Wiktionary talk:Princeton WordNet
So, is this letter good enough yet? Do we still want to do this? How would we import the entries, with a Wordnet: namespace, like Webster 1913? -- Merphant 00:39 Jan 25, 2003 (UTC)
- Any better it'll have to go up on the sky. --Menchi 02:55 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
Has GNU been contacted to verify that WordNet's license is in fact not compatible with GFDL? When I have contacted them with questions in the past they have been very helpful. I made a lot of changes to this letter, I hope they work for everyone. No hard feelings if things need to be snipped to be more in line with the project, same for grammer / mechanical. -- Jim May 7, 2003
- IANAL but I think as it is worded their license is incompatible with wiki GFDL (no invariant sections, front-cover texts, etc.; see also Wiktionary:Using public domain works as a base). The spirit of their license seems to be in line with Wiktionary's, so they probably won't have a problem with releasing it under the GFDL. That would be the simplest and easiest solution for both parties; it would eliminate any legal hassles that might arise, since it's the same license.
- Anyway, the letter looks fine as it is. We should look into getting it sent soon. -- Merphant 06:20 May 13, 2003 (UTC)
- Does anyone volunteer? If not, I'll do it. I'm pretty sure they won't spam me back. Or would you like to do the honour, Merphant? --Menchi 09:08 May 13, 2003 (UTC)
- I would think that maybe Jimbo should do it, as he is the closest thing Wiktionary/WP has to an 'official' representative, although it would probably be just a nusiance for him to do it, and besides I think he's on vacation right now. I posted a message to wikipedia-l about this. Maybe it would be better for one of the more active Wiktionauts to do it (e.g. you, I don't really contribute much to Wiktionary anymore); it probably doesn't much matter, though. It doesn't look like anyone's responded to my post yet, so I suggest waiting a few days to see if anyone on the list has any brilliant ideas, and if not, go ahead and send it. -- Merphant 07:32 May 14, 2003 (UTC)
Open Letter 2004
What follows is an open letter to the WordNet people asking them to let Wiktionary use WordNet under the GFDL, as suggested on Wiktionary:Using public domain works as a base. The letter was originally written in the main article: Wiktionary:Princeton WordNet, and only subsequently moved to the talk page. The letter was sent back in 2004.
Dear Cognitive Science Laboratory:
We have just started Wiktionary, a free, collaboratively edited, multilingual dictionary and thesaurus project released under terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).
Creating a new dictionary and thesaurus is a large undertaking; as such we are considering using public domain texts as a starting point. Unfortunately these tend to be outdated and inaccurate. We have, however, found WordNet to be far superior to the other available texts, and would like to incorporate it into Wiktionary to add missing definitions and as a basis for future definitions.
The license that WordNet is offered under appears to be incompatible with the GFDL. We would very much like to include your materials in the project, but do not want to violate any licenses or copyrights. It would appear we can only use your work if you are willing to grant us a separate license to WordNet under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts), or another compatible license. You can read the license in full at
This license expressly protects authors "from being considered responsible for modifications made by others" while ensuring that authors get credit for their work. If you have any specific questions about the GFDL then you can contact the GNU foundation via their web site http://www.gnu.org/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org where I am sure you will find them very helpful.
Although a GFDL license would be ideal, we understand that it may not fit with your goals for the WordNet project. There are also other compatible licenses available. You can find a list with comments on the GNU site here:
If you agree to grant a compatible license of your work, we will gladly give WordNet credit in a references section in each definition, saying that the definition was originally based on your work, while not falsely crediting you for things that you didn't write. We will also indicate how to find the original WordNet entry. Alternatively, we can provide a statement on the main page of Wiktionary indicating that many of the definitions originated from or are based on the WordNet project and then, via a link, provide information on WordNet, a disclaimer of your liability for our changes and information on how to view the original WordNet definitions. Please let us know what best suits your needs.
It is our hope that by working together we can not only build a better Wiktionary, but we can also continue and build on the spirit of WordNet. Please join us in this.
The WikiWiki concept is to allow anyone and everyone to search, use, and edit the content of a web site in a collaborative way. The origin of the word is from Hawaiian for "quick". It is at times referred to simply as Wiki or WikiWikiWeb. Ward Cunningham invented and named the Wiki concept, and produced the first implementation of a WikiWiki server.
Wiktionary is a sub-project of the more established Wikipedia project, which is currently producing a free encyclopedia in nearly thirty languages. The English version of Wikipedia was started January 15, 2001 and, as of April 2003, contains 211468 pages, with 119080 considered legitimate articles. Wiktionary was just started December 12, 2002 and has 2394 articles, currently limited to only the English language.
