Avoid copyright paranoia

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Crystal wordprocessing.png This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

Trend[edit]

A trend I am observing on Wikipedia is excessive paranoia about copyright infringements. While a certain amount of preventive action is certainly necessary, I strongly oppose simply deleting an entry for "presumed" copyright violations.

Examples:

  • An entry which contains a few copied phrases from individual websites or other sources. Quotation, even without attribution, is specifically allowed in international copyright law, and single sentences are generally not protectable.
  • A digitized picture that may be copied from elsewhere, but has in fact been created hundreds of years ago. Sometimes, the companies who have digitized these pictures claim copyright on them, but I find such claims highly dubious.
  • Screenshots of free software applications, and small illustrative screenshots. It should generally be no problem if a screenshot is copied from the official product page.

These are cases where I would generally not delete the entry unless the alleged copyright holder complains. Given Wikipedia's potential liability, after a complaint, immediate action may be necessary, although later correction is possible. But it is not Wikipedians' job to excessively "police" content for copyright infringements, especially when such may not even exist.

In general, when in doubt, do not delete. When "fairly certain", ask the author first in /Talk. The notion of "intellectual property" is dubious at best, (see: RMS on IP and The Geneva Declaration, etc.) and Wikipedia should not support it beyond the limits given by law. Personally, I will restore any entries which I do not see as copyright infringements, and I encourage you to do the same.

-- w:User:Eloquence

"Quotation, even without attribution, is specifically allowed in international copyright law, and single sentences are generally not protectable." Not protectable, but taking sentences verbatim, or lengthy unattributed paraphrase, is for better or for worse considered academic dishonesty of the first degree and often punished with the academic equivalent of the death penalty. While I don't think we should delete entire articles that such material is inserted into, it would be extremely bad for the project's credibility to tolerate these to remain. --w:User:NTK
Oh, come on! That is ridiculous. From whence any wikimedia project has to abide by some unwritten, subjective and largely invisible code of "academic etiquette"? What is the law is the law and what is not the law is not the law.

There's no "trend": we've always been "paranoid" about copyright infringement, and I like it that way, personally!  :-)

Being paranoid over something is hardly ever good, and it is not good in this case. Fair Use currently exists, and until it *is* finally destroyed I suggest we make full use of the rights we have under it.
Worst case scenario: A copyright holder says we are going beyond the bounds of fair use, and then we review it and decide to fight it or take it down. To deny the benefits of the additional information and contributions fair use allows because of a mere possibility of being asked to remove it later is asinine.--ShaunMacPherson 08:52, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Copyright infringements put Wikipedia's owners and the project itself at some risk. That's why we care. What if, in a few years, a dozen different websites and paper encyclopedia publishers had editions of Wikipedia--and all of them had copies of some copyrighted article. What if the copyright holder wanted to make a bunch of money on the case? Basically, we want to avoid even having to deal with that, even if it could be dealt with amicably.

You might not realize it, but copyright infringment was a regular, if not significant, problem in the months before you arrived. On a fairly regular basis--a few times a week, perhaps--someone would simply copy large amounts of copyrighted text into Wikipedia. We'd catch it and remove it. I think this doesn't happen quite as often anymore, for whatever reason (maybe we aren't catching it enough :-( ).

I hope you realize that fair use is something very different and apart from copyright infringement. Copying whole articles is a no-no, using pictures, quotations, and a whole list of other things is permitted. It is 'paranoia' when we do not avail ourselves of the fair use rights we have out of irrational fear. --ShaunMacPherson 08:52, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Now, if your main point is that we should always ask someone first before removing an article, I would counter that this is both a matter of context and a matter of taste, not something on which we need a strict policy. For instance, if I see that so-and-so has uploaded an article from a webpage that has a clear copyright notice on it, and it's clear that so-and-so is not the author of that text, I feel no regrets about simply deleting the text from Wikipedia. Others might follow other policies. Generally, I feel that there is enough abundance of content for Wikipedia that it is probably better to err on the side of deleting. If it is pretty clear that we are violating someone's copyright by having their content on Wikipedia, delete the text--but explain on the /Talk page, always, in any case! If it's not so clear, but it does appear to be a copyright violation, then ask on the /Talk page; if no reply, delete. Those are my rules of thumb.

Finally, Wikipedia does not have an official policy about the propriety of the institution of intellectual property. We should not attempt to advocate a policy whereby we try to impose on other Wikipedians the view that intellectual property is wrong. So, if the decision to delete or not to delete comes down to whether one respects intellectual property (I can't imagine, but just suppose), then kindly allow those of us who might happen to believe that there should be such a thing as intellectual property to act according to our own principles. --Larry_Sanger

Those who take Larry Sanger's approach (as described in the sentence above, which I've italicized) are wrong to do so. They are wrong because W:Copyfraud crimes (false claims of copyright made in a fraudulent attempt to control works) are rampant. Just because User X has uploaded an article, image or other content from a webpage that has a clear copyright notice on it, and it's clear that User X is not the author of that text, it is still NOT appropriate to delete the content MERELY on that basis; further information MUST be found.
There are many cases where the law is very clear cut, and it's entirely clear; consider the common case in Florida, where W:Template:PD-FLGov makes clear, in a well-documented manner, that copyright claims such as the one made here, and on many other sites providing Florida public record GIS data, are legally unsupportable (it reads: "... the raw data cannot be downloaded due to copyright restrictions. NOTE: "The FGDL data as provided by contributing organizations and any programming software created by the University of Florida GeoPlan Center (collectively the "materials") are copyrighted by the University of Florida GeoPlan Center for the FGDL contributing agencies and organizations (the "data providers")." You may not reproduce, redistribute or resell the materials, or provide the materials for free to customers or clients, or place the materials for download on a website. Additionally, when using FGDL data or software in projects, maps, etc.; you must acknowledge the FGDL as a data source.
Each student enrolled in a GIS or other course at UCF who requires sample data from the FGDL for a single Florida county should purchase a County CD-ROM for that county (currently $20) for the student's personal use as part of course materials.").
The Microdecisions case PD-FLGov cites is about the exact same kind of data: Florida Government-created GIS data, and makes plain that the copyright notice excerpted above is <expletive>. (FYI, it is also well established that Florida Government-created software is also not copyrightable; see 2006-217go.pdf for this.) "Copyright paranoia" most certainly does exist at Wikimedia projects. Increasingly so. Frequent blatant copyright infringement is no excuse for Copyright Paranoia.--Elvey 19:24, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Personally, I highly doubt the value of intellectual property law. However, I remove all clear copyright violations with extreme prejudice. If Wikipedia content were to stay solely on the wiki, I would happily support a "wait for the challenge" policy, since it is trivial to add and remove content in this medium. However, Wikipedia will probably be distributed in other forms (multimedia CD, el-cheapo paperback edition, etc) and we could get in a whole heap of trouble if copyrighted material slips into those. We need to catch it as soon as we can, so that those good guys at w:Bomis aren't bled dry in legal battles. --STG


Wholesale copying should be discouraged, but there won't be any harmful consequences for Wikipedia if action is only taken in response to complaint. In other words, if individuals want to be vigilant, that's fine, but there's no need to encourage people to be so. --The Cunctator


1) Trend: Yes, maybe you're right, Larry -- I noticed that the removal of "violations" seemed to happen in "bursts" at least, perhaps because certain individuals are especially motivated to go after presumed violators.

