Commons:Village pump/Copyright

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Welcome to the Village pump copyright section

This Wikimedia Commons page is used for general discussions relating to copyright and license issues, and for discussions relating to specific files' copyright issues. Discussions relating to specific copyright policies should take place on the talk page of the policy, but may be advertised here. Recent sections with no replies for 7 days may be archived; for old discussions, see the archives.

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File:Popov Ivan Vasilyevich.jpg Deletion[edit]

Why was it deleted this image? It was a photo for identification. It was made by an anonymous photographer in the 1930s. Obviously, the author will never be known. In Russia works published prior to 1 January 1943 may also be in the public domain if: 1: author died before January 1, 1944... 2: they were published anonymously or under a pseudonym before January 1, 1943, and the name of the author did not become known during 50 years. -This case --Yokki

Copyright appeals decisions 2013 - 2014[edit]

The website has updated their list of U.S. Copyright Office Appeals Board decisions to include some from 2013 and 2014. Almost all of these get rejected (these decisions are of the second appeal of an original rejection), and are very educational when trying to determine several threshold areas of U.S. copyright. I haven't looked at all of them, but there are a few interesting ones. There are a number of logos rejected, such as Subway, en:Tokidoki, and the "o" in en:Rdio, and several other less notable ones. This one is about a sculpture which is basically 3-D text, and was rejected. The neon light display in the Bleecker Street subway station in New York was rejected; apparently the original rejections considered it a useful article (!?) but the final appeal agreed it was not utilitarian, but was still rejected at least as a sculptural work. The paperback cover illustration of the Jaws novel was rejected as being published without copyright notice... the ruling basically says that combining a cover with the rest of the book's content does not amount to a selection and arrangement copyright, thus there is no collective work where a copyright notice would also apply to the cover, thus the copyright notice in the book's title page was just for the book's content. This one was also rejected for being published in the Philippines without a copyright notice and not registered within 5 years in the U.S.; it discusses the issue of foreign publication, noting that even in the 9th circuit foreign 1978-1989 publications had to be with notice since that was explicit in the 1976 act, and notes the conflict in case law for pre-1978 publications (citing some cases which went completely opposite to Twin Books) even though that conflict was not applicable to the work in question. A car company apparently tried to get a registration on a car design -- I guess throwing something against the wall to see if it would stick (rejected as utilitarian and not separable). Some bottle designs were also rejected along the same lines. This one is about an ID card, which was rejected for selection and arrangement grounds, though the ruling does note that one or two of the logos on the card were previously accepted for registration -- so that is an example of what is above the threshold. The original en:Kong (dog toy) was rejected.

Are there any others which folks find interesting or relevant? Carl Lindberg (talk) 15:18, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

I didn't read the Jaws case the way you did. I understood the problem being that the copyright notice named the author of the novel, who was not the author or copyright claimant of the cover. If the copyright notice had been in the name of the publisher who owned the text and cover, it would have been fine. Grabbing a few books off the shelf, it seems this might have been a frequent problem, though I don't know how much we want to push it. is a case where the Copyright Office registered cover art under the rule of doubt, even though the copyright notice said "all lyrics, music and arrangements of this material copyrighted", thus nominally not covering cover art. (Pure coincidence it dovetailed with the last comment.) So apparently we should read what a copyright notice covers expansively.--Prosfilaes (talk) 07:33, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
The Earth Air Fire Water case is not surprising, but it's a good example against the "custom font" arguments, where a fairly extreme calligraphic modification was rejected for copyright for being just text.--Prosfilaes (talk) 07:39, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, it looks like they touched on both subjects in the Jaws case (since both were arguments of the artist trying to register the work). First, if there was a collective work, then one copyright notice does in fact cover all the elements regardless if the name was wrong (that has been ruled on). However, the Office ruled that there was no collective work thus that part of copyright law cannot apply: Having found that the Book is not a collective work, the Board cannot accept your argument, pulled from Goodis, that the Word should be protected because it is part of the collective work that has sufficient notice in Peter Benchley's name to protect all of the components of that collective work. They actually do quote the House Report: Examples of “collective works” would ordinarily include periodical issues, anthologies, symposia, and collections of the discrete writings of the same authors, but not cases, such as a composition consisting of words and music, a work published with illustrations or front matter, or three one-act plays, where relatively few separate elements have been brought together. So, that was one argument (the one most founded directly on the law) which got rejected. But then you are right... technically, if there were two separate works, they each should have had their own copyright notice (even if the same author), but the courts have allowed a certain amount of technical errors and preserved copyright, and the artist was arguing that should also happen in this case. But since in this case the notice was from a completely independent third party having nothing to do with the work in question, the Board did rule that the allowance of technical errors did not cover this case. That does imply that if the notice was of an entity which was either a proprietor or licensee of both works (the book and the cover), then that might have been "close enough". (There was an even more vague third argument which said the separate notice should have implied that copyright was claimed, but the Board noted that the 1909 Act required notice in part to identify who owned the copyright, so the purpose of the notice was not served by the unrelated one.) So yes, either situation (a valid collective work, or a copyright notice which was at least in the name of a licensee if not the actual copyright owner) may cause such things to keep their copyright. And of course, this was based on the 1909 Act, so rulings might be a little different for publications 1978 and later. Carl Lindberg (talk) 23:10, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

