Wikipedia:Copyright problems

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This page is for listing and discussing possible copyright problems involving text on Wikipedia, including pages which are suspected to be copyright violations. Listings typically remain for at least five days before review and closure by a copyright problems clerk or administrator. During this time, interested contributors are invited to offer feedback about the problem at the relevant talk page, to propose revisions to the material, or to request copyright permission. After the listing period, a copyright problems board clerk or administrator will review the listing and take what further action may be necessary.

Pages listed for copyright review appear in the bottom section of the page. The top includes information for people who have copyright concerns about pages or images, for those whose pages have been tagged for concerns, for community volunteers who'd like to help resolve concerns and for the clerks and administrators who volunteer here.

If you believe a Wikipedia page has infringed on your copyright, please see special note below.
If a page you created has been marked as a copyright problem and you own copyright in the original publication (or have permission from the owner), please see this section.


Handling previously published text on Wikipedia

For more details on this topic, see Wikipedia:Copy-paste.

Under the United States law that governs Wikipedia, copyright is automatically assumed as soon as any content (text or other media) is created in a physical form. An author does not need to apply for or even claim copyright, for a copyright to exist.

Only one of the following allows works to be reused in Wikimedia projects:

A) Explicit Statement. An explicit statement (by the author, or by the holder of the rights to the work) that the material is either:

B) Public Domain. If the work is inherently in the public domain, due to its age, source or lack of originality (such as Copyright-free logos); or

C) Fair Use. United States law allows for fair use of copyrighted content, and (within limits) Wikipedia does as well. Under guidelines for non-free content, brief selections of copyrighted text may be used, but only if clearly marked and with full attribution.

Even if a source is public domain or compatibly licensed, material should be properly attributed in accordance with Wikipedia:Plagiarism. This is not only a matter of respecting local custom. When content is under a license that is compatible with Wikipedia's license, proper attribution may be required. If the terms of the compatible license are not met, use of the content can constitute a violation of copyright even if the license is compatible.

Repeated copyright violations

Contributors who repeatedly post copyrighted material (text or images) may be subject to contributor copyright investigations, to help ensure the removal from the project of all copyrighted material posted in contravention of policy. Contributors who repeatedly post copyrighted material after appropriate warnings will be blocked from editing, to protect the project; see 17 United States Code § 512.

Backwards copying: when Wikipedia had (or may have had) it first

In some instances, it is clear that two pieces of text (one on Wikipedia, and one elsewhere) are copies of each other, but not clear which piece is the original and which is the copy. "Compliant" sites that copy Wikipedia text note that they have done so, but not all of our re-users are compliant.

If you've found such a case, you might first check the discussion page to see if a note has been added to the top of the talk page allay people's concerns. If not, you can look for clues. Do other pages in the other website copy other Wikipedia articles? Did the content show up on Wikipedia all in once piece, placed by a single editor? If you don't see good evidence that Wikipedia had it first, it's a good idea to bring it up for investigation. You might follow the Instructions for listing below or tag the article {{copy-paste|url=possible source}} so that others can evaluate. If you confirm definitely that the content was on Wikipedia first, please consider adding {{backwardscopy}} to the article's talk page with an explanation of how you know.

If you see an article somewhere else which was copied from Wikipedia without attribution, you might visit the CC-BY-SA compliance page or Wikipedia:Mirrors and forks.

Instructions for listing text-based copyright concerns

Copyright owners: If you believe Wikipedia is infringing your copyright, you may request immediate removal of the copyright violation. Alternatively, you may contact Wikipedia's designated agent under the terms of the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act. You are also welcome to follow the procedures here. See the copyright policy for more information.

Blatant infringement

Pages exhibiting blatant copyright infringements may be speedily deleted if:

  • Content was copied from a source which does not have a license compatible with Wikipedia, and the content was copied from that source to Wikipedia and not the other way around (Wikipedia has numerous mirrors);
  • The page can neither be restored to a previous revision without infringing content, nor would the page be viable if the infringing content were removed.
  • There is no credible assertion of public domain, fair use, or a free license.

