Unless otherwise noted, all user contributions to Wikisource are released under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License (CC-BY-SA 3.0) and the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
The copyright laws applicable to Wikisource are primarily those of the United States of America, where the physical Wikimedia servers are located. The United States is not obliged to extend copyright beyond what it would be in the author's own country, and virtually all countries have copyrights that last for the author's life plus some number of years.
'Free content' definition
Free content is content which can be freely viewed, used, distributed, modified, and exploited by anyone, in any form, and for any purpose (including commercial exploitation) without exception and without limitation (except as explicitly allowed below).
Some requirements and restrictions are permissible on Wikisource:
- simple attribution of the authors, excluding requirements such as notification of use;
- transmission of freedoms (often called copyleft or share-alike), which requires that derivative works remain free. Such works may be included in a copyrighted work, but may not themselves be restricted in the same way as the larger document.
Fair use or fair dealing is the concept that unlicensed copyrighted work can be legally used without paying licensing fees or receiving permission of the copyright holder (see Wikipedia's article on fair use). Fair use is explicitly prohibited on Wikisource.
As described by the Amount and substantiality clause, reproducing whole works is not fair use. See the legal precedent set in Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises (1985); as stated by Wikipedia's article on the subject, the US Supreme Court "determined that fair use is not a defense to the appropriation of work by a famous political figure simply because of the public interest in learning of that political figure's account of an historic event." Further, "the use of less than 400 words from President Ford's memoir by a political opinion magazine was interpreted as infringement because those few words represented "the heart of the book" and were, as such, substantial."
Contributors' rights and obligations
All works on Wikisource must be in the public domain or released under a license compatible with the free content definition. It is the responsibility of the contributor to assert compatibility with Wikisource's license. A template should be used on the source material page to indicate the licence that the source material is posted under (see Help:Copyright tags).
Translations or recordings of a source work
Translations or recordings of a source work are considered derivative works of that source material. The contributor thereby warrants that the original material and the derivative work are either in the public domain or released under a license compatible with the free content definition. It is the responsibility of the contributor to assert compatibility with Wikisource's license. A template should be used on the source material page to indicate the licence that the source material is posted under (see Help:Copyright tags).
Failure to conform to this policy will result in the deletion of the text. If a contributor deliberately persists in violating this policy, their editing access may be revoked.
Original works including translations
Original works including translations placed on Wikisource are automatically licensed under the CC-BY-SA unless explicitly licensed otherwise. With this license, the copyright holder retains copyright and can later republish and relicense the works in any way they like. However, the work will be released under the CC-BY-SA forever.
Miscellaneous original content (such as on user or discussion pages) is also automatically released under the CC-BY-SA.
Linking to copyrighted works
Linking to copyrighted works is usually not a problem, as long as you have made a reasonable effort to determine that the page in question is not violating someone else's copyright. If it is, please do not link to the page.
If you find an article that you believe infringes a copyright, you may request that the page be removed from Wikisource by posting at Wikisource:Copyright discussions. Alternatively, if your own copyrights have been infringed, you may contact the Wikimedia Foundation's designated agent and request its removal. The page will be immediately blanked with a copyright violation notice until the issue is resolved. You should provide some evidence to support your claim. One possible piece of information you can provide is a URL or other reference to what you believe may be the source of the text.
Contributors who deliberately and repeatedly add copyrighted texts after being notified of this policy may be blocked from editing the project.
- Wikimedia's designated agent under the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act
- Help:Public domain
- Help:Licensing compatibility (whether a specific license or condition is allowed)
- Help:Copyright tags (templates used to designate licensing status)