Kim Jong-un illustrated, finally. Quite the coup for NK.

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Kim Jong-un illustrated, finally. Quite the coup for NK.

Post by CrowsNest » Mon Mar 26, 2018 12:29 pm

One of the most amusing aspects of the English Wikipedia community, is the even split of contributors between those who are absolutely steadfast in their belief it should contain no material that is not 'free', and those who believe it should allow some use of copyrighted material under the limitations of 'fair use', like any other academic publisher.

This has produced a rather comical compromise - English Wikipedia does allow fair use to enhance their content, but this is purposefully interpreted more strictly than merely what would be considered legally fair use. The theory is that this helps and indeed encourages the donation of free material, while still allowing fair use where this would be virtually impossible.

Naturally, the wider public's (and most Wikipedia editors') confusion over this uneasy peace has caused endless problems, and while it is a peace of sorts that both factions can understand and accept pending the Great Battle, it being Wikipedia, the divide has itself spawned a gajillion terrabtytes of dispute as they fight over no-man's land.

Anyway, one hilarious outcome of this all, was the fact their biography of Kim Jong-un had never had a photo. The only incumbent world leader on the whole of Wikipedia, to not be illustrated with a photo. Until now.

The free kulture zealots had long argued that the mere theoretical possibility of a free image being created, simply because Kim was alive and not a recluse, meant fair use was off the table indefinitely, under the terms of the peace treaty. Their opponents pointed out that there's not much use clinging onto the theoretical possibility if it meant the very obvious practical issues meant the article would most likely never be illustrated until he was dead (at which point Wikipedia allows fair use). They also tried, unsuccessfully, to point out that because Kim's appearance (his fluctuating weight, his comical hairstyles) were the subject of much commentary in reliable sources, this meant fair use was justified even under Wikipedia's onerous restrictions.

For some reason, most likely because Wikipedia is not a place where rational argument toward a sensible compromise is possible, the zealots always prevailed. The article remained without a photo for twelve years (latterly featuring a photo realistic illustration, despite that being a clear cut case of allowing the potential biases and general competence of an artist interfere with the encyclopedic purpose of faithfully illustrating the subject).

This was likely because their strongest argument (to a reasonable observer) was that perhaps, maybe, at some point, certainly well before he died, but maybe not for several years, Kim would travel abroad to some country with a state media which publishes photographs on a free license (understandably, news organisations invited to such events have always absolutely refused to give away a press photo for free). The zealots thought this might be Russia, the same route having been used to illustrate the prior incarnation of the Supreme Leader, but the eventual result is even more hilarious.

Because this is the image they have finally found...... ... ilding.jpg

Yes, you heard that right. The English Wikipedia biography of Kim Jong-un is now illustrated by a photograph produced by the state agency of their deadly rival, taken not during a visit by the great man to South Korea, but the reverse, a visit of their envoys (and hence their official photographers) to North Korea.

To me this would appear to be a tremendous coup for North Korea. Forever more, the image Wikipedia will project of the Supreme Leader will be of him talking peace with the highest ranking officials of his enemies, in the grand hall of the "Workers' Party of Korea". That use of the name "Korea" in the title of Wikipedia's file name being a real nice touch.

It even made the US look pretty bad/mad/sad in the seen in contemporary press reporting of the meeting.

Considering how long they have had to wait, and that this image is every bit as flattering and beneficial to North Korea as anything that might have been obtained via the fair use route (given that it would have to come from the pool of existing legitimately licensed imagery, which is exclusively eminating from North Korean official channels or staged events), you really do have to question if the zealots have done the world a favour here.

And quite clearly, this extended period of stubbornness has done nothing, as in absolutely fuck all, to encourage the procurement of free content to Wikipedia, which is really the only reason the zealots ever gave for their obstinancy. If anything, it might make governments like South Korea reconsider their use of open government licensing, given Wikipedia seems unable to use such imagery in context.

There is a write up of the whole back story here... ... g-un_photo
...and it is remarkably neutral given the author is Hammersoft, the single most ardent zealot behind his twelve year campaign of stubbornness. Perhaps his even tone is because it is a proposed write up for the Wikipedia community newsletter - he is certainly less polite and even handed when speaking about this elsewhere.

Amusingly, it is still biased given what he doesn't say. For example, he fails to make clear that under Wikipedia's rules, even if a non-free image been used for the last twelve years, the very second this free image was uploaded, the fair use image would have been speedy deleted and replaced, regardless of any other considerations, like context and quality. He also, of course, steered well clear of the specifics of how this image was made, or what it shows.

He concludes with the following....
The uploading of this image has finally broken the gordian knot, and ended many years of debate on a crucial non-free content licensing issue. Speculating, but it is likely this case will be referred to for years to come when it comes to similarly difficult NFCC issues.
Hard to see how.....the Kim Jong-un issue has always been an extremely unique situation, with no parallels to other debates. But then again, tortuous application of so called precedents has always been a feature of the zealot's strategy. Undoubtedly what he means is, whenever any dispute arises in future where it looks to be impossible to obtain a free image, he'll be waving this in their face and decrying their heresy. While never ever admitting that it took twelve years, and has no real relevance based to the situation.

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