To nominate an article for speedy deletion for copyright concerns, add one of these to the page:

Both of these templates will generate a notice that you should give the contributor of the content. This is important to help ensure that they do not continue to add copyrighted content to Wikipedia. An administrator will examine the article and decide whether to delete it or not. You should not blank the page in this instance.

Suspected or complicated infringement

If infringement is not blatant or the speedy deletion criteria do not apply:

  • Remove the infringing text or revert the page to a non-copyrighted version if you can.
    The infringing text will remain in the page history for archival reasons unless the copyright holder asks the Wikimedia Foundation to remove it (unless it is tagged for {{copyvio-revdel}}. Please note the reason for removal in the edit summary and at the article's talk page (you may wish to use {{subst:cclean}}). When possible, please identify and alert the contributor of the material to the problem. The template {{Uw-copyright}} may be used for this purpose.
  • However, if all revisions have copyright problems, the removal of the copyright problem is contested, or reversion/removal is otherwise complicated:
  • Replace the text with one of the following:

    {{subst:copyvio|url=insert URL here}}

    {{subst:copyvio|identify non-web source here}}

  • Go to today's section and add

    * {{subst:article-cv|PageName}} from [insert URL or identify non-web source here] ~~~~

    to the bottom of the list. Put the page's name in place of "PageName". If you do not have a URL, enter a description of the source. (This text can be copied from the top of the template after substituting it and the page name and url will be filled for you.) If there is not already a page for the day, as yours would be the first listing, please add {{subst:cppage}} to the top.
  • Advise the contributor of the material at their talk page. The template on the now blanked page supplies a notice you may use for that purpose.

Instructions for special cases

  • Probable copyvios without a known source: If you suspect that a page contains a copyright violation, but you cannot find a source for the violation (so you can't be sure that it's a violation), do not list it here. Instead, place {{cv-unsure|~~~|2=FULL_URL}} on the page's talk page, but replace FULL_URL with the full URL of the page version that you believe contains a violation. (To determine the URL, click on "Permanent link" in the toolbox area, and copy the URL.)
  • Instances where one contributor has verifiably introduced copyright problems into multiple pages or files and assistance is needed in further review: See Wikipedia:Contributor copyright investigations.

Instructions for handling image copyright concerns

For more details on this topic, see Wikipedia:Guide to image deletion.

Image copyright concerns are not handled on this board. For images that are clear copyright violations, follow the procedure for speedy deletion; list images that are suspected to be copyright violations at possibly unfree images and images with disputed fair use rationales at Non-free content review. To request assistance with contributors who have infringed copyright in multiple articles or files, see Wikipedia:Contributor copyright investigations.

Responding to articles listed for copyright investigation

Copyright owners and people editing on their behalf or with their permission, please see below.

Any contributor is welcome to help investigate articles listed for copyright concerns, although only administrators, copyright problems board clerks, and OTRS team members should remove {{copyvio}} tags and mark listings resolved.

Assistance might include supplying evidence of non-infringement (or, conversely, of infringement) or obtaining and verifying permission of license. You might also help by rewriting problematic articles.

Supplying evidence of non-infringement

Articles are listed for copyright investigation because contributors have reason to suspect they constitute a copyright concern, but not every article listed here is actually a copyright problem. Sometimes, the content was on Wikipedia first. Sometimes, the article is public domain or compatibly licensed. Sometimes, the person who placed it here is the copyright owner and this simply needs to be verified.

If you can provide information to prove license or public domain status of the article, please do. It doesn't matter if you do it under the listing for the article on the copyright problems board or on the talk page of the article; a link or a clear explanation can be very helpful when a clerk or administrator evaluates the matter. (As listings are not immediately addressed on the board, it may take a few days after you make your note before response is provided.)

If the article is tagged for {{copyvio}}, you should allow an administrator or copyright problems clerk to remove the tag. If the article is tagged for {{copy-paste}} or {{close paraphrasing}}, you may remove the tag from the article when the problem is addressed (or disproven), but please do not close the listing on the copyright problems board itself.

