How to Request Copyright Permission to Use Wikipedia Content

You can use Wikipedia content without asking for copyright permission as long as the resulting content offers the same rights to the public. This practice, called “copyleft,” is a special kind of copyright.

  • Wikipedia users can freely use the content of the website under the GNU Free Documentation License. Wikipedia content bears a copyright, but the public can use it for free under certain conditions. Check the Wikipedia website ( and go to the Copyrights section to see the rights and obligations you have as a Wikipedia user. From the Main Page, select Policies And Guidelines and then select Copyrights.
  • You don’t have to ask for permission to use content from Wikipedia so long as you know and respect the text of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). You can find this document on the Text of the GNU Free Documentation License page on Wikipedia.

  • You can use Wikipedia articles for commercial purposes without citing the original source. This option carries with it a limitation of 100 copies of Wikipedia articles. The Wikipedia Foundation does not own the articles and illustrations. Do not contact the Wikipedia Foundation to ask for permission to use materials.
  • The GFDL states that the copied materials must remain free for public use. This means that if you use content from Wikipedia, you cannot copyright it. Others must have the option to use that content under the same conditions with which you complied.
  • These regulations have validity in the United States only. Other countries might ask for a license to use articles and images that bear a copyright. You will find a list of countries and specific regulations on the Wikipedia website.
  • If you find your copyrighted work on Wikipedia and discover its use without your permission, you can ask that the website remove the page. You will need to provide evidence that you own the work published on Wikipedia, and then the site will remove the information.
  • If you contribute to Wikipedia with content, understand that others can freely use your work under the copyleft license. The copyright will not transfer to Wikipedia, and you can use your work anywhere else without any problem, permission of legal repercussions. However, others will also have the option to use your work—even for commercial purposes. If you do not want others to reuse your work without asking permission to do so, do not add content to Wikipedia.
  • Contributors who violate copyright regulations repeatedly might find themselves blocked from editing content on Wikipedia, according to the rules of the website.
  • Images, video and sound files do not fall under the same regulations as written content. Others can use them freely only if they carry clear instructions stating as much. If not, you have to identify the copyright holder and ask for permission to use the materials.

Filed Under: Computers & Technology


About the Author: Justin Belden is a freelance web & graphic designer with over 15 years' experience. He is also an Avid member of the Design/Development community and a Serial Blogger who loves to help people by sharing interesting and informative tips and trick related to computer and technology.

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