2) You always have to live with the risk of a lawsuit that has no merit. For example, what if an entry about Shell Oil contains information about their murderous practices in Nigeria that Shell Oil doesn't like? Should we remove it preventively to avoid a lawsuit from Shell Oil, which could get quite expensive? What if a company interprets a Wikipedia title as a trademark violation because our entry ranks higher in the search engine than theirs (such cases already exist)? Should we preventively move all company names to subpages? If you want to be safe from the risk of a lawsuit, running an encyclopedia which anyone can edit is probably not such a good idea ;-)

More generally speaking, while we can find evidence that an entry is copied from somewhere else, we can never say with certainty that it is not. If this general uncertainty is just as big as the "certainty" that a certain entry violates copyright, or other laws, then the entry should not be deleted, because consequently this would mean that everything except what you have written yourself needs to be deleted.

I agree with you that people should be able to make decisions on the basis of their beliefs about intellectual property -- what I wrote is only a police recommendation that nobody has to heed. Unfortunately, that is not true for the edit notice that I am currently seeing below my textarea, which in bold upper case letters states:

DO NOT USE COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION!

As is, this statement and the preceding one disallows even quotes from copyrighted material, i.e. it is more restrictive than actual law. Also, it may be not clear what "USE" means in this context. What if I take an entry from an encyclopedia and extract some meaningful information from it for an entry, perhaps only slightly rewor ding it? Usually, this is completely legal, as copyright only protects form, not content.

Unlike other texts, this is not a text that I can edit, and it is clearly a recommendation from the makers of Wikipedia, so it is Wikipedia/Bomis that is not allowing people who do not believe in intellectual property to act according to their beliefs. Not that I am criticizing that, but it's the exact opposite of your last sentence. I run a few websites myself and of course do not allow people to post copyrighted content either. However, in the context of Wikipedia, it may make more sense to link to an article that explains several standards of inappropriate content, i.e. a "lenient" and more "restrictive" standard, and lets users choose which one to use when posting or deleting content. This article could serve as a stub for the "lenient" policy.

Which would not allow posting copyrighted works verbatim, either, of course, but recommend different behavior for different rules of "certainty". -- w:Eloquence


I agree that the statement is a bit harsh, but I think it's pretty clear (from earlier discussions of the topic and more detailed statements on policy pages) that actual policy of Wikipedia is simply to comply with the law. If the statement is more restrictive than that, consider it an error on the side of caution. --Lee Daniel Crocker


I think another concern you should have is theft of Wikipedia copyright. Due to the nature of the articles on Wikipedia--very general and generic prose written to avoid idiosyncracies specific to Wikipedia--and due to MeatBall:KeptPages' forgive and forget policy, it's possible for someone to take a copy of a page today, wait some mo nths, run the system maintenance (or wait for someone at Bomis to do this even though this rarely happens), claim original copyright, and then sue Wikipedia for "stealing" the material.

The alternative is to keep every version, every flamewar, every mistake, and every liability. That is, if someone libels today, and you version everything, that libel will be recorded forever. Then you get into deleting individual versions, and that's another major problem. Who has the power to do this? Do you trust the administrators? I don't trust myself which is why MeatBall:PageDeletion is not an administrator action, but a communal one. I don't have answers to this problem, unfortunately, but maybe someone else can think of one. Whatever you do, avoid Cliff's old MeatBall:KeptVersions idea. The key to scalability is MeatBall:ForgiveAndForget. -- SunirShah

I think real deletions will be rare, and affect only empty pages with stupid titles or the like. Otherwise, the very script that is generating this page keeps all article versions. Of course, being SQL-based, a database dump can be easily made before removing very old versions. --Magnus Manske

Urg, that "wait till the old version is gone and claim copyright theft" bit is nasty... and entirely possible. That's something we need to deal with. --w:Stephen Gilbert

One soultion is to have Wikipedia released once every year, or every two years, in a hard form (i.e. CD) so it is preserved forever and can be used to verify bogus claims.

Alternatively, Web Archive should be allowed to archive the site. It appears it is currently blocked via 'robots.txt'.

As an additional bonus, the sale of CDs could fund Wikipedia as well as allow people (millions of people) without internet have access to the encyclopdia. --ShaunMacPherson 09:04, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)


I'm not exactly sure what the "KeptVersions" idea is; it seems to be frozen pages or somesuch. I don't think it's a good idea either.

However, the ForgiveAndForget idea is a point I largely disagree with Sunir on, while I agree with most of his/MeatBall's concepts. At least for me, the usefulness of a full revision history of Wikipedia entries drastically outweighs the negative consequences. I believe in forgiveness, but I'm not sure I see the benefit in forgetting. Already it's been a source of annoyance that on the main site the revision history only goes back about a month--I can't remember what changes/additions I made. I like to be able to pick up on entries right where I left off, be it an hour or two months, and a complete revision history helps. Also, sometimes earlier versions of entries take an alternate (but not inferior) approach to the subject, the coexistence of all the early versions create a more comprehensive entry than the fixed page itself. I'm a ForgiveAndRemember fan. --The Cunctator

Would y ou want all your disputes with Larry remembered and reiterated to you monthly for the next several years? As wikis always exist in the Wiki:WikiNow, flame wars are often continuously reignited unless their context is allowed to be removed. Full version history prevents this.

By the way, it shouldn't surprise you that ahimsa teaches forgive and forget. If you believe in WikipediAhimsa, you believe in building forgive and forget into the architecture of Wikipedia. -- S unirShah


<< Copyright infringements put Wikipedia's owners and the project itself at some risk. That's why we care. What if, in a few years, a dozen different websites and paper encyclopedia publishers had editions of Wikipedia--and all of them ha d copies of some copyrighted article. What if the copyright holder wanted to make a bunch of money on the case? Basically, we want to avoid even having to deal with that, even if it could be dealt with amicably.>>

This "floodgates of litigation" argument is extremely fallacious. To wit, only the most litigious of individuals would prosecute an unwitting infringement of copyright, as an affirmative defense of "innocent infringement" would defeat any claim of damages. Moreover, it is incumbent upon anyone who uses Wikipedia content to make a reasonable review of that content, and (by necessity) that review would include a competent investigation into potential infringement of copyrights. This is the same standard which Wikipedia should impose upon itself.

As I see it, the primary justification for paranoia about copyright infringement should not be concerns of legal liability; it should be quality control. The only person who *might* be held accountable for copyright infringement is someone who intentionally steals the work of others and/or refuses to remedy clear cases of infringement by others.

