropriate sourced commentary." The same would apply to a film or video/DVD article where a video clip from that film or DVD can not be used "without sourced commentary in the accompanying text." In that regards the example of NFCI 1 is not in alignment with the wording of other examples of "context" and what "context" means - "commentary" on the material itself. As only one example I have asked in earlier discussions to look at Zankyō and Yesterday and Today, and more specific the subsection of the Yesterday and Today article, The "Butcher cover. One article clearly has a non-free image being used in the context of discussion on the "item" (The cover itself) and the other is purely there...just because. And as for the "replaceable" argument - overall just because something is not replaceable does not automatically mean it should be used. But I also would argue that a non-free image such as File:Metallica - Metallica.jpg could be easily replaced by a black square. And that, if, based on Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons consensus, File:Acdc logo band.svg is really "free", it could then be modified and added to another black square to get File:ACDC Back in Black.png. Same concept for File:Hello StatusQuo.jpg, File:Roots Organix.jpg and File:Blackboxph.jpg. And Smell the Glove is actually using the free Solid black (#000000) square. to illustrate the album cover. (As is The Black Album (Prince album)) Soundvisions1 (talk) 20:47, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • In short (and I say this without having read everyone else's comments), I don't see a conflict. The guidline allows for the use of cover art in the context of critical commentary of the item that the cover art represents. An article is supposed to contain critical commentary of the work in question (and I don't just mean reviews; pretty much any sourced commentary ie. background, history, production) is critical from an encyclopedic standpoint). Yes, there are many articles that have cover art in their infobox and the rest of the article sucks (just a tracklist, plot summary, whatever), but we recognize that Wikipedia is an eternal work in progress. The goal is to advance all of our articles to Featured status (a pipe dream, maybe, but I assume everyone believes that we should at least be constantly improving our articles). Ergo, articles that lack critical commentary will eventually find themselves either (A) improved to include such commentary, thus satisfying the guideline, or (B) deleted/redirected/what-have-you, thus removing the imagery & satisfying NFCC. Basically there is no problem here that isn't solved through generic article improvement. --IllaZilla (talk) 09:56, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Viewpoint 2 (core argument): WP:NFCI#1 conflicts with WP:NFCC#8 and must be changed/removed to meet WP:NFCC#8's standard[edit]

WP:NFCI#1 conflicts with WP:NFCC#8; the use of cover art requires further discussion of the cover image itself to meet WP:NFCC#8. WP:NFCI#1 needs to be changed to reflect this, or outright removed.

Support (Viewpont 2)[edit]

  1. Not entirely rewritten, and I don't think it would result in a massive purging of images. But not all cover images are equal and some have greater utility and defensibility as recognizable cover images behind the spirit of NFCI than others. It should really be made more explicit. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 17:21, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  2. Preferred. Viewpoint 1 is too broad and allows for blanket use of non-free covers regardless of their utility. --Andy Walsh (talk) 17:35, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  3. Re-written, yes. More important, enforced as is. People have been ignoring the "critical commentary" element of WP:NFCI #1, believing the mere existence of an album article constitutes critical commentary. The threshold metric shouldn't be existence (as it is with logos) but the presence of secondary source cited discussion of the album cover. --Hammersoft (talk) 18:06, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  4. The threshold metric should be the presence of secondary source cited discussion, and then some. We are, in most cases, quite able to discuss the primary content of an album, i.e. the music, without resorting to including it in the article, why should the cover be any different? — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 19:18, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  5. If commentary is not really needed, rather than use any variation of "critical commentary", reword it to something like Stamps and currency - "For identification of the stamp or currency, not its subject." Even if some won't/don't see it there is a difference between "for identification of..." and "critical commentary of..." Soundvisions1 (talk) 20:56, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  6. Wikipedia:NFCI has been a problem for a long time, many people misinterpret it to believe the listed content is subject to a blanket allowance, and it is simply a list of items that we may have trouble finding free alternatives for. The resourcefulness of the Wikipedia community has overcome much of these barriers using loopholes in copyright law, such as unrenewed copyright, threshold of originality and good solid text. NFCI is out dated, causes much confusion and adds little to WP. I dont like the need for critical commentary as it seems to encourage people to write bad prose to shoehorn unfree images into articles Fasach Nua (talk) 21:29, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  7. Why do we need any image in every album/book/video/what have you article? When you've got a case like Virgin Killer, where the image itself is an important part of the album's history, sure, a case can be made. Otherwise, realistically, if we're going to include any nonfree content in such articles, a 30-second sound clip, short quoted excerpt, video of a short scene, etc., from it is probably more relevant than whatever the marketing department slapped on the cover. Cover images should only be included if the image itself is the subject of significant third-party commentary. Seraphimblade Talk to me 04:12, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  8. Kww(talk) 17:13, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

Oppose (Viewpoint 2)[edit]

  1. SteveBaker (talk) 19:17, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  2. --RL0919 (talk) 22:09, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  3. EdokterTalk 22:26, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  4. Jheald (talk) 23:12, 3 January 2011 (UTC). Presumably, by implication all those who voted "Support" in Q1 would also oppose this Q, even if not all have signed this section. Jheald (talk) 23:12, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  5. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 02:14, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  6.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 03:02, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  7. Erik (talk | contribs) 14:42, 4 January 2011 (UTC) — Should be enforced as is, rather than changing anything. In film articles, we discourage cover images of related soundtracks because they're only secondary. I'm also okay with removal of film posters if the related articles are mere stubs. Erik (talk | contribs) 14:42, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  8. Michig (talk) 18:38, 4 January 2011 (UTC) - the policy seems clear enough that it's the album that needs to be discussed rather than the cover art. Current usage appears to be perfectly legal, and certainly enhances the encyclopedia. The cover art is usually a key part of the whole package of an album and there is no free alternative.
  9. Croctotheface (talk) 21:51, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  10. DocKino (talk) 06:52, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  11. /ƒETCHCOMMS/ 15:44, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
  12. -Atmoz (talk) 22:49, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
  13. This is just another part of the stealth attempt to eliminate all fair-use media from the project without actually changing the policy to match the German and Spanish wikis, a move the free-image zealots know would fail. The adoption of the current policy did not do as much damage to the project as I feared it would four years ago, and I have been able to live with it and even enforce it as an administrator, but the fact is that some talented and productive users have left because of it, including one of our best photographers. Hold the line. Daniel Case (talk) 00:56, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  14. I have to oppose this because at the cover in the infobox/lead's critical commentary is about the article. It is representing that, not the cover itself.Jinnai 01:34, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  15. --Cybercobra (talk) 05:22, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  16. --TorriTorri(talk/contribs) 08:30, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  17. DCGeist (talk) 23:10, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  18. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 23:23, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  19. Per my comments up above. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WikiProject Japan! 07:58, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  20. Tony (talk) 10:50, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  21. Gyrobo (talk) 16:34, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  22. This is precisely the kind of libre-obsession that alienates users and makes us less encyclopædic. The cover art to a work is always going to be fair use and illustrates the subject — at the very least by making it more recognisable. I would rather ditch WP:NFCC as a policy than accede to this viewpoint. And I'm an active campaigner for copyright reform. I have to agree with everything Daniel Case has said to this point. — OwenBlacker (Talk) 00:23, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    Both you and Daniel Case are behaving like politicians—use of words like ‘zealot’ and ‘abhorrent’ is a dead give-away. That is not how it works here; consensus on policy and guideline is achieved by structured discussion with respect to the foundation’s mission, not by individual preference. — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 10:21, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    I'm not sure that's a fair comparison. We are both evidently quite exercised about the issue and are trying to be diplomatic in how we word things. (Certainly I could be a lot less constructive in my comments, but where's the point in that? :o) I don't think my choice of words is any more inflammatory than the vegan meal comparison below, but I shall try to temper my wording in future, for what it's worth.
    I'm sure Daniel is as aware as I am that Wikipedia projects work on consensus. Equally, though, there is clearly no consensus on the issue of non-Free content at the moment. This whole conversation is about all of us espousing our (often diametrically opposing) viewpoints and trying to find some common ground on which to build a consensus, surely? — OwenBlacker (Talk) 17:26, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  23. Should be dealt with as-is, but perhaps with additional wording to reflect the fact that one cover image is fine, but a second or subsequent one requires a robust rationale. Stifle (talk) 17:32, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  24. I see no merit to this proposal. Absolutely nothing concrete would be gained by doing this, and plenty lost. No free content is supplanted by the use of copyrighted cover art, and legal fair use is air tight. And no interest of the copyright holders is undermined because the cover is already purposefully displayed to the world as an identifier (and advertisement) for the product. postdlf (talk) 21:31, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  25. BOZ (talk) 23:36, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  26. Camw (talk) 14:17, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
  27. Oppose Matthewedwards :  Chat  07:46, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
  28. 28bytes (talk) 19:54, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
  29. Sadads (talk) 02:58, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Comments (Viewpoint 2)[edit]