Need copyright advice on en.Wikipedia file[edit]

I am currently doing a Good Article Review on Leni Riefenstahl, and Leni Riefenstahl as a young girl with her brother Heinz who was later killed in World War II is an image used and not yet moved to Commons. I am unsure about the Public Domain claimed, since the image was a private family photo first published in a non-specified year after the end of World War II. Riefenstahl only died in 2003. Does Wikimedia consider this image Public Domain? Maile66 (talk) 19:37, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

Her lifespan is irrelevant; the only question is the photographer (and it's clearly not a personal photo; that backdrop screams staging in a professional studio.) In Germany, it's probably PD-Anon-70, but anonymous terms on unpublished (or published without legal authority) works last for 120 years in the US. However, if the family is considered to have the right to publish, it's probably PD-1996.--Prosfilaes (talk) 21:14, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. Maile66 (talk) 21:32, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
Hey everyone. I'm the guy who uploaded the image and I just have one question: what does "PD-1996" mean? Jonas Vinther (talk) 21:27, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
Probably Template:PD-1996. And, by the way, if we get the copyright cleared up on this, I really think the image ought to be on Commons. Maile66 (talk) 22:06, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
You probably need a publication date to be sure. "After the end of World War II" could mean anything from 1945 to the present. --ghouston (talk) 01:44, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
For example, if the photographer is anonymous, then German law (that is, the law of the presumed source country) stipulates that the copyright expires 70 years after publication if published within 70 years from creation, but 70 years after creation if it took more time to publish the picture. If published in the 1960s, this would mean that the German copyright term expires 70 years after the 1960s, since the 1960s were less than 70 years after 1912. --Stefan4 (talk) 14:06, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

South Park characters images without the "Fair use" rule[edit]

Good evening. I work on the South Park project in the french Wikipedia. I would like to import some South Park characters images to illustrate articles, so I would like to know if this type of image could be imported to Commons, under the conditions Template:PD-shape and Template:trademarked (or under any condition that makes it possible). On the english Wikipedia, these images are hosted directly on Wikipedia, but as you maybe know, the "fair use" rule is irrelevant on the french Wikipedia.
Thanks in advance. Cdlt/Fugitron /Talk.../ 15:23, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

No. Fair use content cannot be hosted on Commons. {{PD-shape}} applies to simple geometric figures, i.e. things like circles and squares, not cartoon characters. LX (talk, contribs) 16:42, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Also, the links in your signature are broken. Namespaces are in English here on Commons, so please change Utilisateur: and Discussion utilisateur: to User: and User talk:. LX (talk, contribs) 16:46, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

Copyright for night lights (illumination) of buildings[edit]

Do you I read correctly this article in its part about the Eiffel Tower? To me it says that night views of it are not copyright-free and not because of some special restrictions in France — but because an artistic illumination (lights) is a non-extricable component of the whole picture, and copyrights for this modern component are not yet expired. If my reading is right and the article itself is not wrong: would it mean that any photo of a night view with such artistic illumination would expose exactly the same copyright problem? --NeoLexx (talk) 20:44, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

