Wikipedia talk:Granting work into the public domain

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Appropriate tag to replace "PD-release"[edit]

I've been (mistakenly, it appears!) slapping the PD-release tag on most of my images. It now appears that this is inappropriate, or at least, doesn't do what I want. So what tag should I use to achieve the same effect? "CopyrightedFreeUse" seems like the obvious candidate, but the text there makes me nervous - it's not obvious enough for my taste that modification and commercial use are permitted. I suggest creating a tag analogous to PD-release or PD-self that is more explicit. How's this for the text?

This material is copyrighted, but the author has chosen to permit its use for any purpose, including but not limited to copying, modification, publication, sale, and the production of baby-mulching machines.

Well, maybe we can leave out the baby-mulching machines.

As for the name, maybe "NoRightsReserved", "Release", "CopyrightedAnyPurpose", "PD-ifonly", ... --Andrew 04:52, Apr 8, 2005 (UTC)

Sorry guys, there is already a "CopyrightedFreeUse" template, which does almost exactly what Andrew asks:


Take a look at the Creative Commons public domain dedication for some wording ideas. You might want to include that link in the tag.
Perhaps someone should get in touch with the Creative Commons, and ask them to write an actual license. We'd call the tag {{cc}}. dbenbenn | talk 17:34, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm afraid {{CopyrightedFreeUse}} was a pre-existing image template currently in use, and we really don't want to rename it or have duplicate templates, so the name will probably have to stick. The text I'll certainly update to clarify things — in fact, I proposed just this on Template talk: CopyrightedFreeUse to no apparent response. I'm do find the copyright symbol a little scary, even if it is a calm green colour, but I'll leave that I think. Deco 22:51, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)
"and we really don't want to rename it"—you realize the "move" feature works for templates just like for articles? It leaves a redirect at the old name, which allows the old name to continue working. dbenbenn | talk 01:12, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Oh, cool, I didn't realise that. Maybe it's worth renaming it then. Deco 03:27, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)


These two statements seem contradictory:

Once this irrevocable act is complete, they are still, legally, the copyright holder, but this gives them no power over how the work is used.
The owner still retains all rights to the work, and has the legal right to prosecute people who use the work under the false impression that it was in the public domain.

If the owner no longer has power over how the work is used, what is an example of a way someone could use the work that would violate the copyright? Rad Racer | Talk 00:18, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

These are talking about two different situations. The first is where the author has made a statement releasing all rights. The second is where the author has made a statement releasing the work into the public domain. Because the second statement has no legal effect, the result is that no rights have actually been released. I hope this clarifies things — feel free to reword the text to help clarify it for others. Deco 00:21, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Can someone please cite sources demonstrating that a statement releasing all rights has a different legal effect than releasing the work into the public domain? Is there any case law about this? It seems weird that the intent of the copyright holder would not matter. Rad Racer | Talk 03:41, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I did. That's pretty much exactly what the sources I cited at the bottom of the page say. I don't believe this has ever come to court, so there's no precedent. The intent does matter, and would definitely affect the outcome of the case in the end, but does not make reusing the work legal. Deco 23:46, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

What bullshit[edit]

I'm glad I created a personal template for all my images back when I uploaded them, so I just had to add a line to the template. Someone should offer up a bot to do the conversions automatically for people who agree. --SPUI (talk) 00:23, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

That's a great idea. In fact, it might be helpful just to have a bot to contact all the people who have released their images and/or text into the public domain, because there are an awful lot of them. Deco 00:28, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Damn. I should have done that. (Personal image template.) - Omegatron 03:33, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)

Come on[edit]

