Wikipedia:Reusing Wikipedia content

There are many reusers of Wikipedia's content, and more are welcome. If you want to use Wikipedia's text materials in your own books/articles/web sites or other publications, you can generally do so, but you must comply with one of the licenses that Wikipedia's text is licensed under. Many of the media files on Wikipedia are also reusable. Each media file has its own licensing statement which must be verified, and reuse of any media file must comply with its licensing.

Neither the Wikimedia Foundation nor the authors of material on Wikimedia sites provide legal advice. Wikipedia is primarily subject to U.S. law; re-users outside the U.S. should be aware that they are subject to the laws of their country. It is the responsibility of the reuser to determine how a license applies to the intended reuse. Additionally, while this document addresses copyright, other restrictions may apply. These may include personality rights, moral rights, privacy rights, or any of the many other legal causes which are independent of copyright and vary greatly by jurisdiction. If you have any questions about your intended reuse, you may wish to consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your area.

Text content

Wikipedia's text content, in a nutshell, can be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license (CC-BY-SA); unless otherwise indicated, it can also be used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. The global terms of use dictate the ways content from Wikimedia sites can be properly attributed when used under the CC-BY-SA license. The GFDL imposes different requirements, which are dictated in the text of the license. The English text of these licenses is the only legally binding document; what follows is our interpretation of how material may be reused under them.

Re-use of text under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike

To re-distribute a text page in any form, provide credit to the authors either by including a) a hyperlink (where possible) or URL to the page or pages you are re-using, b) a hyperlink (where possible) or URL to an alternative, stable online copy which is freely accessible, which conforms with the license, and which provides credit to the authors in a manner equivalent to the credit given on this website, or c) a list of all authors. (Any list of authors may be filtered to exclude very small or irrelevant contributions.) This applies to text developed by the Wikipedia community. Text from external sources may attach additional attribution requirements to the work, which should be indicated on an article's face or on its talk page. For example, a page may have a banner or other notation indicating that some or all of its content was originally published somewhere else. Where such notations are visible in the page itself, they should generally be preserved by re-users.
Copyleft/Share Alike
If you make modifications or additions to the page you re-use, you must license them under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 or later.
Indicate changes
If you make modifications or additions, you must indicate in a reasonable fashion that the original work has been modified. If you are re-using the page in a wiki, for example, indicating this in the page history is sufficient.
Licensing notice
Each copy or modified version that you distribute must include a licensing notice stating that the work is released under CC-BY-SA and either a) a hyperlink or URL to the text of the license or b) a copy of the license. For this purpose, a suitable URL is:

For further information, please refer to the legal code of the CC-BY-SA License.

Re-use of text under the GNU Free Documentation License

For compatibility reasons, any page which does not incorporate text that is exclusively available under CC-BY-SA or a CC-BY-SA-compatible license is also available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. In order to determine whether a page is available under the GFDL, review the page footer, page history, and discussion page for attribution of single-licensed content that is not GFDL-compatible. All text published before June 15th, 2009 on Wikipedia was released under the GFDL, and you may also use the page history to retrieve content published before that date to ensure GFDL compatibility.

If you are simply duplicating the Wikipedia article, you must follow section two of the GFDL on verbatim copying, as discussed at Wikipedia:Verbatim copying under the GFDL.

If you create a derivative version by changing or adding content, this entails the following:

  • your materials in turn have to be licensed under GFDL,
  • you must acknowledge the authorship of the article (section 4B), and
  • you must provide access to the "transparent copy" of the material (section 4J). (The "transparent copy" of a Wikipedia article is any of a number of formats available from us, including the wikitext, the HTML web pages, the XML dump, etc.)

You may be able to partially fulfill the latter two obligations by providing a conspicuous direct link back to the Wikipedia article hosted on this website. You also need to provide access to a transparent copy of the new text. However, please note that the Wikimedia Foundation makes no guarantee to retain authorship information and a transparent copy of articles. Therefore, you are encouraged to provide this authorship information and a transparent copy with your derived works.

Example notice

An example notice, for an article that uses the Wikipedia article Metasyntactic variable under CC-BY-SA, might read as follows:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article <a href="">"Metasyntactic_variable"</a>, which is released under the <a href="">Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0</a>.