Actually, only a show perfomed in 2000 is under a copyright. The claim that any night illumination of the Eiffel Tower is under a copyright was not proved in court. Regards, Yann (talk) 21:42, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Could you provide any evidence of the first sentence? The fact that nothing has been proved in court doesn't prove anything; it could also be that there hasn't been any court ruling discussing the matter to date. --Stefan4 (talk) 22:08, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
See Category:Eiffel Tower at night. Regards, Yann (talk) 22:16, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
That category only reveals that it 'has never been proved in a court'. It doesn't say anything about whether there have been any court rulings on the matter in the first place. If there haven't been any court rulings, then there is no evidence for either position. --Stefan4 (talk) 22:29, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Thank you guys for links, I'll take a look. My main point is about European countries all together including Germany as well. Is there something special exactly in French laws that makes non-extricable probably copyrightable light component to be a subject of concerns? I mean nearly any important European historical building in any country has a rather artistic and creative night illumination (thinking of my touristic visits). --NeoLexx (talk) 22:47, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
It's one of those things that we've treating as a one-off, an exception that won't come up again.--Prosfilaes (talk) 23:00, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Stefan, that's exactly what I wrote above. What are you trying to do here? Yann (talk) 22:51, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Most country's law says everything above a Threshold of originality is copyrighted and use of it requires permission by the creator. But there are some exceptions to this copyright, like that the work is no longer copyrighted after a certain time, or Freedom of Panorama, which doesn't exist in FR and BE but i.e. in DE. So to be exactly it's about something special not in french laws. --Nenntmichruhigip (talk) 23:26, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
The Court de Cassation ruling text is here; apparently the Court of Appeals ruled that it was copyrightable (the light show in question), and the Court de Cassation dismissed the appeal from that ruling. The summary of that ruling there though would seem to indicate that the actual decision was much broader than a specific 2000 show: la cour d'appel a souverainement retenu que la composition de jeux de lumière destinés à révéler et à souligner les lignes et les formes du monument constituait une "création visuelle" originale, et, partant, une oeuvre de l'esprit ; qu'il en résultait nécessairement au bénéfice de son auteur un droit de propriété incorporelle, abstraction faite de l'évènement public à l'occasion duquel cette oeuvre lui avait été commandée, et qu'était donc manifestement illicite toute reproduction qui, comme celles de l'espèce, n'entrait pas dans l'une des catégories limitativement énumérée par l'article 41 de la loi du 11 mars 1957. That seems to say that the play of lighting of the tower designed to reveal its lines was copyrightable regardless of the event. Granted, that is not the actual Court of Appeals ruling, but rather a summary of it which might leave out some details (anyone have a link to the original ruling?). It's possible the lighting of that event went well above and beyond what the current lighting is, but the above text is highly suggestive that the ruling does go beyond the one show. Carl Lindberg (talk) 22:56, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
That is what puzzled me in the light of the recent FoP buzz. If we accept the idea of any night illumination to be a separate copyright layer above otherwise PD building, and the idea that some already publicly claimed their rights (Eiffel Tower administration) while others are silent for now: then I don't see how anything would change. Even if EU takes a German word-by-word translation of their current Panoramafreiheit for the whole EU. And how anything different is for Germany vs. France after sunset even now. --NeoLexx (talk) 23:48, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Is light a 'permanent installation' if the light is switched off during the day? It's possible that German-style FOP wouldn't help here. --Stefan4 (talk) 23:58, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

CC by-sa 3.0 and the use of an image in print[edit]

I feel a little stupid, asking that as a long-time contributer to Commons, but until now I had almost only to handle the re-use of images on the web. The question is: How can an image, licensed under CC by-sa 3.0, be legally reused for example on the cover of a book and advertising posters for such a book? Crediting the author and mentioning the license is no problem. But it requests, that if you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original. Does that mean, the book (just its cover or the whole "material"), posters etc. would have to licensed under CC by-sa 3.0 as well? --Tsui (talk) 08:15, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

Short answer: no. This would only be required if somebody would create a new work based on your image. --Túrelio (talk) 08:18, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
Thank you! But just make it clear (for me), because the excerpt from the license text I quoted above still confuses me. What does you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original mean? Which contributions are meant by that? The cover I mentioned would be based on the picture, but edited (colors, crop etc.) and graphical artwork, more than just the title, would be added. For a cover like this for example, given that the photo is CC by-sa 3.0, it would be sufficient, to mention the photographer and "CC by-sa 3.0" for the picture on the inside of the jacket, while the artwork as a whole would not be included in the license? --Tsui (talk) 08:36, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
In my opinion, yes, all illustrations which include any significant part of CC BY-SA image is CC BY-SA too. And you are prohibited to make any steps to protect somehow derivative works. To me it is clear from license text. Book text is copirated separately so CC BY-CA is not applicable to the text. F. e. you can scan any CC BY-SA derived picture in a book and post it with appropriate attribution, but you cannot post the same picture with text around it (scan and post the whole page). --Igel B TyMaHe (talk) 09:49, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

Sculptor wishes to donated images of copyrighted sculpture[edit]

This sculpture by artist David Cregeen has traditional copyright. The artist photographed it and applied a CC license to the photograph. Is it correct that the copyright of the sculpture is unchanged, and that other photographs of the work would not have CC licenses?

