Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Richard Arthur Norton (1958- )

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Main case page (Talk) — Evidence (Talk) — Workshop (Talk) — Proposed decision (Talk)

Case clerks: Hahc21 (Talk) & AlexandrDmitri (Talk) Drafting arbitrators: Hersfold (Talk) & Courcelles (Talk)

Case Opened on 02:58, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

Case Closed on 00:15, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Case amended by motion on 15:31, 16 October 2015 (UTC)

Watchlist all case pages: 1, 2, 3, 4

Please do not edit this page unless you are an Arbitrator or Clerk, or are making yourself a party to this case. Statements on this page are copies of the statements submitted in the original request to arbitrate this dispute, and serve as verbatim copies; as such, they should never be changed. (In the case of lengthy statements, an excerpt only may be given here, in which case the full copy will be added to the talk page—where any statements by uninvolved editors during the Requests phase will also be saved.) Any evidence you wish to provide to the Arbitrators should be added to the /Evidence subpage.

Arbitrators, the parties, and other editors may suggest proposed principles, findings, and remedies at /Workshop. That page may also be used for general comments on the evidence. Arbitrators will then vote on a final decision in the case at /Proposed decision.

Once the case is closed, editors may add to the #Log of blocks, bans, and restrictions as needed, but the other content of this page should not be edited. Please raise any questions about this decision at Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Clarification and Amendment, any general questions at Wikipedia talk:Arbitration Committee, and report violations of remedies to Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement.

Case information[edit]

Involved parties[edit]

Requests for comment[edit]

Preliminary statements[edit]

Statement by Fram[edit]

This is a typical case about a long-lasting situation where the community has attempted different approaches to solve the problems, but where the community is actually in deadlock on how to proceed.

Richard Arthur Norton is a productive editor, very good at finding sources, which has earned him the respect and defense of a number of editors. On the other hand, he has a history of problematic edits with regard to copyright, which has lead to two CCI investigations and a topic ban, which then again lead to multiple blocks.

My main concern are the ongoing copyright problems, on two fronts: his file uploads, and his links to copyright violating off-wiki pages, created by himself. As can be seen from the "other steps" section, this has been going on for years (at least since 2006), and shows no signs of improvement. He uploads many files as PD, only to change them to FU when challenged. This includes recent examples like File:Freudenberg-Louis Kohlman-Ralph MatavanBeach 1915 circa.png, which he marked as PD (which it wasn't), and then changed to be FU for an article on the beach, which is hardly visible in the photograph; or File:Cristmas eve, Isle of Pines, 1910 copy.jpg, which changed from PD to FU despite being 3,246 × 2,111 pixels large. Images like File:Larger print of Aftermath from the Hurricane of 1917, Isle of Pines.jpg are still incorrectly tagged as public domain.

Worse are his many links to copyright violations he uploaded on other sites like Flickr and Familypedia. Recent examples include this edit to David Emanuel Wahlberg, linking to the picture of a Swedish article from 1949 (so presumably copyrighted); this edit to Eddie August Schneider, linking to more copyright violations[1]; or especially this edit to Paramus High School, linking to the familypedia page of Steven Howard Temares, which hosts nothing but a full copy of a Wall Street Journal article from 2012. This Familypedia page was created by Richard Arthur Norton. Using it as a reference is not only using a self-written wiki page as a reference, but a very clear breach of WP:ELNEVER and WP:COPYLINK.

Considering the long ongoing nature of these copyright violations, the fact that he has been made aware of these problems for years, and the sad fact that the community can't find a good solution, I would urge the Arbcom to take this case on. Fram (talk) 08:31, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

(Removed responses because of length considerations). Fram (talk) 08:49, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

RAN reinstated clear copyright violating Familypedia link today:[2]. Fram (talk) 09:10, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

2 February; fair use claim for a 1,848 × 2,142 file?[3] Fram (talk) 08:24, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Considering that a user talk page discussion has no binding value anyway, and that RAN has not indicated any agreement with the proposals (he promised a reply for yesterday evening, but none has been posted), nor any indication that he agrees that he has actually done anything wrong (quite the contrary so far), I see no compelling reason to suspend this case as long as that discussion is ongoing. I doubt that the discussion at his talk page will have any "teeth", so to speak, making it basically useless. Seeing how the proposer of the remedies there is the same editor who vehemently rejected any proposals at the ANI discussion, and even any indications that there were more pressing problems than getting the article creation ban lifted, it seems to me that this is not a genuine effort to improve Wikipedia, but a desperate effort to avoid an ArbCom case only. People are already chopping away at the proposed restrictions anyway, making them even weaker than what is suggested. Considering all this, I don't support the remedies from the talk page discussion and would prefer ArbCom to take the case. Fram (talk) 20:41, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

