Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
The Wikimedia projects make up one of the world's largest repositories of human knowledge. With that much information, someone is bound to get upset by some of the content from time to time. While the vast majority of content disputes are resolved by users themselves, in some extreme cases the Wikimedia Foundation may receive a legal demand to override our users.
The Wikimedia projects are yours, not ours. People just like you from around the world write, upload, edit, and curate all of the content. Therefore, we believe users should decide what belongs on Wikimedia projects whenever legally possible.
Below, you will find more information about the number of requests we receive, where they come from, and how they could impact free knowledge. You can also learn more about how we fight for freedom of speech through our user assistance programs in the FAQ.
If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.
Grounds for Removal July 2014
A nutritional supplement company requested the removal of all references to the term “coffee berries” from the English Wikipedia article on coffee, claiming both inaccuracy and infringement of their trademark, COFFEEBERRY®. We responded that the community of editors felt that “coffee berry” was an acceptable term to refer to the fruit of the coffee plant. We also explained that trademarking a pre-existing word cannot prevent others from using the word for its original meaning. Trademark rights simply don’t give companies total control over everyday words.
Unredacted August 2014
When a blogger included a photo of his visa to visit Burma/Myanmar on his website, he had scrubbed his personal details from the image. He never expected the same picture to show up on English Wikipedia in an article about the country's visa policy -- with the redactions removed and his information exposed. He wrote to us, asking to remove the photo. Given the nature of the information and the circumstances of how it was exposed, we took the image down.
A Murky Future October 2014
A law firm representing an astrologer asked that we remove a French Wikipedia article that chronicled her history of allegedly false predictions. Unusually, they cited Wikipedia’s own policy on biographies of living persons as a source of the article’s problems. We explained that the Wikimedia Foundation does not write or edit Wikipedia articles. We asked that they engage with the French Wikipedia community of volunteer editors and follow Wikipedia policies to address any issues of alleged inaccuracies with the community.
Last year, a European court decision, Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja González, granted individuals the ability to request that search engines “de-index” content about them under the so-called “right to be forgotten” doctrine. We believe that denying people access to relevant and neutral information is antagonistic to the values of the Wikimedia movement and have made a statement opposing the decision.
However, under the theory of the 'right to be forgotten', we have started receiving direct requests to remove content from Wikimedia projects.*
* Please note that this information only reflects requests made directly to us. Wikimedia project pages continue to disappear from search engine results without any notice, much less, request to us. We have a dedicated page where we post the notices about attempts to remove links to Wikimedia projects that we have received from the search engines who provide such notices as part of their own commitments to transparency. But we suspect that many search engines are not even giving notice, which we find contrary to core principles of free expression, due process, and transparency.
Jul 2014 – Dec 2014
Total Number of DMCA Takedown Requests
Jul 2014 – Dec 2014
Percentage of Requests Granted
DMCA Takedown Notices
The Wikimedia community is made up of creators, collectors, and consumers of free knowledge. While most material appearing on Wikimedia projects is in the public domain or freely licensed, on occasion, copyrighted material makes its way onto the projects.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provision requires us to remove infringing material if we receive a proper takedown request. We thoroughly evaluate each DMCA takedown request to ensure that it is valid. We only remove allegedly infringing content when we believe that a request is valid and we are transparent about that removal. If we do not believe a request to be valid, we will push back as appropriate. To learn more about DMCA procedures, see our DMCA policy.
Below, we provide information about the DMCA takedown notices we have received in the past and how we responded to them.
Because if you don’t stand up for the stuff you don’t like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you’ve already lost.
Doubling Down on DMCA December 2014
Takedown notices play an important role in guarding against copyright infringement. However, there must be transparency surrounding the use of takedown notices, which is why we post the notices we receive on a dedicated page and report them to Chilling Effects. In a totally absurd twist, we received a DMCA takedown notice to remove a previously filed DMCA takedown notice from the same individual. The sender also claimed that the second DMCA notice itself was subject to copyright and could not be posted. We declined the request and posted it as we would any other DMCA takedown notice.
No Take Backsies September 2014
A public relations company demanded that we remove an image of a rapper. However, the photo had been freely licensed under Wikimedia Commons policy apparently by the artist and claimed holder of the copyright. Therefore, we declined to remove it. The PR company initially alleged that the portrayed musician was someone different from the rapper. They later appeared to suggest that the rapper had never intended to give his permission. As the story seemed to change, the community examined, and then re-examined, the original permission. In the end the community found that the image should be kept.
A Common(s) Mistake July 2014
When a photographer uploaded his photograph to Flickr, he knew that he was making it available for public view, but he didn’t intend for anyone to be able to copy it, and he didn’t license it for reuse. When he found it on Wikimedia Commons, he sent us a DMCA takedown notice letting us know that it had been uploaded to Commons without his permission. After investigating, we determined that he really did own the image and had not licensed it for reuse on Flickr or elsewhere. We therefore removed the image.