Hello. Can someone direct me to guidelines discussing how a sculptor may donate images of their copyrighted sculpture to Wikipedia? Here are some details -

  • There is a copyrighted sculpture
  • The artist wishes to retain traditional copyright on that sculpture
  • People routinely pay this artist licensing fees to publish photographs of this sculpture, and the artist wishes to retain the ability to collect these payments
  • The artist wishes to apply a CC-By license to a photo of this non-CC 3D artwork, and share the photo on Commons and Wikipedia
  • The artist does not want to give broad permission for others to publish their own photographs of the sculpture, as sculpture copyright must be retained
  • The goal is to apply a CC license to a photo which notes that single photo as CC licensed, and gives notice that the photo depicts a copyrighted artwork, and that only this photo and not the sculpture has a CC license

What are some of the precedents for this being done on Commons? Consider Category:David Cregeen - this artist has shared photographs of his sculptures and but the sculptures remain with traditional copyright. Is there any template which can be used to note that the sculpture remains copyrighted, and that this photograph on Wikimedia Commons is depicting a non-CC work? Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:48, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

I am not sure that this is possible. Due to this bizare interpretation. If the author of a sculpture licences photographic reproductions of his work, he will inevitably release his 3D work under this license. So, I do recommend against donating such images. Ruslik (talk) 20:00, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
This was discussed previously at Commons:Village_pump/Copyright/Archive/2015/04#Photos_of_street_art_on_Commons. Carl Lindberg did think it is possible to license a single view of a work. However it seems like a contradiction to say that a given photo has a free license that allows derivative works, but deriving a 3D work would be an infringement of the original sculpture. --ghouston (talk) 22:57, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
The copyright in a photograph is based on things like the angle, framing, perhaps lighting, and other elements under the photographer's control. It has absolutely nothing to do with the object being photographed. So, a derivative work of a photograph must by definition include those elements; if the angle/framing/etc. are not present in a secondary work then it is not a derivative work of the photograph, and the photographer's permission is moot. However, such a work (and the original photograph) *can* still be derivative of the object being pictured. The sculptor can certainly license the work only as far as it appears in a photograph. In general, if the second work includes any expression beyond what is in the photograph, the second work would be a copyright problem. Almost any other photograph would probably use additional expression of the sculpture, and would not be OK (it's usually hard to replicate the angle *exactly*). The interesting question then is if someone uses *only* that photograph to try and re-create the original; does the license allow that, given the very liberal nature of the license. Or is it simply permission to allow that photograph to be licensed CC-BY-SA, such that derivatives of the photo are OK, but not works which lose all photographic elements, and does that allow the photograph to still be "free". I think it should be -- interpreting it otherwise is just harmful to me because it limits the amount of free material which can realistically be put out there -- but yes there could be arguments otherwise. Obviously, a photo of a 2-D work is different (it would be very hard to license a photo freely of that, unless it was lower resolution only, since the photo is basically a copy of the original and any license would have to be based on the original expression). But to me, an author can license a subset of the expression they own and not license the rest, and slice and dice it however they like. The subset may not qualify for registration at the U.S. Copyright Office separately than the registration of the original, but I don't see how that should affect the author's ability to license just what they want. The CC's interpretation as linked above is still bizarre to me and doesn't make much sense, unless they are more thinking of the 2-D situation where "licensing" a photographic copy basically means you are licensing the original expression, since a license has to be based on a copyright to begin with. Still, a lower-resolution-only photo should be OK, to me -- you can't stop people from making that version bigger once licensed with CC-BY[-SA], but you should be able to prevent a higher-resolution copy directly of the original work. (Although, you probably are not able to prevent someone making a similar painting if it is based only off the licensed photograph -- maybe *that* is the situation CC is thinking about.) A photograph of a sculpture though would qualify as a separate work, so the CC's interpretation on the image resolution stuff may not come into play. An sculptor can certainly license (or allow) just one particular photo or other derivative work, the question really is does the CC license in particular require also licensing the underlying expression. The CC interpretation actually seems to say that is OK -- it is more dangerous though in the case where the secondary work does not have a separate copyright, since in that case the license is really of the original expression. Carl Lindberg (talk) 00:11, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
You say that the things like the angle, framing, perhaps lighting, make up the photographer's copyright. So a sculptor (for example) can't give a license for any of those things, since they belong to the photographer. A sculptor can only give a license for the sculpture that's being photographed. They can put a CC license on their sculpture. But how can they license a particular view of the sculpture when the view is not theirs to license? --ghouston (talk) 05:05, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Maybe it would be easier if the sculptor took the photograph themself. --ghouston (talk) 05:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
The sculptor *also* has derivative rights over the photograph. They can license *that*, basically. So they can give permission for that, without licensing the direct expression of the original. The question is if that is still free, though I'd probably say it is. But yes we also need a license for the photographer's copyright (which I assume we'd get from them). Carl Lindberg (talk) 20:05, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
  • @Ruslik0, Clindberg, Ghouston: Ruslik, your interpretation may be correct. I asked because I thought what you are saying might be correct, but I still am not sure and want further clarity so I am going to push a bit more. Carl and Ghouson, thanks for your comments. I am continuing this conversation at Commons_talk:Copyright_rules_by_subject_matter#Clarity_about_photos_of_copyrighted_3D_art_.2F_sculptures with a proposal to change Commons:Copyright_rules_by_subject_matter#3D_art_.28sculptures_etc..29 to reflect what is discussed here. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:24, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
  • User:Clindberg: You seem to interpret the situation based on United States copyright law, where there are two separate concepts known as a 'copy of a work' and a 'copy of a derivative work of a work'. The situation may be entirely different in countries such as Sweden where there is only one concept, which is known as a 'copy of a work'. When Sweden implemented the InfoSoc Directive, there was some modification to the definition of the word 'copy', and a 'copy' means that you are including a work, in whole or in part, to the extent that at least some of the aspects which meet the threshold of originality are included. This means, for example, that a photograph of a building constitutes a 'copy' of the building. The European Court of Justice seems to use the same definition: in w:Infopaq International A/S v Danske Dagblades Forening, certain fragments consisting of eleven words from newspaper articles constituted 'copies' of the whole newspaper articles. The same rule therefore seems to apply to all EEA countries. This means that the sculpture, as erected in the park, constitutes the same 'work of copyright' as the sculpture as seen on the photograph. Since CC licences license 'works of copyright', this could mean that you license the entire sculpture under Swedish law even if you only intended to license the photograph. Also, Commons templates are sometimes a bit clumsy, saying that you license 'this work' without telling what 'this work' is. A photograph is usually not a 'work' under Swedish law, so a court might then try to see if there is something else in the image which constitutes a 'work'.
I guess that this is one of those really scary situations where the outcome depends on national definitions of concepts such as 'copy', 'work' and 'derivative work' and where you will get different results in different countries and where both the licensor and the licensee will have trouble finding out exactly what has been licensed and in which country it has been licensed. --Stefan4 (talk) 15:12, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
John Andersson (WMSE) I know that you live in Sweden, and you contributed to Commons:Wiki Loves Public Art 2013. I presume that people used Commons:Freedom of panorama#Sweden to justify taking the pictures. Stefan4 here is worrying that in Sweden in the process of photographing the works, the copyright status of the original work was changed. Was this discussed? What is your opinion on the effect of taking CC photographs of traditionally copyrighted sculptures? Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:20, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Danish pamphlet from 1953[edit]