<< I think another concern you should have is theft of Wikipedia copyright. >>

Assuming that Wikipedia spends $30 to register its copyrighted material every three months (as most publishers of periodic materials do), this is not a valid concern.--NetEsq

"Wikipedia" is not yet an entity capable of claiming or owning copyrights at the moment, but we're working on it. When the paperwork is done, we will then assert collection copyrights (though individual contributions will remain with authors as they are now, licensed to us under the GFDL). But that's not my concern at all. I am an IP skeptic as well, but as such I tend to scrupulously follow existing law for the sake of personal credibility--i.e., so I can't be accused of opposing IP law just so I can satisfy my own desires to use copyrighted material). But even so, I agree that some people here are overly paranoid. Obvious violations can certainly be deleted; especially since they can be recovered if we make a big mistake. But otherwise, I agree that asking the question first is OK--we have plenty of means to do that now. --Lee Daniel Crocker

An alternative viewpoint: Trying to keep Wikipedia relatively clear of copyright violations isn't something I try to do out of fear of legal action - it's something I do for quality control. I try to replace fair use photos with GFDL photos fo r the same reasons I try to replace misspellings with correct spellings. MyRedDice


I'm really saddened to see this article. The fuzzy thinking -- "We won't get caught, it's not that big a deal" -- is sloppy and unprofessional. Or, unamateur, to be more specific.

Making an Open Content work is an effort intrinsically connected to copyright and copyright law. Whatever our beliefs regarding Open Content -- for, against, indifferent -- making a quality Open Content work is Wikipedia's stated goal.

If we make a piece of work rife with copyright violations, we will not only have failed in our own effort. We will have hurt the idea of Open Content in general. It will be perfect ammunition for those who detract from the idea: "See? I told you they couldn't do it! They had to steal all these images, texts, etc. from copyrighted work!" What will we say then? "We didn't think we'd get caught"? "Nobody's sued us yet"? "Intellectual property is dumb"?

We _can_ do th is the right way, and trying to finesse copyright law in order to do it is only going to bite us in the end. When in doubt, leave it out. There's no single picture of Eminem or tasty bit of email jokery that's worth jeopardizing the integrity of Wikipedia.

Let's be paranoid because we're proud of what we do, not because we're afraid of any punishment. -- NotYetAUser:EvanProdromou

Open content is not an end in itself. It is a means to provide free information. If there was no "intellectual property" law, much of our work would be redundant. Where existing laws, or reasonable interpretations thereof, allow us to use existing materials, not only should we do so in our own interest, we should also do so to defend the rights of others. For example, if Wikipedia decides that fair use of quotations or images is entirely unacceptable, this sets a precedent for others to point to in order to reason that said legal exceptions to copyright law are indeed unnecessary. Similarly, if we decide that photos of 15th century art are copyrighted and should not be used, this sets a precedent for those who seek to pirate public domain art to point to and say "Look, Wikipedia respects our copyright. They can build an encyclopedia without having to steal our intelectual property. So we're going to prevent you from copying our repro of Van Gogh as well."
Paranoia is bad because it supports the existing intellectual property regime in all its perverted variants. Certainly we should not endorse a laissez-faire attitude vis-a-vis copyright violations; however, we should be liberal in our interpretations of what we are allowed to do, and certainly not take any and every copyright claim at face value. Our projects provide a framework and reference for others who will ask themselves similar questions, and we should not contribute to further tightening the noose that copyright has become. --Eloquence 03:29 21 Jul 2003 (UTC)
The point of Wikipedia is not to smash the shackles of intellectual property law, or to violate copyright law willy-nilly as some form of civil disobedience. It's not our charter, and it's not a universal value.
w/r/t open content: absolutely disagree. It is the stated goal of Wikipedia, before any other, to be free and open content. "Our goal with Wikipedia is to create a free encyclopedia." Before it's supposed to be good, or useful, or even an encyclopedia, it's supposed to be free.
As far as someone else's false claims to monopoly on public domain works, hey, that's not our problem. Blank those people. I say, err on the side of caution, but don't err on the side of irrationality. -- 67.69.200.163 06:02 21 Jul 2003 (UTC)
So paranoia is rational?
You are the one choosing to cause it paranoia, which is a loaded phrase in and of itself. We should take each copyright claim at face value, at first. Trust - but verify. If there is disagreement, it can be fixed later. That is how the designated copyright challenging system is designed to work, and it's like that because most of the time a copyright violation is just that.
Also, User:67.69.200.163 is correct - free content is one of Wikipedia's five pillars. It will be of little use to anyone if Wikipedia gets hit with a mass of lawsuits in the future, even if they end up being defeated. GreenReaper 09:33, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

If can't quote every thing, democracy violate I think. If leave possibility to easily trace origin of quoted material, can quote everything without paranoia I think. -- 213.252.200.100 20:13 23 Jul 2003 (UTC)


To clarify 1(?) above. Some individual sentences can be copyrighted, and have been upheld in courts. A primary example of this is Ashleigh Brilliant's stuff, he uses copyright as a gotcha and profit driver. However he does get away with it because the sentences are almost purely expressive. Facts (mostly) can't be copyrighted. So if you cut something purely to the bone; time, date, place, well-chosen words to describe action, you can be fine. This is of course under attack by complation databases, etc. And the biggest thing that we have to watch out for is grabbing lists. Traditionally such things have been salted with false information to prove that someone has grabbed information from your lists. This has included false articles in encyclopedias. No-one would normally look up something that doesn't exists, but it does lead to interesting problems for people who like to browse for their information.
~ender 2003-09-20 08:14:MST

I would like to know what facts can be copyrighted. Are these imaginary facts? Any real facts would seem to fall into Title 17 USC § 102(b). Also remember that fair use is specifically stated in § 106 not to be infringement so if something does fail into fair use (not always the easiest thing to determine) it is not infringement. Alex756 05:01, 3 Oct 2003 (UTC)

A plea for clear copyrights

Wikipedia has done an amazing job so far. There are thousands of excellent articles, and many, many more in the making. Its a wonderful resource, and it has basically been created in a free and open matter.

I have seen a lot of discussion about copyright, specifically the issues arising from using other people's copyrighted work on Wikipedia. While this is a great thing when the other work is public domain or GFDL compatible, it is, in my opinion, a very problematic issue otherwise.

People have argued that using an image as fair use is acceptable. While it may very well be legally OK to put in image into Wikipedia claiming fair use, I feel that doing so makes Wikipedia a less valuable resource. Now before I can use an image, I have to search around on the page, and its talk page, to make sure it is actually GFDL'ed. Even if it doesn't say "Image x not GFDL, used under fair use exception", it may still be. (I think. Correct me if I'm wrong. I feel *everything* that's not GFDL should be explicitly tagged as such. If it is, great.)

Its not enough to say "Wikipedia is an educational and non-profit organization, so we can use these images/texts/etc". As many others have pointed out, Wikipedia is under the GFDL, and there is nothing that prohibits for-profit, or non-educational, use in that license. So, IMO, anything in Wikipedia should be under the GFDL.

