Commons:Reusing content outside Wikimedia/licenses

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Below are summaries of licenses often used on Wikimedia Commons, and how to comply with them.

  • If a work is published under a single license, all of the terms in that license must be followed. If a work is multi-licensed (that is, released under more than one license), re-users may choose which license's terms they wish to follow. Except for materials believed to be in the public domain, a link to the full text of the license(s) is included on the file description page. Some licenses also have a summary available.
  • Please read the full licenses for legal details. Neither the Wikimedia Foundation nor the creators of material on Wikimedia sites provide legal advice. If you need information about how a license applies to your particular situation, you should contact a suitable legal professional in your jurisdiction.

The feature "Use this file on the web"/"Use this file on a wiki" on the work's file description page may help you to follow the license's terms (currently not available in Internet Explorer, and only in Vector (standard) and Monobook skins).

Public domain[edit]

Content marked as public domain (or local equivalent, e.g. "may be used for any purpose") is material believed to be out of copyright, either because of expiration of the original copyright, or because the material has been explicitly released into the public domain by its creator(s).

Note that inalienable moral rights and other restrictions may still apply in some countries for some uses.

It is common for publishers to take public domain works and republish them under their own copyright. This may be legal, but it does not affect the public domain status of the original image. If you tag the image with its origin (where you got it and where it came from originally) and the name of the creator, this can help us if a dispute with such a publisher arises later.

Creative Commons[edit]

Most Creative Commons licenses are not free content licenses and will not be found as the sole allowable licence on Wikimedia Commons. The following are frequently used licenses on Commons:

CC-BY[edit]

In the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY), re-users are free to make derivative works and copy, distribute, display, and perform the work, even commercially.

You must attribute the work to the author(s), and when re-using the work or distributing it, you must mention the license terms or a link to them. You may choose whether to make future modified versions available under CC-BY.

The standard {{Cc-by-3.0}} template
w:en:Creative Commons
attribution
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
You are free:
  • to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to remix – to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
  • attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

CC-BY-SA[edit]

In the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license (CC-BY-SA), re-users are free to make derivative works and copy, distribute, display, and perform the work, even commercially.

When re-using the work or distributing it, you must attribute the work to the author(s) and you must mention the license terms or a link to them. You must make your version available under CC-BY-SA.

The standard {{Cc-by-sa-3.0}} template
w:en:Creative Commons
attribution share alike
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
You are free:
  • to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to remix – to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
  • attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
  • share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

GNU licenses[edit]

GNU Free Documentation License[edit]

For simple redistribution, include the version you were given access to and its complete history with attribution, and include the GFDL (linked on the same website or reprinted in print). Compliance is easy on websites or in books, but (presently) difficult for leaflets, magazines or newspapers.

Re-users are free to make derivative works and copy, distribute, display, and perform the work, even commercially. To comply, (a) release your version under the GFDL, (b) credit all the authors or content creators (if you have a title page, also at least the five most substantial ones there) and (c) include a complete copy of the GFDL. In the case of derivative works you must also include the complete history section.

How you determine which five authors are considered to be substantial for the purpose of the GFDL is not defined in a legal sense. We suggest using one consistent method such as edit count, word count, hours contributed to the content, or something of a similar nature.

Any derivative works must stay under the GFDL.

When using a photo placed under the GFDL license as part of a larger work, the larger work *does not have to be* released under GFDL for usage to be within the license terms. The Free Software Foundation, creators of the GFDL license, has been asked for clarification of how much of e.g. a book counts as the "larger work" in these terms; they responded that no synopsis can substitute for what the text of the license says, and if in doubt the reuser should seek a proper legal opinion. Now, the GFDL says "When the Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document." So, the larger work doesn't (always) have to be released under GFDL.

The standard {{GFDL}} template
GNU head Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

GNU GPL and LGPL[edit]

The GNU General Public License (GPL) and Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are computer software licenses and are not usually used for text or media. However, some content on Commons (e.g. icons or screenshots from computer programs) is under the GPL or LGPL.

For simple redistribution of such material, including altered versions, (a) release your version under the same license (b) supply the source version, i.e. something as editable as what you started with (e.g. image file, GIMP .xcf file, etc.).

Note that the GNU General Public License (GPL) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) are not compatible with each other. That means that content licensed under the GFDL as well as content licensed under the GPL can't be used together simultaneously in the same "work" — e.g. GPL computer program source embedded in GFDL explicatory text. However, a GPL image in a GFDL text page is usually regarded as an aggregation of two works rather than a single work.

The standard {{GPL}} template
GNU head This work is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or any later version. This work is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. See version 2 and version 3 of the GNU General Public License for more details.
The standard {{LGPL}} template
GNU head This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. This library is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. See version 2.1 and version 3 of the GNU Lesser General Public License for more details.

Other free content licenses[edit]

See Commons:Copyright tags#Copyleft Attitude License and Commons:Copyright tags#Other free tags.

Credit lines[edit]

Main gallery: Commons:Credit line.