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Free images, sounds, and videos can be used by anyone for any purpose
St. Petersburg, Florida, United States
May 24, 2005
The Wikimedia Foundation announced today that the 100,000th file had been uploaded to its online repository of free images, sounds, and videos, the Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/). These files have been chosen or created by 5,259 registered users from more than 12 different languages gathered in a single lively community. The young project received additional encouragement and recognition on Monday in the form of an honorary mention at the 2005 Prix Ars Electronica awards.
The Wikimedia Commons, launched on September 7 2004, is a unique free and open media archive (including images, sounds, and video), using the same "wiki" technology that has made Wikipedia, a community-written encyclopedia, the second most popular reference website on the web (Hitwise.com report, April 2005). Wikis are websites that anyone can edit, allowing for rapid growth and constant peer review of all contributions. All files uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons are available royalty-free for any purpose. Most files require attribution of the creator, and some are under copyleft licenses, meaning that derivative works also have to be made available for free re-use. Both Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Commons are operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.
The 100,000th file was an illustration drawn by a French Wikipedia user named Stephane Tsacas. He manages the computer network of the Curie Institute, a research center on biology and physics in Paris. "I recently did some searches in the French Wikipedia and discovered some incomplete information in a few articles in the field I know, computer science. I then decided to register and do the modifications myself," Tascas noted.
The file Stephane Tsacas uploaded, available at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Dataflowfiringnodes.png, is a diagram of the experimental dataflow computer architecture. The illustration is used in the detailed French article http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_Dataflow. As soon as a file is uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, it is instantly available for use on all Wikimedia projects without needing to be uploaded to the local project. This feature is encouraging the Wikimedia projects to move towards a multimedia approach rather than the simple text-based approach they relied on in the past.
"Wikimedia Commons is of critical importance for all the Wikimedia projects, and beyond that, it is critically important for the entire free culture movement," said Jimmy Wales, president of the Wikimedia Foundation. Since the inception of the project in September 2004, thousands of Wikimedia contributors have joined to make their multimedia available to the larger community. As such, the Commons is one of the most diverse collections of files imaginable. It includes many independent collections of free content:
- 7,733 pronunciation files in various languages, notably Dutch (5,926), German (499), Farsi (464), and Italian (249). These voice recordings made by editors of the project are mostly used in Wiktionary, a wiki-based dictionary and thesaurus.
- Reproductions of 10,000 public domain paintings from ancient to modern times, donated by Directmedia Publishing, a German publishing company. This includes the works of artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Hieronymus Bosch, and many others. See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:The_Yorck_Project.
- Hundreds of public domain recordings of classical music by composers like Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Classical_music.
- A growing collection of videos of historical speeches, excerpts from public domain films such as Charlie Chaplin's "The Bond", and scientific videos such as bacterial broths being deposited into a Petri dish or the Space Shuttle Columbia going through the sound barrier. See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Video.
Besides these collections, it is the work of individuals which defines the Wikimedia Commons -- like Wikinews user "Belizian", who took photos during civil unrest in the small Central American nation of Belize in January 2005 for the Wikinews article on the subject (http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Unrest_in_Belize), or Wikibooks author Robert Engelhardt, who has added photos of various beekeeping tools to his growing reference work on the topic (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Beekeeping). From lovingly drawn subway maps to print quality photos of insects, from physics diagrams to photos of exotic locations, the members of the Wikimedia Commons cover virtually all areas of human interest with great attention to detail.
Like Wikimedia's other projects, the Wikimedia Commons is open for everyone to edit, to enrich it with new content, to help in the categorization of existing media, and to remove problematic materials. Given the proven successes of the wiki model, it may soon become the largest repository of free media on the web.
For questions and interviews, please contact:
In English only:
Jimmy Wales, Chair, Board of Trustees, Wikimedia Foundation
Angela Beesley, Executive Secretary, Board of Trustees, Wikimedia Foundation
In English or French:
Florence Devouard, Vice President, Board of Trustees, Wikimedia Foundation:
Prix Ars Electronica
The Prix Ars Electronica is a yearly prize in the field of electronic and interactive art, computer animation, digital culture and music. It has been awarded since 1987 by Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), one of the world's major centers for art and technology.
The 2005 honorary mentions can be viewed at: http://www.aec.at/en/prix/honorary2005.asp
- Please see Media help if you have problems accessing audio or video content.
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io), photographed by Benjaming Gimmel. GNU Free Documentation License.
Lace Aloe, indigenous to South Africa. Photographed by Mark Pellegrini. GNU Free Documentation license.
- Vivaldi's Allegro from Spring. Performed by John Harrison. CC-by-SA
- The Lord's Prayer, in Aramaic. Peformed by Gareth Hughes. GNU Free Documentation License
- Recording of Barbara Allen. Taken at Raiford Penitentiary in Florida, June, 1939. Public domain.
- A DNA microarray being etched by a robot at the University of Delaware. Photographed by Mark Pellegrini. GNU Free Documentation License.
- Newsreel clip of the Enewetak atom bomb tests. US Government produced. Public domain.
- Footage taken during Hurricane Jeanne in Tampa, Florida. Public domain.