I've recently found this pamphlet on the Internet Archive (probably best to download it here as the uncompressed pdf file is huge), a sample image from which I'd like if possible to use for a Wikipedia article. Any thoughts? It's supposed to be free of copyright according to the Internet Archive, but I'm not convinced since it's so recent, especially as it seems not to have been uploaded by them but by a third party. There is no obvious copyright statement, though I don't read Danish. Blythwood (talk) 17:59, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

Why do you think that a pamphlet published in 1953 is out of copyright? The normal copyright term is pma + 70 years. Ruslik (talk) 19:46, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
Actually, the normal copyright term is pma + 50 years. Nine out of the 15 most populous nations, including the huge China, use pma + 50, and India and Venezuela use pma + 60. Population-wise, pma + 70 is third. Denmark is of course an EU nation that uses pma + 70 (and the Commons-important US is 95 years from publication/published after 1922).--Prosfilaes (talk) 20:44, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
As I said, the Internet Archive claim it's out of copyright. But do you think they have any basis for saying that? Blythwood (talk) 06:26, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
The Internet Archive lets anyone upload stuff, and doesn't have the overview that Commons does, much less actual checking like Project Gutenberg or the Library of Congress. Someone falsely uploaded it as public domain.--Prosfilaes (talk) 07:07, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. Hadn't realised how careless they are so when I saw something this odd I wondered of there was something I'd missed. Blythwood (talk) 08:26, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Non-free Wikimedia chapter files[edit]

In case you missed it, the Wikimedia Foundation finally joined the free content movement and released its logos under a free license in October last year. {{Copyright by Wikimedia}} has been modified to reflect this. All content on Commons must now be covered by a free license. The sole exception from that, which allowed non-free content if and only if the copyright was held by the Wikimedia Foundation, has been removed from our licensing policy.

A few templates based on the old wording of {{Copyright by Wikimedia}} remain in Category:License tags non-free. {{Copyright by Wikimedia Deutschland}} had very little usage, and I've put those files up for deletion unless they're published under a free license. After that, the template should be deleted as well.

