Stories

Crossed wires

Transmission towers and lines at sunset in East Texas

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act requires creators to include certain information when they send a notice requesting that their content be removed from a website. In most cases, people provide most or all of the information when they send a DMCA notice. In one message from October 2021, we were unable to determine what the writer was trying to remove. They claimed that a bibliography for a science course on Russian Wikiversity somehow infringed a copyright they held. We replied to explain that we needed additional information to evaluate the claim, but they did not respond. The bibliography remains on the projects, providing information about sources for students of electrical engineering.

Speedy delete

Time study stopwatch

Wikimedia volunteer contributors are very mindful of copyright law, and will remove items that do not meet our projects’ copyright standards, which require content to be freely-licensed or or available under another copyright exception. In August, a photographer sent us a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice regarding a photo they had taken of a European university. The photo was on English Wikipedia, and incorrect licensing information had been provided. However, by the time we evaluated the request, we found the photo had been removed from the projects. Wikipedia contributors had spotted the infringement and already taken the photo down.

Feisty facts

San Francisco and Bay counties telephone directory

In the United States, the law requires that a work involve a certain amount of creativity before it can be copyrighted. However, occasionally, someone claims to have copyrighted information like basic facts, that do not involve the necessary creativity. In November 2021, a Canadian copyright-protection service sent us a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice on behalf of an actress, claiming that an entry on Wikidata that provided her name and basic information about her work violated copyright. We explained to them that the law does not allow for facts to be copyrighted, and that the information in Wikidata failed to meet that creativity threshold, as the U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled. The facts remain available on Wikidata.

Finnish Wikipedia

Ohtakari, village and island in Kokkola, Finland

Sometimes, a smaller Wikipedia community makes a big impact. During this reporting period, we received hundreds of requests regarding the same article on Finnish Wikipedia, which contained some outdated information. The Finnish language community received these requests and have begun evaluating a policy change that would prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

Author’s note

Alnwick Castle - staterooms

Wikipedia editors’ thoughtful philosophy on information about living people is not a secret; it’s required by the Biographies of living persons (“BLP”) policy. In November 2021, a bestselling fiction author ordered the Foundation to make information about one of their residencies disappear from English Wikipedia. We directed them to volunteer contributors, who considered the request under the BLP policy. The editors decided to make some adjustments, but not to remove the information altogether. Both the home itself, and the author’s purchase of it, had previously attracted headlines. The author reiterated their demand, but we supported the editors’ decision not to transform the article.

Degrees of reliability

Content on the Wikimedia projects is created for the benefit of everyone, regardless of where they live. Occasionally, we receive requests from governments asking that we restrict access to  articles in a given country. In October 2021, the Telecommunications authority of an Asian country requested that we remove a few English Wikipedia articles and a Wikidata entry, all relating to a company that allegedly sells fake degrees—or at least restrict access to these articles within their borders. We informed volunteer contributors about the request, and they confirmed that the items were well-sourced and followed relevant project policies. We provided the government with information about how Wikimedia projects work and explained that we would not make edits or prevent their citizens from accessing the information.

Roskomnadzor requests before the Ukraine invasion

Flag of Roskomnadzor

Between July-December 2021, the Wikimedia Foundation received several notices from the Russian internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, regarding various articles on Wikimedia projects and requests for user data. These notices came via a citizen reporting app which was launched in 2021. We did not alter content or hand over user data in response to these requests. These requests were not related to Ukraine; we have, however, continued to receive requests from the Russian government since the end of the period covered by this Transparency Report. For more information about Wikimedia’s efforts regarding Russia and Ukraine, see our statement from March 2022 and our June 2022 announcement about our legal efforts in Russia.

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