Wikipedia talk:Non-free content

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When is downsampling the wrong strategy for dealing with non-free content?[edit]

I was reading the article Composite artifact colors and noticed several of the example images are classed as non-free content, and down-sampled in keeping with Wikimedia’s standing policy on such content. The problem is that the article in question was discussing distortion artifacts on the pixel level of the images in question, and very little to do with the macro-image (beyond overall initial impression). When an image is down-sampled, this pixel level detail is lost, making it a poor example image for the intended purpose.

(As an alternative example, imagine discussing the intricate differences in shape of the mesh of different ventilation grilles, next to a low resolution image of a ventilation register where the grille is a large grey blurry blob. The detail eliminated by down-sampling was the point of the image in the first place.)

Additionally, at least one of the images was of a text screen in a game, where, while the still readable passages of text may be non-free, the screen layout, devoid of any protected artwork, shouldn’t warrant more non-free status than an attributed quote from a non-free book.

There are many places where down-sampling of a non-free image makes sense in Wikipedia: Making reference to protected example of pop-culture, as an example. If you see the person/thing represented elsewhere, you will recognize them, but the image is not of sufficient quality to feature in a publication, or infringe some other way.

So, I really have four questions:

  1. Are there situations where it’s appropriate to use non-free content in Wikipedia where down-sampling it makes it at least mostly useless?
  2. Is there (or should there be) a policy on when and how such non-free content should be handled?
  3. Are there other re-use disincentivizers that can be used instead of down sampling? (Superimposed detail call-out bubbles, for example)
  4. Can content contain non-free content without being deemed non-free content? Where is that line? Is a black rectangle with the words "You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here."[1] Above a “>” in green or grey, considered non-free content? Linux dr (talk) 21:48, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
Some notes:
  1. Why does the article contain non-free screenshots? Aren't there freely licensed programs which can serve as examples instead?
  2. Why aren't the visual effects visible on the thumbnails in the article? The author is doing the reader a disservice by requiring the reader to click on the images to see what the author is talking about. Many readers won't click on images or other links and will therefore miss any information which isn't included in the article itself. It's better to show smaller images, for example a small portion of the screen instead of the entire screen.
  3. The non-free content criteria govern the use of non-free files in articles and state that non-free files can't be used outside articles (WP:NFCC#9). Thus, it seems that we can safely assume that any material which only appears outside the article namespace (for example, something which only appears on the file information page) is unimportant material which can safely be deleted. If the uploader thought that this material was important, then he would have made the material visible on a page in the article namespace. --Stefan2 (talk) 23:12, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
With respect Stefan2, your point #3 is nonsense. These are thumbnails, and it's been accepted from the start that they can and will be clicked on, and what the user can learn from that larger image should be taken into account for NFCC #8. See eg the original discussion linked below, or any other time image size has come up in the archives. Jheald (talk) 12:27, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
First, I wanted to point out that I’m asking general questions, but am giving examples, so please keep my responses in the context of applying to these specific examples, and not the general questions themselves. Here is a point by point response to your notes
  1. In this case we are talking about video artifacts that mostly affect computers with composite video outputs. This is generally from the introduction of the Apple 1 in 1976 to the popularization of VGA PC graphics (1987), and the discontinuation of the Apple IIgs (1992) and IIe Platinum (1993), the Commodore 64 (1994) and Amiga (1996), the Atari ST (1993) and the Tandy Color Computer (1991). The most practical effects of this distortion is from commercial video games of this era. (This was before the terms “open source” or “Creative Commons” was ever dreamed up.) While there is some free content from this era, but it’s not particularly consequential. Also, functional period hardware able to accurately run these programs (free or not) is extremely scarce. Generally most free content here would be theoretical invented content. If you think running what few free programs there are on available emulators you are missing the point of the referenced article. A computer can have an RGB and a composite output. These can each be sent to either an RGB or composite monitor, so you have 4 different output combinations to look at. Emulators typically only display what RGB outputs would look like on RGB monitors.
  2. First we’re discussing (mostly unintended) “visual artifacts” not intentional “visual effects”. The intended effect of any down-sampling is to reduce the visual detail of the image. With Wikimedia non-free content policy, I imagine the reason is to reduce the image’s usefulness for infringing purposes. Unfortunately, in these instances, the arrival is about the overall detail much more so than the overall image. I can’t speak to the authors intent, talent or efficacy, but (s)he is discussing intricate details of the images in question. I agree the reader shouldn’t be expected to click on an image, but many are going to zoom into images to see discussed details.
    (Imagine looking at a photo of a knitted afghan, and discussing the details of particular stitches in the image. While it may be more effective to include heavily magnified versions of the original, having the original image for reference makes a lot of sense. A low-resolution version of the original would be useless.)
  3. I don’t claim to know or understand details of Wikimedia policies, but I would have no reason to believe that the full size image wasn’t intended to be visible as part of the article. Assuming that only an image thumbnail is intended in a Wikipedia article sounds particularly short sighted and under-informed. I’m unsure how Wikimedia namespaces its files, but imagine by this argument that all non-thumbnail images be relocated outside the articles namespace, because really only the thumbnail is part of the article. Does that sound sensible to you? Linux dr (talk) 04:05, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Just to point out that I'm not the only one with this opionion, I noticed a comment on the talk page of the Composite artifact colors article entitled Images were ruined to this effect last September. --Linux dr (talk) 06:44, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
I'll try to answer question #4. If I'm wrong, someone will correct me. With respect to images, I'd say it depends on the exact nature of the image in question. In some cases, the copyrighted content may be deemed to be de minimis to the overall content; in other words, even though there may be individual copyrightable elements present, they are not considered the primary focus per se so no copyright infringement is observed. This can be subjective and differ from country to country, however, but you can find out more at c:COM:DM.
The example you give seems to come from a video game of some kind and refers to some on-screen text; I think such things are typically assumed to be copyrightable just like the text you'd find in any other book, etc. The individual words themselves are not really eligible for copyright protection, but the way they are combined together as prose can be. So, if the original text is released under a free license or is so old that it is PD, then simple mechanical reproductions of it are not really eligible for copyright protection as well; if, however, it's a derivative work of freely licensed content, then a new copyright probably has been established for the derivative. On the other hand, if the original content is still considered protected by copyright, then not only does that copyright need to be taken into account, but also any copyright for any derivative work needs to be considered. -- Marchjuly (talk) 03:02, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
The example I described was actually the opening screen of the Infocom classic Zork. I'm honestly a bit confused on its freeness status. I know its source code was released publicly but I'm unsure on the rights status of it. In this particular example I was assuming it was non-free for sake of discussion:
The text is clearly a quote from a work, and I can't imagine it should be any more or less free than any other cited quotation. (I clearly did not adequately cite my source in this case.) I'm going with the assumption that a short excerpt from a work may be included when properly attributed, and used in an appropriate context. (If I am wrong here, please correct me. Would it be any different for a book source?) what I was asking, is: if it's fair-use to quote a short passage, does putting that text into an image constitute a non-free image?
I think I'm confusing Wikimedia's classification of free content versus fair-use content. I appreciate any insights here. Does the image need to be intentionally distorted for including non-free text, which may be included in an article body without being distorted? --Linux dr (talk) 06:44, 16 January 2018 (UTC)