What about the images that are only available in non-GFDL form, such as some famous photographs? My suggestion is that in those cases, we should make a link to sites which have those photos (or other resources). We could link to archive.org's Wayback Machine as a backup in case the original site goes down.

As Wikipedia becomes more and more popular, this is becoming a bigger issue. If there was one lawsuit against Wikipedia, e.g. for some images posted w/o permission, we would get a bunch of negative publicity. I know this is an unlikely scenario, but think about this issue. Wikipedia should be the "encyclopedia-on-the-hill", in the glass house, setting the example of good-copyright-citizenship. Otherwise, any attempt to prevent illegal use of Wikipedia content would seem rather out of place.

Waiving our fair use rights is the first step before they taken away for good. I think fair use should be actively *encouraged*, and it is a waste of your time, and is damaging for those who fight for fair use, lesses the value of the article to take away contributing content, to delete peoples' contributed images that are legally permitted by fair use.--ShaunMacPherson 09:18, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I am sorry if I came off harshly in this "plea"; I realize the vast majority of content on Wikipedia is completely legal. I would like to keep that, and ensure that non-free content doesn't leak into it somehow. I would rather see a thousand new entries on the Requested Images page than one image in Wikipedia that shouldn't be here. (And yes, in a few weeks, I'll be doing my best to fill some of those requests.) Comments appreciated. Luke Stodola 24 January 2004

While it's not impossible to sue the Wikipedia, the reaction if it happened would be a small version of the SCO mess for any company doing it. There's merit in making full use of the copyright law in each jurisdiction, provided we make it easy to get whatever subset is required for a particular publication. We don't yet do that but we are heading that way. Agree about the notice for the image at the place it is used (in the article). That's the way to maximise hte wiki tendency to rework stubs and get it really working hard on replacing images with the most free version possible. Jamesday 21:56, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

We seem to have real copyright paranoia regarding fair use outside the US. We really need help with this. Secretlondon 21:16, 5 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Agreed. Yes, being aware of non-US issues matters, particularly the way even a restrictive license can be easier to use than fair use in some jurisdictions, but some discussions are going much further than is necessary. Making it easy to filter will do the job without unduly infringing the right to make fair use of works in US publications. Written as a UK citizen, in the US for many years but leaving the US to no fair use land within months. Jamesday 21:56, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

There seems to be an argument that has been overlooked (or perhaps I overlooked the argument on this web page): every copyright owner who sees his work used here without his consent, can be bold and remove the work in question. This fact should take the biggest sting out of any damages claim. After all, what damages can you claim if you did not remove the infringing content yourself?--23/4/2004

Unfortunately, (s)he can claim that the text is not deleted at all, but rather slightly hidden in the Page history. I have no idea about the legal aspects of this, but I believe it should be considered. Secondly, if the problem is with a picture, you've got to be an admin to delete it. From an article, sure, you could remove the link to it but I'm afraid that's not enough. On the other hand, we could add a link at the bottom of every page: "What to do if content of this page is a copyright infringement" with an suitable "to do-list" for copyright owners. Personally, I could be accused of copyright paranoia, but I do believe that such a link could protect us pretty well... (Maybe it is time to use our own advise and get professional legal advise?:) \Mikez 07:38, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)
"Secondly, if the problem is with a picture, you've got to be an admin to delete it." - Actually you can upload a different picture with the same name, but that's not the easiest thing to do OR obvious. Given that this is possible, it should be possible to delete pictures. Unless we fear there's too much of a chance of abuse. -User:SPUI

What about the lyrics?[edit]

My links to lyricwiki were deleted from artists pages, under the guise of copyvios. I don't get how external links are copyvio. We state at the main page that we're not responsible for outside content. We can't be responsible for the whole world! In short, I HEAVILY agree with you! :)--CrashTestSmartie 22:24, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia's guidelines also prohibit linking to copyright violations. We may not be responsible for outside content, but we can at least avoid consciously linking to infringing content.--Aervanath 02:07, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Beware reproduction fees[edit]

Wikipedians should also beware that while an image might be out of copyright, the library which provides you with the copy will often charge a hefty fee to allow it to be placed on a web-site or any other publication. This can mean that it might not be economically viable to make use of an image. I think that having an artist redraw it might be legal. Many web library web sites have images with a very low resolution so they cannot be reproduced, only read on screen. To get a usable copy costs, I am afraid. Apwoolrich 14:42, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)

In the US, there is no legal reason enforcing a reproduction fee. If you sign a contract before copying, then they have a contract agreement with you but not Wikipedia. The same rules about contracts apply here as everywhere; read before you sign and know what you're signing. --65.64.75.239 02:55, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
Actually, you wouldn't necessarily even have to sign a contract. Nothing in the w:statute of frauds for most jurisdictions that I know of would bar enforcement of oral or unsigned contracts in the case of copying fees, so any action indicating agreement to such an arrangements could be enforceable. It is possible that even something like a visible sign saying "by copying X you agree to abide by our copying policy Y" would be considered a valid offer, and by taking and copying the image you would be accepting. (Of course all this would need to be proven.) However you are correct that in any event, the resultant copy would still be public domain and Wikipedia, as a non-party to the contract, would be free to use it without fear of punishment. Not so the copier. --w:User:NTK
I don't get this copy fee. I understand the library charges you a fee to pay for their staffs time and the use of their copy machine or digita camera, printer etc. but once you pay for that service I would think you could then make your own copies as much as possible because the work is no longer under copyright. They cannot charge you a fee to use the item on a web site. They can only charge you a fee for access to the original. --24.94.189.11 19:24, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Copyright question re Beasts of England from Animal Farm[edit]

There is a discussion in progress at Wikipedia:Votes_for_deletion/Beasts_of_England regarding an article which consists—correction, formerly consisted—mostly of the complete seven stanzas of Beasts of England, from Animal Farm. I believe there is at least a question about the copyright's status. And I do believe that whomever inserted the line in the article saying:

Note: Lyrics are public domain, under 50-year death expiration. see copyrights

is oversimplifying. I'd appreciate it knowledgeable commentary about this in the VfD discussion, near the bottom (where I've put a longish comment). My guess is that maybe it's OK, but not because it's in the public domain. I don't believe it is in the public domain in the U.S. My reason for believing this is that the UPenn Online Books Page says it isn't. I don't say we can't use it. I say if we can we need a clear rationale, and "50-year death expiration" ain't it. Dpbsmith 20:34, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

==US copyright law?==

Are Wikipedias in all languages subject to American copyright law? There's currently a discussion at Polish Wikipedia where it is claimed to be subject to Polish law, despite being stored on American servers, and thus it shouldn't use fair use images. Ausir 20:20, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

At the German Wikipedia it has been decided to go according to german law, as if you take a look at court rulings the latest rulings international are done regarding "who is the target group" not "where is it stored" --EricPoehlsen to lazy to login in the cyber so as 61.1.43.116 14:24, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

IANAL. The Australian Gutnick libel case seems to indicate that Australian law, in relation to published items, extends to electronic material which any Australian could read. Copyright Act (1968) Cwth might have an extensive hold over the internet. Opinions? Fifelfoo 05:50, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Japanese Wikipedia has been considering both the U.S. and Japanese laws. I wrote some explanations at here:User:Tomos/Legal discussions on Japanese Wikipedia.