We had this debate half a year ago in de-Wikipedia and we decided after much FUD not to change anything as this is really of no relevance. We still tag images of our own we want give all rights away with the PD-tag and of course according to EU copyright law you can also give away the right beeing namend as author (you can demand from others not beeing namend as author). PD effective means "Do what you want but please name the source" so viewed from this point there is really no difference. For real public domain as expired copyright we have a second template called "pd-old" so this never has lead to misunderstandings. So please don't change everything but only change your public domain template sentences somewhat. Arnomane 09:43, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I find it interesting that this has come up before. Neither PD nor free-use require either naming the source or not naming the source, though (you can make no requirements at all). I wish we could merely change our templates. Unfortunately I don't think this is possible, because we'd be effectively changing the legal content of the template without the permission of those using it, which might lead to trouble. Deco 23:39, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Well I think there is no trouble in doing that. Your actual PD-template is:
Our template in de-Wikipedia can be found at and has this content:
Dieses Bild wurde von seinem Urheber zur uneingeschränkten Nutzung freigegeben oder erreicht nicht die nötige Schöpfungshöhe, um geschützt zu sein. Das Bild ist damit gemeinfrei („public domain“).
Translated in english:
This image has been released by its copyright holder for unrestricted usage or does not achieve the required minimum work for beeing copyright protected. This image is thatfor Public Domain.
I think changing the PD-text into that direction of "unrestricted usage" and simply keep it for all own images of people using the PD tag this is enough. Only if one person demands the naming of the author we should use a template similar to CC-BY instead (I see someone has done that a little bit down). Arnomane 12:19, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Carrying over from the VP....[edit]

Remember that every time you upload text or media to a Wikimedia site, you are also agreeing to distribute it under the GFDL in addition to any license tag you add. If evil Wikipedians are lurking out there waiting to jump in later and demand 99 cents for every page view because hey, putting a public domain tag was just an evil plot all along, they will have to explain that bit about agreeing to the GFDL. --iMb~Meow 10:05, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I've uploaded a few images, and although I "agreed" to licensing it under GFDL, I assumed that releasing it in the public domain superseded the GFDL. In other words, I didn't intend for the GFDL to be some sort of fallback license. --jag123 14:06, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I don't understand your point. If someone released some stuff here within the Public Domain how can he exclusively claim money for that within Wikipedia later? The public domain release is inrevocable. Of course he can embedd PD stuff within another proprietary project that wants to see money for every single kind of usage and copying and so forth which is not possible that way with GFDL-only stuff. But what has this to do with Wikipedia? Arnomane 14:18, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Well, if someone says that they released a work into the public domain and really meant to do that, then none of this really matters because the original copyright owner isn't going to object that the material is being used. The only way any of this "are PD grants real?" business would have any practical implication is if the original copyright holder had a change of heart and decided "ha ha, only kidding, I found a loophole and the work is still MINE ALL MINE MUAHAHAHAHA!", in which case Wikipedia can smugly point back at that GFDL grant and say "Neener neener, you gave us this license at the same time, so go ahead and keep your stinky little copyright, you mean poopyhead!"
That's what I mean by "fallback." Even it in the future it turned out that all those PD grants were null and void, Wikipedia is still clear because the uploaders agreed to let their work be published under the Wikipedia license too.
If the original author is worried about this public domain thing, and wants to make sure that others who don't want to be bothered with GFDL can still freely use their work elsewhere, that's the author's problem, not Wikipedia's. --iMb~Meow 19:11, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
With your text and image contributions of your own creation, the GFDL is a fallback, albeit a strong copyleft one. However, uploads of works that others have claimed to place in the public domain are still at issue. Also don't forget that derivative works of a public domain work can be licensed under proprietary terms; if a person did this with a work that turned out to be GFDLed, they could be in big trouble. Deco 23:26, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Purpose of this proposal[edit]

What is the point of this proposal? To protect people who use PD images (or whatever) in case the author actually slapped a PD tag on it with the intent to sue someone later over the legal ambiguity of it? Isn't this getting a bit ridiculous? --jag123 14:12, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

