Have you ever thought about your copyright on the articles you publish on Technet Wiki, or on other Wiki platforms or other code sharing platforms like Microsoft’s Codeplex or open source platform Sourceforge?
What’s the consequence of using Technet Wiki for publishing code samples like powershell scripts?
Have you ever read the small print?
A while ago, the following situation happened with powershell code published on your beloved TechNet Wiki platform.
(Names have been changed and anonymized to protect the innocent.)
An MVP posted a powershell script. A company A (“Defendant”) on the other side of the ocean used it in their product.
Some time later another company B (“Plaintiff”) from the other side of the world sued the company A for using their scripts.
That means that the company either used the MVPs script as well and the person who grabbed it, doesn’t want to admit it, so company thinks they created it.
Or it means that the dev and the MVP just had the same great idea (which happens a lot, to be honest).
“SUBMISSIONS PROVIDED TO THIS WEB SITE
No compensation will be paid with respect to the use of your Submissions. Microsoft is under no obligation to post or use any Submission, and Microsoft may remove any Submission at any time.
By providing a Submission you warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to your Submission and that your Submission is not subject to any rights of a third party (including any personality or publicity rights of any person). “
“2. Grant of Rights
(A) Copyright Grant – Subject to the terms of this license, including the license conditions and limitations in section 3, each contributor grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free copyright license to reproduce its contribution, prepare derivative works of its contribution, and distribute its contribution or any derivative works that you create.“
Just for your reference,
- in Wikipedia, text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, which is a sligthly different approach.
- Microsoft’s Codeplex
When discussing the case with the Master TNWiki Ninja he explained it as follows.
Copyright on the TNWiki is handled just like blogs or forums. You can only publish your own content (or content owned by Microsoft).
When you do that, you’re granting Microsoft to use your content in the social context. But you aren’t losing your copyright. You’re just granting permission of use.
It seems that such a case happened a few times before…
The result was that parties were offered to reach an agreement as to what the content on the Wiki should be and in some cases the content was deleted.
How could you solve the case as described earlier?
Removing the content is an option. Legally speaking.
But that’s not the end of the story.
You could ask to have a sample of their content on the Wiki with a link back to the full article (and a note about what content was granted with permission by the author).
This can be done in the same Wiki article, or a new article can be created to do this.
We should also recommend you do not sue each other, since we are talking about a context of a social world where content belongs to everyone.
Just in case the “owner” doesn’t want the code freely used, don’t publish it on social or community media first of all, but alternatively it’s recommended that the owner publishes the code on his own blog.
He should move his blog to his own site (versus a provider), where he can disable the ability to copy content.
Because this is the best way to prevent anyone from copying your content when you publish it online for anyone to copy.
Quoting the Master WikiNinja: “You can sue anyone over anything”.
But that’s not the spirit of a Wiki Ninja!
Don’t forget the TNWiki is an open, social and collaborating community which requires respect for someone elses content!
The Security & Identity Ninja.
Premier Field Engineer – Security & Identity at Microsoft
CISSP, CISA, MCT