Wikipedia:Copying text from other sources

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In 99.9% of cases, you may not copy and paste text from other sources into Wikipedia. Doing so is a copyright violation and may constitute plagiarism. Always write the articles in your own words and cite the sources of the article. Copyright violations are often speedily deleted.

Can I copy and paste text to Wikipedia that I got from somewhere else?[edit]

Further information: Wikipedia:FAQ/Copyright

As a general rule, do not copy and paste text from other sources. Doing so usually constitutes both a copyright violation and plagiarism (exceptions are discussed below). This general rule includes copying and pasting material from websites of charity or non-profit organizations, educational, scholarly and news publications, and all sources without a copyright notice. If a work does not have a copyright notice, assume it to be under copyright-protection.[1]

But surely I can copy from this?[edit]

It is acceptable to copy and paste text from public domain sources or those that are explicitly licensed under a compatible licensing scheme. (In case of the latter, attribution of the original author may be required: see Wikipedia:Plagiarism.) However, copying and pasting contents from all other sources entails what is explained above.

In case of uncertainty, please ask at Wikipedia talk:Copyright problems or Wikipedia:Help desk for input from other editors.

If I own the source, or work for the owner of the source, can I copy it to Wikipedia?[edit]

Shortcut:

Generally no, unless the source is already under a license compatible with Wikipedia (such as CC-by-SA), or you donate the source under a free license. It's unfortunately common for new or inexperienced editors to become frustrated when content they have copied and pasted from websites they own (or work for) is removed or articles tagged for speedy deletion. Unless the content is verifiably compatibly licensed or public domain, however, Wikipedia can't retain it. Even if it is compatible, the content must comply with other content policies for us to be able to use it. Often, the tone and structure of the source itself might not be appropriate for an encyclopedia article, and most content on Wikipedia should be based on secondary, rather than primary, sources.

If you have published content on another user-generated website, they may have required you to grant them exclusive license, in which case you cannot contribute it here. Sometimes even when sites do not require exclusive license, such as IMDb, it may not be possible for you to use the content here as it may not be possible to verify that you are the individual who placed it there.

Can I copy and paste if I change the text a little bit?[edit]

Further information: Wikipedia:Close paraphrasing

No. Superficial change of copyright-protected text is not enough. Wikipedia articles must be written in the author's own words. If the way in which a source has said something is important, please employ quotation.

Can I copy and paste text into a user page or talk page in order to work on it?[edit]

No. While your user page and talk page may include brief quotations from copyrighted text, Wikipedia cannot host extensive copying of non-compatible copyrighted material anywhere, not even in talk or user pages, not even temporarily.

What about quotes?[edit]

Further information: Wikipedia:Quotations

Brief quotations of copyrighted text may be used to illustrate a point, establish context, or attribute a point of view or idea. Use of copyrighted text must be in compliance with Wikipedia:Non-free content criteria policy.

How about copying and pasting from one Wikipedia article to another?[edit]

Yes, you can copy parts of one Wikipedia article into another, but you must link to the source article in your edit summary. Original content contributed by users can be freely used if the original author is properly attributed. If you have copied text but forgotten to use the edit summary, this can be easily corrected: You can make a dummy edit by making an inconsequential change to the article—such as adding a blank line to the end of the article—and link to the source article in edit summary then. A note such as "content copied from [[source article]] on 1 January 2012" works fine.

Edit summary (Briefly describe your changes)

 

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By clicking the "Save page" button, you agree to the Terms of Use and you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the CC BY-SA 3.0 License and the GFDL with the understanding that a hyperlink or URL is sufficient for CC BY-SA 3.0 attribution.

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It is also recommended to make a note on the talk page of the source article that copying has occurred, because the source article cannot be deleted as long as content from it is used. The template {{copied}} can be used for this as well as on the destination article's talk page.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Most websites (and other sources) are automatically protected by copyright under rules such as the Berne Convention, even if the author did not apply for copyright or place a copyright notice in their work.