Proposal:No more Fair Use

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  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


Abolish the EDP provisions in the Wikimedia Licensing policy and allow only 'free' media


Eliminate all media that is not under a free license (that is: forbid Fair Use)


Unfree files should not be included in a free encyclopedia (or whichever WMF project it may concern). If parts of our projects are proprietary, then we have not achieved our goal of building a free encyclopedia.

Also, without fair use, we encourage the free licenses and the creation of new free media, stimulate the growth of Wikimedia Commons, as well as greater interaction between projects. One example might be the licensing of Ubisoft games screenshots. Without the ban on non-free images, Ubisoft would have never donated any screenshots to use them under a free license. We'd be still stuck with low-res fair use images. In the long run, allowing only free images might be better for the amount and quality of usable content.

From a philosophical point of view, fair use doesn't fix the inherent problem inflicted by the existence of copyrighted media. While it might fix the problem for us, it is not a solution to everyone, and as we want our content to be usable by everyone, we should not embrace fair use. Instead, we should be focused on making the work available to everyone.

And yet, to avoid legal problems which may arise.

Currently any film studio, TV company, publisher or other copyright owner can remove all fair use images that we are using of their work simply by releasing an image themselves. That image would of course be of their choice, but if it was the only one available to illustrate an article we would be very likely to use it, and the fact that it has been released under a free licence undermines our fair use arguments for other images. If we don't have fair use images on our sites then the situation wouldn't arise, as we would be just a text based site for much of popular culture.

Key Questions

Potential Costs

  • A lot of cleanup work on projects currently allowing fair use. (easily automated)
  • No monetary costs
  • A lot of upset editors whose uploads have been deleted because we've changed the rules and deleted something that they uploaded in good faith and in accordance with current rules.
  • A drop in quality for many articles that we currently only have Fair use images for.
  • Less incentive for copyright owners to release a good quality image.


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:No more Fair Use.

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