Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials

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This page is for editors who would like to grant permission to Wikipedia to use their own previously published work. For information on verifying permission to use work previously published by others, see Wikipedia:Requesting copyright permission.

Often, people wish to "donate" copyrighted materials to Wikipedia. These materials may be text (including monographs, articles, etc.) or images (including photographs). They may or may not already be posted on some other web site. They may or may not actually be appropriate for inclusion in Wikipedia. This page exists to provide some guidance in these matters.

(Most of what is on this page also applies to work in the public domain, but the focus is on copyrighted materials, because they raise more complicated issues.)

What it means to donate material to Wikipedia[edit]

When you contribute material to Wikipedia, you are not giving us exclusive use of it. You still retain any rights you previously held, but you are giving non-exclusive license under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts). Note that there is no way to say "you can use this in Wikipedia, but not anywhere else or in derivative works." Also, because some derivative works may be commercial, we cannot accept materials that are licensed only for educational use or even for general non-commercial use.

Note, too, that the Wikimedia Foundation's Terms of Use allow text by others or which you have co-authored with others to be imported under CC-BY-SA or CC-BY-SA-compatible license alone, without need to verify compatibility with GFDL, but text for which you hold the copyright yourself must be licensed under both CC-BY-SA and GFDL.

Please be aware that the content you donate is subject to continuous editing by the Wikipedia community. It may be added to, subtracted from, rearranged, illustrated, split into multiple articles, translated into other languages, and otherwise changed beyond your expectations. Your contribution will always be part of the page history, so you retain credit for your work — our licenses require us to provide that credit, and to ensure that you are not held liable in any sense for the changes others make to your work.

Please note that one of the benefits of this freedom to edit is that you are freely able to incorporate the improvements that others make into your own website or source work, so long as it remains under the CC-BY-SA or GFDL.

If it is important for some reason that your work remain intact, please read the guidelines for our sister project, Wikisource, which may be better suited to host such work.

Why we cannot take certain donations[edit]

You cannot donate what someone else owns[edit]

If you are not the copyright holder of the material you cannot donate rights to Wikipedia! The last thing we want are copyright problems: we try to be ruthless in rooting out material where there is even the slightest question about our right to use it.

For example:

Wikipedia is not a universal compendium[edit]

Wikipedia is not a universal compendium. There are things we include and things we don't. Probably the best explanation of this is at the page "Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not". In particular, we try not to include content that is below an encyclopedic level of notability. We probably don't need an article about your college club (unless it happens to be something like the Oxford Union). On the other hand, we are open to encyclopedic articles, with cited sources and written from a neutral point of view (NPOV). The content of most websites, as written, usually does not meet these criteria, so it may be best to simply paraphrase, rather than copy verbatim. This also avoids the need to re-license the content. See Wikipedia:Museum projects for some related thoughts.

Wikipedia does not publish original research[edit]

Wikipedia is not a primary source, which publishes new or untested research; our position is described at "Wikipedia:No original research". If your work is theoretical, cutting-edge, unpublished, or otherwise unverifiable through other sources, you will need to seek other avenues to publish it first. Alternatively, you should consider publishing it at Wikiversity.

Donating your photographs[edit]

See also: Commons:Welcome

If you have taken photographs that you think would be useful to Wikipedia, you can upload them to Wikimedia Commons (you may need to create an account to do this), where they can be used by any Wikimedia project, including Wikipedia. Please, if you are uploading images, become familiar with the image copyright tags. If they are your own photos, you will probably want to use one of the following:

Contributions can also be dual-licensed, being subject to two different licenses, and allowing users to choose which one they want to use your content under.

We encourage you to place a descriptive caption and source information (such as when and how it was taken) onto the Image description page in addition to the image copyright tag.

Granting us permission to copy material already online[edit]

Shortcuts:

One simple way to grant permission to copy material already on line is to put that permission explicitly on the site where that material is posted. This is commonly known as a "copyleft" notice. This notice must state that your site (or portions of your site) are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts) or that it is in the public domain. For text, a good statement of release might read:

The text of this website [or page, if you are specifically releasing one section] is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).

If you do not wish to retain any rights to the work, you may instead release it under the Creative Commons Zero Waiver, which effectively releases your work into the public domain:

The text of this website [or page] is released under the Creative Commons Zero Waiver 1.0 (CC0).

If you verify text by placing a note at the website, you may wish to use {{Text release}} to make sure that your release is documented at the talk page of the article. Instructions for using that template can be found at Template:Text release. Please do not use this template if the release is not published at your website, as the text will need to be removed.

If you would like to allow Wikipedia or another English Wikimedia site to use your content, be it text or images, but don't want to put a license statement on the website, you still must release it under the free licenses noted above and can do so in the following ways:

For text, you can send an email, ideally using the language from the template at Wikipedia:Declaration of consent for all enquiries:
(1) From an address associated with the original publication to permissions-en@wikimedia.org;
(2) After sending the email, place {{OTRS pending}} on the article's talk page.
Someone will reply to your email, indicating whether the content and your license is acceptable and update the page to indicate that the confirmation of the license has been received.
For images, you can send an email, ideally using the language from the template at Wikipedia:Declaration of consent for all enquiries:
(1) From an address associated with the original publication to permissions-commons@wikimedia.org;
(2) Then upload the file to Wikimedia Commons and place {{OTRS pending}} on the image page.
Someone will reply to your email, indicating whether the content and your license is acceptable and update the page to indicate that the confirmation of the license has been received.

If you would like to license your site's content under a free license, but don't have any particular articles in mind to put the content in, you can follow the above directions, and list your site on one of the following pages, based on the type of content and license:

If you have any further questions, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions.

Related pages[edit]