Many legitimate articles have some of these signs, but they help to identify the articles most likely to be copyright violations. There are also instructions on how to find the source of suspected copyright violations.

Signs that an article may be a copyright violationEdit

  1. It is a very long article made in a single edit.
  2. It has formatting that Wikipedia does not support (you'll see symbols or code).
  3. It has indented paragraphs, more than one blank line between paragraphs or long sections of text without paragraphs.
  4. There are no spaces between brackets and text.[clarification needed]
  5. It is almost entirely unwikified or is wikified in an inappropriate manner (redundant linking, large numbers of redlinks or linking words unlikely to ever have articles).
  6. The article is extremely promotional, appears to be professionally written, or the writing style has characteristics of a newspaper or magazine article.
  7. It has a big reference list for an article of its size, especially if most of the references are offline. These are often research papers or peer-reviewed articles that were posted online.
  8. It looks like it was copied and pasted from somewhere. Some formatting is unlikely to happen if the user had typed it in. For example, the text may start a new line in the middle of sentences.
  9. The content was added by an anonymous user or a registered user with no user page. These users often make excellent contributions, and almost everyone was anonymous and/or a "redlink" at one time, but a higher percentage of such edits are copyright violations. Also, these users are rarely adding the content maliciously; they just are not aware of copyright law.

Signs that an article may not be a copyright violationEdit

  1. It does not have the signs above.
  2. It has a few obvious spelling errors.
  3. The author appears to know how to use Wikipedia.
  4. A note on the talk page or in the edit summary when the material was added says the source is public domain or gives permission for it to be used. This may need to be verified, however.

How to find the sourceEdit

  • Take a word grouping that's big or unusual enough not to get a lot of irrelevant hits and search for it in quotes.
  • Use the middle of a sentence because the beginning of sentences are often altered, especially if the article's title or a pronoun is used.
    • For example, people change "he" to "mike smith", "microsoft" to "the company" or vice versa.
  • Make sure you try at least one search that doesn't include the company's or person's name because it may have been different in the source
    • like "microsoft" vs "microsoft corp." vs "microsoft corporation", also "mike smith" vs "michael smith" vs "michael j. smith"
  • take samples from different parts of the page because sometimes original material is mixed in with copyrighted content.
  • If you're only going to take one or two samples, don't use text from the introduction because it is often reworded or even original.
  • If you have problems with Wikipedia mirrors showing up, exclude the words "wikipedia", "wiki" and "gnu" from the search results by adding a hyphen to them. That will remove most of them.


This section is for users who work on wikifying articles.

I suggest that you check who added the wikify tag to an article. That way, you can notify editors who repeatedly add the tag to copyright violations, especially if it has been added to obvious ones. This can make a big difference because most wikify tags are applied by a relatively small number of editors. In fact, some editors have added hundreds of copyvios to the category in a very short amount of time. You should tell them how to identify copyvios, find the source and how to report them. If the person who added the copyrighted information is likely to do it again, you should tell them that Wikipedia cannot accept copyrighted content and what sources are usually copyrighted. However, many of them post a few times and never come back.


Kjkolb's Copyvio Page