Licensing update/Result

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has proposed that the copyright licensing terms on the wikis operated by the WMF — including Wikipedia — be changed to include the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) license in addition to the current GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). This will affect all text and rich media (images, sound, video, etc.) currently licensed under "GFDL 1.2 or later versions". This change is meant to advance the WMF's mission by increasing the compatibility and availability of free content. Further details and motivation for this change are explained in the licensing update proposal and the associated FAQ.

To gauge community support for adopting this change, a Wikimedia-wide vote was conducted between April 12 and May 3, 2009. The vote was managed by volunteers associated with the licensing update committee and conducted on servers controlled by the independent non-profit SPI.

Concise result

Licensing Update Poll Result
"Yes, I am in favor of this change" 13242 75.8%
"No, I am opposed to this change" 1829 10.5%
"I do not have an opinion on this change" 2391 13.7%
Total votes cast and certified 17462

If "no opinion" votes are not included, the Yes/No percentage becomes 87.9%/12.1% (15071 votes).

Next steps

As per prior agreement, the licensing update committee shared this result with WMF Board of Trustees a few days prior to the public release. The Board is responsible for giving final approval before any change to Wikimedia licensing is made.

Michael Snow, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, provided the following comment:

The volunteers who work on Wikimedia projects have very strongly supported making their contributions available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License (CC-BY-SA) in addition to the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). Updating our license terms will support Wikimedia's charitable mission, by making our projects legally compatible with others that have chosen the CC-BY-SA license. Our free information and educational content can be shared more readily and will be easier for everyone to use.

The full Board of Trustees passed the following Licensing update approval resolution on May 21, 2009:

Resolved that:

Whereas the Wikimedia community, in a project-wide vote, has expressed very strong support for changing the licensing terms of Wikimedia sites, and whereas the Board of Trustees has previously adopted a license update resolution requesting that such a change be made possible, the Board hereby declares its intent to implement these changes. Accordingly, the Wikimedia Foundation exercises its option under Version 1.3 of the GNU Free Documentation License to relicense the Wikimedia sites as Massive Multiauthor Collaborations under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license, effective June 15, 2009. The Board of Trustees hereby instructs the Executive Director to have all Wikimedia licensing terms updated and terms of use implemented consistent with the proposal at Licensing update.

To implement the change, the following events are expected:

Date Event
Start of June Any final revisions to the proposed terms of use are posted for comment. Proposed procedures for dealing with external content are released. A strategy for updating templates on affected media files is announced.
June 15 and thereafter After any final modifications, site-wide copyright statements and terms of use are updated on all English language wikis. Translation guidelines are issued and translations are begun for all non-English wikis. Affected media files are migrated as per above.

Vote details

The licensing update poll was conducted for three weeks (from April 12 to May 3, 2009) in 32 languages, and was announced via a site notice displayed to all logged-in editors. The poll was open to any individual who had a registered account on a WMF project with at least 25 edits prior to March 15, 2009, and who was neither blocked at that account nor flagged as a bot. Individuals not meeting these criteria were automatically prevented from submitting a ballot.


History of votes cast during the three week voting period.

A total of 18692 ballots were submitted. After review, the licensing update committee certified 17462 of these as valid. Nearly all of the rejected ballots were due to individuals attempting to vote multiple times. In the case of a single individual voting multiple times, their most recent ballot is considered valid and any earlier ballots are rejected. This included 930 cases where a single account at a particular wiki was used to cast multiple votes. A further 256 votes were discounted due to individuals voting multiple times under the same account name from different wikis (confirmed as linked accounts via single user login or other technical evidence). The final 44 rejected ballots were eliminated for other reasons, including abusive sockpuppetry.

All vote review was conducted solely based on the voter's account identity and associated technical evidence. Ballot choices were encrypted and not released until after the collection of valid votes was certified. Rejected ballots were never opened.


193 Wikimedia projects were represented by at least one vote.

Votes Percent Group
16785 96.1% 102 Wikipedias
397 2.3% 8 "Special" projects (includes Commons, Meta, Wikispecies, etc.)
78 0.4% 22 Wiktionaries
72 0.4% 18 Wikibooks projects
60 0.3% 17 Wikisource projects
30 0.2% 11 Wikinews projects
24 0.1% 7 Wikiversity projects
15 0.1% 8 Wikiquote projects
Top 20 voting projects
Votes Percent Project
7528 43.1% English Wikipedia
3104 17.8% German Wikipedia
955 5.5% French Wikipedia
778 4.5% Russian Wikipedia
738 4.2% Spanish Wikipedia
507 2.9% Polish Wikipedia
454 2.6% Italian Wikipedia
315 1.8% Chinese Wikipedia
274 1.6% Commons
274 1.6% Japanese Wikipedia
235 1.3% Dutch Wikipedia
210 1.2% Portuguese Wikipedia
158 0.9% Swedish Wikipedia
125 0.7% Hebrew Wikipedia
125 0.7% Hungarian Wikipedia
117 0.7% Finnish Wikipedia
111 0.6% Czech Wikipedia
105 0.6% Turkish Wikipedia
98 0.6% Meta
78 0.6% Danish Wikipedia