Obtaining/verifying permission

Sometimes material was placed on Wikipedia with the permission of the copyright owner. Sometimes copyright owners are willing to give permission (and proper license!) even if it was not.

Any contributor can write to the owner of copyright and check whether they gave or will give permission (or maybe they in fact posted it here!). See Wikipedia:Example requests for permission. In either case, unless a statement authorizing the material under compatible license is placed online at the point of original publication, permission will need to be confirmed through e-mail to the Wikimedia Foundation. See Wikipedia:Confirmation of permission. If a compatible license is placed online at the point of original publication, please provide a link to that under the listing for the article on the copyright problems board or on the talk page of the article.

Please note that it may take a few days for letters to clear once they are sent. Do not worry if the content is deleted prematurely; it can be restored at any point usable permission is logged.

Rewriting content

Any contributor may rewrite articles that are or seem to be copyight problems to exclude duplicated or closely paraphrased text. When articles or sections of articles are blanked as copyright problems, this is done on a temporary page at Draft:PAGENAME so that the new material can be copied over the old. (The template blanking the article will link to the specific temporary page.)

Please do not copy over the version of the article that is a copyright problem as your base. All copied content, or material derived from it, should be removed first. Other content from the article can be used, if there is no reason to believe that it may be a copyright issue as well. It is often a good idea - and essential when the content is copied from an inaccessible source such as a book - to locate the point where the material entered the article and eliminate all text added by that contributor. This will help avoid inadvertently continuing the copyright issues in your rewrite. If you use any text at all from the earlier version of the article, please leave a note at the talk page of the article to alert the administrator or clerk who addresses the listing. The history of the old article will then have to be retained. (If the original turns out to be non-infringing, the two versions of the article can be merged.)

Rewrites can be done directly in articles that have been tagged for {{close paraphrasing}} and {{copy-paste}}, with those tags removed after the rewrite is complete.

Please review Wikipedia:Copy-paste and the linked guidelines and policies within it if necessary to review Wikipedia's practices for handling non-free text. Reviewing Wikipedia:Plagiarism is also helpful, particularly where content is compatibly licensed or public domain. Repairing these issues can sometimes be as simple as supplying proper attribution.

Copyright owners who submitted their own work to Wikipedia (or people editing on their behalf)

Policy shortcut:

If you submitted work to Wikipedia which you had previously published and your submission was marked as a potential infringement of copyright, then stating on the article's talk page that you are the copyright holder of the work (or acting as his or her agent), while not likely to prevent deletion, helps. To completely resolve copyright concerns, it is sufficient to either:

See also Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials.

Please note that it may take a bit of time for letters and e-mails to clear once they are sent. Do not worry if the content is deleted prematurely; it can be restored at any point usable permission is logged. Your e-mail will receive a response whether the permission is usable or not. If you have not received a response to your letter within two weeks, it is a good idea to follow up.

One other factor you should consider, however, is that content that has been previously published elsewhere may not meet Wikipedia's specific guidelines and policies. If you are not familiar with these policies and guidelines, please review especially the core policies that govern the project. This may help prepare you to deal with any other issues with the text that may arise.

Should you choose to rewrite the content rather than release it under the requisite license, please see above.

Information about the people who process copyright problems listed on the board

Copyright problems board clerks

For a more complete description of clerks and their duties, as well as a list of active clerks, please see Wikipedia:Copyright problems/Clerks.

Copyright problems board clerks are experienced editors on Wikipedia who have demonstrated familiarity with Wikipedia's approach to non-free text and its processes for dealing with them. They are trusted to evaluate and close listings, although their closures may sometimes require completion by administrators, when use of administrative tools is required. Clerks are periodically reviewed by the administrators who work in copyright areas on Wikipedia.

Copyright problems board administrators

For a more complete description of administrators on Wikipedia, please see Wikipedia:Administrators.

