Project:Fair use policy

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In general, we require that all images on MediaWiki.org are released under a free-content license (GFDL, Creative Commons, etc.). However, in some situations it may be appropriate for non-free images to be uploaded for use within the site.

As this site is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation we must follow their licensing policy, which requires that all images must be under a free-content license, unless explicitly allowed via an exemption policy. This page proposes a fair-use exemption policy for the MediaWiki.org website.

This policy was proposed by User:VasilievVV on 17th May, 2008. If there are no objections, it will become official policy after four months, on the 17th September 2008. If any objections are raised before this time then the discussion should be allowed to resolve before the policy comes into force.

Proposed Policy[edit]

To be classed as fair use, an image must be:

  1. Non-free
  2. Irreplaceable – the image must be necessary to illustrate the subject and there must be no way to create a free equivalent
  3. Used somewhere on the site
  4. Approved by an administrator

Alternative Wording[edit]

(This is an alternative wording, which is more of a general image policy which includes fair use elements)

MediaWiki.org is a site about the MediaWiki software, and as such we only host images relating to that aim (see about this site for more info). Images that don't have direct relevance to MediaWiki, it's extensions and underlying architecture, or to the development process will be removed. This includes personal avatars or images for use on user pages. If you wish to use images such as this on MediaWiki.org, then upload them to Wikimedia Commons, a shared repository of free-license images, and you will have immediate access to them as if they had been uploaded here.

As this site is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation we must follow their licensing policy, which requires that all images must be under a free-content license, unless explicitly allowed via an exemption policy.

In general, we require that all images on MediaWiki.org are released under a free-content license (GFDL, Creative Commons, etc.). However, in some situations it may be appropriate for non-free images to be uploaded for use within the site. In some cases, particularly regarding screen-shots, it might also be ambiguous about the license status of the image. If you are in any doubt, then assume the image is non-free and is therefore governed by our fair-use policy, below, which should be used to decide whether your image is appropriate for this site.

In general, to avoid issues when uploading screenshots you should follow the following guidelines:

  • Unless they are important to the point being illustrated, the image should be cropped to remove the user's desktop, web browser and any other applications or screen-elements that might otherwise be present.
  • If the screenshot needs to include content from an existing website, use a free-content website (e.g. Wikipedia, or this website) as your example (unless there is an important reason to use a specific non-free-content website).
  • Screenshots of MediaWiki UI elements in most cases are to be considered to be licenced under the GPL. The actual content of a MediaWiki site may be under different terms (such as the GFDL however. Mark them with {{MW-screenshot}} to sort them. They are also accepted on the Wikimedia Commons.

However, those are just guidelines. It is assumed that all on-topic screenshots may be used on this site under our fair use policy.

Fair use policy[edit]

To be classed as fair use in terms of this site, an image must be:

  1. Non-free (defined as any image which is unlicensed, or has restrictions on derivatives or commercial use). Free-content images do not infringe any copyright, so they do not fall under the bracket of 'fair use'.
  2. Irreplaceable by a free content image. The image must be necessary to illustrate the subject and there must be no way to create a free equivalent. In the context of screen-shots, if you have followed the above guidelines then you should be OK.
  3. Used somewhere on the site, or linked to from of the official development forums.
This is true of all images, but particularly of fair-use images. The official development forums are Bugzilla and any of the development mailing lists. It does not include IRC. Any images used in this way should be tagged using the {{Linked image}} template.