The "NET" Act and U.S. Copyright Laws cover U.S. copyrighted publications only. This covers any text translated into any language: if the original text was still published in the U.S. (it also applies for U.S. servers), it is unlawful to plagiarize it (the subject is able to be prosecuted under International Copyright Laws and/or under the U.S. justice system). Period. --72.193.35.140 06:08, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

"the subject is able to be prosecuted under International Copyright Laws and/or under the U.S. justice system" Let us be more accurate here, no prosecution under US law can take place outside the United States. There are many cited cases where an infringer of DMCA and other similar restrictive US laws have only been successfully prosecuted after they travelled to the United States on other matters and were seized whilst there. --84.12.67.77 21:53, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Nobody leaves this universe alive[edit]

If my respected colleagues will excuse me, I think a great deal of discussion on this topic (here and elsewhere) tries to oversimplify the problem. Battles over copyright law rage daily in courts all over the world, especially here in the litigious USA. Being sued, or otherwise hassled, for copyright infringement is a known risk of publication which increases as the size, scope, and variety of the published work increases. And work created in a vaccuum is without merit.

Both extreme positions are too simple:

  • Let's just make our own original stuff always and be safe.
  • Let's use everything that might possibly fall under fair use and put the burden of action on their shoulders.

Writing for publication without plagiarism is a skill taught in universities; there are thousands -- millions -- of limits, qualifications, exceptions, and matters of mature judgement involved. And not even men of goodwill always agree. By throwing open the doors to editors of all backgrounds, Wikipedia is truly going out on a limb, since most editors will not have any grasp of these subtleties. But the benefits outweigh the risks. We amend those risks by self-policing, and nothing will take the place of a great deal of time spent reviewing each other's work.

I think there is little point in debating policy in this. The Old Heads among us know (or at least guess at) fair use and infringement when they see them, and the best guide to whether a paragraph or image is acceptable is the group consensus. --Xiong 23:51, 2005 Mar 13 (UTC)

Yes, but with respect, the "older heads" do not necessarily know "fair dealing" or countless other exceptions to copyright law. We do not all live in the United States. I for one am bound by my religion, my system of morals and professional obligations to try not to break the laws of copyright in my jurisdiction (that's why I watch videoed TV once). It would be useful for me to be able to block content which was subject to copyright, probably including *all* fair use material. 82.68.102.190 19:28, 29 Jun 2005 (UTC)

It would be useful for me, too, to be able to block content which was subject to copyright, including all fair use material. EP 11:30, 29 Oct 2005 (UTC)

Then you better start by turning off your computer. --82.182.149.44 18:08, 7 June 2006 (UTC)
I'd really love to know what type of religion that individual's talking about.
The church of "NO!" ("do not"; "do not"; "am bound"; "to try not"; "I once"; "to block" => possibly too negative?) of the UK? (IP address decoding) 68.76.97.82 06:20, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Copyright violation notifications[edit]

Hiya, sorry if this is in the wrong place, but please forgive! (newbie aura) Anywho, I ran across a site, http://encyclopedia.vestigatio.com, which seems to be an identical mirror to en.wikipedia without giving attribution.

Examples: EV version of Maytown, Alabama and en.wikipedia version of the same
EV entry for "Sandbox" and our version.
Each page has, at the bottom, "©2006 Vestigatio" with no Wikipedia reference. I'm personally uncomfortable with asking them to comply with the GFDL, and would ask someone with the Foundation to do so.

Thanks. ~Kylu (u|t) 07:20, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Update: I've been informed that Legal is dealing with this issue. Thanks for the help! ~Kylu (u|t) 03:41, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
They're still ripping us off, a year later. -N 20:31, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
Situation persists. Greenshed 22:53, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
the situation is unchanged 15 February 2009
Who cares?
I do. Thenub314 10:31, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

License contamination[edit]

One of the more insidious issues why copyright paranoid is needed is license contamination - essentially, if anything thats not public domain or GFDL is present, it contaminates the work as a whole - this complicates some long term goals such as print versions.

Fair use is exceptionally limited in scope, and its a grey area with only a few tested cases. Even the cases that have been tested have shown that there are many variables. Downstream users of our project's data may be at risk, especially if they are comercial users, even if they try to adhere to our license agreement (GFDL). In short, "fair use" is like planting milefields in the middle of our otherwise free-to-use materials.

While I'm not oppossed to limited cases of fair use, we do need to understand that it comes with heavy risks and a heavy price - the need to make sure that where we claim fair use, we claim it legitimately, and use items claimed as fair use only in an intended manner. It also means that we MUST track these items carefully to ensure that they are not used inappropriately within our project and that downstream users know they are there and how to exclude them where appropriate.

Given this, and the need for Wikimedia to hold the moral and legal high ground we need policies that are stronger than that which are provided by copyright law and by strict interpetations of fair use, so that we avoid *ANY* unneccessary and/or inappropriate use of fair use materials.

In short, copyright paranoia is generally a good thing.

If you want copyright paranoia, try the en:Free Software Foundation. Every contribution to the FSF codebase has to be accompanied by a signed piece of paper certifying the contrib is not a copyvio, accepting responsibility if it is one, and (for larger contributions) assigning the copyright to the FSF so they can enforce the GPL. If you're employed somewhere when you write the contributed work, you have to get an officer of your company to sign a piece of paper too. At the other end of the spectrum is a company like the original Napster, which pushed the envelope to the breaking point and went down in flames. In the middle is someplace like Google, which is somewhat aggressive (the Google Books feature, the Google cache, etc.) but has lots of lawyers to defend itself with, and accepts that it might win some and lose some.
Wikipedia has fewer lawyers than Google and therefore has to be a little more conservative on practical grounds; but if it was like the FSF, it couldn't possibly operate. So it should be more conservative than Google, but not by more than it needs to stay out of trouble. It could look to the example of archive.org for some guidance, if that helps. And as it becomes a more powerful cultural force (which it already is to some extent), it should look towards asserting itself more, not less.

I agree with 71.48.59.67 that "conditioning many users toward a view of copyright that is every media corporation's wet-dream" is not a good thing, even if it results from things we find ourselves forced into doing for the time being.

Phr 23:24, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Fair Use dies on the vine[edit]

It isn't Wikipedia's mission to keep fair use alive. It is within Wikipedia's mission to keep Wikipedia alive.

Nevertheless, there's altogether too much anti-"fair use" rhetoric thrown around in the effort to keep Wiki secure.