FYI, this was written on my phone, and a wiki text cleanup of my remarks will be posted soon. Linux dr (talk) 04:07, 16 January 2018 (UTC)

Cleanup complete. --Linux dr (talk) 06:44, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
As per that discussion, I have always understood the guidance on image sizing to be fairly loose -- as a rule of thumb, 300 x 300 px or thereabouts is usually enough for most cases -- and never intended to be a hard limit, nor even that strongly prescriptive. The point of non-free images is that they are only justified by what they add to user understanding (NFCC #8). If being a little larger makes a big difference to the understanding that an image conveys, then a slightly larger image may be appropriate. For example, to be able to make out individual heads at File:Asterix_-_Cast.png; or a 1:1 screenshot of an old 8-bit game, to show the design that was achieved within the limitations of fixed resolution and a very restricted colour palette (which wouldn't be so apparent in an image with altered resolution).
An image should never be huge. But if there is a strong case for a slightly larger image, it should usually be sufficient and pretty uncontroversial to place {{non-free no reduce}} at the top of the description page, with an explanation in the appropriate section of the rationale template as to what a slightly larger size is adding.
Incidentally, I see that User:Theo's_Little_Bot is now reducing images from 0.1055 Mpx to 0.1 Mpx. (ie a less than 3% linear reduction). This seems a world away from the original discussion here ("my suggestion is to advise that aiming for images no larger than 0.1 MP is not going to trip anyone's red flag as to what is "low resolution". That's not to say a 0.2 MP is improper, or the like, but when you start getting up much higher than, you'd better have good reason."), and entirely pointless. There's been some push-back about this on the bot talk page. Jheald (talk) 12:17, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
The 2009 ideas, were obviously superseded by the change to 100,000 pixels, which can be traced roughly back to 2011 (I don't know who instigated that change, I was not active here at that time). When it is necessary to have images bigger than 100,000 pixels, we have the facility to add {{non-free no reduce}} to show that the image needs to be somewhat bigger to stop corruption, and at present there are 920 images in that category. Ronhjones  (Talk) 14:29, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
The 2009 change (by me) was clearly not to be a hard limit. It was more a psychological play to try to get editors to remember to adhere to reduce image sizes. There are editors on WP that game any number you give them as a max or min, when most of the time these are meant as soft guidelines. That was the whole point of going to 0.1MP in 2009, as to get more editors to think to keeping to that size - given the max thumbname size at that time (240px iirc) that worked for the bulk of non-free images. It still works even with our max thumbnail at 300px. The point with 0.1MP was not to flag everything above it, but to give editors the sense of when a larger image was likely to cause problems. eg if 0.1MP is the target maximum, a 0.3MP is clearly out of hand barring justification. --Masem (t) 14:39, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
As for the Composite artifact colors article - NF images should be as small as possible - why is it necessary to show the whole of each screen to show the artifacts - if one cropped a quarter of each screen (say top left), then four images combined would be 320x200. Ping me if you want me to arrange that as a trial. Ronhjones  (Talk) 14:40, 16 January 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ Zork I. Infocom. December 1980. 

