Wikipedia:Restricted materials

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Even though this image is in the Public Domain, you could still run into legal trouble if you use it to sell computers or publish records.

Some materials on Wikipedia may be subject to additional legal restrictions when they are used in particular circumstances or in particular ways. These limitations may arise from laws related to trade dress, trademarks, patents, currency, personality rights, political censorship, or any of many other legal causes which are entirely independent from the copyright status of the work.

Wikipedia's content policies discourage or outright forbid content which is not sufficiently unrestricted for reuse. However, non-copyright related restrictions are not considered relevant to Wikipedia's freeness requirements,[1] and the content policies are accordingly limited to regulating copyright related obligations.

Non-copyright restrictions and WP:NFCC[edit]

As educational and journalistic works, Wikipedia and many reusers of its content enjoy a strong position under US law with respect to most of these non-copyright restrictions. Our use of non-free content is restricted by the non-free content criteria, which in turn is defined by the Definition of Free Cultural Works. But, restrictions independent of their copyright status can still impair the use of a work for "any purpose". For instance in an extreme example, it would generally be illegal to print off a Wikipedia article and use it to commit murder, but this fact does not mean that the Wikipedia article is non-free. Likewise the legal prohibitions on using a registered mark or an image of a well-known personality to mislead consumers are not considered to impact the freeness of the work.

As educational and journalistic works, Wikipedia and many reusers of its content enjoy a strong position under US law with respect to most of these non-copyright restrictions. Reusers who are in other jurisdictions, or who are using material in a considerably different manner than Wikipedia may find themselves with a less favorable position, but in almost all cases replacing an image with another substantially similar image would not change the situation, which is entirely unlike concerns arising from copyright considerations. While Wikipedia's licensing is intended to respect the public's freedom, our ability to do so is generally limited to copyright. It is neither possible, nor desirable, for Wikipedia to release people from all laws which they may find inconvenient.

Although we do not consider these restrictions relevant to our policies we do occasionally add disclaimers such as {{trademark}} and {{insignia}} as a general public service. The omission of these disclaimers should not be taken to indicate an absence of possible legal obligations. As always, Wikipedia cannot provide legal advice specific to your circumstances.

Examples[edit]

Exceptions to the above guideline are very rare indeed. If you find yourself deleting a page, media file, text or link because of a legal restriction other than copyright, read this whole page carefully, think twice, and talk it over with other editors. It is very unlikely indeed that the law in question applies to Wikipedia, and there are only a few specialized exceptions. The following examples should be interpreted very narrowly.

Location of editor[edit]

If you are from (or visiting) a jurisdiction where rules are more strict than Florida, you may violate local law by uploading, transcluding or even viewing restricted materials. However Wikipedia is not censored. For example, in Germany usage of the Swastika and other Nazi symbology is restricted outside of scholarly contexts.

Hate speech, violence and sexual exploitation[edit]

Hate and harm usually depend on context. Aim to build an encyclopedia; don't appeal to prurient interest, and don't aim to cause or abet harm and offense. Articles that do nothing but hate and harm will quickly get deleted anyway. Consider putting the most potentially misused images that are legitimately hosted at Commons or English Wikipedia on the MediaWiki:Bad image list.

Trademarks[edit]

Sony logo.svg

File:Sony logo.svg (pictured) is in the public domain because its design (letters only) is not eligible for copyright, and therefore does not fall under Wikipedia:Non-free content criteria. However, it is a trademark, meaning it cannot be used by anyone, including Wikipedia, for the purpose of promoting or advertising similar products. Do not use this image to refer to a competing company, either on- or off-wiki.

Stamps, obligations, and securities[edit]

Here's a legal summary on stamps (including postage stamps, bird hunting stamps, and revenue stamps), obligations, and securities, both U.S. and foreign, by a nonlawyer, based on statutes (further explanation may be available from regulations, case law, and agency statements):