  • Since View 1 seems incorrect to me (see previous discussion), no amendment is required to "fix" the supposed error. SteveBaker (talk) 19:18, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • For those who believe NFCI#1 should be rewritten to require commentary on the cover art itself, I would refer you back to the legal case that is cited under #Some history above. In that case the plaintiffs argued that "each reproduced image should have been accompanied by comment or criticism related to the artistic nature of the image". The court rejected that interpretation of fair use (see page 7 of the ruling) and instead used standards that are essentially those we attempt to apply in our current policies. We can be more restrictive if we wish, but there is no legal requirement for it and I don't see how it would benefit the encyclopedia. --RL0919 (talk) 22:18, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Unfortunately this is not the real world, this is Wikiworld. If Wikipedia went only by real world law much of the policy on the use of non-free materiel here would be tossed out. In the real world use of a non-free image of a living person is fine, as is use of an album cover in an article about the musician/s who created it. The argument that "there is no legal requirement for it" is not currently relative because Wikipedia uses U.S Copyright law as a "foundation" and builds upon it based on the Wikimedia Foundations resolution that allows for each Wiki to set it's own policy (EDP) on accepting non-free material. Most everyone will agree that the Wikipedia policy is far more strict than the real world and just because something is fair use under the U.S law is not automatically enough to allow the use of such material here. Kat Walsh, on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, has said in part: Some Wikimedia projects use media that is not free at all, under a doctrine of "fair use" or "fair dealing". There are some works, primarily historically important photographs and significant modern artworks, that we can not realistically expect to be released under a free content license, but that are hard to discuss in an educational context without including the media itself. Because the inability to include these works limits scholarship and criticism, in many jurisdictions people may use such works under limited conditions without having license or permission. This is a general overview but it is clear that "primarily historically important photographs and significant modern artworks" should be the scope of what is allowed under "limited conditions". The Wikipedia policy on fair use sets those "limited conditions." All of the criteria really are interwoven and time and time again editors discuss how narrow (or how wide) Wikipedia's policy is in regards to what is considered "historically important" and/or "significant modern artworks." If the core mission is to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free content license" and that any exemption/s "must be minimal" and "should be to illustrate historically significant events, to include identifying protected works such as logos, or to complement (within narrow limits) articles about copyrighted contemporary works" than there is a very real question that needs to be resolved. By all accounts what is being discussed here falls into the "to complement (within narrow limits) articles about copyrighted contemporary works" portion, although many throw it into the "identifying protected works such as logos" wording. Either way though, real world legal cases only will go so far when used to argue policy at Wikipedia because all Wiki's use Resolution:Licensing policy as the core. For Wikipedia the concept of "commentary" comes down to actual "commentary" on the non-free material being used. And, beyond that, there is a key issue of such material "being significant to the understanding of the topic." Again - is the cover image used in Zankyō seen as meeting all 10 of the criteria? Is it "significant to the understanding of the topic"? Those are the Wikipedia policy issues that are being looked at. Soundvisions1 (talk) 12:49, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Most of which is a long way of saying what I already wrote above: "We can be more restrictive if we wish". I'm not saying there can be no discussion of it, but I still do not see is a compelling motivation to be more restrictive than we already are. --RL0919 (talk) 22:21, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  • No, it is actually the opposite of what you said. ""We can be more restrictive if we wish" was a very small comment surrounded with an argument that real world law is what matters here. Even your "if we wish" comment was followed with "there is no legal requirement" to do so. What I said was Wikipedia already has more restrictive requirements in place that do require "comment or criticism related to the artistic nature of the" material in order for it to be used here. What is in question is do we want to be even more restrictive, or do we want to be less restrictive, not based on real world law but based on Wikipedia policy and mission. Soundvisions1 (talk) 03:00, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  • First, just because I said something briefly and the context of other remarks does not mean I said the opposite. Second, we do not have requirement that images of non-free cover art be used only when there is commentary on the artistic nature of the image, either as a policy or a practice. The WMF licensing policy resolution that you cited does not say that, nor does any en-wiki policy or guideline, and the numerous articles that use such images without direct commentary proves conclusively that we do not have this as our practice. --RL0919 (talk) 00:08, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
  • If you honestly believe that I most likely can not change your mind. I will ask that you please take a moment to read the policies at play as well as examples of acceptable and not acceptable use for non free images. I also ask that you read Dispatches: Reviewing non-free images. You may want to take a gander at templates such as {{Non-free historic image}}. As it relates to "cover art" wander around this specific discussion too and you will see more than myself discussing the need for specific commentary on specific cover art beyond the commonly accepted "one image" concept. The Foundation resolution I, and others, cite explicitly states each project community may develop and adopt an EDP. The German Wikipedia allows zero non free images for example. Wikipedia has its own conditions that are more restrictive than what is legally permitted. (File copyright tags) So, despite what U.S real world law allows for, it is quite explicit that there is no automatic entitlement to use non-free content in an article or elsewhere on Wikipedia (Wikipedia:Non-free content criteria) and since Wikipedia aims to be a free-content encyclopedia, not every image that qualifies as fair-use may be appropriate. (Image use policy). And, as far as "cover art" and it's use in articles, editors commonly remove additional non-free content unless there is text that explicitly discusses the item/s. (Please feel free to check out Bad (album) and the new deltion discussion for File:Bad2001SpecialEditionCover.jpg) But, again, if you feel that is not what happens, "either as a policy or a practice", neither I, nor anyone else, can try to educate you otherwise. Soundvisions1 (talk) 01:18, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
  • You seem to think I have claimed something that I have not, as much of your lengthy replies has no bearing on anything I have said. This is not the German Wikipedia; I have not denied that projects may develop their own EDPs; I have not claimed "automatic entitlement to use non-free content" or that every possible fair-use image is appropriate; historical images from press agencies are not the same as cover art for contemporary works; a new deletion discussion with no comments is hardly indicative of community consensus; the Signpost page you link to actually includes an example justifying the use of cover art that makes no mention of commentary on the image itself, totally contrary to your own claims. If you wish to "educate" me, you might want to try being a bit more cogent about it, otherwise I see no reason to reply further. --RL0919 (talk) 03:30, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
  • The court rejected that interpretation of fair use and instead used standards that are essentially those we attempt to apply in our current policies. is exactly what you said - referring to a real world court case where no "critical commentary" was needed and, to you, that is what "apply in our current policies." It isn't. Period. If you got your head out of or little dark hole you would see that across the board at Wikipedia "critical commentary" is meant to be about the non-free material itself. Start participating more in deletion discussions with your view that as there is no "legal" requirement in the real world that requires any non-free material to have any "critical commentary" there is no such requirement at Wikipedia either. How come you didn't jump right into the one I linked to? Seems like a perfect place to get your feet wet. Soundvisions1 (talk) 17:30, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Viewpoint 3: Several points[edit]

  1. I believe it essentially impossible that we will remove album covers from articles lacking critical discussion of the album covers, even though NFCI#1 can readily be interpreted to require removal without critical commentary. People who want the media kept point to "identification" as key, effectively skipping the "critical commentary" element. It is very telling that NFCI #2 does not contain the critical commentary component. The mere existence of an album article does not constitute "critical commentary". The mere existence of a corporation article does permit the use of a logo; no critical commentary is required. For album covers, this is not the case...but that is how we operate. This leads to my second point;
  2. People wishing to retain non-free content frequently look for interpretations of NFCC/NFC that permit the usage. This is the wrong approach. The correct way to view these policies and guidelines isn't from the perspective of "What can I derive from this that supports my usage?" but rather "Is there anything written here that could be interpreted as not supporting the usage?". We are a free content encyclopedia. In as much as possible, we limit the use of non-free material to that which is absolutely necessary. We don't look for exceptions to the rule to remove content, we look for exceptions where we MUST have the content in order to be encyclopedic. The difference in perspectives is an absolute chasm across which editors stare at each other.
  3. There is another conflict. Foundation:Resolution:Licensing policy #3 notes "or to complement (within narrow limits) articles about copyrighted contemporary works", emphasis mine. Yet, this project has taken that to mean we can liberally allow the use of non-free album covers whenever we have an album cover. That's not a "narrow limit".
  4. The album covers are replaceable as Commons:Category:Vinyl_records proves. But, those images aren't pretty enough.
  5. Album articles constitute about 3% or our total set of articles. Yet, album articles are responsible for more non-free content (112779 images) than any other single category of non-free images (logos 2nd with 87786). I.e., album covers are responsible for a whopping 30% of our non-free content. Over the last year for which statistics are available, our article count rose 16%. Our non-free content usage rose 10%. Sounds like we're ok, not losing ground; except that 16% includes articles for which non-free content would never be acceptable. I.e., we're fast losing ground.

Effectively, the battle for Wikipedia to remain a free content encyclopedia per our mission has been lost. There are a few people who strive to achieve the goal still, but it's a lost cause. Our licensing policy limits the use of the works we're discussing here within "narrow limits", yet this category is responsible for more non-free content than any other. That this RfC will resoundingly end in support of the retention of the use of non-free album covers as we do now will be proof positive of the abject failure of this project, in so far as its free content mission is concerned. We are not a free content resource. That's a blatant lie. But, that's ok. We're selling vegetarian meals with fried chicken and getting away with it. --Hammersoft (talk) 17:53, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Support (Viewpoint 3)[edit]

Post facto, I want to point out that I'm not looking for support or opposes to this section. It's a view point, one that I'm confident the vast majority of editors think is flippin' crazy. Don't care. My point was to express the viewpoint, not gain support/opposition. If you want to add your support to this section, feel free but it matters not. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:39, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Oppose (Viewpoint 3)[edit]

