Wikipedia:Licensing update

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As per the licensing update vote result and subsequent (May 2009) Wikimedia Foundation Board resolution, any content on Wikimedia Foundation projects available under the GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 with the possibility of upgrading to a later version was made available additionally under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA).

Specifically with regard to text, since this update, only dual-licensed content or CC BY-SA-compatible content can be added to the projects, any GFDL-only submissions will no longer be accepted. In other words, CC BY-SA is the primary Wikimedia license for text, and GFDL is retained as a secondary license.

As per the Board resolution, this licensing change began to be implemented on all projects on June 15, 2009. (Any content not updated by this date could still be updated on any date prior to August 1, 2009.)

Foundation role

The Wikimedia Foundation will be pushing updates to the primary interface messages contained on the edit page, site footer, and other primary pages. In addition, they are providing a new "Terms of use" page that will supplant the top portions of Wikipedia:Copyrights.

Under the guidance of the licensing update committee a project will also be started to update the tagging of all media files eligible for relicensing.

Community role


Over the years, the community has constructed a variety of pages (e.g. Wikipedia:Copyrights, Wikipedia:Forks and mirrors, Wikipedia:Reusing Wikipedia content, etc.) that expand upon and explain Wikipedia's licensing. The local community bears the primary responsibility for updating such pages and seeing that they correctly reflect the changed situation. The licensing update committee can assist, but there are simply too many such pages across all the various projects for the committee or the Foundation to work on them directly. {{License migration warning}} which adds Category:Wikipedia pages affected by the licensing transition can be used to identify and locate affected pages.

Content restrictions

With the transition, the Wikipedia community will now be allowed to import CC BY-SA text from external sources into articles. If you do this, the origin of the material and its license should be explicitly noted in the edit summary. If the source text is dual- or multi-licensed, it is only necessary that at least one of the licenses is compatible with CC BY-SA. It is not necessary that external content be dual licensed under the GFDL.

Allowing CC BY-SA text comes at a price however. Wikipedians may no longer import text from GFDL-only sources. Any text copied from a non-Wikimedia GFDL-only resource and added to Wikipedia on or after November 1, 2008 should be removed as a copyright violation. This may be avoided if the external site is capable of allowing permission for use of its content under the CC BY-SA license; however, this requires the permission of all authors since the GFDL clause allowing the re-licensing to occur has now expired. Category:Attribution templates may be useful in identifying GFDL source texts in actual use on Wikipedia.

Media files

All media licenses existing before the transition remain valid and acceptable to the Foundation. However, the community may choose to modify or restrict the licenses it encourages people to use. For example, emphasizing CC licenses in the upload form and de-emphasizing GFDL licenses.

Any GFDL media file that meets the eligibility criteria described below may have an additional CC BY-SA 3.0 license added to it.

Media file relicensing criteria

To be eligible for relicensing, a file must meet the following conditions (set out in GFDL 1.3, section 11):

  1. Must be licensed under the GFDL 1.3 (including e.g. "GFDL 1.2 or any later version", but not including "GFDL 1.2 only").
  2. Must not be marked as having any "cover texts" or "invariant sections".
  3. Must have been uploaded to Wikipedia or to some other Wikimedia project before August 1, 2009.
  4. If first published under the GFDL somewhere other than a Wikimedia project, must have been uploaded to Wikipedia or to some other Wikimedia project before November 1, 2008.

Image migration process

To facilitate image migration, every GFDL tagged image will have a transitional announcement added to it courtesy of the {{license migration}} system. This will initially state that the image may be used under CC BY-SA if it meets the above criteria, but determining that is initially left to the potential reuser.

Over time these images will be sorted based on whether they meet the criteria outlined above and a definitive CC BY-SA 3.0 tag will be added as appropriate. This is expected to be done by both ordinary users and where possible by bots.