  • Images of uncanceled U.S. postage stamps including meter stamps may be published in color or black and white,[2] but the requirements differ:
    • If in color, they must be sized to be no more than three-fourths of life size or at least one and a half times life size, measured along each dimension, with partial images subject to the same ratio requirements.[3]
    • If in black and white, they must be sized to be the "exact" size, no more than three-fourths of life size, or at least one and a half times life size, measured along each dimension, with partial images subject to the same ratio requirements.[3] This means that images that are nearly, but not exactly, life size are not allowed. It is possible that partial images may not be published in life size, but that only full images may be.[4]
  • Images of canceled U.S. postage stamps including meter stamps may be published in color or black and white,[2] sized to be the "exact" size, no more than three-fourths of life size, or at least one and a half times life size, measured along each dimension, with partial images subject to the same ratio requirements.[3] This means that images that are nearly, but not exactly, life size are not allowed. It is possible that partial images may not be published in life size, but that only full images may be.[4]
  • Images of stamps issued under the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act of 1934 may be published in color or black and white,[2] but the requirements differ:
    • If in color, they must be sized to be no more than three-fourths of life size or at least one and a half times life size, measured along each dimension, with partial images subject to the same ratio requirements.[3]
    • If in black and white, they must be sized to be the "exact" size (assuming these count as revenue stamps), no more than three-fourths of life size, or at least one and a half times life size, measured along each dimension, with partial images subject to the same ratio requirements.[3] This means that images that are nearly, but not exactly, life size are not allowed. It is possible that partial images may not be published in life size, but that only full images may be.[4]
  • Images of all other U.S. revenue stamps may be published in black and white, but not in color.[5] They must be sized to be the "exact" size, no more than three-fourths of life size, or at least one and a half times life size, measured along each dimension, with partial images subject to the same ratio requirements.[3] This means that images that are nearly, but not exactly, life size are not allowed. It is possible that partial images may not be published in life size, but that only full images may be.[4]
  • Images of foreign government postage stamps including meter stamps may be published in color or black and white,[2] but the requirements differ:
    • If in color, they must be sized to be no more than three-fourths of life size or at least one and a half times life size, measured along each dimension, with partial images subject to the same ratio requirements.[3]
    • If in black and white, they must be sized to be the "exact" size, no more than three-fourths of life size, or at least one and a half times life size, measured along each dimension, with partial images subject to the same ratio requirements.[3] This means that images that are nearly, but not exactly, life size are not allowed. It is possible that partial images may not be published in life size, but that only full images may be.[4]
  • Images of foreign government revenue stamps may be published in black and white, but not in color.[5] They must be sized to be the "exact" size, no more than three-fourths of life size, or at least one and a half times life size, measured along each dimension, with partial images subject to the same ratio requirements.[3] This means that images that are nearly, but not exactly, life size are not allowed. It is possible that partial images may not be published in life size, but that only full images may be.[4]
  • Images of all U.S. currency may possibly be published in color. This depends on Treasury Department regulations.[5] Otherwise, images of all U.S. currency may be published in black and white, but not in color.[5]
  • Images of all other U.S. obligations and securities may be published in black and white, but not in color.[5] Digital publication, depending on where, may depend on Treasury Department regulations, with allowance granted for use by the press.[6]
  • Images of all foreign government, bank, and corporation obligations and securities may be published in black and white, but not in color.[5]
  • Postmarking may not be counterfeited. The issue is whether there is "intent to make it appear that such impression [of a forged or counterfeit "postmarking stamp"] is a genuine postmark." Possession of just the impression may be a felony.[7] Since a stamp with a line drawn across part of it may not be used for postage, drawing a line may avoid the issue of being an impression of a postmarking stamp, but then a stamp marked with such a line may not qualify as postmarked and therefore as canceled for purposes of reproducing as canceled.
  • Plates and negatives for permitted images are to be destroyed after their final use,[8] but whether that binds anyone regarding digital files from which copies are uploaded is unknown.[9]

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Some media may be subject to restrictions other than copyright in some jurisdictions, but are still considered free work."[1]
  2. ^ a b c d 18 U.S.C. § 504(1)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i 18 U.S.C. § 504(1)(ii)
  4. ^ a b c d e f 18 U.S.C. § 504(1)(ii) (partial images) (inference).
  5. ^ a b c d e f 18 U.S.C. § 504(1)
  6. ^ 18 U.S.C. § 504(2)
  7. ^ 18 U.S.C. § 503
  8. ^ 18 U.S.C. § 504(1)(iii)
  9. ^ If uploading moves the file rather than copies it, this is moot.