Noncommercial images

Ban on images with restrictive licenses announced

In a shift to bring Wikipedia policy and practice in line with its theoretical underpinnings as "The Free Encyclopedia", images that cannot be redistributed commercially are now prohibited from Wikipedia and will eventually be deleted.

Jimbo Wales announced on Thursday, 19 May, that effective immediately, images licensed only for noncommercial use, or otherwise restricted to grant permission for use only on Wikipedia, would be prohibited. He said, "We have tolerated them for some time, but only as an interim measure during the time when images which were previously not properly tagged could be tagged."

On previous occasions, Wales has asserted that in order for content to be maximally free, commercial redistribution must also be allowable, and the announcement implements this long-held position. Although unlike text, images are permitted under licensing arrangements other than the GNU Free Documentation License, images using a different license must still qualify as free content.

Wales noted that for many of the images affected by this policy, it would be easy to find a freely licensed alternative. Either one might already be available, or in many cases it would be relatively simple for a Wikipedia editor with a camera to create a suitable replacement.

Dbenbenn noted that this would also apply to a number of the Creative Commons licenses. However, as ABCD pointed out, quite a few images may have been uploaded under more than one license, and people should be careful not to delete images that can still be used legitimately.

The image copyright tags used for affected licenses have been updated to include a warning that an image so tagged stands to be deleted shortly. Images that are newly uploaded with these types of restrictions since the date of the announcement may be deleted on sight. Previously uploaded images will be handled through a more formal deletion process. Eloquence suggested that some of them could be kept on a theory of fair use.

The announcement prompted some questions about whether it would apply to images downloaded from stock.xchng, a community website with a large collection of stock photography under various terms, some with greater restrictions than others. A large number of images from stock.xchng have also been added to the Wikimedia Commons. Gmaxwell noted that stock.xchng's terms of use for downloading images seem to prohibit commercial uses.

However, several people pointed out that the question has already been debated on the Wikimedia Commons site, and a conclusion reached that stock.xchng images are allowable under these restrictions. The argument made was that stock.xchng does not actually control the photographer's ability to grant permission to use an image, and many of its contributors have indicated their photos may be used without any restriction (only images so designated are eligible for inclusion).


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