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.
Overprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it. Creativity is impossible without a rich public domain.
Story: In January, we received a DMCA from the campaign of Bernie Sanders, a U.S. presidential primary candidate. They asked us to remove campaign logos from Wikimedia Commons. We cautioned them that the notice would be posted to Lumen, which could trigger a Streisand effect. They refused to withdraw the DMCA, so we removed the logos. The next day, Ars Technica wrote about the takedown, and we received a counter-notice from a Wikimedia user. We spoke with the Sanders campaign about the counter-notice, and were happy to hear they had decided to rescind their DMCA. The logos have been restored.
DMCA Poster Child
Time Period: February 2016
Story: It’s not unusual to see movie posters or billboards long before a film is released, or for an upcoming movie to have a Wikipedia article written about it. Before a recent action movie hit theatres, Russian Wikipedia editors created an article about it, which included an image of one of the film’s posters. The studio behind the film contacted us in February with a DMCA notice requesting that the poster be removed from the site. However, we analyzed the request and refused it. The poster had been widely distributed to promote the movie, and it was fair use for editors to feature its image in an article informing readers about the film.
Time Period: June 2016
Story: We encourage the public to reuse Wikimedia content under our many free licenses. However, we ask that reusers respect those licenses and refrain from claiming copyright ownership of that content. This is what happened in June, when we received a DMCA notice from an Asian newspaper claiming that English Wikipedia had copied content from one of its articles. When we investigated, it turned out to be the opposite: the newspaper had copied the content from Wikipedia. We rejected the DMCA and provided a link to one of the community’s many guides on properly reusing Wikipedia content.