("Metasyntactic variable" and the Wikipedia URL must of course be substituted accordingly, and you should replace the link to point to a local copy of the CC-BY-SA-3.0 text on your server.)

Alternatively you can distribute your copy of "Metasyntactic variable" along with a copy of the CC-BY-SA-3.0 (as explained in the text) and list at least five (or all if fewer than five) principal authors on the title page (or top of the document). The external Authorship tool can help you identify the principal authors.

If you are reusing content on a wiki running the MediaWiki software, you can also create licensing notices with a template. This has the advantage of making notices easy to reuse on different pages. For example, you might use a template like Template:En-WP attribution notice, with the code {{En-WP attribution notice|Metasyntactic variable}}, to produce a notice similar to this:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Metasyntactic variable, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (view authors).  

Images and other media

While in principle Wikipedia's text is subject to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License and, generally, the GNU Free Documentation License and can be used free of charge for any purpose so long as licensing terms are met, other media (including images) are sometimes identified as being subject to other licenses. Each media file has its own information page which includes source and licensing information. Clicking on the media file will lead to this information page. Many media files are free to use as long as you follow the terms of the licenses applied to them. From the information page, to download an individual free image, first right-click "Full resolution‎" or the linked name of the image. Next, choose to save the image (exact option depends on browser). A brief overview of some of the licenses that may be applied to media on Wikipedia is visible at Wikipedia:Image copyright tags. Additional information may be found at Commons:Licensing. However, neither the Wikimedia Foundation nor the authors of material on Wikimedia sites provide legal advice. It is the responsibility of the reuser to determine how a license applies to the intended reuse.

Media file information pages sometimes include contact information for copyright holders. If the licensing conditions of a media file are unsuitable for the reuse intended, it may be possible to contact the copyright holder of the media file for alternate conditions. This will need to be negotiated with the copyright holder directly.

Fair use materials and special requirements

All original Wikipedia text is distributed under the GFDL and CC-BY-SA licenses. Occasionally, Wikipedia articles may include images, sounds, or text quotes used under the "fair use" doctrine of United States law. It is preferred that these be obtained under the most free (libre) license (such as the freely licensed or public domain) practical. In cases where no such images/sounds are currently available, then fair use images are acceptable (until such time as free images become available).

In such a case, the material should be identified as from an external source (on the image description page, or history page, as appropriate). As "fair use" is specific to the use that you contemplate it is best if your describe the fair use rationale for such specific use either in hidden text in the article or on the image description page. Remember what is fair use for Wikipedia may not be considered a fair use for your intended use of the content in another context.

For example, if we include an image under fair use, you must ensure that your use of the article also qualifies for fair use (this might not be the case, for example, if you were using a Wikipedia article for a commercial use that would otherwise be allowed by our licenses and the doctrine of fair use, would not be allowed under that commercial use). Re-users of Wikipedia images outside of the United States should also be aware that it may well be that fair use as it is known in the U.S. just may not exist at all in their jurisdiction. Most other countries have only well-defined exceptions for using copyrighted works without having been granted an explicit license. In the Commonwealth nations, there is fair dealing. Countries that follow the Berne Convention have similar exceptions for narrowly defined cases. Short quotations from copyrighted works are allowed, provided the source is properly attributed. What other exceptions may exist depends entirely of the laws of the country you're in.

Wikipedia does use some text under licenses that are compatible with the GFDL but may require additional terms that we do not require for original Wikipedia text (such as including Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts, or Back-Cover Texts). When using these materials, you have to include those invariant sections verbatim.

We try hard to identify the sources and licenses of all media such as text, images or sounds used in our encyclopedia articles. Still, we cannot guarantee that all media are used or marked correctly: for example, if an image description page states that an image was in the public domain, you should still check yourself whether that claim appears correct and decide for yourself whether your use of the image would be fine under the laws applicable to you. Wikipedia is primarily subject to U.S. law; re-users outside the U.S. should be aware that they are subject to the laws of their country, which almost certainly are different. Images published under the GFDL or one of the Creative Commons Licenses are unlikely to pose problems, as these are specific licenses with precise terms worldwide. Public domain images may need to be re-evaluated by a re-user because it depends on each country's copyright laws what is in the public domain there. There is no guarantee that something in the public domain in the U.S. was also in the public domain in your country.

See also