Any administrator may work the copyright problems board. Working the copyright problems board may involve evaluating listings personally or using tools as necessary to complete closures by clerks. Clerks have been evaluated in their work, and their recommendations may be implemented without double-checking, although any administrator is welcome to review recommendations and discuss them with the clerks in question.

Closing listings

Pages should stay listed for a minimum of 5 days before they are checked and processed by copyright problems board clerks, 7 days before they are checked or processed by administrators, who close the daily listings. OTRS agents who verify images may close listings at any time.

For advice for resolving listings, see:

The templates collected at Template:CPC may be useful for administrators, clerks and OTRS agents noting resolution.

Listings of possible copyright problems

Very old issues

(Please also see related discussion here, as to why this, and the other discussed example, are not copyright violations.) FloraWilde (talk) 15:29, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
The WikiPlants template for writing plant articles has the same topics as sections in this source - general, then distribution (soil type, vegetation type, elevation, geographic location), description (leaves and stems, inflorescence and fruit), and uses (ecological interactions, human uses). Botanical nomenclature is standardized for information in the distribution and description sections. There is very little choice in presenting very simple facts with standardized topics and nomenclature. Many of the technical nomenclature expressions are titles of pre-existing articles at Wiki, leaving no wording choice. This is not a copyright violation. FloraWilde (talk) 21:59, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm not seeing actual copyright violation here. I have a copy of Pam Mackay's book to compare against, and the sentences are different, and differently-ordered. There are phrases in common, but what I see is phrasing that follows some standard conventions for botany, where any tinkering results in either changes to the meaning, or convoluted wording that obscures the meaning. Stan (talk) 20:45, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
Note: I've looked at this again, and now posted on the article talk-page an example of the sort of edit that caused me to list the page here; I don't really agree with the assessment of Stan Shebs. Because user FloraWilde is clearly upset about this, I'd be grateful for a second opinion. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 09:28, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
Per WP:RTP, to keep the discussion on a single page, I moved the comments on that talk page to the subsection below, and linked that talk page to this discussion. Please feel free to move it back if I made an error. FloraWilde (talk) 14:48, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm surprised there is such an extensive discussion about this when there are already guidelines for such cases (not botany specifically, but close paraphrasing in general). This is covered in WP:LIMITED, and FloraWilde's single sentence (Justlettersandnumbers example below) clearly constitutes closely paraphrased simple statements of fact, which are explicitly allowed (with an example very close to that of FloraWilde) on Wikipedia. I can also, from personal experience, attest that such similar sentences are unavoidable in botanical articles. A single sentence being quite similar, but still not identical, to a sentence from a sourced work is nearly impossible to avoid without resorting to nonsensical ordering or nomenclature. Thus, FloraWilde's sentence actually fulfills both criteria to allow limited close paraphrasing (simple statement of fact and unavoidable use of technical terms), despite only one being required.WP:CV and WP:PARAPHRASE also specify that "Even inserting text copied with some changes can be a copyright violation if there's substantial linguistic similarity in creative language or structure". The language and structure used in FloraWilde's source is not creative, containing only facts in a format standard for botanical description. I'm not sure how to remove/undo the copyright violation notices, so it would be appreciated if someone more knowledgeable would do that, but I'm confident this will close the discussion about it. Dunditschia (talk) 12:44, 14 July 2014 (UTC)

