It seems that plans are in the works for a slimmed down, condensed version of the German Wikipedia to be made into a printed encyclopedia book and it will be sold in bookstores for 20 Euros ($32). As many people have said, it’s “reverse publishing”. I say it’s a bit of a scam on the part of the German publisher Bertelsmann.
I am a nitty-gritty practical kind of guy and my initial thought was this : if Wikipedia is made up of voluntary user contributions, does Wikipedia first of all have legal permission from the writers to print the material? Did they get legal waivers from each contributor saying it was fine to use their work?
If so, is Bertelsmann allowed to make any money from it (seeing that the contributions were voluntary)? If so, shouldn’t some of that money make its way back to the writers who wrote the articles in the first place? I mean, every writer is entitled to a royalty. By denying the writer their royalty, Wikipedia is ripping them off big-time. No, in fact, let’s not beat around the bush here. Let’s say it for what it really is. Wikipedia is SHAFTING THEM.
The whole point of Wikipedia is to provide a voluntary online source of information. That is why people voluntarily gave up some of their time to write the articles for free in the first place. It is a noble project, the writer believed in the project and so they participated in it. Had they known that Wikipedia would then use their work in a commercial printed venture, I’m sure they would have had second thoughts about writing those articles. At the very least they would have demanded a contract and perhaps a guarantee of financial compensation later.
It really is a damn cheek to be honest. The writers are asked to write articles under the guise of voluntary acts of kindness, they are not credited in any way and then later on, Wikipedia decides to publish that work, charge 20 Euros a pop and pockets all the money!
Wikipedia has told the media : “It is not about the money. It is a very good example of the power of free knowledge”. If the money really doesn’t matter, then why is the book so expensive? Why not give it away?