  1. --Jayron32 19:11, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  2. Far too radical. Anomie 19:32, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  3. Strongly oppose. This option would completely devastate hundreds of thousands of entries for no good, logical, or legal reason. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WikiProject Japan! 07:15, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
    Which of course misses the whole point. Wikipedia's inclusion of non-free content isn't based on legalities. --Hammersoft (talk) 15:36, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
    No point missed at all. Please stop harassing people by sniping at their comments. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WikiProject Japan! 08:00, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  4. An encyclopedia - the sum of all human knowledge. Some of that knowledge is going to have to be non-free. Don't worry though, 70 years after the authors death is nothing in terms of the long now. - hahnchen 22:31, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
    Post facto, I want to point out that I'm not looking for support or opposes to this section. It's a view point, one that I'm confident the vast majority of editors think is flippin' crazy. Don't care. My point was to express the viewpoint, not gain support/opposition. If you want to add your opposition to this section, feel free but it matters not. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:39, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  5. Not radical enough. If we're going to be "the free encyclopedia", we need to do it exactly the way those Germans got right—no nonfree content, period. A vegan dinner contains no meat, not "a little" meat, as Angr demonstrated so well with that essay. A free encyclopedia contains no nonfree material (except by malicious/unintentional introduction under a pretense of being free), not something else. We either need to drop the erroneous tagline or make it true. Seraphimblade Talk to me 04:18, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    Those with the slightest modicum of common sense know that the primary meaning of "free" in the tagline The Free Encyclopedia is that the information we provide is accessible for free (i.e., at no cost). Again, those with even the slightest modicum of common sense know that the secondary meaning of "free" in that tagline is that virtually all the labor and administration involved in providing our content is provided freely (i.e., for no compensation, under no obligation, and without external restriction). Just because you hold a minority opinion about the tertiary meaning of the word, relating to copyright--(a) insisting that all our content must be free of copyright, rather than (b) encouraging the discovery and production of copyright-free content, while judiciously and legally employing fair-use content to ensure that we uphold our mission to be a free encyclopedia of the highest quality--hardly means that our proud tagline is "erroneous". That is simply senseless. DocKino (talk) 06:09, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    Seraphimblade, if you want it to be completely free, there's a fair bit of text that would have to be removed too, and I mean whole articles. We rely entirely on other people's ideas and research, so even when we quote them correctly, and summarize what they say without using their words, we're still parasitic on their work product. Images are easy targets, but in truth they're not the biggest free-content problem, if you use the vegan definition of "free." SlimVirgin talk|contribs 06:13, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    Our tag line is "Wikipedia the free encyclopedia anyone can edit". It is free as in speech for this very reason, and reflected in WP:FIVE and Wikipedia:About. We happen to also distribute this information for free in part because we are free-content. It is not the case that we are first a cost-free resource as you suggest. --MASEM (t) 06:28, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    The specific issue I address above is the tagline. I submit that I have correctly expressed the meaning conveyed by that tagline to those for whom the tagline is primarily intended--our readers. DocKino (talk) 07:03, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    The issue of free matters most to the people that host this content, the Wikimedia Foundation. NFC policy exists because of them and to legally protect them. That is all that matters, not the readers. --MASEM (t) 07:08, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    The core point you make there is an extreme (and extremist) one with which I heartily disagree as would, I imagine, most of our fellow Wikipedians if they were exposed to it. Your secondary point about legal protection is fair enough--and that font of evidence called the real world indicates that our current policy has succeeded admirably in providing the necessary legal protection. There is very obviously no need for a more restrictive policy on that basis. (Indeed, it is apparent that our policy as it is now is more restrictive than it need be.) "That is all that matters, not the readers." Truly, a line to remember and to firmly reject. DocKino (talk) 07:46, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    The Foundation's intent is pretty crystal clear from the Resolution ([Resolution:Licensing policy]): Whereas the mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free content license,... Our purpose here is dissemination of free information, not free dissemination of information. --MASEM (t) 14:39, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    DocKino, the line you choose to hold is one of free as in gratis. That isn't the Foundation's stance, which is free as in libre. Please read Gratis versus Libre. You might believe your position to be the noble one; a resource nobody has to pay for. But, to take that position is to speak ignorance of what we are, whether willful or no. If we were free as in gratis as you suggest, WP:NFCC and WP:NFC wouldn't even exist, or if they did would be mere distillations of U.S. fair use law. We could use millions of non-free images here and be very well within the boundaries of legal usage under that law. We are, after all, an educational resource. But we don't. That's because this project is, in as much as possible while remaining encyclopedic, free as in libre. --Hammersoft (talk) 14:56, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    Those who are simply wrong should be a little more humble about trying to pin the label of "ignorance" on others. Fact: Wikipedia is free as in gratis. No qualification, 100 percent: free as in gratis. Fact: The creation and dissemination of free-as-in-libre content is one of the central aspirations and goals of Wikipedia. But it is an objective fact that Wikipedia is not per se free as in libre, or the Wikimedia Foundation would have made it so and we wouldn't be having this discussion. You want it to be free as in libre, no qualification, 100 percent, but it is not, it need not be (else the Foundation would ensure otherwise), and it is very clear that the consensus is that it should not be, because that sort of unnecessary purity would grievously damage our mission to be the greatest--and greatest gratis--encyclopedia on earth.
    This project has proven over and over again that it is possible to reach consensus about what sort of fair use content to allow that serves our mission of excellence without undermining our mission of the discovery and creation of libre content. Your views about where to draw the line are as valid as any other individual's. However, it is clear that those views lie well outside consensus and have consistently been rejected by the community. DocKino (talk) 18:25, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    Again, read the m:mission: the first and foremost priority is "Free content". Yes, the mission does also include "freely available" content, but that's the secondary goal; it is free content first and foremost; making the conclusion that WP's goal is to be a free-as-in-beer work is inconsistent. Now, the Foundation recognized that some non-free content is necessary, and hence the resolution, but as that sets out, non-free content is supposed to be carved out as exceptions, and not included just because it passes fair use allowances. --MASEM (t) 18:56, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    I'm very familiar with the mission, thank you. "Free of charge" is factual and unequivocal; "free content" is aspirational; the information made available in perpetuity and free of charge is that information which is "useful". We have and do carve out exceptions for non-free content. I see no one here arguing or even intimating that a blanket allowance for fair use content is permissible or desirable, so let's stuff that strawman back in the barn. The fact is that we have a strong and effective NFC policy. Your insistence that it is insufficiently restrictive is quite clearly a minority viewpoint. If the Wikimedia Foundation actually found it insufficiently restrictive, they could easily step in at any time. But apparently we've been doing a fine job here representing the Wikimedia mission at the project's flagship site. DocKino (talk) 20:00, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    "Free of charge" is factual and unequivocal - you did see all the banners recently asking for donations to keep the Foundation going, yes? If the Foundation can't pay the bills, the work will go down, period. Thus, both are aspirational goals, but the emphasis is on delivering free-as-in-thought content. Yes, the Foundation could have stepped in and all that, they haven't beyond the Resolution, so we know what their minimal requirements are, and what non-free content use consensus is what we have to go by. The thing is, if we consider this a large community sandbox with minimal oversight, we can either leave that dirty and messy day after day, or keep it nice and clean after we've played it in. How we choose to do that is up to the consensus barring any other statements, but I would think that the group as a whole would want to strive for the cleaner approach than the other way. It's still a community sandbox at the end of the day, it's simply the impression that it makes on others. --MASEM (t) 00:15, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
    Yes, once again, it's a fact: "Free of charge" is factual and unequivocal. It's donations that are aspirational, just like free content. And there's nothing the least bit "dirty and messy" about judiciously selected and presented fair use content that enhances the excellence of the encyclopedia. I'm most intrigued by your final statement. So, your position is that our readers "don't matter", but, um, the "impression" the tidiness of our "sandbox" "makes on others" does? I'd say that, in a nutshell, is why you're on the losing end of this debate. DocKino (talk) 10:39, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
  6. Per Anomie and others. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 06:16, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  7. Of course some of us look for interpretations of the FUC that will support the inclusion of certain images .... because there are too many users on Hammersoft's side who look for overbroad interpretations of the policy as a pretext to delete them, i.e., that any image of a living person is replaceable by a free one because, well, they're alive somewhere. It brings balance to the Force (And this does not mean I argue for keeping all fair-use images. Many clearly are used in violation of policy; I support their deletion). Daniel Case (talk) 01:04, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
    The Foundation resolution requires free replacement, in fact An EDP may not allow material where we can reasonably expect someone to upload a freely licensed file for the same purpose, such as is the case for almost all portraits of living notable individuals. They've set a line that the current approach that NFCI#1 dangerously nears in terms of image overload. --MASEM (t) 02:13, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    That makes no sense. How exactly do we reasonably expect someone to upload a free version of an album cover? Anomie 02:32, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    This is more a comment to the statement about living persons above. But if one extrapolates that even the Foundation considered non-free use to be exceptional, then clearly "every album can have a cover" is not following that intent. --MASEM (t) 02:35, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  8. An article on an album goes beyond a simple listing, it essentially a piece of critical commentary. Album covers are used by every sane publication that relates to music -- although this isn't a valid argument, it demonstrates ubiquitous editorial standard to use album covers to refer to and represent specific albums. ˉˉanetode╦╩ 12:49, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  9. Strong Oppose, bordering on abhorrence. A ridiculous point of view (and, given it looks to me like it was written as a reductio ad absurdum straw man, that may be deliberate). I'm wholly with Daniel Case here. Yes, there are fair use images that don't need to be here. But obsessing over the free part of being a free enyclopædia, to the detriment of the encyclopædia part is just crazy. I would absolutely have no problem were the situation that 90% of the fair-use imagery on WP were album covers and book covers. It is sheer zealotry to think that a photo of a piece of vinyl is an appropriate image to illustrate a scholarly, encyclopædic article about an album. A policy based on the tenets espoused by Hammersoft here would lead to a much less useful — albeit libre — encyclopædia. I cannot see how that would be better than the status quo; surely the purpose of an encyclopædia is to educate, that we do so in a manner that is libre is important, but surely not more so than being an educational resource. — OwenBlacker (Talk) 00:36, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    I guess is a failed project then. --MASEM (t) 02:13, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    Are you trying to tell me that the article de:Bad (Album) is as useful as en:Bad (album) and that the lack of an image there doesn't detract from the piece? Because I feel, quite strongly, that it does. — OwenBlacker (Talk) 08:16, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    We don't measure the value of articles based on usefulness, we measure them based on their encyclopedic purpose, which is for education. I see no loss of understanding in the article's content without the presence of the cover image. And since people still go to, it obviously no less of an encyclopedia than --MASEM (t) 14:36, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    But surely the usefulness of an article to a non-Editor user is a part of their encyclopædic purpose? Fwiw, I think that whether people still go to doesn't indicate anything either way; the only real comparison would be if there were two de.wikis, with identical content apart from the WP:NFCC issue, with Google favouring neither over the other — it's simply not something we can measure. I concede, though, I chose my exemplar pretty poorly, in any case. Perhaps the Tintin comparison mentioned above (en, de) would be a better comparison? — OwenBlacker (Talk) 17:34, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    Yes, we consider the value of an article to the general reader; the whole issue of NFC is the balance of where we include non-free content that breaks the free content mission of the Wikifoundation to its appropriateness in the encyclopedia. The more the image becomes necessary, and not just useful, to understand the content, the more we're assured we have it right. This whole debate is on the majority of cover art that is presented without additional comment on the art itself; what encyclopedia value does that severe the general reader (which has to be considered someone that has never read/heard/seen the work in question and most likely never will, but they need to know about it). has shown that its still possible to educate readers on contemporary works without resorting to cover image inclusion, so by extension it is possible here. I doubt we can ever make void of any non-free media work, but we certainly can be more restrictive to when it is used, and cover art would likely cut more than 50% of the usage right now. --MASEM (t) 17:52, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    It is not necessary to call de-Wikipedia "failed" to assert that en-Wikipedia is a much more successful encyclopedia and a much better representative of the Wikipedia mission, in large part because of our fair use policy. It is evident that our community is not interested in diminishing the quality of our encyclopedia to the lower standard of the German one. (If only Germany had a viable fair use legal regime, their Wikipedia might rise closer to the quality level of ours.)
    "What encyclopedia value does" an infobox cover image "serve the general reader"? Let me tell you: It serves the general reader as the primary and essential means of identifying and recollecting the article topic outside of the article name itself. That is a basic and important encyclopedic purpose with which you apparently need to familiarize yourself. DocKino (talk) 18:25, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    Imagine the case of an article on a musical album where the cover is just there, not discussed in the article: we have the written version that you get in a web browser, and the audio version with exactly the same information. Are both forms providing the same quality of information? I would say yes, and thus begs the question "why do we need the cover image"? Now, I am, probably like most people, a visual person, and I agree that if I'm reading about something and seeing the cover art there then likely if I see the cover art later, I will recall the details of where I saw the image, but that's not really a function we have to meet - it is not WP's responsibility as to how well you recall what is on its pages. So the question still falls to the exact value of these undiscovered covers with respect to minimal use and contextual significance. I recognize consensus believes them important, at least from 2005 when the NFCI#1 was created, but the work as a whole as matured, and maybe we can get passed that. --MASEM (t) 18:56, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    I disagree fundamentally. An encyclopedia is more effective, more successful, the better its information is retained and recollected by its readers. Just like making information readily comprehensible, making it readily recallable is part of our responsibility, as it is the responsibility of any information resource worthy of the name. DocKino (talk) 20:00, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    Which is why we allow free images and select non-free images because when that information is contextually significant, it certainly helps for information retention. But we have to balance the Foundations desire to be free redistributable content verses retention (among other issues), and to me, because there's almost always a way to illustrate an article with a free image - if its an album, a picture of the artist, for example. --MASEM (t) 20:49, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    (edit conflict)You argument about visual vs audio versions has one major flaw: it is universal. That means that it can be applied to all non-free images, and, therefore all of them can (and should) be removed from WP without any significant detrimental effect on it. I agree that such a possibility cannot be ruled out in future (and the example of German Wikipedia demonstrates that), and we may argue about advantages and flaws of such an approach, however, independent of that, such an approach would be against current WP policy that states that in some cases non free images are allowed.
    The current NFCI #1 de facto allows all album covers in Wikipedia, and that is hardly correct. In many cases, the covers of non widely known albums do not serve for identification purposes and frequently act as free advertisement. That is not Wikipedia should serve to. However, as I already pointed out, to use a discussion of the album cover as a mesh separating the cases of acceptable and unacceptable use is a bad idea. The criterion should be "strong contextual linkage", and the users who add/restore non-free album covers must demonstrate that such a linkage exists. However, since it is impossible to outline an exhaustive list of the examples of the manifestation of such a linkage, further concretisation would be more harmful than useful.--Paul Siebert (talk) 20:09, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    It is rare to find a stubby article on an album or single without an image -that's almost the first thing that is added, because it is implied that because of NFCI#1 we need the cover. It is certainly written to imply that if the work has an article, it should have a cover.
    And there is a way to make a reasonably bright line - that if there is an RS that talks about the cover in the article, then the cover should stay. It's not the perfect line, and it could be challenged further, but it would certainly exclude most of the covers we have now that are mostly decoration. --MASEM (t) 20:49, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    And there's that all-too-familiar shibboleth: "decoration." That's simply a misuse of the word. Virtually all of the covers we are discussing here are by no means merely decoration, but serve an essential function, as a primary means for readers to identify and recollect the topic and content of the articles in whose infoboxes they appear. DocKino (talk) 23:26, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    It is a matter of opinion, and why we have this RFC right now to determine what the consensus is. You may see it as essential for media articles, but others see it as serving no use - and a fact that was used for There's a gap and clearly problems that need to be resolved, even if it is ending up just reasserting that NFCI#1 is fine the way it is. --MASEM (t) 00:15, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
  10. If the Foundation wants to expressly state that album covers aren't usable at all, or are only usable in more limited circumstances, they can. Short of such express commands, it's up to the community to decide upon how to implement and interpret policies. I think this proposal is symptomatic of an unfortunate attitude common in this area: authoritarian, dogmatic, and prone to WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT when it comes to explanations of the informative value images provide to articles. Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy so again, within the framework the Foundation sets the community decides what the rules are and how they should be applied. If the community decides that policies permit these images and that the encyclopedia is better off for it, then they are permitted. Words don't enforce themselves. postdlf (talk) 21:40, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  11. Agree with NihonJoe - how many GAs and even FAs would have to be bumped down to C-class if we have to eliminate the only image the article currently has? BOZ (talk) 23:39, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
    There is no requirement that GA or FA need images. Both are "whenever possible" situations. This is a fallacy that seems to come out of many FA discussions. (eg the south park case noted below) --MASEM (t) 00:05, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
  12. Agree with postdlf. WP:NOTBUREAUCRACY is a part of WP policy, and NFCI (the guidelines) cannot take precedence over the policy. Yes, any non-free image must be contextually significant for some concrete article, however, the attempts to elaborate detailed rules that would determine contextual significance of some image without analysing a context are intrinsically flawed and they contradict to what the policy states. --Paul Siebert (talk) 21:10, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
  13. As I indicated above, Commons:Category:Vinyl records is not a valid rebuttal of NFCC#1. and I feel that the existing images there could easily be considered derivative works of copyrighted content. As such, in your "vegan" analogy, this would be akin to gelato. -- RoninBK T C 08:11, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Comment (Viewpoint 3)[edit]