I'll be offline for the next 8 or 9 days. Assuming that this case gets accepted, I don't want to delay this case unnecessary, nor do I want to deny anyone the chance to analyze the evidence for it. For this reason, I have prepared User:Fram/RAN evidence. I would be much obliged if, in the case that this case gets opened during my absence, the contents from that page (from "Preliminary" until the end) could be added as my evidence section to the appropriate case page. I hope that this is an acceptable way of acting for everyone involved. Fram (talk) 14:58, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Statement by Carrite (Tim Davenport)[edit]

This has NOT been exhausted by the community and should be declined. Fram, in his rush to wield the blazing sword of justice to venue shop for a result which he finds "satisfactory," has opened this case request before the AN/I discussion thread has even been closed. I have a specific proposal to make there which was undercut by this unilateral decision. This case should be rejected at least until that thread is closed by consensus. Carrite (talk) 17:51, 1 February 2013 (UTC) Last edit: Carrite (talk) 19:07, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

@ArbCom. The fundamental fairness issue that I hope you are seeing is that only Administrators are going to be able to evaluate the evidence in this case. To non-Administrators, every deleted file is going to be an invisible red link. Not all copyright violations are alike — there are multiple potential causes and one type of persistent error or willing violation might call for one remedy, another sort of error or violation might indicate another. Moreover, not every call on copyright made by WP administrators is either simple or correct. Not every red-link is necessarily indicative of guilt. Other red-links may obscure outrageous behavior. Participants in this case do need to see these files; and participation is currently limited to Administrators. I'm in a position where I can legitimately run in an RFA and either pass or come close (amidst much needless acrimony). The subject of this investigation has no such opportunity. Others likewise may not qualify for the Administrative bit and will therefore be cut out from serious participation in this debate. This is a very serious issue and I hope you come up with a solution which allows serious participation by those who are not Administrators. Carrite (talk) 18:18, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

Statement by User:Richard Arthur Norton (1958- )[edit]

I apologize for making errors, and work to correct them as quickly as possible. Last year I was working on Wikipedia four hours a day and became one of the top 100 contributors, now I may contribute about 15 minutes a month. I would love it if every non-Wikipedia image online came with standard copyright notice built in. Copyrights are complex, if they were easy we would just have a script written to determine copyright status and what constitutes fair use and we could automatically import images, just like Google now does for their sidebar biographies. Google has been trying to settle the fair use vs copyright vs orphaned work for over 5 years with Google Books and still has not been able to find a universal agreement to the issue. People that should be experts on copyright make mistakes too: The New York Times still incorrectly puts a new copyright notice on all the PDF files of articles published before 1922 that are in the public domain. Other editors here at Wikipedia are not always correct when they delete something that I upload, after all we are not all-knowing, just people trying to create a good encyclopedia, and all doing the best we can. Here at Wikipedia:Possibly_unfree_files/2013_January_31 we have my upload deleted of Amy Sherwin. The public domain status was rejected, then the fair use rational was rejected because there are images of her already on Commons. What image is on Commons as public domain? This very image that was rejected as not being public domain. Should I have checked Commons first? Yes. Should the person who argued that it was not in the public domain have recognized that the same image was listed as public domain and already stored on Commons? Yes. Do we both have the same goal: to make a world-class encyclopedia, that will preserve information and allow obscure, but notable people to remembered by history? Can every editor come to the same conclusion that an image is allowed by fair-use vs in-the-public-domain vs under-copyright? No, just look at any page of the daily list of images up for deletion. If it were easy, 100% of editors would agree, 100% of the time. At one point in Wikipedia we deleted every fair use image of a living person. At another point we decided that every fair use image from a new agency was not allowed. One day it was fair use, the next day it wasn't.

Preliminary decision[edit]

Clerk notes[edit]

This area is used for notes by the clerks (including clerk recusals).
  • Roger Davies' vote takes the tally to a net four to accept, and starts the 24 hour minimum clock to opening a case. --Alexandr Dmitri (talk) 20:25, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ): Arbitrators' opinion on hearing this matter <7/0/0/5>[edit]

Vote key: (Accept/decline/recuse/other)

  • Is there a reason why the community cannot discus this? I see the copyvios, and I see the history of problems with this user, but I don't see a recent discussion by the community which failed to reach a decision. SilkTork ✔Tea time 15:53, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

:Accept per Hersfold. SilkTork ✔Tea time 15:44, 6 February 2013 (UTC) Sorry, noting that the community are still discussing this, would rather wait until that discussion is finished. SilkTork ✔Tea time 15:47, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

  • I'm leaning towards rejecting the appeal, on the basis that there still appear to be good-faith efforts as a community-based resolution on ANI and an arb case would be too hasty. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 18:40, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Awaiting stateement from Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ), but, like David above, not thinking this is ripe for arbitration at this moment. Courcelles 02:11, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Accept The long-term issues here mean that this is something the Committee should look into. Courcelles 19:37, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Also awaiting a statement from Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ), but I am aware that this has been a longterm, serial issue that the community has attempted to address in several ways. Its repeated recurrence is very concerning. Leaning toward acceptance. Risker (talk) 02:24, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
  • I agree with Risker that the repeated return of that issue at various noticeboards is concerning; I am leaning towards acceptance as well, but would prefer to see a statement from RAN before I make my mind. — Coren (talk) 14:47, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
    • Accept; copyright is a complicated set of issues, and it's expected that editors be responsive and diligent when dancing in that particular minefield. The allegations here are that RAN is careless and unresponsive to copyright issues, and his statement does nothing to reassure me that he understands those concerns. — Coren (talk) 15:03, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Accept. This has certainly been a long-term problem, and one which the community has attempted to resolve through multiple discussions, CCI's, and a topic ban. Despite this, it appears as though concerns continue to surface. In reading RAN's statement, I cannot help but get the impression that he seriously misunderstands key parts of our copyright policies. What this case should determine is if that is in fact the case, and if so, if it's due to a genuine misunderstanding or some sort of willful refusal to understand, and how best to resolve the issue whatever the cause. This sort of deliberative investigation is something the community is largely unable to accomplish at high-speed venues such as ANI, and past attempts to do so at CCI have evidently proved to be ineffective since we're discussing this a few years later. Hopefully a case, while lengthly, will provide the full body of evidence necessary to put these concerns to rest for good. Hersfold non-admin(t/a/c) 18:03, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
    • Clerks, please hold opening of this case; I've just been pointed to the discussion on Richard's talk page and I'd like to see how that plays out. Hersfold non-admin(t/a/c) 20:02, 6 February 2013 (UTC) Carry on per my earlier email. Hersfold (t/a/c) 05:00, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
      • Unfortunately I'm not sure that the talk page discussion is going terribly well - To summarize recent developments, RAN has posted a counter-proposal to Carrite's original proposal which appears to be considerably more lenient; Fram has since replied, apparently rejecting almost every point of RAN's proposal. I suggest we allow another 24 hours for that discussion to reach some sort of resolution; if it does not by that time, we should proceed with the case and request that all involved post their recommendations to the workshop page. Hersfold non-admin(t/a/c) 16:25, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
    • To all parties and interested editors: We understand that a major component of the evidence in this case will be stuck within deleted pages, which the vast majority of editors are unable to review. While Carrite is currently attempting to get the ability to view these pages, obviously we can't just give admin rights to everyone who wants to comment on the case. Unfortunately, because these pages were deleted as copyright violations, we cannot simply restore all of them for the duration of the case, either. However, the Committee is currently discussing to determine some way by which we can allow non-admin editors participating in the case to view a limited number of the deleted pages in such a way that does not unnecessarily compound the problem of the copyright violations. More details will come if/when the case opens, but I just wanted everyone to know that we're working on it. Hersfold non-admin(t/a/c) 16:25, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Accept per Hersfold. Carcharoth (talk) 00:15, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Accept, also per Hersfold.  Roger Davies talk 19:31, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Accept. T. Canens (talk) 20:23, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Leaning towards acceptance, but waiting to see the outcome of the community attempt to sort this, which would be a plausible outcome of the case anyway WormTT(talk) 15:51, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Copyright is an enormously complicated field, and I have a lot of sympathy for Richard's confusion. Nevertheless, the extent of the problem we have with his contributions in the area of copyright are worrying. I am minded to decline this request because it seems probable that the community can resolve the problem without our intervention; but I may vote to accept if Richard's response to the "settlement" being proposed on his talk page is dissatisfactory. If Hersfold strikes his request that the clerks hold this request in abeyance, then (and only then) my vote is decline; otherwise, I will vote finally on this matter in the coming days. AGK [•] 23:00, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Accept. AGK [•] 01:55, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

Temporary injunction (none)[edit]

Final decision[edit]

All tallies are based the votes at /Proposed decision, where comments and discussion from the voting phase is also available.


