Wikipedia talk:Image use policy/Noncommercial-use

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Noncommercial-use only images are not acceptable[edit]

A general reminder: Please stop uploading images where permission is granted for non-commercial use only, effective immediately. Under official Wikipedia policy, these images are no longer accepted. [1]. It is anticipated that existing images with the {{noncommercial}} tag will be deleted at some point in the future (possibly after a new upload form is in place), except for images whose use can be justified on other grounds. --Michael Snow 16:36, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

  • At the risk of making a lot of extra work for myself, I would be willing to accept requests for creating GFDL replacements for noncommercial-use illustrations. See my user page for a list of the sort of things I have illustrated. -- Wapcaplet 16:48, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
    • I can help out as well with diagrams. (Some of my diagrams can be found here) theresa knott 18:21, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • I guess this means we shouldn't be featuring these images on the front page? [2] anthony (see warning) 16:51, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
    • Yes. Middle-earth is actually what called my attention to the problem, but by the time I noticed it was already on the front page, and I didn't think the issue warranted taking it down once it had gotten there. We are not yet to the point of removing all of these images from articles and deleting them, but I agree that they should not be used on the front page. I regret that your objection wasn't acted on while featuring this article was still in the planning stages. --Michael Snow 18:19, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

This is a great blow to the ongoing process of illustrating Wikipedia. There are a lot of people out there taking a lot of good photos which understandably they don't want other people making money out of. However they are quite happy, even honoured, to allow use of their images for noble projects like Wikipedia. I have been uploading a few of these non-commercial images recently to illustrate articles on towns. There is absolutely no reason why they should not be used. Downstream reproducers of Wikipedia content should simply not incorporate the images into their content if they intend to put it to commercial use. This can be achieved very easily with the tagging of images with their licensing status. What this policy is doing is allowing downstream commercial users to dictate to us here at the main project what we can and can't include. Can somebody please offer a decent explanation as to why non-commercial images shouldn't be included so that we can all come to an informed consensus on the matter instead of having policy decided by a small clique on the mailing list and announced to the rest of us from on high. If this policy is adopted then we are pointlessly preventing ourselves from using images which their creators are quite happy for us to use. A far greater problem Wikipedians should be devoting their time to is the lack of any licensing information whatsoever on the vast majority of uploaded images. — Trilobite (Talk) 20:55, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