  • A few things pop out:
    • "Cover art: Cover art from various items, for identification only in the context of critical commentary of that item (not for identification without critical commentary)."
      Yes, critical commentary is a requirement. But, based on the wording, that commentary is on the item to which the cover pertains. Commentary on the cover would be a bonus though.
      • Was
    • WP:NFCC#1 (BTW everyone, this is where WP:NFCI#1 is pointing...) includes the statement "Where possible, non-free content is transformed into free material instead of using a fair-use defense, or replaced with a freer alternative if one of acceptable quality is available; 'acceptable quality' means a quality sufficient to serve the encyclopedic purpose." Which does open a debate on which is of more "acceptable quality" for an encyclopedia entry on a record - the cover or the disk itself. That is assuming the disk does not include anything that is under copyright. It also assumes we are avoiding articles covering albums and singles that have never been pressed in vinyl.
    • Also within records. Since numbers are being tossed around, is there a breakdown of how many of those 112k+ images are for varient sleeves or non-first pressings? Most times, without commentary on the changees/differences, have 2 or more covers in the article is going to break WP:NFCC#3 and shuold be culled as such.
      - J Greb (talk) 18:49, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
      • I'm pretty sure there's not a real breakdown of the hard numbers, but I did a random sample of 20 just to satisfy my own interest, as in my happenings upon articles they tend to have many more infobox images than necessary (partly because of overuse of the template field.) I went through twenty of the 77 FA-class articles under Wikipedia:WikiProject_Albums and found that 8 (40% of my "clicking randomly sample") had multiple covers in the infobox (I didn't bother scrolling through them.) Most weren't really keeping with NFCC (excluding any interpretation that this RfC is discussing). I don't know how the trend would progress taking a real random sample of much lower-quality and higher-frequency articles. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 19:05, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
        • I took a similar look based on your post... and yup, there is a chunk that have 2+ images and of those I'd say 1/2 are unjustified, even where the cover art is commented on in the article. But that makes it a case of going in and removing the extra images under NFC#3. - J Greb (talk) 22:49, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • With all due respect, the so-called "vegan" interpretation of Wikipedia and Foundation policies does not appear to represent a consensus understanding of what those policies mean. There is an inherant conflict between what is "educational usage", i.e. does the best service for our reader, and what is "free usage", i.e. completely unencumbered by copyright. I completely support the NFCC policy as written insofar as it attempts to strike a balance between "providing for our readers the most educational content" and "providing content unencumbered by copyright problems". That there is a conflict is true, but the position of zero fair-use images (the "vegan" position) is no more reasonable than one which is a "free-for-all" with regards to using copyright images. The key is finding the right balance. I don't see where the current, limited and well defined use of fair-use images is a problem. Furthermore, the note that the album cover art category has the most fair-use images is a total red herring. There will always be a category of fair-use images which has the largest number in it; noting that one category happens to have the most is not evidence that that category has "too much". --Jayron32 19:15, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
    • If it is a red herring, and you actually believe that 112,000 non-free images for a single category constitutes a narrow limitation, then there is a massive gulf of difference between our respective positions. I don't see a middle ground. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:20, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
      • It's bogus because "narrow limitation" is something considered on a case-by-case basis. It's impossible to say based on raw numbers if it is being "narrowly applied" because numbers contain no rationales. It's a real statistic, but is ultimately unhelpful in solving our problem. Again, you have made clear that you stand for the "vegan" principle with regard to fair-use images. Because such a principle is, by its nature, unopen to compromise, I fail to see how your position is even relevent, except that you wish to see all fair-use images eliminated. That's a perfectly fine position to hold, I do not begrudge you for it. I am merely arguing that that position violates another fundemental part of Wikipedia, that of providing a quality reference work. Fair-use images, used appropriately, improve the quality of Wikipedia. --Jayron32 20:53, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
        • It is blatantly obvious that album covers are not being considered on a case by case basis. Show me a handful, or even one, discussion of the appropriateness of including a particular album cover in an album article. You can't. It's not case by case. Album covers get carte blanche permission right now. That's not a narrow limitation. It's fine if you consider my position irrelevant. But, you should know that your elevation of my position is inaccurate. I am not and have never been for the removal of all non-free content. I pointed out the veganism parable because it is highly relevant to this discussion. We're hawking a free content encyclopedia where 10% of our articles content non-free content. It's only a "little" bit, right? So it's ok to use milk and eggs to make the cake. It's still vegan! If our metric for including fair use images is improving quality, then there's no bar to including fair use images at all. They almost always improve quality. For example, promotional photographs of actors are virtually always of superior quality to the free versions we currently use. So perhaps we should ditch the requirement for free images of living people for depiction since the non-free images are almost always of superior quality? --Hammersoft (talk) 21:04, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
          • To add to this, consider the fact that we have templates like {{Album cover fur}} which simply have to be included with only one required parameter (the article nume) to create a valid rationale. Per the consideration that the Foundation and our own NFCC language suggest NFC is meant to be exceptional, the fact that there exists a rubber-stamp template to allow for this exception means that we don't presently consider such uses case-by-case. This might be what consensus is, but if its not, then these templates have to go. (Note that this does not affect the licensing templates, that's a different beast). --MASEM (t) 21:17, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
          • And to piggy back to Masem's comment; {{Album cover fur}} has 72k transclusions. I've always felt the FUR templates left too much room for slippery slopes of "well, I've got a template to make a fur so I'm ok!", and this is a blatant example. --Hammersoft (talk) 21:33, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
            • @Hammersoft 2comments up (edit conflict): The point is, the "vegan" interpretation is not the sole interpretation. I fail to see how that is the only interpretation of existing policy. Insofar as fair-use is allowed at all, then the vegan interpretation bears no place in the discussion. Again, it is fine that you hold such an opinion, but you can't argue "fair-use is being misapplied" in the same sentance as "fair-use should never be allowed at all". Again, you are free to argue that no fair-use images should ever be used in Wikipedia. Its a solid, consistant, and tenable position. However, you're arguement seems to imply that fair-use policy is being misapplied... That makes no sense. By argueing it is being misapplied, you leave out the possibility that it could be correctly applied. But then you also claim that it can never be correctly applied (via the vegan analogy). So which is it? --Jayron32 21:39, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
              • I didn't say it was the only interpretation. It is entirely relevant to this discussion because we have almost EVERY album article here hosting non-free content, but we're expected to believe this somehow conforms to our free content mission. It's laughable. And again, I'll state I AM NOT ARGUING THAT FAIR USE IMAGES SHOULDN'T BE USED ON WIKIPEDIA. --Hammersoft (talk) 22:01, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
                • Can you explain the "vegan" analogy then? I am too stupid to understand how you can use that analogy in this case... --Jayron32 22:17, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
                  • Well, I have already explained it. The point is that we have a category of articles where virtually every article has non-free content on it, which stands in stark contrast to our mission. So, it's a vegan meal with fried chicken. It's only a little (actually, every article) --Hammersoft (talk) 22:25, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

(edit conflict) × about 5, but:

  • I second the observation that NFCI#1 requires commentary of the item the cover is attached to, not the cover itself. This means that a stub likely shouldn't have a cover, but once a "Reception" section is added then the cover is ok. Claiming otherwise muddies the issue, even if you personally disagree that it should say what it does.
  • Identification is a key. The question is whether a cover image for visual identification increases readers' understanding of the topic, and/or whether lack of a cover image for visual identification is detrimental to the readers' understanding of the topic. Some say yes, some say no; assuming either as a given is begging the question.
  • A limit of "to complete the album article with a visual identification only when enough critical commentary exists to prove the album notable" may be (or may not be) a narrow limit, even if the class of such albums is large. As an analogy, "white males living in the United States between the ages of 18 and 35" is a fairly narrow limit, even if such people make up a disproportionate fraction of all Wikipedians here on enwiki.
  • The existence of Commons:Category:Vinyl records does not prove that all album covers are replaceable any more than the existence of Commons:Category:Album covers does. The label on a vinyl record could easily contain content under copyright, many albums do not even have a vinyl record, and it is not necessarily the case that an image of the vinyl record is actually a suitable replacement for the album cover.