  • Since Justlettersandnumbers made these comments, I have been checking word order against the cited source. If a sentence is similar, I have broken up the sentence. If the order of information is similar, I have been changing the order. I have been putting in conversions to metric when numbers occur. I have been trying to change standardized nomenclature to use plain English when possible, as an alternative. I would do the same for this sentence in this article, but the entire article was taken down and is unavailable to edit. FloraWilde (talk)
@FloraWilde: - the approach you describe here - breaking up sentences, reordering, plain English - is an excellent approach to such issues. Having an editor familiar with the area help with these is ideal, as outsiders (like me) can't accurately judge what's standard for the field and what's not. If you're willing to help with this specific article, there are two ways to do it. One is standard, and the other is an "ignore all rules" approach that i don't ordinarily recommend, but that might serve in a situation like this. The standard approach is to place the rewrite at the temp page. The other is to edit the article itself - the text is all still there in the source code; it's just hidden by the template. The second approach is not generally best because honestly what we often encounter is that people deal with copyright issues by creating close paraphrases. Having it in a separate document helps us avoid the kind of rewriting where somebody changes a sentence like "Bob Smith expressed a certain level of dismay at the acts of Parliament" to "Bob Smith expressed a certain level of discomfort at the acts of Parliament." :/ In a situation like this, I'd be comfortable with either revising on the separate page or on the page itself and would be very grateful for your efforts there. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 14:24, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
I will get to it soon. I am surprised that with the WikiProject:plants article template being very similar or the same as apparently used by many field guide authors, and the standardization of botanical terms used to describe habitats, leaves, stems, inflorescence, and fruit, that there were not at least some sentences that were exactly the same as in some field guide or another. It is clear to me why User:Justlettersandnumbers (or some other editor in the future) will look at these articles (which to date have had few or no sources) and see what appears to be copyright violations, even when they are written straight out of an editors head without first looking at a source. In the future, I will carefully check my own edits, and already existing edits of others, against the source I am inserting as a ref, to make sure this appearance of a copyright violation is avoided. FloraWilde (talk) 13:00, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

Older than 7 days

Below are articles that have been listed here for longer than 7 days. At this point, they may be processed by any administrator (see WP:CPAA). When every ticket on a day is clear, the day may be removed.

2 July 2014

  • Pictogram voting keep.svg Article cleaned by investigator or others. No remaining infringement. I've reverted to prior to the influx of issues. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 20:11, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting keep.svg Article cleaned by investigator or others. No remaining infringement. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 20:17, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Not a copyvio, but not particularly encyclopedic either. MER-C 12:59, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
  • To the closing admin: as discussed with Moonriddengirl, I have been working on rewriting in temporary space. When it's completed, I will leave a note here. Logos5557 (talk) 16:47, 13 July 2014 (UTC)
  • To the closing admin: As of now, not so perfect, but near-complete. I would appreciate if you let me know whether it needs to be worked on more. Logos5557 (talk) 16:18, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

13 July 2014

Copyright investigations (manual article tagging)
Example edits: content including "then a state assemblyman", "last sheet of ice", "selling their land". Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 09:35, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

16 July 2014

Copyright investigations (manual article tagging)
  • Pictogram voting keep.svg Article cleaned by investigator or others. No remaining infringement. Material from that source may be reincorporated if proven to be PD, but I found liberal copying from another source that is not PD. Reverted to last presumed clean. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 14:32, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

New listings

Notice:If the links below in this section are broken, it's because there are too many unresolved copyright problems, If enough issues are closed, they'll work again. (So help!)
(Above notice per MER-C.)
WARNING! It also means that some reported problems are not on this page!!!

New listings are not added directly to this page but are instead on daily reports. To add a new listing, please go to today's section. Instructions for adding new listings can be found at Instructions for listing text-based copyright concerns. Entries may not be reviewed and are not closed for at least 7 days to give the original authors of the article time to deal with the problem.

Older than 5 days

Below are articles that have been listed here for longer than 5 days. At this point, they may be processed by a copyright problems board clerk. After 7 days, they may be closed by an administrator.

22 July 2014

Copyright investigations (manual article tagging)

23 July 2014

Copyright investigations (manual article tagging)

Recent listings

Below are articles that have been listed here for 5 days or less. Anyone in the community may help clarify the copyright status on these. See the section on responding for more information.

Mcchavens (talk) 01:23, 26 July 2014 (UTC)Neuromuscular_therapy (history · last edit · rewrite) from [5] and [6]

Wikipedia:Copyright problems/2014 July 27

29 July 2014

Copyright investigations (manual article tagging)


Wikipedia's current date is 29 July 2014. Put new article listings in Wikipedia:Copyright problems/2014 July 29. Images should be handled by speedy deletion, possibly unfree files or Wikipedia:Non-free content review.