IANAL, but it appears that restrictions on re-distribution directly conflict with the GFDL, our license of choice. - jredmond 21:58, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
The issue is not the GFDL — the GFDL is chosen because one wants to allow commercial use, not vice versa. —Steven G. Johnson 22:22, Aug 11, 2004 (UTC)
Our text is GFDL - images are not (which is why we have the image pages). →Raul654 22:07, Aug 11, 2004 (UTC)
The trick comes in when we place images on articles, though. Is the image a part of the article? If so, what license applies to the compilation of GFDL text plus non-GFDL images? - jredmond 22:12, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
But then there is an inconsistency. Mr Wales writes, "For the time being, I think we should rely on fair use, because it's a good thing, but cautiously so." We certainly cannot grant licences for images, but we use them nevertheless. Another problem is that the restriction on non-commercial images can be easily evaded with the fair use doctrine. -- Emsworth 22:18, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
In the present (US) legal environment, "fair use" is a pretty flimsy crutch to lean on. Besides which, Wikipedians seem to think "fair use" means "we can use any image we like as long as we really really want to." —Steven G. Johnson 22:32, Aug 11, 2004 (UTC)
Jimbo'll have to speak for himself, but I read that sentence to mean "Until we can get new, more libre images, fair use will have to do". This is consistent with the bits on fair-use content in Wikipedia:Copyrights. - jredmond 22:36, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Yes, it's pretty clear what Jimbo means here. He says that non-free content "should be removed from Wikipedia with reasonable haste." Then he says "This decree is only about non-free licenses _as a justification_ for images being on Wikipedia, and does not comment on, nor affect, evolving doctrine on 'fair use'." "For the time being, I think we should rely on fair use, because it's a good thing, but cautiously so." He is saying that we should get rid of content that is used under a non-free license, but that this doesn't apply to free use images. It's an interesting statement, because you could technically say since these images are copyrighted, they can be used under fair use. But IANAL. マイケル 00:10, Aug 12, 2004 (UTC)
In addition, the statement at the bottom of each page reads, "All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License" (emphasis added).
Non-commercial-use images are problematic for the same reason that non-commercial-use text is — there is no reason to allow one and not the other. We allow commercial use because we want to allow things like Wikipedia being distributed on CD by CheapBytes for a few dollars, being included with future Linux DVDs as a built-in OS resource, being bundled with every PalmPilot sold... as long as the encyclopedia material itself is never made proprietary. This is the same as the free-software/open-source philosophy (both of which movements require that commercial use be allowed). —Steven G. Johnson 22:22, Aug 11, 2004 (UTC)
From a contributor's standpoint, why not just contribute the image under the GFDL? Although the GFDL does not prohibit "commercial" use per se, it prohibits most uses that people ordinarily think of as "commercial" — for example, usage in a typical magazine or newspaper — because it prohibits proprietary use (all derived works need to be under the GFDL as well). (Indeed, just as companies do with GPL software, you could imagine a professional photographer contributing GFDL images as a promotion, and then selling the right to use a non-GFDL, proprietary license to magazines etc. that want to use the image.) —Steven G. Johnson 22:28, Aug 11, 2004 (UTC)
I think what Trilobite is talking about is images that have been copied from elsewhere under non-commercial use permissions. In that case, you don't have the ability to contribute the image under the GFDL yourself. --Michael Snow 22:31, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I think he was talking about photos taken by individuals...unlike companies, individuals can sometimes be persuaded, and you just need to convince them that the GFDL prohibits most of the uses that they want to prohibit with a noncommercial restriction. —Steven G. Johnson 22:35, Aug 11, 2004 (UTC)
Sure they can be persuaded, and if so, great. But it does take a little more work, and as you note about fair use, some people are just dying to contribute this lovely image they found "right now", without caring about the implications of copyleft. --Michael Snow 22:52, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I meant photos taken by anyone who has nothing to do with Wikipedia, so they can't just say, "I'll make things easier and license my images under the GFDL," as I would (and have done) with my own images I want to put on Wikipedia. There are a lot of people making their very useful photos available for non-commercial use which Wikipedia should be able to take advantage of. — Trilobite (Talk) 23:04, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia is committed to being as free (libre) a project as possible, as part of the open content community that relies on copyleft licenses. This is a core part of our mission. We define ourselves as an open-content encyclopedia on the Main Page. This principle has been policy since the beginning of the project.