Anomie 19:30, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

    1. The question is only whether the addition of a picture of an album/game/whatever cover adds "significantly" to understanding and whether omitting it would "detract" from understanding. That's a really tough call - both from a Wikipedia perspective - and a legal one. I would argue that if the producers of the cover art didn't think it added significantly to how people understand their product - they wouldn't spend so much on producing it. But it's a judgement call. However, attempting to force that issue with an entirely bogus "conflict" between rule #1 and rule #8 is just wrong. If we need to revisit rule #8 with finer distinctions - then let's do that. Let's not try to finagle a way to having the discussion like this.
    2. If you concede that cover art adds significantly to understanding - then issues of whether the image could be replaced with a generic picture of a CD or vinyl disk are ridiculous. Of course you can't replace a "significant-to-understanding" album cover with some irrelevant bit of clip-art. It's either "significant" or it's not - replaceablility is never possible for these materials.
    3. The argument that the presence of these images make Wikipedia less "free" is valid - but Wikipedia also aims to be a truly great "encyclopedia". Where being free and being a great encyclopedia come into conflict, we sometimes have to give weight to the latter. IMHO, using cover art is one of those cases. Using fair-use content is clearly undesirable - when we have a choice of using fair use or using a similarly good free use image, we can clearly place the need to be "free" at the top of the list. But if you go the route of the German Wikipedia and illustrate the Andy Warhole article with a photograph of an actual can of soup in preference to using a fair use image of his famous painting of a can of soup - you've taken one step too far. You have a dramatically worse "encyclopedia" - and, IMHO, that trumps "free". In any case, you can argue that anyone who wishes to copy one of our articles (with a fair-use image within it) is going to be able to take advantage of the very same fair use claims that we make. Hence, we have not impeded someone's right to (for example) make printed copies, mirrors or DVD-ROM's of Wikipedia content. Even in the case of our utterly gold-plated "free" images, there are legal entanglements to some uses. For example - if you take a photograph of a car that was taken by one of our members and placed entirely into the public domain - you may not (legally) take the BMW logo from the photograph, crop it out, and paste it onto the front of your crappy Kia. That's illegal. So "free" is always "free-relative-to-certain-legal-restrictions" - and in the case of our fair-use content, it's free so long as you keep the image in it's original context. SteveBaker (talk) 19:42, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
    • On your point one: there is no legal issue - unless the Foundation tells us otherwise; the history of NFCI is based on cited case law for US Fair Use, which clearly backs up our use of them for the project. So we should avoid any legal issue claims here. --MASEM (t) 19:46, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
    • @SteveBaker: With no sarcasm intended, you've just done a wonderful job of showing how the 'free content' mission element of this project has utterly failed. It's ok to include fair use content because our downstream users can claim the same? Wow. Utterly wow. --Hammersoft (talk) 19:47, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
      • Please explain. I understand that it's not always OK for them to do that - but if (for example) I use the book printing service here to make a PDF of a bunch of articles - or to print them as a paperback - then whatever legal and other means there are to make it OK to use the article on make it OK for me to print a book with that same fair use material. Most of the time, it's not a limitation. That's not to say that it's always, unconditionally OK - but, as I pointed out with my BMW-logo-cropped-from-a-public-domain-car-photo example, even a fully, 100% properly public domain photo is not without legal constraints for all uses. In our litigation-crazy world, re-using any image - however licensed - cannot be done without consideration of the legal implications. SteveBaker (talk) 21:53, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
        • This is wrong. Free licensed content is essentially usable for all situations. That's the goal of this project. --Hammersoft (talk) 21:58, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
          • You absolutely cannot take a photo of anything you like, declare it "public domain" or CC-by-SA or whatever and then have people do whatever they want with it. Context is everything. You can use File:HK Sheung Wan Po Yan Street Art Gallery Shop.JPG as a photo of an art gallery - stick it into any article you like. Take that same photo, crop out the picture to the right and use photoshop to remove the perspective - and you just committed a copyvio. SteveBaker (talk) 02:23, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  • According to Alexia, 5% of the entire population of the world comes to Wikipedia every day to seek information - and they each spend an average of around 5 minutes of their day reading our articles. That's 3,000 man-years or 40 lifetimes of human effort that go into reading our encyclopedia every single day. How many of them need to copy images and re-use them without the necessary context of the article they came from? I don't have numbers - but I think we can all agree that it's going to be a teeny-tiny drop in the bucket. Our role has changed dramatically over the last 9 years. In the beginning, "free" was of paramount importance as a principle because we attracted editors to do good work here in a manner analogous to how the free software movement attracted programmers to make the Internet what it is today. But we're beyond that now. I believe that our first duty going forwards is to make those 40 human lifetimes per day more productive, more pleasurable, more useful - and if the law allows us to display certain copyrighted images under fair-use, and if that makes those people's lives better - then it's our duty to humanity to do that. The role as the world's repository of all human knowledge has long ago overtaken our role as a place to get freely copyable photos. If we can do the latter without seriously impacting the former - then of course, we should...and we must be ever-vigilant not to harm the project by breaking the law and inviting law suits from IP owners. But if you do something to materially degrade the user experience in the name of a statistically negligable minority of users, while staying well within what the law allows - then you're doing the world a massive dis-favor. SteveBaker (talk) 13:53, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
    • As long as you're content to remove the third of the five pillars, then yes. I also think you're misunderstanding the concept of the word "free" - any article which contains copyrighted material cannot be distributed without copyvio issues - do we not owe it to downstream users to do this? Also, I think just having "The Encyclopedia" in the top left hand corner of every page would not be a great tag line. Black Kite (t) (c) 14:28, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
      • I didn't advocate removing the third pillar. I carefully explained that free is important - just not as important as delivering a great encyclopedia. Where we can possibly find a free image - we should certainly require editors to use one. Where we'd be breaking the law by using a non-free image, we should not. But when the law allows it - and there is no possibility of a free replacement - I don't see a problem. "The Encyclopedia" would still be a useful thing for a third of a billion people every day - but "The Free"...not so much. But let's be really clear about this - I'm not saying that free isn't important - I merely seek balance. Let's avoid the mindless and largely pointless removal of legal non-free material where to do so would damage our role as the world's repository of all (notable & referenceable) human knowledge. SteveBaker (talk) 01:09, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    • Steve, your ideas of how this project is supposed to be are in direct contrast to what the Foundation has set out as our mission and purpose here. Whether you are 'right' or 'wrong' is irrelevant. If you believe things should be as you state, this RfC is extremely far removed from where you need to voice your concerns and seek change. Please approach the Foundation to seek the changes you want. Their contact information is here. In the mean time, your ideas of what this project are or should be are not reality. --Hammersoft (talk) 16:20, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
      • That's absolutely not true. This project is "the free encyclopedia" - it's both free and an encyclopedia. It's not (unlike WikiCommons) a more or less indiscriminate pile of free "stuff". The question is whether we should allow the "free" part to utterly dominate the "encyclopedia" part of our mission here. SteveBaker (talk) 01:09, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Steve, I'll say again. Your notions of what this project should be doing are at complete odds with the Foundation's mission. You're certainly welcome to your opinion, of course. --Hammersoft (talk) 14:00, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Please refrain from pretending to be the official spokes man for zee Foundation. ˉˉanetode╦╩ 12:58, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Quote: "With all due respect, the so-called "vegan" interpretation of Wikipedia and Foundation policies does not appear to represent a consensus understanding of what those policies mean. There is an inherant conflict between what is "educational usage", i.e. does the best service for our reader, and what is "free usage", i.e. completely unencumbered by copyright."
    I agree completely. At what point does free mean we have to start compromising quality? SharkD  Talk  18:10, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Quote: "Yes, critical commentary is a requirement. But, based on the wording, that commentary is on the item to which the cover pertains. Commentary on the cover would be a bonus though."
    I was about to mention this too. I.e. critical commentary regarding the cover art - such as who designed the cover, drew the artwork, chose the typeface - is not going to help anyone understand the topic itself in most cases, with the exception of things like the Abbey Road cover already mentioned which has become a pop art icon of its own accord, and which arguably could be deserving of an article all its own. SharkD  Talk  18:25, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Viewpoint 4 (by User:Jinnai)[edit]

I think there is some room for a middle ground here.

As an infobox's and lead's purpose is to summarize key facts about the article, for the use with infoboxes or lead, the "critical commentary" is the article itself. In addition, like logos and other media they serve multiple purposes, including assuring the reader they have come to the right article, in some cases show the artistic style, characters, themes and other aspects that are not easily described in the article with violating WP:OR.

However, when its outside the infobox or lead, then that critical commentary should not be assumed and the usage should be forced to meet NFCC#8. The infobox/lead image has already given a lot of detail, so unless there is signifigant reason for the second one, such as critical commentary or other important info as shown by secondary or tertiary sources, then it shouldn't be in.Jinnai 23:54, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Support (Viewpoint 4)[edit]

  1. --Cybercobra (talk) 05:27, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  2. Sadads (talk) 02:59, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
  3.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 05:41, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Oppose (Viewpoint 4)[edit]

  1. See comment below. Soundvisions1 (talk) 01:16, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Comments (Viewpoint 4)[edit]

  • The wording is exactly what is wrong - the "critical commentary" is the article itself is not the common use of that phrase in regards to non-free content. If that definition was accepted, and the example made even made more specific so that it indicated "for the use with infoboxes or lead the "critical commentary" is the article itself" it would open up the entire scope of non-free material to be used in the infobox or in the "lead". And if the "critical commentary" is the article itself than saying "unless there is significant reason for the second one, such as critical commentary or other important info as shown by secondary or tertiary sources, then it shouldn't be in" contradicts the definition being used. I can see the future arguments - "Yes we can use samples from every single track on the album because the critical commentary is the track listing.", "Yes we can use 5 versions of the CD Cover because the lead section states the album was released in 5 countries and the critical commentary is the article itself.", "Yes we can use the one sheet, the DVD cover, the VHS cover, the 3d Blue-ray cover, the soundtrack cover, clips from the US release, clips form the Swedish release, clips from the German release - because the needed critical commentary is the article itself." As Hammersoft said in the below thread "If that's the new metric, we're screwed." Soundvisions1 (talk) 01:16, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
    • No matter what there will be arguments as people come from different perspectives as shown here. That's not a reason for not changing something.Jinnai 01:41, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  • But the "different perspectives" still need to be in line with policy. If the "critical commentary" is the article itself was accepted as the norm it would erode the policy that was set to limit non-free material being used. Soundvisions1 (talk) 01:52, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  • I am pretty sure that right now, this is how past consensus interprets it - the article is commentary to allow the cover art of the work to pass NFCC. Note that this is cover art, not necessarily things like screenshots from TV episodes or the like. The question this RFC asks is if consensus believes this can be furthered narrowed. --MASEM (t) 02:22, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  • But that is a huge part of this discussion. In order to further refine how "cover art" is to be used one must first reach a real consensus of what "critical commentary" is overall. The participants should, first, look outside of "cover art" = "album covers" and see that it could also be a book cover, a magazine cover, a DVD cover, a promotional poster, a flyer, a one sheet, an ad slick, a press book and so on. If one looks at the much wider picture and if the "critical commentary" is the article itself is truly the consensus based on the *wider* use, than lets see it laid out as such. If that happens I guarantee it will suddenly be reflected in other examples and in deletion discussions and it will allow for arguments/discussions on how the "critical commentary" is the article itself thusly such and such is fine for use because of it. Now I have zero issue with narrowing the scope of "cover art" to only include certain very specific items and I have zero issues with further narrowing such items use based on location. What I have a serious issue with is redefining an oft use phrase that, for most Wikipedia non-free content useage, means textual based discussion of a specific non-free item to mean a much wider definition that an articles subject, as a whole, is all that is needed to meet the commentary requirements. Soundvisions1 (talk) 02:49, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  • The language of NFCI#1 is pretty damn clear: 1. Cover art: Cover art from various items, for identification only in the context of critical commentary of that item (not for identification without critical commentary). "Critical commentary" of the copyrighted item that the work is from. I don't see any way that can be mistaken as any other way. But note how specific is is: "cover art" and "for identification". This doesn't cover alternate images, etc. etc., but there is no other way that can be taken beyond that there is an article present for the item that the cover art is depicting to justify the use of that image. The question of this RFC is if that statement is still consensus or can we tighten it up to disclude edge cases or even remove it. I don't see anyone yet asking to loosen it (eg "Cover art for items, critical commentary on the item notwithstanding" would let loose a wave of cover art in discographies and the like). The only thing that could be confusing is "critical commentary" which is a nebulous term inherited from US Fair Laws, but have always been taken here to mean "discussed to some depth". --MASEM (t) 03:37, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
  • You are correct in that is it is "pretty damn clear" - as are the other examples such as a magazine or book cover (i.e - "cover art") that are ok "if the cover itself is the subject of sourced discussion in the article" in which case "it may be appropriate if placed inline next to the commentary." It is *not*, however, as specific as you, and some others, want to make it out to be. What it says is "for identification only in the context of critical commentary of that item (not for identification without critical commentary)" what it doesn't says is: "cover art - for identification". What *does* say that, however, is:
2. Team and corporate logos: For identification.
3. Stamps and currency: For identification of the stamp or currency, not its subject.
What is being discussed now it an example of how *all* cover art can be used. Changing the wording to explicitly state: "Cover art - for the use with infoboxes or lead the critical commentary is the article itself" is 100% asking to loosen, or in my eyes ignore, the policy overall and does, absolutely, imply that "alternate images, etc. etc." are acceptable. Even as it is currently who are "you" to solely decide which "cover art" goes in an articles infobox or lead? Sans any real "Critical commentary"/"Sourced discussions" on one specific "cover art" any number of options may be possible. Soundvisions1 (talk) 12:16, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
I still think you're reading too much into the grammar and language structure. Yes, NFCI#1 needs clarity on some points like, likely how alternate covers aren't included, and what specifically we call cover art (eg which media NFCI#1 applies to); but given that there is at least some temperament at WP:ALBUM to only include "significant" alt. covers, and the lack of use of alt. covers pretty much elsewhere in the project, seems to show that most recognize what NFCI#1 implies. We can tighten the language without altering how it is used presently, so I think you're assuming something very dire about how it is used right now. --MASEM (t) 14:43, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
And I would say that asking cover art in the lead or infobox to all have critical commentary on it as being 100% tightening NFCC#1 beyond what it was intended. It wasn't intended to have every cover have commentary on it's cover specifically, but critical commentary on the subject - the work itself - which the cover acts as a visual representation of. Additional covers, like additional non-free content elsewhere are treated differently and much more strictly. What you are proposing, that all covers meet NFCC#8, I can probably easily say that it is not with the consensus of most wikipedians.Jinnai 16:18, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Viewpoint x (by User:User)[edit]





