Wikibooks:Requesting copyright permission

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page is about editors who would like to get permission to use other people's work in Wikibooks or demonstrate they own the copyright of a previously published work.
Example form of consent: Wikibooks:Declaration of consent for all enquiries.

To use copyrighted material on Wikibooks, it is not enough that we have permission to use it on Wikibooks alone. That's because Wikibooks itself states that all its material may be used by anyone, for any purpose. So we have to be sure all material is in fact licensed for that purpose, whoever provided it.

To do this, we must often email or contact the copyright holders and ask them to allow us to use it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) or a CC-BY-SA-compatible license and, if possible, also the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts). See Wikibooks:Copyrights for more.

The main legal issue that is important to explain to potential contributors: they would be agreeing that their material can be used freely by Wikibooks AND its downstream users, and that such use might include commercial use, for which the contributor is not entitled to royalties or compensation. Wikimedia itself is a non-profit organization, and any money it raised from the re-use of Wikimedia content would go to furthering our aims—buying new servers to keep the websites running efficiently, producing print runs, making Wikipedia available on CD/DVD for schools and developing countries. However, not all of those who re-use our content are so high-minded.

This page explains what must be done if you want to use content that's copyrighted, whether you know who produced it or you don't. It also covers the process for how to release your own previously published work.


It sometimes happens that users post text from other websites claiming to have permission to do so. Sometimes, images from other websites are uploaded and claimed to be under a free license (CC-BY-SA, GFDL, public domain, No rights reserved, or others.) If the external website does not have any indication that such claims are well-founded, it is a good idea to try to verify such claims.

If the poster or uploader claims to be the copyright holder and website owner him- or herself, leave them a message on-Wiki asking them to include a license statement on their website that says that the text or image in question is indeed published under the claimed license. That's the easiest way to confirm such a claim. If they would prefer not to do that, or claim to have permission from some third party (usually the original author or photographer), permission can be verified as below through e-mail.

If you yourself have found an image or text source and want to contact the photographer or copyright holder up-front to secure permission before uploading the image or adding the text, you should also follow these guidelines.

The main legal thing that is important to explain to potential contributors: they would be agreeing that their picture (or text) can be used freely by Wikibooks AND its downstream users, and that such use might include commercial use, for which the contributor is not entitled to royalties or compensation.

How to ask for permission[edit]

Search the external website and try to find a contact address. Most websites give an e-mail address of the webmaster; if the author of the text or the photographer of an image is known, try to contact the author or photographer directly. In general, do not send an inquiry to an e-mail address you find posted on Wikibooks: if you have reason to question a license claim made on Wikibooks, you also have reason to wonder whether contact data given on Wikibooks is correct. Try to find a contact address from a source other than the Wiki. Send them an e-mail explaining the situation and asking for their permission. If authorship is unclear, ask them to confirm that the text or image is indeed theirs.

For text[edit]

Text imported from other sites into Wikibooks must be licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) (CC-BY-SA compatible licenses are also accepted, as, of course, is release into public domain). When asking for permission, you should explain that this means that

  1. The text may be freely redistributed and used.
  2. It may be freely modified, and modified versions may also be freely redistributed and used.
  3. In all cases, CC-BY-SA requires proper attribution of the author(s).
  4. CC-BY-SA allows commercial re-uses provided such re-use is also under CC-BY-SA.

You may also choose to explain that the author does not give up any of his or her rights to use the text: he or she is still free to publish the text elsewhere or to license the same text to other parties under any other license.

It is recommended that you attempt to obtain dual-licensing for text under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts) license as well, which uses similar ideologies to CC-BY-SA, but is incompatible. Wikibook's general content is co-licensed, and it is more convenient for our reusers to have material available under both licenses, but it is not essential when importing text from external sites authored by others.

For images[edit]

For images, you are not limited to CC-BY-SA: any free license will do. If the photographer's identity is unclear (for instance, if an image was uploaded stating the photographer's name and claiming a free license, but the image cannot be found on the web), ask them to confirm that the image is theirs. In any case, ask them to confirm the claimed license. For CC-BY-SA, point out the points mentioned above. Any free license must allow all of the following, for both the image itself as well as any modified versions based on it:

  1. Modification
  2. Redistribution
  3. Use for any purpose, including commercial purposes.

The only restrictions allowable are proper attribution of the creator and the requirement that derivative works are similarly licensed.

Consent letter[edit]

Direct copyright holders to read Wikibooks:Declaration of consent for all enquiries for a sample letter.

Once you have received a written/e-mail confirmation granting permission you should:

1. If the material is not already on Commons or Wikibooks: Upload relevant images, sound recordings or videos to Commons. If you don't have a Commons account, see Commons:First steps for more help. If for text, upload to Wikibooks.

2. E-Mail the permission e-mails for Commons uploads to "permissions-commons AT wikimedia DOT org" and for text permissions to "wikibooks AT wikimedia DOT org" (both are volunteer response team addresses). Make sure to include in this mail:

  • the original request and confirmation answer
  • the source Internet URL and the Wikimedia link for the image or article

as this will enable the Wikimedia information team to verify the materials.

Typical request letter for confirmation[edit]

Dear *[NAME],

I am writing to confirm whether permission is granted to use *[a page/content] from your website under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). A user with the *[IP xxx/ username xxx] has pasted in text from your website [WEBSITE ADDRESS] to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The text concerns *[TOPIC OF PAGE] and the original submission can be viewed at *[Address of Pre-copyvio boilerplate version].

This user claims on the talk page *[TALK PAGE ADDRESS] to *[have the authority to release this material under CC-BY-SA/ be the original author of the material], but for the page to remain on our site, we need further evidence that this is the case. Please be assured that if you do not grant permission, your content will not be used at Wikibooks; we have a strict policy against copyright violations.

You can read CC-BY-SA in full at The license stipulates that any copy of the material, even if modified, must carry the same license. This means that anyone would be licensed to distribute the material, possibly for a fee (we would distribute your work free of charge). Under the license, no distributor (commercial or otherwise) can restrict future distribution, so your work would never become proprietary. In addition, the license does not grant the right to imply your endorsement of a modified version.

Please note that your contributions may not remain intact as submitted; this license and the collaborative nature of our project entitles others to edit, alter, and update content at will, i.e., to keep up with new information, or suit the text to a different purpose. There is more information on our copyright policy at: .

The page or book will be deleted in seven days time if permission is not confirmed, though it can be restored at a later date if you choose to respond later to state that such use is allowed.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,


*delete as appropriate

See also[edit]