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WikiProject Fair use seeks to aid the English Wikipedia by improving and monitoring its invocation of the "fair use" clause of U.S. copyright law towards the use of copyrighted media, with the goal of preventing unnecessary and inappropriate copyright infringement, which could potentially cause all sorts of legal trouble for our beloved encyclopedia.



Current Goals for March 2012:

  • Revive the Wikiproject
  • Create a legal precedent section for reference
  • Update terms related to Copyright/Copyleft/CC
  • Write guides on Fair Use

Previous activityEdit

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
This section describes the situation as of early August 2005, before the adoption of the current WP:NFC policy framework in August–October 2005. Since then, the aspirations set out in this section have all largely been achieved

The current guidelines for non-free content on Wikipedia, though written about at length on various project pages, does not seem to translate well into actual practice: many images are labeled as "fair use" without any deliberation, and many such images labeled would probably not be judged as "fair use" in a court of law.[citation needed] As of August 2005, the English Wikipedia has over 14,000 images tagged as "fair use", and if even a small percentage of those are copyright violations, the consequences could be unpleasant.

The goals of the policy reform are as follows:

  • Develop new fair use image copyright tags. Many of the current image copyright tags for "fair use" are short blanket statements which encourage legally incorrect thinking about fair use. Some suggested general improvements:
  1. The tags should be more detailed, stating the rationale for fair use and implicitly defining what is and what is not fair use.
  2. They should be comprehensible to the average Wikipedian who neither knows nor cares much about the structure of U.S. copyright law.
  3. They should emphasize use and not medium.
  4. They should allow anyone who cares to help monitor proper use to quickly judge whether or not the use is "fair" or if it is copyright infringement.
  5. It should be noted (if not on the tags, then somewhere else) that it is best to use a free alternative if one is available. This is not strictly a requirement of "fair use", but the avoidance of a potential copyright situation is always better for the goals of Wikipedia (both in avoiding lawsuits, as well as creating a "free encyclopedia").
  6. Where appropriate, separate tags should be created for common "fair uses", such as using a book cover to illustrate an article about said book.
  7. They should clearly state that the work in question is copyrighted, and require the user to label the copyright source as best as is known.
  8. They should clarify that U.S. copyright law matters in particular because the images are hosted on a U.S. servers.
  9. They should provide reusers with information to help them decide whether their use is "fair" or not. A large part of our invocation of "fair use" is because our site is educational in purpose and run by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, and that our invocation of "fair use" for our use of the image might not apply to other uses (that is, third parties can't "piggyback" on our "fair use" claims). Where practical, they should also provide information on other conditions under which the image may be redistributed or information on obtaining a licence to redistribute it.
  10. Elimination of blanket "fair use" tags which have no applicability towards "use" which is different than a generic "fair use" tag.
  • Develop a system for monitoring and verifying "fair use" images. Because "fair use" is based on use rather than media, it is impossible to set up a system which will permanently guarantee that any particular image will be used in a "fair" way — for example, the use of an image of Mickey Mouse could be "fair" in an article on the character himself, but the use of it on an article about mice in general would probably not be "fair". Something judged "fair" at one point could easily be used for infringement at a later date. Nevertheless, a good number of the images uploaded are unlikely to be "fair use" in any context, and these are worth weeding out immediately. Possible ways for this system could include:
  1. The use of specialized templates to indicate when an image has or has not been reviewed by another Wikipedian (associated with this project or not).

Fair use should also be reviewed in featured articles.

  • Improve guidelines. At present, the guidelines are complex, and derive from mutltiple sources that are not fully publicized, with the result that people who do not understand copyright issues are, out of ignorance, uploading material for which there is no plausible fair use rationale. There exists a further concern that material which could fall within Wikipedia:Non-free content criteria lacks proper rationales, attribution, or other necessary information and is therefore eligible for deletion.

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.


These pages were for working on specific goals. Many have now been achieved.

  • /Fair use tag reform — to keep track of which tags have been rewritten, which ones have not.
    • /Fair use rationale — to develop a set of stock rationale for each image template, which can be linked to from them at some point in the future.
  • /Monitoring — to develop a means of reviewing fair use claims
  • /Preemptive fair use — for further articulating Wikipedia's unique "preemptive" strategy of tagging things as "fair use", with the goal of potentially making a concrete policy proposal.
  • /Explaining fair use — for developing resources to help Wikipedia users unfamiliar with copyright law understand the basics of "fair use" in an easy and practical sense.
  • /Todo — Want to help? Here are some open tasks. Feel free to add tasks of your own that are related to the project.

Useful templatesEdit

Useful tagsEdit

Review tags:

  • {{fairusereview}} – to mark questionable images for review
  • {{dfu}} – to actively dispute fair use claims for review by an admin after seven days
  • {{reviewedfairuse}} – to mark images which have been independently reviewed and deemed likely to be fair use

Image changing:

  • {{fairusereduce}} – for large images which should be reduced in size and/or quality.
  • {{fairusereplace}} – for images which could be reasonably re-created/replaced with free alternatives.
    • {{subst:furd}} – for images which have been reduced in size/quality and have previous versions which require deletion. (Also for non-free images replaced by free images.)

Deletion tags:

  • {{subst:or-fu}} – for orphaned fair use images that have not been replaced.
  • {{subst:or-fu-re|Image:Image.ext}} – for orphaned fair use images that have been replaced by a free image
  • {{subst:frn}} – for images without a fair use rationale listed (for images uploaded after May 4 2006)
  • {{subst:nld}} – for images without a licence listed
  • {{subst:nsd}} – for images without a source listed

Useful external resourcesEdit



Participants may add this to their userpage.

Code:Results in:
{{User WPFU}}
 This user is part of the Fair use WikiProject.

If you prefer not to use userboxes, you may add yourself directly to Category:WikiProject Fair use members by placing the following code on your Userpage: [[Category:WikiProject Fair use members|{{PAGENAME}}]]

If you'd like to be kept abreast of proposals and decisions, please add your name below. At this early stage, none of the above ideas have been implemented in a major way, but will be discussed on the talk page of this project. Feel free to add this page to your watchlist if you'd like to keep up with the smaller changes.

Editors willing to helpEdit

-- ۩ Mask 23:47, 23 June 2011 (UTC)