Free content

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Free content (Wikipedia) licenses give others the right to re-use content.

This is intended to be a learning project about free content, what "free" and "unfree" content is, and what kinds of free content there is (i.e. what licences are used). This could a central node for all Wikimedia contributors who want to 1) find out more about free content, and 2) help others with licencing issues, and 3) discuss the various benefits and limitations of free content licences. However, as this page is only just beginning, please add any information, comments and questions, which we could eventually refactor into some useful learning material.

Major issues

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What is "free" content?

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Free content is content (ie books, music, images, etc.) which can be used freely, under one or a combination of free licences. Examples of this are any of Wikimedia projects' content - amongst which is this project, Wikiversity. For a breakdown of what licences are available, and what they mean, see below. Also, see Wikiversity:Copyrights and Commons:Licensing.

What is "unfree" content?

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In contrast to free content, "unfree" content (or content under copyright), is released under heavy restriction of use. This means (amongst other things) that the content cannot be reproduced in other formats, publications etc., except by permission of the author and/or publisher, or except under certain specific legal clauses, such as that of "fair" or "educational" use (though this varies between countries and contexts).

More things than you might imagine are copyright, for example:

  • A photograph you have made of a person who has not given their consent to be photographed.
  • A photograph you have made of another creative work - a public sculpture, a detail of an architectural interior, even an action figure! (though this depends on the country, author rights etc.)
  • A screen shot you have made of proprietary (i.e. "non-free") software.
  • A scan you have made of a book/album cover.

Searching for free content

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  1. Creative Commons search
  1. Flickr
  2. Wiki Commons
  2. Youtube,, ustream
  1. Wikisource
  2. Project Gutenberg
  3. Hathi Trust Digital Library
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A cartoon about the GFDL and Creative Commons - do you agree with this point of view?

[Intro needed]

  • What licences do you think work best in specific contexts?
  • What would you prefer to use?

Important factors to consider

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  • Works that are in the public domain can be used at Wikiversity.
  • Attribution is the act of giving credit to an author or organization for it's work. If you copy a work that is licensed so as to require attribution of the original source, please be sure to provide the required attribution.


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Are you confused about any aspect of free content? Please ask any question(s) you have about this subject here.

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If you are interested in free content (whether you are knowledgeable, or want to find out more), please sign your name here, and state what your interest, experience is.

  • Cormaggio - I still feel like I'm very much learning, and do not understand fully the ins and outs of different licences. I'd love for someone to guide us/me through these complexities :-)
  • luke - learning too, and in a practical sort of way ~) Glad to help in any way, if I can.
  • The Jade Knight - Particularly aware & supportive of the Creative Commons licenses.
  • Mirwin - I participate in free engineering projects such as cisLunarFreighter and Lunar Boom Town.


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Free tools

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See also

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