There are a lot of people out there writing a lot of good text which understandably they don't want other people making money out of. This text is not allowed on Wikipedia, because it is not open content. There are plenty of people who might let us use their text, or their images, as long as it can only be used on Wikipedia. Because we're a noble project, because they're honoured to have it published, because they want publicity, motives may vary. We can't accept it on those terms, because it's not open content. The policy against non-commercial-use-only images reflects that commitment. --Michael Snow 22:31, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I quite agree with you where text is concerned. However, text which someone wanted to contribute on a non-commercial basis would of course make things very difficult and complex, as text is added to and taken away from, edited mercilessly etc. It would be absurd to have different portions and fragments of text under different licenses, but images are a very different matter. They are discrete entities instead of something that can be mixed up with new contributions until it's impossible to extricate the original. They are also, as Raul654 pointed out, on seperate image pages which are simply referenced to in the Wiki markup. By tagging those images which are not available for commercial use, downstream reproducers, or future commercial applications of Wikipedia such as those which have been mentioned, can remove them automatically. This makes things a little bit more complicated, but is greatly preferable to purging Wikipedia of vast swathes of perfectly good graphical content. Am I the only one who still isn't persuaded that this policy makes sense? — Trilobite (Talk) 23:04, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
A license to use something only for noncommercial use is not free, and it's inconsistent with our underlying philosophy. The fact that you can separate the images out from text doesn't matter. What we would be doing is flatly saying no, you can't use this content if it's for commercial purposes. In other words, the content is definitely not open, even though we claim that we are.
If you can claim fair use for an image, that has a slightly better shot at working in an open-content world, because commerciality is only one issue considered in fair use analysis. And with fair use, we're not telling people "you can't use this stuff", but we're tagging it so they can separate it if necessary. What we're really telling them is to figure out for yourself if what you're doing is still fair use. --Michael Snow 23:27, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
The mainstay of our content, which is text, would be very much open and free. Images not available for commercial use would serve as an embellishment on the Wikipedia website itself, as this is not a commercial use. In some other applications of our content, those images would not be available. It's as simple as that. Fair use, as I understand it (and I am by no means an expert), is a phenomenon of US copyright law of dubious international applicability. I have always thought it best avoided as it is often far from clear where the line between fair use and unauthorised copying lies. Non-commercial permission however is clear and unequivocal — we can use it on this website and any other non-commercial application, and we simply blank it out from anything commercial. This is easily achieved by putting all such images into a category. This is the Wiki equivalent of the sort of machine-readable metadata Creative Commons encourages the use of along with their licenses, so that computers can be used to selectively do things with content according to how it's licensed. Technologically this is very simple for Wikipedia and need not contradict the philosophy of the project at all, as long as we remain a text-based encyclopedia with images as non-essential extras. After all, we should already be aiming at this if only for accessibility reasons. I would appreciate some input into this debate from others as I think it's one worth having. — Trilobite (Talk) 23:58, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Noncommercial use is technically legal on Wikipedia itself right now, but would not be if we decided to add advertisements to the site (I'm not suggesting this is planned, but it has been contemplated). But anyway, such images are clearly not open and free, and I don't see why we should stray from our commitment to open content in order to embellish the website.
Fair use is specifically US, but other countries have fair dealing, and for a more international basis, the Berne Convention has fair practice. Determining what's "fair" tends to be case-by-case analysis, and the US may well be the most liberal jurisdiction in that regard, but the principle is internationally available.
Incidentally, if images are "non-essential extras", why exactly is it so important to allow images under noncommercial-use permissions? That philosophy seems to negate all of the arguments raised for including them. --Michael Snow 00:20, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Personally, I'm glad to have non-commercial images go. The goal of Wikipedia is to create a free resource which anybody can easily take material from. Moving to the GFDL will not remove any credit from you – and you aren't losing any money anyway, unless you're rich enough to distribute the picture, etc. What's so wrong about letting a company use your image? As long as they credit you, there's nothing you're losing. As for fair use, I consider images commonly seen (i.e. a particularly famous image of a celebrity), or images distributed publicly (i.e. broadcast on television, published in major publications) to be valid fair use material. Anything else is dubious. So, for example, an image of the cover of the Yesterday single would be fair use, but not a copyrighted image of the Beatles (or anyone else) performing it, unless licensed under the GFDL and/or published in several major publications. Johnleemk | Talk 10:53, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Have you considered this from the contributors point of view? If you have an individual who donates his or her time to write an article for which there are none of the traditional benefits of commercial reward or peer recognition and that individual also prepares images to support and embellish the article then it should be entirely up to them if they do not want to see their work profited from commercially unless they do so too. prometheus1 20:51, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I am not contesting that right. What I am contesting is that we allow that to happen on Wikipedia, and that as a contributor, IMO, there's little reason for it. Unless you have a way to make loads of money from it, there's no reason for not licensing the image under the GFDL or some other free license, unless you're one of those anti-corporate...um, "girlie men". (Don't take the comment seriously.) The decision is up to the image's owner, but we really shouldn't be using these images on Wikipedia. Jimbo's posts on the mailing list say it much better than I ever could. Johnleemk | Talk 05:12, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • I'm a big fan of Arnold and I don't think you would call me a "girlie man" if you saw me ;). But I am not a fan of having others sell and make money out of a contribution that I made in the interests of sharing knowledge. From both an ideological and economic perspective if others wish to make money out of it then I should be entitled to my fair share in the great corporate tradition! If you go to pubmed books online you will find that some images cannot be shown in the online version. If it's good enough for them to compromise it should be good enough for wikipedia. I think placing such a restriction in the event that wikpedia want to change the business model so that they can sell CD's or use banner advertising to generate income is illogical. It is easy to tag the images such that if an ad appears or if the content is going to CD that it be not included. Otherwise pay a percentage back to the contributor - or better still stay non-profit like everyone believes wikipedia is, then there's no problem of using non-commercial use. prometheus1 06:42, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
A non-profit organization can make commercial use of images (or other things), right? Dan Gardner 19:20, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)
But if you really had a strong interest in sharing knowledge, you wouldn't mind allowing commercial uses of your contributions. After all, don't you know that every piece of text on Wikipedia can be taken and resold as long as we are credited, and nobody can say a thing? Jimbo makes the point for why we shouldn't be allowing non-commercial use only uploads on Wikipedia brilliantly – it's supposed to be free. If we have to rely on restrictive licensing, it goes against our original goal of an encyclopedia anybody can take and reuse. I can't wait to see how you're going to ask for a cut when some company decides to lift text from DNA repair, by the way. ;-) Johnleemk | Talk 07:30, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I think this decision has the priorities wrong. At least non-commercial-use images have licences and at least we can use them. Our first priority should be to remove images with no source; our second should be to remove copyrighted images unless the "fair use" defence is really solid (e.g., corporate logos). Non-commecical-use images should come a distant third. Gdr 15:35, 2004 Aug 12 (UTC)