Cross-posting this RFC announcement to WP:VPP, WP:FAC, WP:FILM, WP:BOOKS, WP:ALBUM, WP:TV, WP:COMIC, WP:ANIME, WP:VG. --MASEM (t) 17:01, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Suggest: It would probably be worth cascading the announcement to those projects' daughter projects on particular media properties, to attract further eyeballs. Not everyone tracks the top-level projects. Jheald (talk) 23:36, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Also, given how this is going, I would strongly encourage anyone to suggest potential clarity statements to NFCI, NFCC, or elsewhere, to make clear the use or non-use of cover images. We should be trying to achieve a meeting of the minds here, and make sure we have our common point of consensus in working in the future. (For example, a point above suggests that we should exclude the use of cover art without commentary on the art itself for certain kinds of work, something that can be added to NFCI easily). --MASEM (t) 19:43, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

IMO, the crux of the matter is whether or not visual identification is a sufficiently important part of a complete treatment of the article's topic, and whether lack of that visual identification sufficiently detracts from the readers' understanding. The interaction between NFCC#8 and NFCI#1 as it exists depends entirely on that decision. It seems to me that at least some of the comments above are just assuming one or the other answer to that question, which means we'll never have a meeting of minds. Anomie 22:08, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • And that identification isn't enough. The requirement asks for critical commentary, not just identification. If the mere presence of an article on an album constitutes critical commentary, then why is the requirement on logos only for identification, not with critical commentary? It's clear from that comparison that the intent isn't that the mere existence of an album article justifies the use of a non-free album cover. But, we (generic we) can't agree on that. --Hammersoft (talk) 22:27, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • It could be that NFCI#1 and #2, meant to serve the same purpose, for identification of an entity (a copyrighted work, a business/organization/product), are written in a discontinuous manner and need to be corrected. I've never seen a case where the current logo for a company/etc. has been challenged where there is no discussion about the logo itself. But at the same time, I would argue the majority of logos are free by failure to meet the threshold of originality, while most cover art is clearly non-free. --MASEM (t) 22:33, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
  • It's worth noting that logos, stamps, and currency are the only thing exempted from the commentary requirement under NFCI.
    Beyond that this has spaked a few thoughts:
    • Stub articles - IIUC these are articles that are very light on tet and without sourcing. It seems that critical comentary would be one of the criteria for "graduation" from Stub class. It does not seem unfair to draw a guideline that a Stub should generally not have a cover image.
    • List articles - I believe it is already in place for discographies, but bibliographies, filmographies, and like lists should not be using covers or cover art.
    • It may be we need a primer on how images "count" with regard to "minimal usage". Based on a comment up list I took a look at a handfull of the WP:Album FAs and came across more than a few that have 2 images in the infobox, a few cases were a 2nd or 3rd was a spot image in the article text, and examples of multiple infoboxes each with an image.
      The multiple infoboxes are a gray area - with topics on secondary items. The image in the primary 'box can be said to cover the primary topice which receives critical comentary in the bulk of the article, but isn't related to the sction covered with the secondary 'box.
      And there is justification for 2 images when the article covers a change in the cover design for notable reasons such as censorship or marketing in different regions. But that would only justify 2 images and a album simply being reissued isn't a "notable reason"
      But there isn't a reason for multiple images if all of the images cover the same bases. There were a pair of articles I ran across where the cover art is commented on in the article, but all the non free images in the article could be used as examples of that. Making them cases where NFCC#3 has been breached, not NFCC#1, #8, or NFCI #1. - J Greb (talk) 23:25, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
When the issue of multiple album covers was discussed at WT:ALBUMS over a period of several months in 2009, after lengthy discussion, the following rubric gained the widest support (with one hold-out at the end):

...ensure that if you add additional non-free images, that the use complies with the non-free content criteria. Essentially, an alternate cover that is significantly different from the original and is widely distributed and/or replaces the original passes the criteria for identification. Also, an alternate cover that is the subject of specific (sourced) critical commentary passes the criteria for inclusion."

The wording was also then raised here at NFC and met with subdued acceptance/indifference.
It's perhaps worth noting that "identification" covers two almost distinct motivations:
  • A cover that may be recognised by the reader, confirming that they have indeed arrived at the right article, and triggering memories and knowledge the reader may already have of the same album. (If an album has, say, very different covers in the U.K. and U.S., this effect may be stimulated much more effectively for a reader that can see their own relevent cover.)
  • Secondly, perhaps distinctly, it adds relevantly to knowledge about the album to show the image(s), in that they were used as an identifying image for the album, regardless of whether or not they have an established personal resonance for the reader. Both aspects are significant in assessing how much more a reader may get out of the article by the image being included.
I believe then continues to represent pretty much the prevailing standard for when images are/are not getting put up for deletion at WP:IFD; so effectively pretty much the prevailing standard for alternate album covers are considered to significantly add to reader understanding. Jheald (talk) 23:50, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
It looks like it may get a second look here. Or a review of the articles maybe needed to ensure that a sction about the difference in marketing from region to region is included. And I would think that would be more than "Once cover was prepared for the home market whil a scond was produced for international sales." Otherwise the Project level guideline is geared to create galleries inspite of more restrictive Wipidia wide guidelines and policy. - J Greb (talk) 00:24, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Hmm ... last time a Project decided on its own interpretation of WP:NFCC it didn't end prettily. I would suggest that multiple album covers are the exception, otherwise as J Greb said, we may end up with non-free galleries that are deprecated throughout the rest of enwiki. Personally, I always remove them unless there is critical commentary on the alt ones. Black Kite (t) (c) 00:49, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
That's pretty unfair to projects. Most projects that have got into the area of NFC have behaved very responsibly.
WP:COMIC is a textbook case of a project that came up with sensible detailed guidelines relating to its own field very early. WP:FILM has guidelines that are significantly stricter that WP:NFCC (possibly due to a misunderstanding about the intended meaning of "critical commentary"). And our present ban on NFC in discographies actually came from article guidelines created at WP:MUSIC (the discussion of which appears to have been motivated by an incomplete understanding of U.S. fair use law), rather than here, where the proposal deadlocked three times until the WP:MUSIC guideline was cited as establishing a fait accompli.
In the case of the discussion at WP:ALBUMS the discussion was on the back of a series of nominations and decisions at WP:IFD, which largely upheld the alternate album covers, as a result of which those (like User:Peripitus) who had been nominating them had essentially stopped nominating them if they met the criteria immediately above.
If we take the position (and some don't; but it is the position of WP:NFCI as it currently stands) that in and of themselves presenting the image that was selected as the cover image is an important part of a complete treatment of the article's topic, and that lack of that information sufficiently detracts from the readers' understanding, then it is hard to see why that should not apply equally when two very different covers have been used in different parts of the world. When that's the case there's not going to be a problem from a legal perspective. Jheald (talk) 01:43, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm not completely convinced; whilst the Project is clearly not saying that alt covers should be plastered everywhere, the phrase allowing "an alternate cover that is significantly different from the original and is widely distributed..." covers a huge amount of alt covers - whilst US and European covers are often similar/the same, those for Eastern (especially Japanese) markets are very often significantly different. Given that, unless there is significant critical commentary on the alt cover (not just "it's a different cover and it looks like this") I would still maintain that for the vast majority of these cases multiple covers probably fail WP:NFCC#3a. Black Kite (t) (c) 02:11, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
If I remember correctly, a suggestion for the interpretation of widely distributed was that it would have to be a market of global significance for the artist. Which in many cases Japan would be. Of course, there's a point of view that really only what happens in the English-speaking world is properly significant for readers' understanding. But it's a pov that I think WP:WORLDVIEW and WP:CSB would contest. Jheald (talk) 03:48, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
I disagree that CSB applies here (especially speaking as someone who has regularly defended articles at XfD on that basis). Product packaging is different for many markets, for many products. We don't allow multiple DVD covers in articles about TV programmes or films, so I do not see why it should be allowed for music, unless the alt cover is particularly significant in some way. Having multiple covers, in almost all circumstances, is merely decorative and thus fails WP:NFCC#8. Black Kite (t) (c) 08:37, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
I'll point it out once more, Hammersoft. NFCI#1 requires critical commentary on the album, not on the cover itself. You don't have to agree that that should be the case, and you can certainly advocate that it should be changed, but continually pretending it says something else is not constructive. Anomie 01:45, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  • If that is in fact the case, then let's remove the "critical commentary" component, because then we only need an article to exist to have the album cover on it. Let's not mince words here. --Hammersoft (talk) 03:10, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  • My understanding (and if I remember correctly Masem has written to this effect as well) is that the "critical commentary" part was put there to cover the case of a section of an article which contains significant discussion about the album (eg perhaps it was a significant turning-point in the recording artist's career, and the reasons for this are examined in detail); but where the title topic of the article is not the album itself, but something else. But perhaps you're right (as I think Sound&Vision has also suggested); perhaps the guideline would be better rewritten "1. Cover art: Cover art from various items in the article on that item" -- and simply remain silent about its acceptability in other articles. Jheald (talk) 04:06, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  • You are correct in what I had suggested a few times before. The issue, to me, is not so much the conflict/s but the use of terminology. In the wide sense "critical commentary" is used to indicate the existence of, or lack of, text that discusses something specific. Here at Wikipedia it is used as a measuring stick of sorts for use of non-free content. The argument/s against using cover art uses the same meaning - most articles don't have every single variation of artwork in them because one can not simply use artwork to illustrate something unless there is "critical commentary" on the actual artwork. If "critical commentary" was truly meant to mean the articles subject than use of several alternate covers (or even back covers, inner sleeves, inserts, etc) is acceptable because there is "critical commentary" on the "subject". That being the case than reword the example to something like Stamps and currency - "For identification of the stamp or currency, not its subject." (Think along these lines: Album cover/video-DVD cover: "For identification of the product, not its creator/the artist/the performer.") But that opens up the other side of the door, so to speak. As I asked/said in this discussion: If an article is using "style A" without any "critical commentary" about "Style A" who is to say "Style B" and "Teaser One sheet" as well a "German release" can not be used? And by the same token - why can't a lobby card be used? Why can't a promotional postcard be used? Why can't an advertisement from the local paper be used? Based on policy there would only be one possible answer: Whatever image is being used meets all 10 of the policy criteria *and* it the most iconic/historical depiction of that subject. The overall use for such image right now is that we simply allow such use no matter what and it is up to various editors to decide which version of the non-free material is best suited to the subject. In which case perhaps this entire example would be better suited for "unacceptable uses" as I had suggested as an option as well - lets start with what is *not* acceptable and work backwards.
And just a comment on the individual projects - I see that as a part of the overall issue site-wide anymore. People are sent, first, most often, to a policy. But if one project sets a use that is not consistent with another project and neither are consistent with policy there are issues created. As pointed out above the film project "has guidelines that are significantly stricter" than what is seen here. Being stricter is not always an issue, but certainly going the other direction is - but both are of concern. This is not simply an issue here, it applies to the entire project. It leads to inconsistencies which lead to discussions such as this one. On that level I don't see any sort of true resolution because each project will always design examples/guidelines specific to that project and they may not be in line with another project. I look at the overall policy at play, others only look at one example that is narrow yet very wide - "Cover art from various items," something that applies across Wikipedia and various projects, not only music or film. At a very basic level why would "cover art" from a DVD be any different than "cover art" from a book? And if that "cover art" was part of promotional material that was sent out/supplied why would it be any different than "Other promotional material" or "Screenshots from software products" which can only be used "For critical commentary"? What I am saying is all of this is interconnected and one needs to step outside of their niche to see that. Cover art is a bit wider than what is being discussed currently, but the overall implications of their use, I believe, is the same. Soundvisions1 (talk) 14:31, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Whereas NFCI#1 (were it necessary) would ideally be a distillation of NFCC#1–10 as applied to cover-art, as is, it appears arbitrary—there is no given justification or reference to any of the requirements of NFCC. In its current state, it will remain a constant source of debate; thus its presence in the guideline is a hindrance, not a benefit. NFCC#1 urges that the question “Could the subject be adequately conveyed by text without using the non-free content at all?” be asked. For cover art, 99 times out of 100 the answer is “yes”, text is sufficient; the topic (NFCC#8) is clearly established by stating that “Work is a type-of-work by author-of-work, published/released/etc. in year-of-work” (where type-of-work and author-of-work are wiki-linked as appropriate). In summary, NFCI#1 as is should be removed, possibly to be replaced with a new item in NFCI or WP:NFC#UUI. — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 10:10, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