"Copyright paranoia" is generally a bad thing -- a very bad thing, which causes us to voluntarily abandon our fair use rights before they are even legislated or adjudicated away from us. In the very narrow realm of the wiki, copyright paranoia is mostly a good thing that is, very unfortunately, conditioning many users toward a view of copyright that is every media corporation's wet-dream. 71.48.59.67 07:41, 6 August 2006 (UTC)


I agree entirely. I wish certain admins would use some common sense. IMHO wikipedia is an obvious example of where fair use would most apply. Its a not for profit. Its available to all (quite literally) it has a research and educational mission, and it does not seek to compete with most other media. It's the epitome of when fair use should apply.

I'm glad I'm not the only one[edit]

As a practicing lawyer, I hate all the incredibly over-the-top "copyright paranoia" as you've so elloquently put it. I've taken copyrights, I've taken trademarks, I've taken international IP (so a bit of patents ;-) ) all while a law student. Infringing uses are easy to see and easy to remove on Wikipedia --yet people here get caught in such absurd legal minutia, seriously compounded by their often half-baked legal knowledge, that has such a small likelihood of becoming a problem. And what's the biggest joke of it "becoming a problem"? Simple: any of us can "erase" the problem material in a few keystrokes. Honestly people, to quote a famous decision in copyright law "the parties are advised to chill." Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002). --Bobak 19:52, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

And what happens when we spend a load of money publishing wikipedia in some form for some kids in Africa and suddenly find all our work is wasted because we can't release the material (or if it's a book we at least have to tear a few pages out) because of a copyvio? The simple fact is, it's not always necessarily going to be easy to erase and a lot of hard work may go to waste (e.g. when we make an article into a FA but because a big chunk of it initially came from a copyrighted source which was repeteadly modified into a FA, even if it's mostly unrecognisable now we decide we have to start over again because it's far better then running the risk of having an article with dubious copyright?). A lot of people, including me think it's better to be a little paranoid to avoid the numerous problems that may occur it the numerous jurisdictions that we may eventually be involved in by ensuring we are very strict with copyrights rather then just hoping that a problem won't arise and hoping it'll be easy to fix and won't waste a lot of our existing work when we have to fix it Nil Einne 12:44, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Copyright law is not international, except where there are agreements (I.e. the Berne convention) in place. If someone publishes wikipedia in Africa, then they will have to sue based on the copyright laws in that country. Intellectual Property law ends at the border. 68.100.109.28 11:14, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Such international agreements cover the entire developed world. Berne is part of TRIPS, and TRIPS is part of GATT, and only GATT parties can join the World Trade Organization. In fact, plenty of African countries have already joined WTO.[1] --Damian Yerrick 01:42, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, sometimes people need to chill, but copyright law is what it is, not because of what the general public wants it to be, but because of what the legislatures and courts say it is. "Fair use" is defined in the law. You can skate around those definitions all you want, saying, "Well, I think it's fair for me to copy it, because I'm not getting paid," but it would be extremely unwise to let Wikipedia fill itself up with tons of little copyright infringements waiting to ripen into big class action lawsuits. There's a line between being prudent and being paranoid. Maybe Bobak can spend a little effort clarifying for us little folks just what fair use is. Infringing uses are easy to see? Not so, dude. Not if everyone is operating under different concepts of what the line is between fair use and infringement. I took all those courses in law school, too, and they were a good start at understanding the issues, but nothing more than a good start. I practiced law for 18 years, including plenty of active litigation, and sometimes dealt with IP issues. That's education in the real world; I'm not just shooting off my mouth. Sure, Bobak, as a practical matter, nobody is going to pay a lawyer $5,000 to get a $10 royalty, but if Wikipedia has 10,000 $10 infringements ... you get the picture? It's a lot more serious than "legal minutiae." I stand right beside Nil Einne. Call me paranoid if you want. Cbdorsett 05:53, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
Is this argument really predicated on the possibility that Wikipedia will have 10,000 $10 infringements on property belonging to a single entity? Even if that were likely, it's a fantasy that any large entities are bothered by Wikipedia promoting their products for them.--Chilaxe 12:41, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Question - I would like to know if its OK to put in the Picasso pages images of paintings he created before 1923, as in the US these would be in public domain. Can you confirm this?

Yes, you can do that
Anybody want to trust unsigned, anonymous legal advice? Cbdorsett 05:53, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes. I do. © Copyright 2007 Clarence B. Dorsett


nice going[edit]

I agree with the person who wrote this. Wikipedians don't need to do that, leave it to the authorative people to handle copyright problems. I see copyright paranoia as a roadblock to the success of Wikipedia. Images generally attract people's attention and without them, well thats too bad for Wikipedia. 70.227.201.46 20:38, 14 May 2007 (UTC)


Possible compromise For restrictions of Images of living people[edit]

Granted I understand that the foundation wants free use maximized. (Note: some fair use is widely used so that part of wikipedia is already unusable for commercial 3rd parties, unless they too claim fair use. They might be able to.) However sometimes when there is a living person this policy results in no photo at all. So I suggest a middle ground.

eg: Bill is looking for pic of person X. Let us assume that except for issue of X being alive all other fair use criteria are met. Also assume that its not a pic of a specific event etc.

  • 1. Bill looks for pic of person and doesn't find public domain.
  • 2. Bill issues public call for public domain pic of X.
  • 3. Bill waits 30 days. If PD found then use it, if not continue to 4.
  • 4. Bill performs another look himself and documents it and issues final call.
  • 5. Other users now check bill's documentation to make sure its legit during another 30 day waiting period. Users again look for PD pic. If legit and no PD pic found continue to 6.
  • 6. At end of second 30 day waiting period, Bill can use copyrighted pic under fair use.


This process: a: minimizes use of copyrighted material while b: allowing copyrighted material if in reality there is currently no other alternative. Often to assume that a PD pic exists is a fiction. I am not saying this is always or mostly the case, but there are enough times when no PD is available. Secondly, just because someone could in the future take a pic, it may be that no pic is taken. Then the article is the worse for it. In all probability it is highly unlikely - after a public call goes out for a PD and fails - that a pic will subsequently be released it to PD in a reasonable time. Thirdly, it may happen, but not for 25 years. Well there is no point waiting 25 years for a PD pic when we could use fair use to use a copyrighted one in the meantime. Custodiet ipsos custodes 21:32, 14 May 2007 (UTC)


Wikipedia[edit]

I'm from Wikipedia and I want to express my opinion that these editors who just run around killing your images are getting to be a real pain. I hate them and I hate their attitude. 69.222.70.70 03:22, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

You are "from Wikipedia?" I wasn't aware it is a place appearing on birth certificates now.
Please see http://xkcd.com/256/
The Israel page is now an FAC and I have been trying to make it more attractive with photos I have taken myself - or others which appear on other Wikipedia pages without protest from anyone. Whatever picture I upload, there is a certain editor who deletes it within minutes, claiming it doesn't have the proper licensing. Is my photo taken of an outdoor wall mural in a public place, for example, a violation of copyright? --85.65.228.138 16:34, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Hahaha... "I'm from Wikipedia." That's a good one. Anyway, did you properly cite (yourself) the source using the regulations at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Image_use_policy ? If not, then the editor is correct to nix your images. If so it might be that your images are of questionable 'notability.' 218.152.32.39 09:08, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

"Copyright paranoia" does not exist at Wikimedia projects[edit]

People often point to this page when they want to argue that since Wikipedia's use of a certain non-free image falls within U.S. fair-use laws, the Foundation is extremely unlikely to get sued, and for that reason we shouldn't be "paranoid" about using it. That completely misses the point about why Wikimedia projects avoid non-free images as much as possible. We avoid them because these projects are part of the free content movement, which rejects the use of material protected by copyright law. Just like pacifists, who avoid violence even when it would be legally permitted (e.g. in self-defense), the free content movement avoids non-free material even when using it would be legally permitted (the "fair use" defense). So when someone tells you "Avoid copyright paranoia", just reply "There is no such thing here. We don't delete non-free content because we're afraid of getting sued. We delete non-free content because it's non-free." Angr 16:34, 1 October 2007 (UTC)

Hear, hear! (or is it, "here, here!"?) Cary Bass demandez 17:16, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I don't think that is really the spirit of policies like en:WP:NFCC. If WikiMedia projects were immune to copyright threats, I'm fairly certain that our policies wouldn't attempt to restrict harmless uses of copyrighted work, at the least. (Moral rights could still justify restrictions on uses which detriment the copyright holder, of course.) And I don't really agree that respecting copyrights is an aspiration of the free content movement — if anything. (Of course, if you asked Lawrence Lessig if he thought copyrights should be acknowledged he'd likely reply "yes," but that comes with any any non-radical stance on the issue of copyright standards.) Not that being part of a WikiMedia project necessitates abiding by the norms of whatever associated contemporary movements. My two cents. — xDanielx T/C\R 07:32, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
    • Well, en:WP:NFCC isn't in the spirit of building a free-content encyclopedia anyway. And I think the free content movement is not so much about respecting copyrights as learning to live without copyrighted material. On my user page at en:User:Angr I draw a parallel between the free-content movement and veganism: both are about consciously deciding to do without something for moral reasons, even though legally one is not required to do without it. Angr 20:24, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
      • I have to agree with what Jenolen says here: Wikipedia is not a social movement to create free content; it is first and foremost an encyclopedia. Your vegan analogy falls apart when you realize there are two ways to interpret "free-content": one intepretation (yours) is content entirely free of copyrighted material not under an explicitly free license, another interpetation is content which, as a whole, is under a free-content license, but that may use some copyrighted material in ways which are legal to use (and thus for all practical purposes "free" in such a context). A more apt analogy might be to liken Wikipedia to a "vegetarian potluck dinner" for all types of vegetarians including ovolactovegetarians, with a policy of clearly disclosing any animal products used in dishes; and then imagine a number of vegans showing up and insisting that veganism is the only proper form of vegetarianism and attempting to trash any food which contains eggs or milk, because it is "not compatible with the vegetarian movement". Such people would rightly be called extremists. Note that a project like Wikiquote would not be even able to exist (beyond containing quotes which are old enough to be out of copyright) if the Wikimedia Foundation adopted a "vegan" interpretion of "free-content". DHowell 05:11, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
        • It seems to me your interpretation of free-content is simply self-contradictory. (And Jenolen's vision of Wikipedia is a vegan dinner with fried chicken, beef brisket, spare ribs, and no vegetables. Did you see his userbox stating his opposition to free images?) As for Wikiquote, the vast majority of English-language authors worth quoting have been dead for more than 70 years, and the rest will have been someday. There's no reason for fair use there either, and every copyrighted quote added there takes English Wikiquote one step closer to the fate of French Wikiquote: shut down and completely deleted because of massive copyright violations. Angr 23:30, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
          • "The vast majority of English-language authors worth quoting have been dead for more than 70 years"? Wow, do you have a reliable source for that bit of original research? Even if it were true, there are still a great many contemporary English-language authors "worth quoting" and I don't think I've seen anyone, other than you, arguing that they should be eliminated from Wikiquote. As far as I am aware, the French Wikiquote fiasco had more to do with people copying quote collections from other places, running afoul of the database rights of European Union law, than with individual quotes of contemporary authors. The current French Wikiquote still contains plenty of quotes from authors who have not been dead 70 years, as evidenced by the fact that there are categories for television series and video games. I don't see how my interpretation of free-content is self-contradictory, seeing that I can legally publish a work incorporating fair use, copyright that work, and license it under any license I choose, including a free-content license; the incorporation of fair use content does not make it non-free, as you are free to remove the fair use content if you don't want to include it in your derivative work, or if the definition of fair dealing in your jusrisdiction is stricter than that of fair use in mine (and this is a heck of a lot easier than removing beef broth from vegetable soup). It is the jurisdictional differences of what is "fair", and the copyrights owned by parties not subject to the free-content license, which create any perceived restrictions on freedom. The fact that a picture of a naked woman licensed under a free-content license might be illegal to publish in Iran doesn't make the free-content license any less free; likewise, the fact that there are jurisdictions that might prohibit one from using non-free content in ways that are perfectly valid and legal in the U.S. doesn't make the work of a free-content licensor invoking fair use any less free. DHowell 05:19, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
            • My claim was based on the simple fact that the vast majority of people have been dead more than 70 years. Anyway, none of this changes my original point, which is simply that opposition to nonfree content on Wikimedia projects has absolutely nothing to do with "copyright paranoia". Mennonites don't avoid violence because they're paranoid about being sued for assault and battery. Angr 07:24, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
              • One might model the maximum number of verifiable quotations as proportional to the number of literate people. Given the growth of population and literacy in the past century, citation needed that more literate individuals died between the invention of writing and December 31, 1936. --Damian Yerrick 01:49, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
        • Wikipedia has always been a 'free encylopaedia' not just an encyclopaedia. There is absolutely no evidence that it was ever intended that the encylopaedia part is more important then the free part. Also, you seem to have missed the point that it was never the intention of wikipedia to be only about the website. Wikipedia was intended to be a free encylopaedia for the whole world, in whatever form it may be, not simply for the web. While fair use is allowed under US law and given that wikipedia is hosted in the US, sufficient for the website, it is not sufficient for a big part of the world. By allowing an excessive amount of non free content, we create big problems when we, or anyone else, wants to make the content available in another form. Either the content must be excluded or the content must be re-examined under the laws of the appropriate countries. Neither of these are good options. As such, wikipedia ONLY allows non free content when it is absolutely necessary i.e. when there is no other option and it is unlikely an option can be created. Fair use content is not free and your suggestion it is suggests to me you may have a lack of understanding of free content. Either that or you have a very US centric POV since you seem to think anything which can be used freely in the US (not that fair use content can be used freely in the US) is free Nil Einne 04:39, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

"Copyright paranoia" does exist at Wikimedia projects[edit]

Sorry, Angr, but copyright paranoia exists. Some works which people claim a copyright on, are not copyrightable. So, is the work usable? Is a fair-use rationale needed? No. The "copyright" needs to be ignored. This needs to be done on a case-by-case basis, but for example, it is never a copyright infringement to upload a corporation's logo to use on a page about the corporation. When there is no opportunity for creativity, when there is no alternative, copyright simply doesn't apply. Wikipedia is subject to U.S. laws, and the Constitution permits free speech AS WELL as promoting the progress of useful arts. We have the right to use a corporation's logo to make reference to the corporation. Period. End of sentence. No discussion possible. Trademarks aren't mentioned in the Constitution, so free speech overrules trademark law. Of course, such speech needs to be truthful, but that goes without saying.