Non free SVG and indexing[edit]

For most images pages, the view of the images is (obviously) the stated size, and no other sizes can be seen or linked to. However for an svg, we automatically get a set of various size png files - one is the "page size" of the svg, with a footnote of a whole range of sizes e.g. File:Borac Čačak.svg has underneath it - Size of this PNG preview of this SVG file: 316 × 316 pixels. Other resolutions: 240 × 240 pixels | 480 × 480 pixels | 600 × 600 pixels | 768 × 768 pixels | 1,024 × 1,024 pixels - each of the sizes being links to a png file. Technically this is letting wiki generate well oversized pngs, and it's possible that these pngs are being indexed by the search engines. Ideally it would be nice to stop wiki having these big image links for non-free images, I suspect that might be a long wait to get that done! I suggest therefore as an alternative that we add the magic "noindex" to all non-free svg files. I already have a rough outline of code that could do this as a once a week task. Does this sound like a good idea? Ronhjones  (Talk) 14:53, 16 January 2018 (UTC)

Technically, the only non-free SVGs that we allow are logos that have been taken from publicly-available, official media/releases of the company/entity that own that SVG (that step minimizes any issues with mis-representing the brand and the issues of possibly separate copyright of the underlying SVG code). That means that the SVG should already be out there on the web from a non-wikipedia source, so we shouldn't have to apply noindex here. The one example above is actually a problem since its taken from Brands of the World and thus not assured to be official. So until we can get those in line, noindex might make sense. --Masem (t) 15:02, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
"Technically, the only non-free SVGs that we allow are logos that have been taken from publicly-available, official media/releases of the company/entity that own that SVG" I've seen you say that before. Where is that policy/guideline? -- Begoon 15:06, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
It's a long-talked-of exception, discussed often but never really have been put to guidelines or the like. I think because we don't want to encourage this, but recognize that we have too many such valid uses of SVGs to eliminate them. --Masem (t) 15:12, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Well it's certainly advice we give at the Graphics Labs to people requesting conversions - it's in the edit-notice preload at Wikipedia:Graphics Lab/Resources/Illustration Advice - I know because I helped rewrite it years ago, but to say "technically, the only...we allow" I don't believe is correct. -- Begoon 15:16, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
I'm coming at it from how we've handled it at NFC. Your edit notice does capture the concerns we have for non-free SVG, but it basically from NFC we don't want anyone making up an SVG of a non-free logo to avoid any possible problems with the format. (SVG of uncopyrightable wordmarks and logos, that's fine). But as you note, we don't have written advice about this yet. --Masem (t) 15:23, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Alternatively, should be be advocating the indexing of any non-free files pages? The image on the article page will be indexed (that's fine as it is where we say non-free images should be), but maybe we should add the noindex to the various non-free templates (would that work? - I know it will take a while for wiki software to propagate!), then as new images are added it's automatic noindex. Ronhjones  (Talk) 15:52, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Since there is absolutely no requirement to use templates (a strong preference to use a license template, and a strong suggestion to use a rationale template, but neither 100% required), this might be tricky, and probably why we haven't done it yet. Yes, attaching noindex to the various non-free license templates would get most, but we'd have outlyiers that are difficult to find. --Masem (t) 16:00, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
OK, I note at present there are 14,308 svg in category:All non-free media. If a user does not use any template, then will all the non-free svg be in that category? Or would one need to search all images as an initial start to ensure that the category is properly populated?Ronhjones  (Talk) 17:33, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
There is probably a few - but far less than 14,000 - SVG images that do not exist in that category but may be non-free (like, on the order of a dozen knowing how infrequent template-less non-free exists now on WP, ever since the 2008 resolution). That's why tagging the appropriate non-free license templates for noindex would catch all but a few outliers. --Masem (t) 17:40, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
I think adjusting templates is probably the easy answer - I was initially planning to iterate though category:All non-free media, but if that is only populated by non free license, then that does not find the outliers. A search for File: "non free" incategory:"All free media" filemime:svg gives 1404 files - probably not too many for me to manually check over few days. Ronhjones  (Talk) 19:35, 16 January 2018 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Non-free_content#Image_resolution is only valid for raster graphics[edit]