99%? I doubt it. That's just making up a number from nowhere. While for infoboxes or lead, I could see some cases where text alone could suffice, these are limited to covers where nothing signifigant beyond the title & author are mentioned on a bare background. That isn't the case for a number of titles. There are things like artistry, themes, portrayal of main characters, etc. that cannot easily be explained by words alone.Jinnai 16:27, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Refining NFCI#1[edit]

Please note that this section does not discount the possibility that consensus may agree that cover art without commentary on the art itself is inappropriate and thus removing NFCI#1. But there are several working concerns listed above that have started to come out to suggest language and improvements to NFCI#1 to make sure that NFCC#8 (and other parts) are being met, at minimum. I provide these here, and will continue to add as discussion above continues. Note these are not mutually exclusive with each other. Please feel free to comment in the below sections whether these are appropriate changes to be made. --MASEM (t) 16:32, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Implore that cover art is optional (it's a privileged, not a requirement)[edit]

At the FAC that was part of the reason for this discussion ( [5] ), there seemed to be some editors that were convinced that cover art is a requirement to being a complete article. I think we need to remove this stigma - it's not required but at the same time, if the main editors of the page decide to included it, it should not be questioned (working on the basis that NFCI#1 has consensus today). If a cover is simply an abstract work or provides no details otherwise needed, they should be free to skip it. --MASEM (t) 16:32, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Cover art should have some connection to the text beyond just infobox placement[edit]

Some types of cover art, where the art itself is not specifically discussed, can at least call back to the text via its caption, commonly in the case of movies, video games, and comics to what the characters and settings are. When the cover art can be used to replace a second free image of the characters, art style, setting, or the like, we should not be quick to remove it just because it is not discussed specifically in the body of the article. More abstract art, on the other hand, would be difficult to connect to the text, and thus would be difficult to justify via NFCC#8. --MASEM (t) 16:32, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

The problem with NFCC #8 is that this clause in combination with NFCC #1 form a Catch 22: if some piece of art is too abstract to be connected to the text, it can be removed per NFCC #8, even if it is irreplaceable per NFCC #1. However, if the piece of art is suitable for verbal discussion, and therefore has been discussed in details in the article, it does meet NFCC #8, however one may argue that such a detailed verbal description is sufficient, and that therefore the image should be removed per NFCC #1. As an example, let's consider the use of the non-free image File:Beatles - Abbey Road.jpg in the article about the Abbey Road album, that was recognised as legitimate during this discussion (see above). Although this point of view is absolutely correct, the rationale is absolutely wrong, in my opinion. It has been argued that the presence of this image in this article is justified because the image has been discussed in this article's section. In my opinion, this is absolutely wrong argument for following reasons.
  1. Had this image been critically needed just for discussion of creation of the album's cover (in actuality, it has not been discussed anywhere else), its proper place would be this section, not the infobox.
  2. Although this image is contextually significant for the "Album cover photograph section", one can argue that this photo does not pass the NFCC #1 criterion, because this story has been adequately conveyed by text, so there is no need in the non-free content at all. Therefore, had we literally followed policy and guidelines, we would have to move this image from the infobox, or even to remove it at all.
  3. Nevertheless, the need in this picture in the infobox is intuitively obvious (regardless of its discussion in the "Album cover photograph" section), and the quality of the article as whole would be significantly impaired had this image been removed (I am almost 100% sure that if someone decided to remove this image, the RfC's result would be "keep"). It seems to me that the attempts to present the discussion of the history of the cover creation as a justification of the image in the article's infobox are needed just to protect one's brain from cognitive dissonance resulting from a collision between artificial NFCI and common sense.
In summary, I expect that the proposed change in the NFCI #1 will not work, because the proponents of one or another album cover will add some discussion of these album covers to the articles pro forma, just to formally please some NFC rigorist, whereas really contextually significant, but abstract images will be removed just because the amount of words devoted to these images will be considered insufficient. Therefore, in my opinion, additional formalisation of the rules is not helpful, and, therefore, is a step in wrong direction. --Paul Siebert (talk) 21:25, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Basically agree with that.Jinnai 21:30, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
To take a key point to a hypothetical: what if we disallowed non-frees in the infobox? (eg the effect of removing NFCI#1), and that cover art, if is appropriate to include, should be in the right section of text in the body of the article? And yes, I'm aware this creates a line that is so fuzzy that edit wars will break out over it, but consider it a first draft, not a final answer. --MASEM (t) 23:20, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
I am afraid you misunderstand the very idea of NFCI. The preface to this list states:
"The following cases are a non-exhaustive list of established examples of acceptable use of non-free media on Wikipedia. Note that the use of such media must still comply with the Non-free content criteria and provide rationales and licensing information."
In other words, these examples just demonstrate what as a rule is considered as acceptable use. These examples do not allow anything automatically, because, as the preamble states, every concrete image has still to be checked for compliance with the policy, and accordingly, by exclusion of any of these examples you do not disallow anything.
Re the idea to disallow non-free album covers in infoboxes (regardless to NFCI), one of immediate consequences of this step will be that the non-free image will be removed from the Abbey Road infobox. Is that what you want?--Paul Siebert (talk) 23:54, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm brainstorming here, not trying to say my hypothetical is reality. You've stated that if we were only to keep cover art that was discussed specifically, the infobox seems like the wrong location for it. So hypothetically, we could argue that no non-free images should be used in the infobox, that there is no appropriate for NFCI#1, and that if cover art is to be included it should be located in the section /text where it is discussed. There's some value to think that process through (aware that it seemingly contrary to existing guidelines) and see if there's consensus to head towards that.
And yes, per your concept, the image would be removed, relocated to the section that specifically talks about the cover. --MASEM (t) 00:02, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
Firstly, let me re-iterate that the discussion is not about allowing of disallowing something, because the NFCI list by definition cannot allow of prohibit anything: it is just a non-exhaustive list of examples.
Secondly, in my opinion, the NFCC #8 cannot be formalised in principle (by "formalised" I mean the attempt to develop some formal rules that would define if the NFCC #8 is met without the analysis of concrete article's context). Therefore, although it is possible to develop a set of self-consistent rules that would regulate the use of NFC, these rules will be intrinsically flawed.
With regard to the album covers, the situation, as usually, can be described by something like Pareto law: small amount of non-free album covers belong to the articles that are being read by majority readers, and these album covers are critically needed in these articles, whereas most non-free images are being placed in wast amount of other articles, that tell about marginally notable albums, and whose primary purpose is de facto promotion of these albums. Obviously, these endless images can be removed without any harm for Wikipedia, however, can that been done by uniform application of the same formal rules to well known and recognisable covers of famous albums and to others, almost unknown ones? I doubt it is possible to achieve using the approach you propose.--Paul Siebert (talk) 01:04, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
I think there is a way to formalize of NFCC#8 - with enough of a fuzzy line - to restrict cover art to those that possess "contextual significance" to the article it is on. For one, there has to be discussion (sourced to third-parties) of the cover in question; that would be a clear definable line. Secondly, there has to be some visual aspect that is central to that discussion - either because elements of the cover are being identified, or the cover image has some type of legacy, or the like. A sourced statement "BigHairBand's latest album shows the band jumping right at you, just like their music...", with no other mention of the cover, fails this , while I think cover's like Abbey Road or Dark Side of the Moon have very iconic imagery that is discussed. This is a fuzzier line, and yes, there will be discussions on it, but it's a lot less of a problem once you've put the first point down. --MASEM (t) 01:21, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
That bar is imo still to high especially with covers that use artistic representation. You cannot describe a type of artistry without citing it from a reliable source (often non-existent) or using orginal research. In certain media that knowledge is considered important - if not crucial - information to understanding the work as a whole. Removal if it cannot meet the requirement of "critical commentary" on the cover itself would harm, not help Wikipedia.Jinnai 03:44, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
If the artist's style is important and such discussed in the sources, that's reasonable. But (again, assuming my suggested bar was in place) most of the time when people call out a cover showing the "art style" of the product and which then is never discussed, saying the "artistic representation" is necessary belies NFCC#8 because you as the editor are now creating original research to say its necessary. --MASEM (t) 05:05, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
Re "to restrict cover art to those that possess "contextual significance" to the article it is on". This hardly is a formalisation of the NFCC #8: you just repeat what this clause says, thus making the NFCI #1 simply redundant. Obviously, as far as a non-free image is being used in the article it has to have a significant contextual linkage with it, however, firstly, this requirement is universal and can be applied to all non-free images, and, secondly, the question remains what is the formal and objective criterion of such a linkage. In my opinion, it is impossible to develop the criterion/criteria that would allow us to identify a contextual linkage without the analysis of the context. In other words, the decision about some concrete image should be done after the discussion of the article's subject, not by brief examination of the presence/absence of the discussion of the image (that can be added just to prevent the removal of the image), its captions (the image in the Abbey Road article has no caption at all, and it is not needed there), and similar irrelevant things.--Paul Siebert (talk) 05:48, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
The point of NFCC#8 is that to determine that if the reader's understanding of the article is significantly diminished if the non-free image is not used. The stance NFCI#1 presently has, for most cover art and left as an implicit reason to keep it, is that the cover art provides branding and identification of the work in question for the reader. If you take this rather tenuous reason out of the picture, most cover art is decoration and can be removed per NFCC#8 because it is not needed. When the cover art actually is discussed in the article (like Abbey Road's cover), the discussion of the art is made difficult if the image could not be used; it's still possible but we would have to have many more words to make it work. Thus it is considered a valid use under NFCC#8.
The core question of this RFC involves exactly what necessary need a cover image that is otherwise left undiscussed serves on an article. If the consensus believes branding is necessary, then it makes sense for NFCI#1 to satisfy NFCC#8. If that's not the case, then we can talk trimming down what gets covered under NFCI#1. --MASEM (t) 16:36, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
If an animation cover depects an style of art similar to South Park, but no one ever discusses it in detail, it does not make the style irrelevant. The sources may not bother with it because they consider it common enough that their readers don't need to be bothered with it. However, that info on the animation style is important because it helps the reader more fully understand what the series is about. If it is removed, there is no way, without creating original research, for the reader to understand this critical piece of information, especially if the article has no screenshots because none can be justified.Jinnai 01:31, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Disallow alternate covers without commentary[edit]