More evidence of paranoia is the advice against uploading a high resolution copyrighted image. If the work is widely available, and anybody can scan it, and the image is being used in a way which does not violate copyright (see previous paragraph), then the resolution of the scan does not matter. RussNelson 02:19, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

But who said we should only ever consider US law? Wikipedia the website is subject to US law, but we have never wanted to only be a website hosted in the US. We aim for free content, content which is likely to be free in nearly all countries of the world. If the content is not free, then we need to consider carefully whether it should be allowed and NFCC is that. It's not paranoid to recognise free content is not free content if it is only 'free' in the US. Also, legal issues are primarily for our lawyer to sort out anyway. Most of the time, we don't consider legal issues because our policies are intentially much more restrictive. Why else do you think we don't allow content with permission if it is not free except under NFCC? Nil Einne 04:44, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
We are not here to cater to [Afghanistan]. You are correct in noting that many countries in the world do not allow for freedom of speech. However, it does not follow that we should therefore restrict modern notions of free speech in order not to offend some third-world country.
Fair-use rights in the United States are based upon basic principles in the First Amendment (which allows for freedom of speech). All other modern countries in the world also allow people to speak freely about things, including companies and corporations. Too bad for [North Korea].67.190.44.85 20:09, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Russ makes a good point in his first paragraph – copyright paranoia is real, and disruptive, when what we're dealing with is copyfraud. At the International Wikisource, Táin Bó Cúailnge has been blanked and a copyvio notice slapped on it because someone actually believes that a centuries-old story can be copyright protected. That kind of paranoia is indeed disruptive. What I was talking about is people saying "sure, this image is non-free, but no one's going to sue us if we use it" and then accusing people who disagree with them of "paranoia", as if the only reason we avoid non-free content is to avoid being sued. Angr 18:44, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

Here's a scary example of copyright paranoia: the photo of a missing child. The big red 'C' icon in the license section, and its entire wording, look downright scary. What is our problem exactly? Who's going to sue for any copyright violation, when the child's family would be more than happy to have that photo plastered everywhere possible? -- Dandv(talk|contribs) 08:08, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

This is not copyright paranoia, but policy. Would you prefer that we delete only copyvios owned by Getty Images and alike, who can easily afford to sue you in any country of the world, but ignore the ownership of artists/photographers, who couldn't afford to go to court? --Túrelio 15:59, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
It IS extreme copyright paranoia, whether or not it conforms to official policy or not. Sometimes the policy mandates extreme copyright paranoia, unfortunately. Perhaps the deleter deleted it with only the goal of respecting policy in mind, sure. That it's policy doesn't mean it's not paranoia; the policy is what it is because of paranoia.--Elvey (talk) 22:15, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Banknotes[edit]

Most countries and banks reserve the copyright on banknotes, although many release it for notes that are no longer legal tender. However, violation of this copyright is widely ignored, especially in advertising where banknote images are widely used. Zimbabwe is a case in point. [2] [3] Babakathy 08:07, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

I don’t think that Meta is an appropriate forum for this kind of discussion. Different Wikimedia projects have different policies on non-free content. Commons, for example, allows no non-free content at all. It seems to me that this issue is specific to English Wikipedia. Insofar as it concerns the Wikimedia Foundation more broadly, it is with regard to the foundation’s licensing policy resolution. In any case this "copyright paranoia" page is not the place: For the significance rule in English Wikipedia’s non-free content policy has nothing to do with United States fair use law. The reason for the rule is to encourage reusability by discouraging non-free content—allowing only non-free content that is essential to understanding an article. —teb728 t c 23:17, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

How to diagnose copyright paranoia[edit]

Copyright paranoia, like many unhealthy behavioral problems, can develop gradually and be difficult to self-diagnose. If you suspect that you or an editor that you have come in contact may be suffering from copyright paranoia, check for these common symptoms:

  • The What-if Syndrome: Excessive and irrational use of what-if scenarios is one common sign of copyright paranoia.
    • example 1) "What if some small pieces of copyrighted material slip into Wikipedia and then what if, in the distant future someone decides to publish hardcopies of a version of Wikipedia in third world countries and the books are seized at the border?"
    • example 2) "What if an editor uses a piece of copyrighted material and then it gets modified over and over by other editors until it is unrecognizable but then what-if the copyright owner finds out by tracing the version history and what if he decides to file a lawsuit?"
  • The but-we-just-don't-know-for-sure syndrome: One suffering from copyright paranoia suspects copyright infringement is lurking around every article and talk page. They will not accept rational arguments about whether a claim of copyright by a source is invalid because it is an exact duplicate of an expired or non-copyright eligible work. When any room for doubt exists in the copyright status or acceptable use of a particular article, those suffering from copyright paranoia will become overwhelmed with a self delusional fear of ill-defined, future consequences and lash out in self defense by deleting the material without first engaging in discussion.
  • Actively seeking out suspect material: A healthy Wikipedian derives a sense of self satisfaction by making contributions to Wikipedia. They may occasionally delete the rare blatant copyright violation when they come across one. However, one that suffers from copyright paranoia will begin to actively seek out suspected copyright violations. More and more of their edits become consumed with the unhealthy behavior of undoing others' edits, tagging pictures for deletion, or even blanking entire pages. They will construct complex, self-reinforcing rationalizations in their mind about how the removal of so much material is actually a good thing and how this actually constitutes some type of "contribution" to the project. If you find that more than ~1% of your edits are related to the destruction of content rather than content creation, you may be suffering from copyright paranoia.
  • Denial of fair use: There is no such thing as "Fair Use," only "No Use".
  • The spanish wikipedia doesn't allow fair use material: La paranoia ya los ha consumido.

Copyright paranoia can be a difficult behavioral problem to overcome. If you suspect that you or someone you love is suffering from copyright paranoia, you should seek out professional counseling, a support group, or just take a long wiki-break to engage in other, offline healthy activities. Remember that there is no time limit and in the end, Wikipedia will get it right. --67.246.237.16 11:20, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

Author users have been deleted[edit]

If in blog,author users have been deleted,but the article also stay in the Web page.Is the copyright has been canceled?Amysze123 (talk) 03:59, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

In general, no. (Where have you seen this? I'm curious.) Important Note! --Elvey (talk) 19:38, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

See also[edit]