Both Wiktionary and Wikipedia are licensed under the GFDL and are developed using open source collaboration software based on the WikiWiki concept. We are also planning to create a non-profit organization to administer Wiktionary and Wikipedia.
If you are interested or have additional questions for us then please respond to this email as we eagerly await your response!
The Wiktionary Community
Response from Princeton
I took it upon myself to contact the WordNet team at Princeton, and direct them toward this open letter.
Ben Haskell responded: "I have read the open letter at the link you sent me. And, I've read the GNU Free Documentation License. I am not a lawyer, but I'm curious as to why the WordNet License is seen as incompatible with the GFDL. The WordNet License has served us well for over a dozen years. We're reluctant to have to deal with the University legal department for possibly unnecessary license issues. Could you please respond with what specific concerns you (and/or your collaborators) have about our license? As far as I'm aware, the paragaph of the open letter beginning with If you agree to grant a compatible license of your work, we will gladly... would make everything perfectly acceptable under our current license." (He also granted me permission to quote this reply here, in a later email.)
I'm also contacting the folks at GNU to see what their opinion on the matter is. They have a page on the WordNet license and a partial compatibility list but nothing that explicitly mentions the GFDL. --Wclark 20:41, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Response from GNU
I heard back from the folks at GNU, and their unofficial determination is that the WordNet license is compatible with the GFDL. They can research further to provide us with an official determination, but it will take several weeeks. I'm waiting to hear back from the person who contacted me, before I post the actual content of the email reply. But do we really need any more work done on this, considering the WordNet folk and GNU folk both seem to agree (at least unofficially) that there would be no problem using the data? --Wclark 21:57, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Here is the actual text of the reply from Dave Turner:
"I believe that the Wordnet license is compatible with the GNU Free Documentation License. I'm not authorized give you an official determination, but I can talk to people who can, if this is important to you. Please let me know. I expect that this would take a few weeks."
--Wclark 22:07, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Was this ever resolved further? 126.96.36.199 13:55, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
- I too am curious to know what happened in the wake of all the activity. (Signed ~ Bodnotbod at Wikipedia, unknown here) --188.8.131.52 23:47, 14 October 2005 (UTC).
Hopefully it did not happen. Wordnet is a cognitive psychology project, not a reliable source for the meanings of words; they lump together different words together under the very same meanings, when these "synonyms" have only similar meanings not the same meaning (and in some cases their lumping isn't even proper synonyms). Centrx 05:04, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
- But perhaps there could be some human-assisted way of merging WordNet entries into Wiktionary synonyms lists? (Perhaps someone could modify AutoWikiBrowser to do it?) Also, how about marking them as "related words" not synonyms? Unforgettableid 04:27, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
- That's not what the heading "===Related terms===" is for. They aren't etymologically related, so they must not get lumped in there. As they are not synonyms either, they can't be misrepresented there, either.
- The above "response" is no reponse at all. I don't see any clear indication that we wouldn't face massive legal problems from importing this content. (Well, WMF wouldn't - but the individual that performed the imports would be legally liable.) --Connel MacKenzie 05:33, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
In 2004, Ben Haskell of WordNet has asked in his response, according to above: "Could you please respond with what specific concerns you (and/or your collaborators) have about our license? As far as I'm aware, the paragaph of the open letter beginning with If you agree to grant a compatible license of your work, we will gladly... would make everything perfectly acceptable under our current license." This seems a perfectly meaningful question that those who have doubted the compatibility of the licenses should have answered.
In 2004, a response from GNU's Dave Turner, in relation to GNU FDL rather than CC AS, was, according to above: "I believe that the Wordnet license is compatible with the GNU Free Documentation License. I'm not authorized give you an official determination, but I can talk to people who can, if this is important to you. Please let me know. I expect that this would take a few weeks."
In 2008, Conrad Irwin in Beer parlour on the subject: "According to someone on IRC their license isn't actually compatible with the GFDL as they demand copyright be given to them in perpetuity, so any contributors would not get any rights in the way of the GFDL. However I do think that this would be a good idea if we can find a way to make it work. Conrad.Irwin 12:39, 14 February 2008 (UTC)". That would refer to the following sentence from the WordNet 3.0 lincese: "Title to copyright in this software, database and any associated documentation shall at all times remain with Princeton University and LICENSEE agrees to preserve same."
I do not know who could clarify the compatibility question in such a reliable way that Wiktionary editors could start freely taking over relevant parts of WordNet without the fear of committing copyright violation. This would be very useful. --Dan Polansky 09:08, 2 June 2010 (UTC)