Even if we accept that one cover image is appropriate per NFCI#1, most appear to agree that alternative covers are a different beast, and we need to have better reason to show these without the presence of additional commentary on the alternate cover. This likely means projects need to develop guides for which cover should be used as the main cover in the infobox (we have this at the video game project) so that there's no fighting over which cover is kept. This does not disallow alt covers where there is discussion of the alternative cover image itself. --MASEM (t) 16:32, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

That's acceptable. Alternate covers should have commentary. Usually if there is anything special about the alternate cover commentary of some kind will be found.Jinnai 16:21, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
How much commentary would be required? Could someone for example place a caption on the alternate cover reading "Japanese release cover" and claim that caption as "commentary"? -- RoninBK T C 09:24, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
I would have to say it would have to be analysis, commentary, development/production history, or try to connect it somehow to a larger real-world context. Ie, more than just a mention about its release history. How much, well that is a case-by-case basis so I can't really say, but more than "An alternate cover."Jinnai 17:17, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Define what specifically are "covers" for specific works[edit]

Again from the FAC above, one of the issues was that for a TV season, the DVD cover is not necessarily the season's "cover", as it was created post-broadcast. On the other hand, I do know of some shows that provide pre- or mid-season promotional photos that would be the equivalent of cover art if the TV show was a movie. So maybe we need a guide to say "ok, you have this media: this is the type of image we consider to be a "cover" per NFCI#1; anything else must meet all 10 NFCC points explicitly." Thus, for TV seasons, we would then disallow DVD covers while allowing pre-broadcast promotional photos; for TV episodes, there would be almost no appropriate "cover" image though I do know of a few episodes of some shows like the Simpsons where individual episodes got their own promotional artwork. And so forth. Being explicit as to what a cover is prevents inclusion of images that really aren't covers gaining the "free" inclusion via NFCI#1. --MASEM (t) 16:32, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

What about TV seasons that do not have those promotional photos?Jinnai 23:41, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Then there would be no infobox image in place, unless, of course, the DVD cover image had specific discussion in place about it. --MASEM (t) 02:20, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
That leaves off a huge number of series, especially older and foreign ones. I don't think that would be acceptable.Jinnai 16:19, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Remember that we're talking about the series article. The show article should use the "cover" equivalent - the show's title card, which likely exists for all of the cases above. --MASEM (t) 16:51, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
On the other hand, if you were to visit a television studio in person, most likely you would see promotional material hanging on the walls while a series is being filmed, which may later be distributed to affiliates, subscribers, etc.. Time-wise this would be pertinent - not to mention official. And, it's a tradition that probably dates back a lot farther. Though verifying that something hung on a wall somewhere 40 years ago is going to be tricky at best. SharkD  Talk  18:30, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Though verifying that something hung on a wall somewhere 40 years ago is going to be tricky at best. And that's why I see it as a problem. I would okay if it was worded so that if promotional material can be verified it should be used instead, but without that we should be able to use the cover.Jinnai 19:14, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
If the promotional material had some special and verified use, I wouldn't mind—it's the equating of a DVD cover to a film poster that bothers me. One has far less marketing and significance behind it than the other. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 03:03, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Closing proposal[edit]

As there doesn't seem to be much additional input coming with only about a week and change left, it clear that consensus believes cover art is appropriate and satisfies NFCC#8 when used as the infobox image for an article on the work itself; that is, NFCI#1 is justified. There are good reasons to limit it but without any further "word of god" from the Foundation on what their intent of the Resolution is, or fundamental shift in global ideals, its clear that there's a consensus for using cover art.

That said, I think we can improve NFCI#1 to be clear in a few ways that follow from the consensus above.

  1. Add footnotes that summarize where NFCI#1 came from (see the history above), and this RFC, so that if the question arises in the future, or someone argues that other type of non-free imagery should follow the same pattern, we have easy references to point to.
  2. Define specific cases where NFCI#1 is clearly ok. It does not mean that NFC cannot be used in cases not listed, only that other uses cannot rely on the concepts behind NFCI#1 for "automatic" acceptable rationale. For example, NFCI#1 could list out things like "book covers, theaterical movie posters, video game covers, tv show title cards" (I'm sure there's more); if we don't list "tv season DVD covers" that doesn't mean TV season DVD covers can't be used, but they need a better rationale than "it's a cover as per NFCI#1".
  3. Stronger discouragement of alternate cover art just because it exists. More an issue in the music projects, but NFCI#1 should only apply to one cover image, no more. Secondary and alternative covers should require good demonstration of meeting NFCC completely and cannot rely on simply meeting NFCI#1. In terms of wording, all we need to say for now is that NFCI#1 only gives a maximum of one allowance of a cover image per article; any further uses must be justified another way.

Exactly how to word all this shouldn't be too hard, but we should agree this appears to be the consensus from this RFC. --MASEM (t) 17:40, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Given that consensus is determined by the quality of the arguments given for and against an issue, as viewed through the lens of Wikipedia policy, not by a simple counted majority. Responding YES/NO/AGREE/DISAGREE [as most seem to have done in this case] is not useful, I don’t think it’s clear yet what the consensus is. Ideally, somebody needs to review, collate and summarize the above arguments so that we can judge their quality accordingly. — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 18:46, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
However, some fresh thoughts: if there are specific cases where NFCI#1 is clearly ok, then these cases can become part of NFCC. For those cases where NFCI#1 is not clearly ok, a boilerplate can never be sufficient; justification has to be given in terms of NFCC. — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 19:23, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, what I'm saying here is that even though I would rather not see NFCI#1 remain, I feel the arguments (not just majority, but reasoning too) are too difficult to call the final consensus anything but in favor of cover images, with further clarity that consensus does agree that this isn't a free pass for cover images all the time. Even if the parties disagree on the issues but agree that there's consensus for a particular solution, there's no need to call for a non-involved person to review. This has been a heated RFC but nowhere near as heated as others that have required a final arbitration statement to complete. --MASEM (t) 21:21, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree with Masem, I think. Whilst I'd personally prefer a more open interpretation of NFCI#1, it's clear that there are some concerns that are widely-enough held to be worth detailing and the broad thrust of the three points enumerated here seem to be the kinds of things we ought to clarify — particularly the kinds of irreplaceable non-free images that we consider are usually gonna be ok (such as TV title cards) and the kinds that we consider are usually not gonna be ok (such as alternative album covers). It does seem to be entirely apparent from the discussions here that there's no consensus to modify the policies in either direction, so I don't see why we would need a disinterested observer to adjudicate that. — OwenBlacker (Talk) 00:43, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
I didn't mean to suggest that a disinterested observer should be needed to adjucate, only that a summary of the arguments would be useful. Long debates have a tendency to collapse under their own weight and a summary (which could be created by anyone) has been seen before to be useful, bringing focus back to the key points and allowing useful continuation. However, given that we're all fed up to the back teeth with this, I'll assume it's not going to happen. Whilst MASEM's suggestions for improvement are fine and I support them in principle, I have a feeling that this issue will come back to bite us again before too long. A policy that requires justification on a per-article basis in conjunction with boilerplating simply cannot be right. The boilerplates are a pointless waste of time and space; if we allow boilerplating, we've effectively changed NFCC without admitting it. — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 10:46, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
I believe that Masem has accurately stated the consensus of the RfC. I don't think that a pithy summary of the arguments would be much help since it would be quite hard to make one that everyone (or even a majority) would regard as fair and it wouldn't change the underlying consensus. Eluchil404 (talk) 00:32, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
I've got some things I want to add, including a view-statement; so I'd be grateful if the discussion could be held open a little bit longer. Jheald (talk) 18:32, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

@WrappedInGrey - There is a way to keep NFCI#1 but deal with boilerplates and that is to remove the non-free rationale templates that grant those boiler plates. (This is not the same as the licensing templates, which should read consistently). Yes, I can envision that many people will copy-paste rationales and change the necessarily fields, but this is at least a step in the right direction and hope we can make people consider each field appropriately. But what is clear from the RFC is that the current consensus does state that one "exception" for non-free allowance is the cover image of published worked on works about those pages. --MASEM (t) 00:43, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Yes, it's a step, and a very good suggestion. — Wrapped in Grey (talk) 06:50, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.