The Wikimedia projects make up one of the world's largest repositories of human knowledge. With that much information, someone is bound to get upset by some of the content from time to time. While the vast majority of content disputes are resolved by users themselves, in some extreme cases the Wikimedia Foundation may receive a legal demand to override our users.
The Wikimedia projects are yours, not ours. People just like you from around the world write, upload, edit, and curate all of the content. Therefore, we believe users should decide what belongs on Wikimedia projects whenever legally possible.
Below, you will find more information about the number of requests we receive, where they come from, and how they could impact free knowledge. You can also learn more about how we fight for freedom of speech through our user assistance programs in the FAQ.
But better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.
Story: It’s not uncommon for bands to break up or change members. It is uncommon for previous band members to contact us about what other members are writing on Wikipedia. We received an email from purported former members of a dance group, seeking to control the English Wikipedia article about the group. They argued that edits made by other members infringed their trademark. We explained that writing an article about a notable topic is not infringement, and suggested that they work with the Wikipedia editor community if they’d like to improve the article.
Time Period: October 2015
Story: Owning a copy of a photograph is not the same thing as owning the copyright to that photograph. This is an important principle of copyright law. We received a handful of requests to remove photos from the projects in which the requesting parties argued that because they owned a photo, they owned the copyright. For example, one request concerned a photo of an American author. Since that picture is in the public domain, it could be freely posted. We explained this to the requester, and the image remains on the Wikimedia projects.
Hello, My Name Is...
Time Period: October 2015
Story: An online rights agent representing an international pop star contacted us regarding the Romanian Wikipedia article about their client. They claimed that a reporter had published inaccurate information about the musician’s birth name, which had made its way into reputable secondary sources, and eventually onto Wikipedia. The agent asked us to change the article directly. We told them that the Foundation does not write or edit the projects, and explained they could provide our volunteer editors with reliable sources that included the correct name.