Other templates have more high-profile usage. {{Copyright by Wikimedia Italia}} is used on ten files which in turn have a fair bit of usage. {{Copyright by Wikimedia Polska}} is only used for one file, which in turn is used on three pages.

Question 1: Were these tags for non-free content from Wikimedia chapters ever allowed by our licensing policy? The exception only mentioned content "copyrighted by the Wikimedia Foundation", and the Wikimedia chapters are legally independent of the Wikimedia Foundation, so I'm inclined to say no.

Question 2: Is the content that uses these tags covered by the Wikimedia Foundation's announcement and thus covered by a free license? Again, since the chapters are legally independent of the foundation, I'm inclined to say no.

(As for the other templates in Category:License tags non-free: to be continued.)

LX (talk, contribs) 18:53, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

Speaking non-legally as a past Chapters Association chairman and a past chapter chairman; Wikimedia logos must be agreed through WMF legal. As such an "official" logo for a chapter falls under the chapters agreement and remain under the control of WMF legal. If a chapter misuses the logo, maybe print it on underpants to sell on eBay, then WMF legal can break the agreement and remove the authority for a chapter to use Wikimedia logos. Hence,
Question 1: No apart from the logos above. The potentially varying nature of Chapters (and Thematic orgs or legally created other bodies) means that a blanket agreement does not exist.
Question 2: No apart from the logos above. As you say, Chapters, et al, are entirely legally independent and the WMF does not create new agreements on their behalf.
Of course this is just me talking. If WMF legal say something on the matter then they are correct.
-- (talk) 19:04, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
I have no problem grandfathering in old files. I don't think the removal was really intended to affect existing files; it was a single editor wondering about the exception which really shouldn't apply for future uploads, then making the edit once pointed to the historical context for that exception. I would rather the license be changed, so definitely ask around to see if the licensing was a mistake (like I think it was in the case of the non-logo t-shirts) or has simply not been updated. I don't think there is any need to disrupt any existing activities using them though. Simply mark the template as not to be used for future uploads, and encourage re-licensing any existing images. Carl Lindberg (talk) 00:20, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
As the user who removed it: I didn't knew the logos werent under a free license before, until the blog post was shown to me. And even then I expected it to be from 2010 or so and didn't look to the timestamp, so I didn't expect there could be still any file using this exception. And I still believe not even WMF should host nonfree files here. But I don't think we need to immediatly delete them. Rather ask the authors to rerelease the files under a free license and after some time (maybe end of the year? should really be enough time) send the still unfree files through the normal deletion process, but I don't expect the latter to be necassary. And I really hope no one gets superbanned for this… --Nenntmichruhigip (talk) 01:06, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Category:Coats of arms of municipalities of Guatemala[edit]

Many of these images seem to pass COM:TOO, but I can't find much information about the copyright status of Guatemalan government works (likely non-free), or insignia/legislation (less likely). Any ideas? Storkk (talk) 09:58, 2 July 2015 (UTC)


This is a general query. I have noticed a web site using Wikimedia images (and Wikipedia text) without acknowledging the Wiki source, and, in the case of pictures, its Wikimedia user uploader, though not me. I sent a message to the web master stating that the source should be mentioned, but to no avail... unmitigated misuse prevails. As a prolific uploader to Commons I am now having reservations over continuing, not because I don't want to give free use, but that it would be proper to assure appropriate attribution.


  • regardless of Creative Commons attribution level, are further users of our pictures fully obliged to acknowledge the Wikimedia and uploader source?
  • if attribution is not mentioned by third party users, does Wikimedia have a mechanism to attempt this attribution for its many hard working charitable uploaders? (I can't think this cannot be the case as there would be no point in bothering to have attributable Creative Commons upload restrictions that are toothless... we might as well upload them to our own web sites or social networking sites to be abused)
  • if Wikimedia doesn't provide this obviously-needed protection for its volunteers, what is the tightest form of Creative Commons licence allowed, that gives free use but has the most restrictive conditions, to perhaps compel attribution?
  • if Wikimedia absolves itself over protection of its volunteers' images, what kind of wording can be suggested to add to the Image summary stressing the necessity of attribution?
  • if Wikimedia is so lacking, what advice can be given to uploaders to pursue for themselves the abuse of their images without what many volunteers would see as proper help from Wikimedia?

