Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials

This page is for editors who would like to grant permission to Wikipedia to use their own previously published work. For information on verifying permission to use work previously published by others, see Wikipedia:Requesting copyright permission.

Often, people wish to "donate" copyrighted materials to Wikipedia. These materials may be text (including monographs, articles, etc.) or images (including photographs). They may or may not already be posted on some other web site. They may or may not actually be appropriate for inclusion in Wikipedia. This page exists to provide some guidance in these matters.

(Most of what is on this page also applies to work in the public domain, but the focus is on copyrighted materials, because they raise more complicated issues.)

When you contribute material to Wikipedia, you are not giving us exclusive use of it. You still retain any rights you previously held, but you are giving non-exclusive license under (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts). These licenses allow anyone—not just Wikipedia—to share, distribute, transmit, and adapt your work, provided that you are attributed as the author. Also, because some derivative works may be commercial, we cannot accept materials that are licensed only for educational use or even for general non-commercial use.

There is no way to say "you can use this in Wikipedia, but not anywhere else or in derivative works."

Note, too, that the Wikimedia Foundation's Terms of Use allow text by others or which you have co-authored with others to be imported under CC-BY-SA or CC-BY-SA-compatible license alone, without need to verify compatibility with GFDL, but text for which you hold the copyright yourself must be licensed under both CC-BY-SA and GFDL.

Please be aware that the content you donate is subject to continuous editing by the Wikipedia community. It may be added to, subtracted from, rearranged, illustrated, split into multiple articles, translated into other languages, and otherwise changed beyond your expectations. Your contribution will always be part of the page history, so you retain credit for your work — our licenses are conditioned on our providing that credit, and ensuring that you are not held liable in any sense for the changes others make to your work.

Please note that one of the benefits of this freedom to edit is that you are freely able to incorporate the improvements that others make into your own website or source work, so long as it remains under the CC-BY-SA or GFDL.

If it is important that your work remain intact, please read the guidelines for our sister project, Wikisource, which may be better suited to host such work.

If you are not the copyright holder of the material you cannot donate rights to Wikipedia! The last thing we want are copyright problems: we try to be ruthless in rooting out material where there is even the slightest question about our right to use it.

Wikipedia is not a universal compendium. There are things we include and things we don't. Probably the best explanation of this is at the page "Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not". In particular, we try not to include content that is below an encyclopedic level of notability. We probably don't need an article about your college club (unless it happens to be something like the Oxford Union). On the other hand, we are open to encyclopedic articles, with cited sources and written from a neutral point of view (NPOV). The content of most websites, as written, usually does not meet these criteria, so it may be best to simply paraphrase, rather than copy verbatim. This also avoids the need to re-license the content. See Wikipedia:Museum projects for some related thoughts.

Wikipedia is not a primary source, and does not publish new and untested research and claims. Our position on such material is described more thoroughly at "Wikipedia:No original research". In brief, Wikipedia at a minimum will not consider covering a matter at least until it has a proven history of gaining significant attention by significant third party sources, or (for matters testable by science) by the global scientific community. Therefore if your work is unscrutinized, unpublished, theoretical, cutting-edge, or otherwise not covered in depth through other reliable sources, you will need to seek other avenues to publish it first. Alternatively, you might consider publishing it at Wikiversity, if the topic is suitable for that project.

Contributions of media material (images, videos and the like) are by their nature less likely to be "original research" in this sense; however they would still be covered by the same policy in the same way.

If you have taken photographs that you think would be useful to Wikipedia, you can upload them to Wikimedia Commons (to activate your account in Commons, login using the same credentials you use in Wikipedia on Commons), where they can be used by any Wikimedia project, including Wikipedia. Please, if you are uploading images, become familiar with the image copyright tags. If you are the photographer, you will probably want to use one of the following:

Contributions can also be dual-licensed, being subject to two different licenses, and allowing users to choose which one they want to use your content under.

We encourage you to place a descriptive caption and source information (such as when and how it was taken) onto the Image description page in addition to the image copyright tag.

One simple way to grant permission to copy material already online is to put that permission explicitly on the site where that material is posted. This is commonly known as a "copyleft" notice. This notice must state that your site (or portions of your site) are licensed under the (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts) or that it is in the public domain. For text, a good statement of release might read:

The text of this website [or page, if you are specifically releasing one section] is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the and the (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).

If you do not wish to retain any rights to the work, you may instead release it under the Creative Commons Zero Waiver, which effectively releases your work into the public domain:

If you would like to allow Wikipedia or another Wikimedia site to use your content, be it text or images, but don't want to put a license statement on the website, you still must release it under the free licenses noted above and can do so in the following ways:

For images, you can send an email through the new interactive consent release form:
Alternatively, you should send an email using the language from the template at Wikipedia:Declaration of consent for all enquiries:
Someone will reply to your email, indicating whether the content and your license is acceptable and update the page to indicate that the confirmation of the license has been received.

If you would like to license your site's content under a free license, but don't have any particular articles in mind to put the content in, you can follow the above directions, and list your site on one of the following pages, based on the type of content and license:

If you have any further questions, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions.