Wikipedia:Copyrights

Important note: The Wikimedia Foundation does not own copyright on Wikipedia article texts or illustrations. It is therefore pointless to email our contact addresses asking for permission to reproduce articles or images, even if rules at your company, school, or organization mandate that you ask web site operators before copying their content.

The only Wikipedia content you should contact the Wikimedia Foundation about are the trademarked Wikipedia/Wikimedia logos, which are not freely usable without permission.

Permission to reproduce and modify text on Wikipedia has already been granted to anyone anywhere by the authors of individual articles as long as such reproduction and modification complies with licensing terms (see below and Wikipedia:Mirrors and forks for specific terms). Images may or may not permit reuse and modification; the conditions for reproduction of each image should be individually checked. The only exceptions are those cases in which editors have violated Wikipedia policy by uploading copyrighted material without authorization, or with copyright licensing terms which are incompatible with those Wikipedia authors have applied to the rest of Wikipedia content. While such material is present on Wikipedia (before it is detected and removed), it will be a copyright violation to copy it. For permission to use it, one must contact the owner of the copyright of the text or illustration in question; often, but not always, this will be the original author.

If you wish to reuse content from Wikipedia, first read the Reusers' rights and obligations section. You should then read the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License.

The text of Wikipedia is copyrighted (automatically, under the Berne Convention) by Wikipedia editors and contributors and is formally licensed to the public under one or several liberal licenses. Most of Wikipedia's text and many of its images are co-licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts). Some text has been imported only under CC BY-SA and CC BY-SA-compatible license and cannot be reused under GFDL; such text will be identified on the page footer, in the page history, or on the discussion page of the article that utilizes the text. Every image has a description page that indicates the license under which it is released or, if it is non-free, the rationale under which it is used.

The licenses Wikipedia uses grant free access to our content in the same sense that free software is licensed freely. Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed if and only if the copied version is made available on the same terms to others and acknowledgment of the authors of the Wikipedia article used is included (a link back to the article is generally thought to satisfy the attribution requirement; see below for more details). Copied Wikipedia content will therefore remain free under an appropriate license and can continue to be used by anyone subject to certain restrictions, most of which aim to ensure that freedom. This principle is known as copyleft in contrast to typical copyright licenses.

To this end,

  • Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify Wikipedia's text under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and, unless otherwise noted, the GNU Free Documentation License. unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts.
  • A copy of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License is included in the section entitled "Wikipedia:Text of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License"
  • A copy of the GNU Free Documentation License is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
  • Content on Wikipedia is covered by disclaimers.

The English text of the CC BY-SA and GFDL licenses is the only legally binding restriction between authors and users of Wikipedia content. What follows is our interpretation of CC BY-SA and GFDL, as it pertains to the rights and obligations of users and contributors.

Contributors' rights and obligations

If you contribute text directly to Wikipedia, you thereby license it to the public for reuse under CC BY-SA and GFDL (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts). Non-text media may be contributed under a variety of different licenses that support the general goal of allowing unrestricted re-use and re-distribution. See Guidelines for images and other media files, below.

If you want to import text that you have found elsewhere or that you have co-authored with others, you can only do so if it is available under terms that are compatible with the CC BY-SA license. You do not need to ensure or guarantee that the imported text is available under the GNU Free Documentation License, unless you are its sole author. Furthermore, please note that you cannot import information which is available only under the GFDL. In other words, you may only import text that is (a) single-licensed under terms compatible with the CC BY-SA license or (b) dual-licensed with the GFDL and another license with terms compatible with the CC BY-SA license. If you are the sole author of the material, you must license it under both CC BY-SA and GFDL.

If the material, text or media, has been previously published and you wish to donate it to Wikipedia under appropriate license, you will need to verify copyright permission through one of our established procedures. See Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials for details. If you are not a copyright holder, you will still need to verify copyright permission; see the Using copyrighted work from others section below.

You retain copyright to materials you contribute to Wikipedia, text and media. Copyright is never transferred to Wikipedia. You can later republish and relicense them in any way you like. However, you can never retract or alter the license for copies of materials that you place here; these copies will remain so licensed until they enter the public domain when your copyright expires (currently some decades after an author's death).

Using copyrighted work from others

All creative works are copyrighted, by international agreement, unless either they fall into the public domain or their copyright is explicitly disclaimed. Generally, Wikipedia must have permission to use copyrighted works. There are some circumstances under which copyrighted works may be legally utilized without permission; see Wikipedia:Non-free content for specific details on when and how to utilize such material. However, it is our goal to be able to freely redistribute as much of Wikipedia's material as possible, so original images and sound files licensed under CC BY-SA and GFDL (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts) or in the public domain are greatly preferred to copyrighted media files used under fair use or otherwise.

If you want to import media (including text) that you have found elsewhere, and it does not meet the non-free content policy and guideline, you can only do so if it is public domain or available under terms that are compatible with the CC BY-SA license. If you import media under a compatible license which requires attribution, you must, in a reasonable fashion, credit the author(s). You must also in most cases verify that the material is compatibly licensed or public domain. If the original source of publication contains a copyright disclaimer or other indication that the material is free for use, a link to it on the media description page or the article's talk page may satisfy this requirement. If you obtain special permission to use a copyrighted work from the copyright holder under compatible terms, you must make a note of that fact (along with the relevant names and dates) and verify this through one of several processes. See Wikipedia:Requesting copyright permission for the procedure for asking a copyright holder to grant a usable license for their work and for the processes for verifying that license has been granted.

Never use materials that infringe the copyrights of others. This could create legal liabilities and seriously hurt Wikipedia. If in doubt, write the content yourself, thereby creating a new copyrighted work which can be included in Wikipedia without trouble.

Note that copyright law governs the creative expression of ideas, not the ideas or information themselves. Therefore, it is legal to read an encyclopedia article or other work, reformulate the concepts in your own words, and submit it to Wikipedia, so long as you do not follow the source too closely. (See our Copyright FAQ for more on how much reformulation may be necessary as well as the distinction between summary and abridgment.) However, it would still be unethical (but not illegal) to do so without citing the original as a reference (see the plagiarism guideline).

Linking to copyrighted works

Since most recently-created works are copyrighted, almost any Wikipedia article which cites its sources will link to copyrighted material. It is not necessary to obtain the permission of a copyright holder before linking to copyrighted material, just as an author of a book does not need permission to cite someone else's work in their bibliography. Likewise, Wikipedia is not restricted to linking only to CC BY-SA or open-source content.

However, 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. An example would be linking to a site hosting the lyrics of many popular songs without permission from their copyright holders. Knowingly and intentionally directing others to a site that violates copyright has been considered a form of contributory infringement in the United States ([1]). Linking to a page that illegally distributes someone else's work sheds a bad light on Wikipedia and its editors.

The copyright status of Internet archives in the United States is unclear, however. It is currently acceptable to link to internet archives such as the Wayback Machine, which host unmodified archived copies of webpages taken at various points in time.

In articles about a website, it is acceptable to include a link to that website even if there are possible copyright violations somewhere on the site.

Context is also important; it may be acceptable to link to a reputable website's review of a particular film, even if it presents a still from the film (such uses are generally either explicitly permitted by distributors or allowed under fair use). However, linking directly to the still of the film removes the context and the site's justification for permitted use or fair use.

Copyright violations

Contributors who repeatedly post copyrighted material despite appropriate warnings may be blocked from editing by any administrator to prevent further problems.

If you suspect a copyright violation, you should at least bring up the issue on that page's discussion page. Others can then examine the situation and take action if needed. Some cases will be false alarms. For example, text that can be found elsewhere on the Web that was in fact copied from Wikipedia in the first place is not a copyright violation on Wikipedia's part.

If a page contains material which infringes copyright, that material – and the whole page, if there is no other material present – should be removed. See Wikipedia:Copyright violations for more information, and Wikipedia:Copyright problems for detailed instructions.

Guidelines for images and other media files

Images, photographs, video and sound files, like written works, are subject to copyright. Someone holds the copyright unless they have explicitly been placed in the public domain. Images, video and sound files on the internet need to be licensed directly from the copyright holder or someone able to license on their behalf. In some cases, fair use guidelines may allow them to be used irrespective of any copyright claims; see Wikipedia:Non-free content for more.

Image description pages must be tagged with a special tag to indicate the legal status of the images, as described at Wikipedia:Image copyright tags. Untagged or incorrectly-tagged images will be deleted.

Questions about media copyright may be directed to Wikipedia:Media copyright questions, which is generally staffed by volunteers familiar with Wikipedia's media copyright guidelines and policies.

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Вікіпэдыя:Аўтарскія правы
བོད་ཡིག: Wikipedia:Copyrights
Bahasa Indonesia: Wikipedia:Hak cipta
interlingua: Wikipedia:Copyright
Lëtzebuergesch: Wikipedia:Copyright
Bahasa Melayu: Wikipedia:Hak cipta
မြန်မာဘာသာ: Wikipedia:Copyrights
norsk nynorsk: Wikipedia:Opphavsrett
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Vikipediya:Mualliflik huquqlari
Plattdüütsch: Wikipedia:Lizenz
Ripoarisch: Wikipedia:Lizänz
Simple English: Wikipedia:Copyrights