Wikipedia:Red flags of copyright violation

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Editors that contribute to review of WP:AFC submissions and patrol new pages observe some recurring items in articles which turn out to be copyright violations. These all boil down to a level of writing or photography which is "too good to be true", especially from a new editor. A writing style that most editors are unlikely to use themselves but a professional writer especially one tasked with promoting a business or other entity is likely to use. These red flags can be indicators that further investigation is warranted to ensure there is no copyright violation.

  1. All capitals in the article title or sections. Web pages use this to grab attention. Small caps typesetting looks one way on web page but when copied and pasted to a text format like Wikipedia, appears all caps. Seeing this in a wikipedia article can be an indication that it was copied and pasted from a webpage.
  2. Promotional sounding language this is a problem in itself but can also be an indicator that the material was copied from elsewhere.
  3. Polished writing from new editors or long articles lacking wiki formatting New editors don't create articles that are as well written or formatted as experienced ones. When a well written and formatted article shows up from a new editor, a check to ensure it wasn't copied from somewhere is warranted.
  4. 1st person tense This can also indicate WP:COI
  5. Sounds like a press release probably because it was copied from a press release.
  6. Long articles lacking wiki formatting
  7. professional looking images examples include portraits that appear to have been taken in a studio setting, the photographers generally retain copyright of those images.
  8. reference formatting without the actual references. The most common example is parenthetical numbers which would refer to a reference list, except there is no reference list. This normally indicates a copy from a term paper or academic article where that is this preferred style.


  • A Google search on a particularly well written sentence can locate the original source
  • for images, visit Google image search and drag the image onto the search box to search Google on that image.

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