A photographer sent the Wikimedia Foundation a DMCA takedown request for their photo that was on Wikimedia Commons. The photograph was widely used and could be found on a Flickr account that licensed all of the photos under the account under a free license. The photographer denied that they gave the account permission to use and license their photo and stated they were working on getting the photograph taken down. After verifying the photographer’s claim, we removed the photograph.
Copyright After Death
The estate of a deceased religious leader sent the Wikimedia Foundation a DMCA request asking us to remove a book they had written from Wikisource. Under U.S. law, copyright protection for a work lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years after their death, and the author had passed away more than 70 years ago. However, the author’s estate created the work at issue posthumously. When it was created, the book secured copyright protection for ninety-five years, and the copyright had not yet expired. Since the work was still protected by a valid copyright, we removed the work from Wikisource.
Facts of Life
An individual who claimed to be a scientist contacted the Wikimedia Foundation, upset that information in their Wikipedia article cited sources that identified them as a pseudoscientist. They had previously contacted the Wikipedia Volunteer Response Team asking for changes to their article, but the editors of the article did not make the changes. They contacted the legal department because they believed there were omissions or inaccuracies in the article and wanted the editors to cooperate with them, and to update the article.
After reviewing the request, we explained how community volunteers edit, write, and curate articles. We provided them with information about how the subject of a biography of living persons can correct information in the article. We also recommended they review the article's talk page and archives to see the discussion about the article.
A Different Direction
Sometimes, even one number makes a huge difference. In March 2021, the Wikimedia Foundation received an inquiry from a property owner’s representative, who demanded we correct their client’s address on Wikipedia. They claimed a late British singer’s Wikipedia article and Google Maps erroneously listed the street number for their client’s property as the late singer’s address. This tiny error resulted in delivery drivers, taxis, and others looking for the singer’s estate turning up at another property owner’s home. After careful evaluation of the official copy of the title plan and map reference, our team requested the English Wikipedia volunteer group to remove the address, which they did.
In January 2021, we received a Digital Millennium Copyright (DMCA) request from a photographer. They asked us to remove one of their photos from Wikimedia Commons, which depicts a fragment of an ancient text. After conducting a thorough internal investigation, we found no copyright protection for the photo they requested. Under the current U.S. law, any work created prior to 1924 is now in the public domain. In other words, it is no longer under copyright protection. This includes the fragment of the ancient text depicted in the photograph in this case. The Wikimedia Foundation respectfully explained to the photographer that we would not remove the photograph because it does not meet the originality requirements under U.S. law, since the photograph itself is merely an accurate copy of work already in the public domain.
In February 2021, the Wikimedia Foundation received a complaint regarding incorrect information in a German Wikipedia article about the owner of a grocery store. After investigating the claim, we discovered that a Wikipedia contributor identified and deleted the inaccuracies within five hours after the Foundation received the complaint and before the Foundation contacted them about it. After removing the offending information, that volunteer began a discussion about the edit on the article’s talk page that raised many of the same concerns that the complainant raised. We were happy to be able to report those developments to the complainant and direct them to discuss future concerns over accuracy on the article’s talk page. On Wikimedia sites, the most efficient way to resolve concerns is for users to work together to come to a consensus, thus preserving the collaborative nature of the projects.
Wikimedia editors often face the challenging task of documenting controversial historical events or symbols. In February 2021, we received a message asking us to remove a Spanish Wikipedia article chronicling the history of the Monumento a la Victoria. The requester expressed concerns that the monument glorified Francisco Franco, a Spanish general who led Nationalist forces in overthrowing the Second Spanish Republic and ultimately established a dictatorship. We explained that Wikipedia articles are created by independent editors on subjects that meet Wikipedia’s guidelines on notability, and that the Wikimedia Foundation does not edit content on the projects. We therefore took no action, and the article remains on Wikipedia.
All is Fair
A sports governing body in New Zealand filed a takedown notice with the Wikimedia Foundation in August 2020, asking us to remove an image from Wikimedia Commons that allegedly infringed its copyrights and trademarks. When we investigated, we determined that the image was fair use, meaning it was presented in an educational context to illustrate an important historical and cultural moment. Although we declined to remove the image, we connected with project volunteers to discuss updating the image’s licensing information so it would not be improperly re-used. The community then tagged the image as trademarked, meaning that a warning now appears on the page where it is hosted. The Wikimedia Foundation explained to the requester that they could raise any further concerns on the article’s talk page.
Help us unlock the world’s knowledge.
As a nonprofit, Wikipedia and our related free knowledge projects are powered primarily through donations.Donate now