The first priority is quite correct. People shouldn't be uploading images without source information any more than they should be uploading non-commercial-use images. In both cases, actual removal is waiting until we have a new upload form that will improve compliance. Weeding out improper claims of fair use would be good, too, but you have to debate those individually. Keep in mind that some of the images used under non-free licenses will also need to be considered for possible fair use claims. --Michael Snow 17:47, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)
First off, I agree with Trilobite: "non-commercial use only" images can – if tagged – be easily removed by commercial re-users of Wikipedia content. Wikipedia itself is a non-commercial endeavour, and I can't see anything wrong with the use of such images here. Removing them from here would only needlessly deprive Wikipedia of many great pictures.
It seems to me that downstream republishers of Wikipedia content will find it far more difficult to properly deal with "fair use" claims: they will in effect have to re-evaluate each and every of these images to check whether the fair use claim made by Wikipedia also applies in the jurisdiction they're under.
I think Gdr has the priorities exactly right. First deal with copyvios (we already do), then images without source and licensing info, then verify those "fair use" claims. Deal with problems that could affect Wikipedia itself first. "Non-commercial use only" images pose no legal problems for Wikipedia, and as I wrote above, commercial dowstream re-users can remove them. We have more important things to do.
How many "non-commercial use only" images do we have, anyway? Category:Non-commercial use only images currently lists 81 images, but I know that this number is far too low, maybe due to some corrupt link table in the database. A search of the "Image" namespace for "non-commercial" lists more than 500 results. (I tried to find out how many exactly by playing around with "&limit=" & "&offset=" in the URL, but queries invariably timed out for me.)
Lupo 19:17, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I don't know. Any image which is fair use for Wikipedia is probably fair use for just about any noncommercial encyclopedia, so non-commercial only images are probably more restrictive. That said, both issues need to be addressed. We shouldn't have many images here which we can't put in the print version, as having them here will just make us lazy about replacing them with free ones. anthony (see warning) 20:31, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)

A lot of people are confused to as to what Jimbo meant. I think the text of from his latest e-mail states much more clearly what he means:

> We have a lot of images with "no commercial use" caveats.  Does that
>mean these images have to be removed?

My position is that yes, eventually, these do need to be removed.
There can be exceptions, though...

If an image meets our fair use/fair dealing guidelines, which
basically means that it is easily fair use for us, and likely fair use
for most contemplated reusers, then we can keep it (because it is free
in the relevant sense) *even if* we are *also* able to obtain a
license of some sort.  It can be wise for us to have licenses for
content that we could use without a license, just to make things more
clear.

An example of a "fair use" that would likely be fine for just about
any contemplated reusers would be a quotation from a book that an
article is discussing.  Another example would be a screen shot from a
movie in an article about that movie.

If the _only_ way we can use a particular image is through a non-free
license, and we believe that a fair use defense would be unavailable
to us, or to most contemplated reusers, then it should be avoided.

--Jimbo

I hope that clears up any confusion anyone had. マイケル 20:37, Aug 12, 2004 (UTC)


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