@Ronhjones: Wikipedia:Non-free_content#Image_resolution is only valid for Rastergraphics. The title should be changed from "Image resolution" to "Image resolution of raster graphics".

In File:AP-logo-Krakow.svg Ronhjones increased the size from 75.6x75.7 (viewBox="0 0 75.59 75.69") to 316x316 (height="316" width="316" without viewBox). You can rescale the picture just in the svg-tag to any size without changing anything of the content of the svg, therefore such rescaling does not make any sense at all. As posted above the PNG-Preview should get changed to a maximal size (not the svg itself).

 — Johannes Kalliauer - contrib. 19:07, 16 January 2018 (UTC)

The image size at File:AP-logo-Krakow.svg was clearly shown as 512x513. The only way (I know) to change the preview png image is to change the svg to show a different nominal size. Maybe the developers could be asked to change the svg preview for non-free images - and as I said above - expect a long wait on that one. Ronhjones  (Talk) 19:17, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Issue resolved on my talk page Ronhjones  (Talk) 01:42, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
No not resolved! I don't believe that Wikipedia:Non-free_content#Image_resolution is valid for vector graphics. Is there any reason to think that it intended be valid for SVGs?  — Johannes Kalliauer - contrib. 18:04, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
Reducing the size of the preview on the file description does not change anything about the allowance to publish a SVG, as long as the SVG get published. Therefore only substituting the Picture with a raster graphics is allowed, therefore all non-free-SVG have to be converted to PNG, but it is not allowed to publish them as a SVG.  — Johannes Kalliauer - contrib. 18:08, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
There has been lots of discussion on svg and non-free images - Wikipedia_talk:Non-free_content/Archive_31#SVG_Logos; Wikipedia_talk:Non-free_content/Archive_64#Non-free_images_and_SVG; Wikipedia_talk:Non-free_content/Archive_61#SVG_non-free_content; Wikipedia:Village_pump_(idea_lab)/Archive_12#Disallow_non-free_SVGs to name but a few. I think (someone could correct me here) that it's suppose to be only official logos from official sites - but we know that is obviously not happening. We have a guideline to keep the size of a displayed image to a minimum - wiki does not display svg files directly, it always makes a png file of the size that the page calls for. Therefore it makes sense to ensure that the png file shown on the image page complies with the guideline, as we know it's going to have zero impact on the article, as the article page will have it's own png file, of the desired size, generated from the svg. Ronhjones  (Talk) 20:58, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
Also note the line at Template:Non-free reduce - For non-free SVG file, add {{Non-free reduce}} if the vector image displayed at excessive nominal size - so that shows that WP:Image resolution is intended for svg files. Ronhjones  (Talk) 21:01, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
I all of those discussions I can't find a consensus that SVGs-Previews on the description-page have to be reduced in size, but since {{Template:Non-free reduce|type=svg}} agrees on you argumentation. If you are right and there is a consensus then Wikipedia:Non-free_content#Image_resolution should be renamed to Image resolution (raster and vector) to be more clear.  — Johannes Kalliauer - contrib. 21:54, 17 January 2018 (UTC)

Discussion at Wikipedia:Files for discussion/2018 January 18#Non-free road signs used in list article[edit]

 You are invited to join the discussion at Wikipedia:Files for discussion/2018 January 18#Non-free road signs used in list article. -- Marchjuly (talk) 01:02, 19 January 2018 (UTC)


Before any edits are made, input from other editors would be appreciated at Template talk:Non-free logo#Category code. (Notification has been posted also at Wikipedia talk:Logos.) Thank you, -- Black Falcon (talk) 02:32, 21 January 2018 (UTC)