Wikipedia:Non-free content proposal


Wikipedia is founded on the principle that it be a free-content project so that legal issues regarding copyright are avoided or at least minimized. Most Wikipedia Foundation projects do not allow the upload of non-free use images or media. This is because not all legal jurisdictions around the World permit such usage. US copyright law does permit some cases of what is known as 'fair-use' usage of copyrighted material without obtaining prior permission of the copyright holder. As an encyclopedia, Simple English Wikipedia is tasked with providing a free knowledge resource for readers that is freely distributable and modifiable by editors and others regardless of media types used or media types the content is used in. Images often aid understanding of concepts. Some concepts are able to be explained without images at all, some need images but can be understood without needing non-free images and some can only be understood fully with the use of non-free images.

This proposal is to explore the need for usage of non-free images in articles.

Parameters of proposalEdit

  • Only non-free images are included in this proposal; other media types such as audio, video and text are not included in this proposal in this draft.
  • Upload by all users will not be allowed.
  • Any system allowing for non-free images must be easy to administrate and require a minimum of effort to enforce.
  • This proposal is based upon US fair-use provisions of copyright and not on any others that may exist.
  • This proposal must meet with the legal requirements of the Wikimedia Foundation Ltd.
  • This proposal must meet with 75% approval of the community.

Basic criteria of non-free use of imagesEdit

The required to be met criteria for inclusion and upload of non-free use images is located at User:Fr33kman/Non-free content criteria. It is more restrictive than US law allows, to keep us on the safe side of the law.

Rationale of proposalEdit

We use simpler English on the Simple English Wikipedia and images further that goal significantly. Many images that an editor needs to include within an article are available for them via Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons does not, however, allow the upload and usage of non-free content under fair-use provisions of copyright law.

There are certain types of articles that tend to need access to non-free images. Some of these types of articles are; articles about television shows, articles about films and movies, articles about companies where the logo is a well-known part of their image (i.e.: Subway Ltd, McDonalds or Ford). Another common need would be software and operating systems. While many of these articles can be made understandable without non-free images, some can't.

Examples of needEdit

Company logosEdit

While some company logos are simple geometric designs and simple text and so are not copyrightable; many other logos are unique designs and are copyrighted.

  • McDonalds really needs the logo because McDonalds' often used the phrase "Golden Arches" to describe itself and a copy of its logo would help. Whilst a free photo of the sign outside might do to explain this, a reader could become confused by the picture also. Does it show the arches, the lettering of how many served, the location of the restaurant or something else. A low-res copy of the corporate logo solves these problems.
  • Ford needs a fair-use image also. Does   really the corporate logo well?
  • Microsoft's product logos are not all in the public domain like Coca Cola is. Some of these will need fair-use to be displayed in pages.
  • Kraft Foods' logo is copyrighted and displaying it on a page can help readers recognize Kraft products when they go to the shop.
  • Sun Microsystems has a very distinctive logo that can't be displayed without fair use. It's main software products, Java and Solaris do also.

What if an article is being written on the history of logos being used by a company. Without fair-use this would be impossible for many companies.

TV shows & FilmsEdit

  • If we take Wonder Woman as an example from the 80s; how do we explain the Golden Lasso, the Bracelets or Wonder Womans uniform without a non-free image. How do we aid understanding of the Invisible Plane without using a screen-shot.
  • Another example would be Spiderman. We could use an image of a person at a comic book convention, but often these will not be accurate costumes and may be of poor quality. The costume is also different from TV to film to comic book. How do we show Peter Parker from the film without a screenshot?
  • What about B.A. from the A-Team? You could show a picture of Mr. T but that is an actor not the character. Whilst the two did sometimes have simiilar gold chains and looks, B.A. wore more chains and different clothing. What about Mad Murdock?
  • Only Fools and Horses is another example. Del Boy is a unique character who dressed in a certain style. An image of David Jason taken at an awards show is not the same.

Screenshots of the show's titles are also needed for some shows.


Software can be very problematic. Showing the desktop of Windows Vista is practically impossible due to copyright. You might be able to show Gnome running as a desktop, but showing the default desktop is an issue.

Keeping the overhead lowEdit

Authority to uploadEdit

The proposal is that only named editors with approval via a user-right or an editable list be given the ability to upload images. Furthermore this right can be removed for violations of the policy and the criteria for fair-use. Admins who upload and violate copyright repeatedly would be community censured and not be permitted to use their ability to upload images. This should serve to keep administration of images to a bare minimum.

Trial projectEdit

The proposal if accepted would be for a six-month trial period with a discussion and revote taking place at the end of said period. If it passes this it would become permanent. It would still be able to be revoked either by office action or by proposal for removal.