Free-use and fair-use content[edit]

1) The primary goal of Wikipedia is to create a free content encyclopedia. Free content includes text and media that are either in the public domain or are licensed under a free content license as defined by the parts of the Definition of Free Cultural Works that pertain to licenses. Media that do not meet these requirements may only be used in accordance with the non-free content criteria (formerly known on Wikipedia as "fair use criteria").

Passed 13 to 0 at 00:31, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Non-free content criteria[edit]

2) Wikipedia:Non-free content criteria states that copyrighted or otherwise non-free media may be used only under strictly defined circumstances. Such media must not be of high resolution, must provide significant value to one or more articles, and must not be easily replaceable by a freely-available equivalent. Wikipedia:Non-free content states that brief quotations of copyrighted text may be used to "illustrate a point, establish context, or attribute a point of view or idea," but notes that all such uses must be accompanied by an appropriate citation and must not be excessively long.

Passed 13 to 0 at 00:31, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Linking to copyright violations[edit]

3) The policy Wikipedia:Copyrights states "if you know or reasonably suspect that an external Web site is carrying a work in violation of the creator's copyright, do not link to that copy of the work." Specifically for external links, this is further explained in the guideline Wikipedia:External links: "Knowingly directing others to material that violates copyright may be considered contributory copyright infringement. If there is reason to believe that a website has a copy of a work in violation of that work's copyright, do not link to it."

Passed 13 to 0 at 00:31, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Policies with legal considerations[edit]

4) While Wikipedia works on the consensus model, certain policies that have legal implications (including Wikipedia:Copyrights and Wikipedia:Non-free content criteria) may not be overruled by local consensus or personal preference. However, questions regarding whether particular content is in violation of policy may be freely discussed and decided by the community. Such decisions are subject to the dispute resolution procedures; decisions that are believed to violate policy can be appealed.

Passed 13 to 0 at 00:31, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Sanctions and circumstances[edit]

5) In deciding what sanctions to impose against an editor who is the subject of an Arbitration case, the Arbitration Committee will consider the editor's overall record of participation, behavioral history, and other relevant circumstances. An editor's positive and valuable contributions in one aspect of his or her participation on Wikipedia do not excuse misbehavior or questionable judgment in another aspect of participation, but may be considered in determining the sanction to be imposed.

Passed 12 to 0 at 00:31, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Jurisdiction of the Arbitration Committee[edit]

6) Per the Arbitration Policy, the Arbitration Committee has no jurisdiction over Wikimedia projects other than the English Wikipedia. However, the Committee may take notice of conduct outside its jurisdiction when making decisions about conduct on the English Wikipedia, if such outside conduct impacts or has the potential to impact adversely upon the English Wikipedia or its editors.

Passed 12 to 0 at 00:31, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Findings of fact[edit]

Passed 12 to 0 at 00:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Richard Arthur Norton (1958- )[edit]

1) Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk · contribs) has been a Wikipedia editor since 2004. During his time on Wikipedia he has made well over 100,000 edits on a variety of subjects.

Passed 13 to 0 at 00:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Richard Arthur Norton (1958- )'s copyright history[edit]

2) Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) has been responsible for adding or linking to copyrighted content, including both text and images in various forms, to Wikipedia since 2005 (Fram's evidence, Carrite's evidence). A substantial number of these additions have been found to be in violation of applicable policies, and have resulted in a block in 2006, two Contributor Copyright Investigations (CCIs) (one for images and another for text), and a community-issued topic ban from creating new articles.

Passed 13 to 0 at 00:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Contributions to Contributor Copyright Investigations[edit]

3) Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) has done little to contribute to resolving the alleged copyright concerns listed at the Contributor Copyright Investigations concerning himself (Garion96's evidence). When asked about his work on the investigations, Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) provided two diffs demonstrating his work ([4] [5]); however, the first of these edits comments out, but does not remove, copyrighted text.

Passed 12 to 0 with 1 abstention at 00:30 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) has violated his topic ban[edit]

4) Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk · contribs) was blocked three times for violation of his topic ban on article creation. This case was opened following a report at the Incidents noticeboard of another violation: [6].