That's the only practical difference I can see, that an author or heir might want to play loophole games in the future. Wikipedia has done things smartly and put big scary warnings about only uploading material with permission. If the material was uploaded by its author, that author is going to have to explain both the supposed ambiguity and agreeing to that disclaimer. --iMb~Meow 19:17, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The disclaimer has loopholes just as big. It says "By uploading a file to which you hold the copyright" (emphasis mine). You just have to get a friend to upload it. Deco 23:27, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
...and then the friend is taking the responsibility for having permission to upload the file under the GFDL. That's just business as usual around here. --iMb~Meow 00:12, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The full statement is: "By uploading a file to which you hold the copyright, you agree to licence it under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License." If you don't hold the copyright, you have fulfilled these terms vacuously, and so you are not responsible. It used to be different, but they changed it because it contradicted our policy on fair use images. Deco 03:26, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
That's even not too big a deal, because even if an uploader deliberately does that, Wikimedia can always fall back on OCILLA, which pretty much pushes the liability back on the uploader (provided that the image is deleted when a takedown notice comes in). --iMb~Meow 03:45, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Hmm, that's true, except for the paper Wikipedia and other offline derivative works. There are other potential dangers though (like paranoid content reusers and other Wikipedians uploading derivative works under less strict licenses). I think at least a small change like a warning seems justified. Deco 04:39, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

@IMeowbot: No this problem will never happen. Although you haven't used the exact right terms you gave all usage rights away. The only problem with this PD-stuff is the authorship versus Copyright: In continental european copyright law the emphasis is on the authorship and the give away of usage rights so you can't give the authorship to someone else in contrast to the anglo-americian copyright laws. So there is a difference between "copyright"-law (anglo-american law tradition) and "authorship"-law (french-continental-european law tradition). This is the deeper and only reason for this academic PD-problem. But as I pointed it already out this has no real effective relevance as you can give according to the continental euroean laws all usage rights away and can also deny beeing named as author. So there is no real difference to the anglo-american public domain release. This is simply semantic stuff for bored law people nothing else. So please calm down and I would suggest to change the PD template in direction on the emphasis of "usage rights" and use the other template sugested below if people want you to be named as author. Arnomane 12:33, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Live free or die[edit]

It's true, isn't it? There is no public domain anymore. People will own things whether they want to or not. You now have to understand legal intricacies regarding your rights as an author even if you don't want those rights. It seems the reversal is complete: as an author, you now have the duty to protect your work from the evil profiteering horde who would use it without duly compensating you, and only the most careful of legalese will absolve you from it.

This is where I really draw the line. If I can't legally give up my rights and people are worried I will use them to sue them even after I say I intend to give up my rights and never exercise them again, then that's too bad for them. I'm done with it all. I hereby give anyone permission to slap any license whatsoever on all my contributions. You take care of it, then. JRM 16:46, 2005 Apr 9 (UTC)

Then put the "PD-Release" tag on your images:
{{PD-release}} Bobburito 02:32, 10 February 2006 (UTC)
I guess it is possible someone who doesn't want to exercise the rights may still see his/her copyrights abused by others.
By death, bankruptcy or some unthinkable "gotcha" contract clauses, one's copyrights may transfer to another guy. That guy could be an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet. That's the problem.
You may easily abandon a pencil. You may even abandon your title to a real property by doing nothing while another person is using it for many years (see adverse possession). The Copyright Act of the Evil Empire is a gift directly from the Prince of Darkness. -- Toytoy 17:46, Apr 10, 2005 (UTC)

Can't even give up your rights anymore[edit]

This is exactly the kind of legal crap I was trying to avoid when I used a public domain licensing template in the first place. Now I find I didn't even give up my rights properly? <expletive deleted>... - dcljr 21:16, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Let's say Tom "released" his copyrights of his mouse trap article to the "public domain" so every cat on earth could use it. Jerry used Tom's article in his book "How to Fool Cats". After Tom dies, his slutty wife wants to sue Jerry for some quick money. A @#$% copyright lawyer found a way to prove Tom did not "release" that article into "public domain" thanks to the satanic Copyright Act of the Evil Empire.
What should Jerry's lawyer say? What should a judge say?
Personally, I think any reasonable judge may dismiss the case if Jerry proves Tom did "release" that article into "public domain". The statement itself constitutes an estoppel. It takes a wise decision. -- Toytoy 17:29, Apr 10, 2005 (UTC)