Discussion[edit]

I see no problem with the above, but I'm not sure what the purpose of fair-use images would be on this site? I think we probably need a policy to handle screenshots, which may include non-free content (website content, browser chrome, etc.) but I'm not sure if 'fair use' is quite the right word for this. What kind of images are you expecting to be uploaded under this fair use policy? --HappyDog 19:51, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

Which may not be used under GFDL/CC BY-SA/other free license. Also, I see no point in some bureaucratic procedures. Why not just accept policy, especially taking in account that according to Project:Requests header, this wiki is controlled by developers and there is a real need in such policy right now? — VasilievVV 20:09, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
As I said, I don't really have a problem with the spirit of the policy. My point, I guess, is that I don't quite see how the policy in its current wording applies here. It seems like it was copy/pasted from somewhere else without real thought about how it would apply at MediaWiki.org. For example, what does irreplaceable mean in this context?
It is important to realise that there is a big difference between the kind of images we accept here compared with, for example, commons or WP. We are a lot more restrictive about what we allow. In fact, we only allow uploads that are directly related to MediaWiki or its extensions, and if you browse through the gallery of uploaded files (there's only about 500) you will see that the massive, massive majority of them are screenshots of MW, and most of the rest are icons/logos used by extensions.
Really, I can only think of two non-free elements that might require a fair-use rationale:
  • Content of web pages/wikis visible in a screenshot.
  • 3rd-party UI widgets (browser chrome, OS icons, etc.) that may be included as part of a screenshot.
In general, both of the above should be avoided by choosing a free-content site to make your example, or by cropping your image to show only the web-page, however this is not always possible or desirable (e.g. 1 2 3), so I agree we probably need a fair-use clause that explicitly allows these.
I'm just not sure that the above is a suitable wording for this, that's all. --HappyDog 04:57, 4 August 2008 (UTC)
The wording seems fine to me: Irreplaceability is that there's no other way to illustrate the subject without using a non-free image; exactly the sorts of cases you referenced. Maybe "irreplaceable" could use a little explanation. I'll be bold and apply a friendly amendment. —Emufarmers(T|C) 06:26, 4 August 2008 (UTC)
The wording probably covers the intent, but I don't think it conveys that intent to the reader. If I read the above (without this conversation which will be removed once a concensus is reached) I wouldn't be any-the-wiser as to whether I could upload, for example, a MediaWiki screenshot. That's why I think any general policy wording, such as the above, is not in itself useful, as it doesn't answer the question that applies to probably 95% of our image content. I will try an alternative wording that I think makes it a bit clearer (a kind of general image policy, perhaps, rather than just fair use) and you can see what you think. --HappyDog 22:48, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
OK - I've written an alternative wording, which keeps most of the original but explains things a bit more. If it is kept this page should probably be moved to Project:Image policy. One important change - I have removed 'approved by an administrator' rule, because this is frankly unworkable. Administrators try to keep on top of incoming images and are generally good at removing inappropriate material, but this point implies that you need to get permission from an admin before posting, which is not the case. The policy is really, be bold! And if your image is inappropriate it will be removed. --HappyDog 23:25, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Actually - re-reading my new version, I've spotted where my real issue comes with this policy. The issue is that our general image policy is pretty much the same as the fair use policy outlined above, and that by making a specific fair use policy it implies that so long as the image is free then it doesn't need to be used, or relevant, or approved, when in actual fact, for the most part, it does... we are generally pretty strict about deleting redundant images here! Anyway, my new wording may have reduced that problem a bit, but I'm still a bit ambivalent about it... --HappyDog 23:29, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Firstly, MediaWiki is GPL. Why are we going all "its fair use" about it anyway? If its GPL, any derivatives of it would be GPL too, except for any content such as GFDL-licenced text (which is why we have the Wikipedia screenshot template). We've also contested the copyrightability of Windows widgets, since they are pretty much only geometric in nature, and in most cases, it would probably be de minimis anyway. The only "fair use" that should be allowed is {{CopyrightByWikimedia}}. ViperSnake151 19:38, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
As I understand it, GPL != GFDL. All site content (including images) is GFDL, therefore images of the software, which is GPL, are not technically allowed except under a fair-use rationale. I raised this on wikitech-l in Jan 2007 (see here for the start of the thread), but even though the thread is quite long, the only real response of any note is here, and it just gives one persons opinion... --HappyDog 00:15, 23 October 2008 (UTC)