Wikisource talk:Copyright policy

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Copyright law(s) used at Wikisource[edit]

What is the copyright law(s) relevant on Wikisource? Is it the American copyright law? The problem arises with works of authors from countries with different copyright law than the US. Is the date of publication or the death's date of the author which matters? Several cases I can see:

  • Works of M. K. Gandhi (1869-1948) and of Indian authors who died after 1943 published before 1923. (public domain in India: death + 60 years)
  • Works of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)?
  • Works of French authors who died after 1933 published before 1923. (public domain in France: death + 70 years). Examples: Raymond Boudon, Henri Duvernois, Maurice Leblanc, Henri Bergson, Ernest Pérochon, Romain Rolland, Jean Giraudoux, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Paul Valéry, Tristan Bernard, Georges Bernanos, André Gide, Colette...
  • Works of French authors who died between 1923 and 1933. Examples: Albert Londres, Georges Courteline, Gaston Leroux.

Yann 11:46, 3 Dec 2003 (UTC)


Which licence(s) to use for texts which I have written and I would like to publish on Wikisource? Apart from public domain and GFDL, is there any other possibility? Yann 12:06, 3 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Please answer this question, and make it clear on the page. For example can a text tagged with "Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved." be uploaded to Wikisource? -- 21:31, 31 August 2005 (UTC)
Could be GFDL or Creative Commons Share ALike. Yann 23:12, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Possible copyright violations[edit]

It is inevitable that people will submit copyright materal. If you come across a text which you believe is a copyright violation please list it at Wikisource:Possible copyright violations.

Not only GFDL[edit]


Obviously this copyright page was imported from Wikipedia and was not adapted as needed here. Most of the texts contributed here are in the public domain because copyright has expired. I started updating it, but more is needed. Yann 23:05, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

It would be great if this page wopuld be adapted on Wikisource. I have just thought about translating some necessary parts into Czech, but it seems to be difficult how it is here. And more over, if I compare the page with the German one - see s:de:Wikisource:Urheberrecht - so there are big differences. As I am not qualified enough in these questions i cannot help. But would welcome someone's work. -jkb- 14:50, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
Are we going to apply s:en:Wikisource:Copyright policy here to disallow fair use and non-commercial licenses?--Jusjih 17:12, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Translations of public domain sources[edit]

Hello. An important element of copyright which I feel is not treated sufficiently directly on this page is the issue of modern/recent translations of public domain source works. The policy noted here states that translations of copyrighted works are derivative works, and remain connected to the copyright of the original work. But what about translations of public domain works? Are translations of public domain works considered to be "original" enough that they too are covered by the copyright of the translator, and cannot be simply copied out of a recent/modern publication as if they were as copyright-free as the original which they translate?

Thank you. LordAmeth 13:10, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

For all translations is to say: they are a work like the original text. That means, if somebody translates something, the translation is copyrighted in the same way as a separate work, that means it will be public domain either (normally) 70 years after the death of the translator or if the translator declares it is PD od GFDL or... One condition is to be cared off: first the original text must get PD and then the translation (i.e. if you translate today something what is copyrighted and if you declare your translation PD, so it has a meaning for the future, but is not a PD so long as the original is not). -jkb- 14:08, 28 April 2007 (UTC)
This is true, except that many works are PD in the United States but not in the country of first publication. Translations of those works would be PD in the United States even if the original was never published there, in many cases (particularly where the original was published prior to 1923). This is very important as many European works are ineligible for posting on their respective subdomains; however, English translations madepublished in the United States may be considered derivatives of a PD work on the English Wikisource and only the translation's copyright need be considered. Translations first published in Canada or Australia may have similar situations (though with different specifics).--Doug.(talk contribs) 13:15, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Translations published on any site are subject to US law with all its peculiarities. Period. The applicability of foreign copyright rules are only applicable to the extent that they are recognized by US law. Where a domain chooses to recognize a stricter foreign rule it does so as a matter of policy, not as a matter of law. Where the translation is made does not matter; where it is published does. A translation is indeed a derivative work, and acquires a copyright of its own, even if it is itself an infringement of the work in the original language. Independent translations of the same work receive separate copyrights. Where protected translations exist of otherwise PD originals it is advisable to make an original Wiki translation which will receive a free licence; if one begins with a machine translation (including all the idiocies that such a process will produce) the raw result should be PD on the basis that a mechanical process should always produce the same result, and that result would lack the originality needed to be copyrightable. Another advantage of a machine translation is that one can safely argue that the translation was not influenced by any existing translation. Eclecticology 04:25, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Of course, but this is a copyright policy page and needs to note that some things aren't allowed by the WMF or by subdomain policy (or often by lack of policy) even if by US law they can be placed on the servers. The very reason that some scans have to go here or on and some works must be transcribed here. I may have been answering a question that wasn't asked as I was seeing this issue implied by many threads, see my comment below about works migrated and deleted. I also recently ran into a situation where an experienced editor seemed to be suggesting that an authorized translation or other derivative work in the US somehow destroyed copyright in the original or at least that it was completely independent - even if the copyright in the original was also valid in the US (e.g. because of a US publication in the original language that was renewed where the translation was not); an answer that is patently false. Bottom line, as you note, translations or other works that are PD in the US can go here.--Doug.(talk contribs) 06:46, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Updated to CC-BY[edit]

I just made a significant update to the page, it was still citing the GFDL. The GFDL is prohibited as a sole license on WMF projects now and all work must be either dual licensed or (in the case of imported works, like most of the base content of WS, single licensed) under CC-BY-SA. Of course, the greater license (less restrictive) of CC-BY as well is acceptable and public domain materials are the best and truly the norm. At the same time I fixed some spelling and standardized the spelling of license. It was varying between US and UK and the US spelling seemed to be used first on the page, so I picked that one. It's also US copyright law that applies so the US spelling makes sense. Hope nobody is offended.--Doug.(talk contribs) 13:20, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Works PD in the US only[edit]

I just added a section to explain this, Wikisource:Copyright_policy#Works_that_are_in_the_public_domain_in_the_US_only. It is poorly understood and is referenced on our edit window message for creating a page as well as on Wikisource:Subdomain coordination and we have a set of templates for it. Unfortunately many works have been erroneously migrated (and most likely deleted).--Doug.(talk contribs) 13:39, 26 August 2011 (UTC)