Acabashi (talk) 21:01, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

There's no license that can "compel attribution", or compel anything else. Once your photos are on the Internet, anybody can potentially use them in any way they like. It would be the same if they were marked "all rights reserved". However copyright law makes use of copyrighted works without a license illegal, and a copyright holder can potentially take legal action against people who violate their copyright (although this may be restricted to a take-down notice in the USA due to DMCA). Personally I have no intention of taking legal action against anybody over my photos, and don't care about attribution, so I use CC0 to reflect this reality (and for other reasons). Others may decide that they don't want to take legal action against anybody, but still use a more restricted license so that at least law-abiding publishers (and those who will respond to complaints) will give them credit. --ghouston (talk) 23:02, 3 July 2015 (UTC)
On the first point, there’s no general legal obligation to credit sources. Some reusers need or wish to do so for provenance or verification; for others it’s a matter of courtesy. Even where the licence requires attribution, the WMF claims no ownership or credit for the content it hosts on behalf of the licensors. Nor will it directly defend contributors‘ rights in cases of licence violations by third parties (although its legal department may be able to offer some advice, assistance, or referrals). The most restrictive licence we allow here is CC-BY-SA, requiring not only attribution but that further reuse be licensed under the same terms. Nevertheless, as ghouston suggests above, to those who disregard intellectual property it makes no difference whether the licence says © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED or {{WTFPL}}.—Odysseus1479 (talk) 00:17, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

Old photos with unclear dates[edit]

I've been expanding the wikipedia article on Blagdon Lake and came across a set of images on flickr (see ) showing the construction. Construction of the reservoir was between 1898 and 1905 however no dates are given for the original images. The flickr page says the images were from (but not explicitly taken by) someone who "died recently", however I'm not sure of the ownership or copyright status. Would they be allowed on commons under PD old or similar licences?Rodw (talk) 11:33, 5 July 2015 (UTC)

If this is the first publication, then almost certainly no. They would have had to be *published* a long time ago for that. If this is the first publication, they are probably still under copyright of some form -- if the author is known, the copyright lasts that person's lifetime and 70 more years in both the UK and the US. If it is possible to figure out which ancestor took them, then that would be the basic term. If the author is unknown, the U.S. term is the earlier of 95 years from publication, and 120 years from creation, so we aren't there yet, unless they were actually published around the time they were taken. For the UK, the basic term with an unknown author would actually be expired (70 years from publication, but if not published within 70 years, then 70 years from creation, since these were photos taken before 1957, and that would be expired). Unfortunately... if this is the first publication, in either case (known or unknown author) then in the UK it is either under copyright for that regular term, or subject to a 25-year "publication right" which occurs when a work is first published when it is no longer covered by either of the regular copyright terms. So, if this is the first publication, it would most likely be under some form of protection in both the UK and the US. The only chance would be to identify the author, and show that the photos were put on Flickr when it was still within 70 years from when that person died, but is now beyond that term -- that would then be beyond the regular terms, plus avoid the UK publication right. If these were published a long time ago, then the situation would probably change, but it sounds like these were private photos until put up on Flickr a few years ago so I'm guessing they weren't. Carl Lindberg (talk) 16:03, 5 July 2015 (UTC)

licensing vs. attribution vs. credit[edit]

If I paid a photographer to take a photo, I own it I think. It's been printed a lot and never with a copyright notice. Nonetheless, it is courteous to indicate "Credit: John Smith" or "Photo: John Smith" somewhere in a caption or credit line (in my experience) and I always do so. But if someone wanted to contact the "owner" or "copyright holder" he or she should contact me. (I have in mind the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. So it's not like I expect a whole lot of e-mails on this.)

It's easy enough to credit the photographer in a caption in a wikipedia article. Is that how I should do this? He won't be the one granting a license.

Or if it says, "Mary Jones, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publishes it under the following licenses: ..." can the attribution then read "Photo: John Smith"? Should it? Or should the attribution be "Mary Jones (John Smith, photographer)" or something like that?

Or is there some approach I'm not thinking of?

If I'm in the wrong forum, please forgive me and point me in the right direction?

Many thanks. Valuenyc (talk) 23:18, 5 July 2015 (UTC)