Passed 13 to 0 at 00:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) has acknowledged errors[edit]

5) After this case was opened, Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk · contribs) stated that he accepts that improvements in his editing are needed and is willing to accept restrictions to prevent further incidents.

Passed 10 to 2, with 1 abstention at 00:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)


All remedies that refer to a period of time (for example, a ban of X months or a revert parole of Y months) are to run concurrently unless otherwise stated.

Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) strongly admonished[edit]

1) Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) is strongly admonished for creating multiple copyright violations throughout Wikipedia and failing to adhere to the project's expected standards and policies with regards to non-free content. He is warned that continued violations of this nature are likely to result in an indefinite block from editing.

Passed 13 to 0 at 00:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Richard Arthur Norton (1958- )'s topic ban on article creation[edit]

2.2) The Committee acknowledges that Richard Arthur Norton (1958- )'s community-placed topic ban on article creations was a valid and apparently successful attempt to curb his text-based copyright violations, and further recognizes that this sanction has been violated a number of times. This topic ban will remain in place and is assumed under the Arbitration Committee's authority. After at least six months have elapsed, Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) may appeal to the Committee to have the topic ban lifted in full; in order for appeals of this remedy to be considered, he shall be required to submit evidence of substantial work on his part towards resolving the Contributor Copyright Investigations filed against him, most particularly the one focused on his text contributions.

Passed 12 to 1 at 00:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
Superseded by motion at 16:13, 16 October 2015 (UTC).

Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) restricted from uploading images[edit]

3) Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) is indefinitely prohibited from uploading images or other media files to the English Wikipedia. The Arbitration Committee notes that media files can be uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, a project which is outside the jurisdiction of this Committee. Should Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) upload a copyright-violating image to the Wikimedia Commons and subsequently make use of that image on the English Wikipedia in any namespace, he may be subject to Arbitration Enforcement as if the image were uploaded directly to the English Wikipedia in violation of this remedy. This shall apply retroactively to all images currently uploaded by Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) to the Wikimedia Commons at the time this remedy is enacted, but shall not apply retroactively to any uses on the English Wikipedia in existence at the time this case closes.

Passed 13 to 0 at 00:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) restricted from referencing external sites to which he has contributed[edit]

4) Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) is prohibited from linking as a reference any external site to which he has contributed. He may provide such links on the talk pages of articles, so they may be reviewed by other editors for acceptance according to applicable Wikipedia guidelines and policies; if accepted, another editor may add these links as desired.

Passed 13 to 0 at 00:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)


October 2015[edit]

Motion: Richard Arthur Norton (1958- )[edit]

Remedy 2.2 of the Richard Arthur Norton (1958 - ) case is struck and replaced by:

2.3) Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) ("RAN") is indefinitely prohibited from:

  • Creating any articles or draft articles in any namespace.
  • Moving any page into the article namespace from any other namespace.

Other editors may move pages created or substantially edited by RAN, but only if they explicitly take responsibility for any copyright violations on that page.

This remedy may be appealed after the later of 6 months and when all draft articles he has authored, in his userspace and in the draft namespace, have been verified free of copyright violations and moved to the article namespace by other editors or deleted. In order for appeals of this remedy to be considered, he shall be required to submit evidence of substantial work on his part towards resolving the Contributor Copyright Investigations (CCI) filed against him, most particularly the one focused on his text contributions.

Any article or draft article created contrary to this restriction will result in a block, initially of at least one month and then proceeding per the enforcement provisions. The article or draft article may be speedily deleted under criterion G5 by any administrator.

Any page moves made contrary to this restriction may be enforced by blocks per the enforcement provisions. The page move may be reversed by any editor able to do so.

Passed 7 to 3 by motion at 16:11, 16 October 2015 (UTC)


Special enforcement[edit]

1) Should any user subject to a restriction in this case violate that restriction, that user may be blocked, initially for up to one month, and then with blocks increasing in duration to a maximum of one year; after the third block issued under this provision, subsequent blocks issued under this provision may be of any duration, including indefinite. Appeals of blocks may be made to the imposing administrator, and thereafter to arbitration enforcement (where a consensus of uninvolved administrators will determine the result of the appeal), or to the Arbitration Committee. All blocks shall be logged in the appropriate section of the main case page.

Passed 12 to 0 at 00:31, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Log of blocks, bans, and restrictions[edit]

Any block, restriction, ban, or sanction performed under the authorisation of a remedy for this case must be logged in this section. Please specify the administrator, date and time, nature of sanction, and basis or context. Unless otherwise specified, the standardised enforcement provision applies to this case.