Commons:Structured data/Modeling/Copyright

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You can help by working on guidelines and providing examples below. Visit the talk page to discuss this process in general.

How to model copyright in structured data, for files on Wikimedia Commons. Ever file should have a copyright status and if it's not in the public domain, also a license.

Caution: distinction between a digital file, and a creative work shown/depicted in a file[edit]

When a file on Wikimedia Commons shows/depicts a creative work, copyright information about the file and about the depicted work are usually very different.

In some cases (when? criteria?) it is best to describe the creative work as an item on Wikidata to keep this distinction clear.


Modeling copyright for Wikimedia Commons files[edit]

Every file on Commons should have a copyright status. For this we use copyright status (P6216). The copyright status is either copyrighted (copyrighted (Q50423863)) or public domain (public domain (Q19652)).


  • The file must have a license (P275) statement. See licensing for details.
  • The file should or must have a copyright holder (P3931) statement. This is normally the artist, but could also be a company or heirs. We could have multiple copyright holders, and changes over time with start and end qualifiers. After a license was given by the copyright holder, the rights can be transfered. so the current copyright holder of a work is not always the original licensor.
  • A file should always have an creator (P170), that could be a pseudnoym, but not an anonym
  • A file with CC-BY or CC-BY-SA license should have a way to describe the attribution text
  • With a qualifier we could describe why the file is copyrighted

What to do with multiple copyrights?

  • An image with a license of a building that is copyrighted but has a freedom of panorama.
  • Film with music
  • Film with fragments of other films (time coding of copyright)
  • pdf files with text and illustrations
  • A file could be copyrighted, but public domain in the US or the source country

Public domain[edit]

  • If the file is public domain, it must have appropriate qualifiers to indicate why it's in the public domain (we're still figuring out that part)
  • we have the rule that a file should be public domain in the US as well as in the source country.
  • so should a file have a country of origin (P495)?
  • for copyright we need to distingiuish between the first publication date and the creation date. Currently in Commons we don't do that, see Date for details

Type of metadata Notes Wikidata property Status
Copyright status Copyrighted or public domain copyright status (P6216) Crystal128-configure.svg Work in progress
Example Example Example Crystal128-configure.svg Work in progress

General notes and remarks[edit]


(list files below that provide best practices on how to model various situations)