The copyright rules for commissioned works vary per country. The copyright holder will often be the photographer, but sometimes its the person who paid for it. For Commons if the work is still in copyright you need an actual license from the copyright holder, just giving them attribution isn't sufficient. --ghouston (talk) 23:45, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
The default copyright rules can also be overridden by any contract you signed with the photographer. --ghouston (talk) 23:47, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
Based on your user name and a bit of Googling, I'm assuming you're based in the United States. Under US copyright law, paying for a photograph to be taken does not make you the copyright holder, unless the photographer is your employee (rather than a contractor) or you have a written contract explicitly stating that the resulting work is a work made for hire. Similarly, a transfer of copyright after creation also requires an agreement in writing. See en:Work for hire#Law in the United States for details. As already mentioned, only the legitimate copyright holder can issue a valid copyright license. LX (talk, contribs) 13:42, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
Assuming that you own the copyright in someone else's work (either because it's a work for hire, or the contract results in you owning it), the photographer's name doesn't need to be given, unless that too is part of the contract, e.g. "Buyer hereby agrees that all uses by Buyer and licensees will be accompanied by Photographer's name"; as far as Commons policy is concerned, you just need the copyright holder's identity. That's why it's always fine to attribute a corporate author; if the New York Times released its website under CC-BY-4.0, we'd be able to upload with no attribution beyond "Work of the New York Times". Of course, if you know the photographer's name, it's pretty much always a good idea to include it; pretty much everything in Category:Historic American Buildings Survey is PD-USGov, making the author's name irrelevant for copyright purposes, but because we provide the author's name when known, we're able to have pages like Category:Jet Lowe and Category:Louise Taft. Nyttend (talk) 22:49, 6 July 2015 (UTC)


Is it acceptable to use another wiki site as the source for an image? Wiki sites are generally not considered to be reliable sources for content on Wikipedia since they are user generated pages. Can the copyright information for an image be verified from a user generated page? - Marchjuly (talk) 04:39, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

I'd say it would be no different to other hosting sites such as Flickr, Panoramio or Facebook. It's probably OK if there's no reason to think the information isn't accurate. --ghouston (talk) 05:25, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
For 3FM.png, you can verify that it matches the original source: --ghouston (talk) 05:32, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
It depends. If the other wiki is the original source and it's licensed there, then it's just as good as an original upload here, where we assume good faith (something you can't do with encyclopedia content, a completely different situation). If the image existed elsewhere previously, and we are relying on a free license like CC, then no the wiki upload probably would not be good enough (it would be Commons:License laundering). In this particular case, the claim is that there is no copyrightable authorship in the logo itself, which means you don't need any source -- all the information you need to make that determination is included in the uploaded content itself. I'm... borderline on that PD-textlogo question, but the source doesn't matter a bit in this case. Carl Lindberg (talk) 05:35, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

Pele Bicycle Kick[edit]

I am currently working on the Bicycle Kick article for the English Wikipedia. The famous football (soccer) player Pele performed an iconic bicycle kick (see image). This picture would be amazing in the Bicycle Kick article. Does anyone know if this image is copyrighted or in the public domain; if it is on the latter, what PD tag works for it? Thanks in advance!--MarshalN20 (talk) 22:49, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

Uniqueness or greatness of events don't negate copyright status. If you can find someone who took a photograph of the event and is willing to license that photograph under a commons-compatible license, that would be amazing. Otherwise, various local wikis that allow for Fair Use, which is a copyright exception (actually a legitimized defense) in laws such as those of the US, will have to make do with local copies. Storkk (talk) 23:13, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
According to this site and a few others, the photo was taken during a game against Belgium in 1968, and so is most likely going to be under copyright for a long time to come (assuming the game was actually in Belgium, it'll be under copyright until 70 years after the photographer's death). Revent (talk) 23:19, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for answering the question Revent! That is unfortunate news, but good to know.
I appreciate the response Storkk. I doubt that I can find someone who took a photo of the event.
Regards.--MarshalN20 (talk) 00:11, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
Apparently it was actually June 2 1965, and the game was in Brazil at the Maracanã. The photograph was taken by Alberto Ferreira, who died in 2007 at age 75. I think Brazilian photographs are 70 years from publication. So... 2036. For the U.S., 2061 unless it was published in the US within 30 days of it being published in Brazil. Carl Lindberg (talk) 02:41, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
If you're thinking of using it under fair use on a project that allows it, note that this version seems to be mirrored compared to other versions and other photos of the same moment. LX (talk, contribs) 07:55, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

File:Usvw logo.gif[edit]

Logo is licensed as "own work", but says that it is owned and sourced by USV Weitersfeld. This does seem more likely to be a non-free logo than something created by the uploader.

File:Usv-weitersfeld kampfmannschaft-herbst2010.JPG also was uploaded by the same uploader, but once again the author and the source of the image are listed as USV Weitersfeld. No OTRS permission is provided, so no way to tell for sure if this was taken a photo taken by the uploader or was taken from another website.

For reference, neither image is currently being used in any Wikipedia articles. - Marchjuly (talk) 07:49, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

Right. Tagged with "no permission" and "request for deletion". As this contributor is not active, there is little chance that a permission is received unless someone else take care of it. Regards, Yann (talk) 07:53, 7 July 2015 (UTC)