The Wikimedia community is made up of creators, collectors, and consumers of free knowledge. While most material appearing on Wikimedia projects is in the public domain or freely licensed, on occasion, copyrighted material makes its way onto the projects.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provision requires us to remove infringing material if we receive a proper takedown request. We thoroughly evaluate each DMCA takedown request to ensure that it is valid. We only remove allegedly infringing content when we believe that a request is valid and we are transparent about that removal. If we do not believe a request to be valid, we will push back as appropriate. To learn more about DMCA procedures, see our DMCA policy.
Below, we provide information about the DMCA takedown notices we have received in the past and how we responded to them.
A well-functioning copyright law carefully balances the interests of the public in access to expressive works and...the interests of copyright owners in being compensated for uses of their works.
Story: Most content on the Wikimedia projects is within the public domain or freely licensed, often under a Creative Commons license. We encourage everyone to read and understand these licenses before contributing. A photographer sent us a DMCA notice in August. They had uploaded their work to Dutch Wikipedia under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, but became concerned when the images were reused elsewhere. We explained that the license’s terms encourage reuse, as long as the attribution and ShareAlike rules are followed. They understood, and we hope they continue to contribute to the projects.
Time Period: October 2016
Story: Whenever we receive a DMCA, we investigate the content and carefully evaluate the copyright claim. In October, an artist submitted a DMCA notice for a photo on Wikimedia Commons. The photo showed a tombstone, which bore an allegedly copyrighted art design. Since the cemetery was quite old, we wanted to ensure that it was an original design, and not merely a similar pattern from over 100 years ago, which would now be in the public domain. After an interesting research detour through the world of 19th-century cemeteries and traditional memorial art, we granted the DMCA.
The Missing Link
Time Period: October 2016
Story: We received an incomplete DMCA notice in October, claiming that a picture on English Wikipedia was a still image from a copyrighted film. The photo itself purported to show a famous cryptid (appropriately, we received the message on Halloween). We asked the requestor to resubmit the notice with all the information required under the DMCA. They did not do so, and the photo remains on the projects. As for the creature, we’re not sure if it’s been spotted again—but if it is, we’re sure you’ll be able to read about it on Wikipedia.