Patent nonsense[edit]

Just ignore this article. It is patent nonsense -- even if highly-paid lawyers repeat it. Remember, lawyers eat bullshit for breakfast and spend their entire lives cranking out more bullshit. Don't fall into the trap of assuming that legal nonsense is reality.

If you put a work of yours into the public domain, it is there, in fact. Anybody can use it for anything. If later you make a claim, you can drag a user of the work into court; and he can drag in his lawyer; and they can fight it out, and "earn" large fees. This is always true, so really nothing has changed. Putting a clear notice on your work stating release into public domain knocks the issue so far into the gray area that nobody can say what a given judge will decide, let alone a jury full of unemployed housewives, welfare drones, manual laborers, and the occasional confrontational jerk eager to serve a duty from which he could escape.

IANAL, thank all the gods. Don't get sucked into this Black Hole. — XiongXiong2char.pngtalk 02:45, 2005 Apr 10 (UTC)

You're right that, in all likelihood, no one could succeed in suing somebody for infringing a copyright on a work that they claimed to place in the public domain, but I'd hate to see some unfortunate soul dragged into court for days or weeks because they didn't know about this issue, when a simple additional free-use license statement and/or a warning in the public domain tag could eliminate this possibility. Despite what you say, you'd really have to be a rich idiot to sue someone after putting a tag like this on your image:
This wouldn't be an issue at all if the original public domain statement contained similar language. It might seem pedantic, but the potential danger seems real to me.
Besides this, it's also about intent — people who donate their work to the public domain want to release all rights to it, forever. They don't want some potential future court decision to reverse that, perhaps after they're dead. Adding a free-use statement helps guard against this. Deco 03:22, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I can assure you that when I'm burning in the eternal fires of hell, what happens to the legal status of some pictures I uploaded on Wikipedia will be the least of my concerns. I think bringing up legal issues surrounding PD is a waste of time, because most of the people who release as PD couldn't care less what happens. If they did care about legal issues, or copyright, or anything like that, they'd pick one of dozens of other licenses, or make their own. Having that said, anyone who wishes to change the license on my images can go ahead and knock themselves out, but I'm not bothering; I think my intent is crystal clear. --jag123 05:48, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Actually, I am a person who releases as PD. I released all my images under PD. This is exactly why this came to concern me. But you know, never mind, fuck it. I just wanted to help, I'm not going to fight about this anymore. Deco 06:17, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I'm really sorry for overreacting above. I really just need to remove myself from this issue, I've been feeling too strongly about it. All of your objections are reasonable, and I trust the community to do whatever is best for Wikipedia. Deco 07:17, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Does anyone else think it might be a good idea to change the shortcut from WP:PDWTF to something else that isn't an abbreviation of an expletive? Dar-Ape 02:21, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

I have just created WP:GPD and will eventually get rid of WP:PDWTF unless someone objects. Dar-Ape 01:42, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

Is this page and others still correct[edit]

This page and the seem Wikipedia:Image copyright tags page to suggest you should use additional tags other then {{PD-self}} in your images. However it seems to me with it's current wording:

Public domain

I, the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. This applies worldwide.
In case this is not legally possible,
I grant any entity the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

you don't have to since you explicitly say if you can't release it into the PD, you allow others to do anything with it. Indeed it seems a bit strange/contradictory to me to say it's in the PD then also say it's copyrighted but you release all rights as if it's in the public domain. Better to say it's public domain but if it's not, I've released all rights. Nil Einne 18:03, 19 November 2006 (UTC)