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Wikipedia Moves to CC 4.0 Licenses

Licenses & Tools

Black logos for the Wikimedia Foundation and Creative Commons, side by side.We are thrilled to announce that Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects have now adopted version 4.0 of the Creative Commons BY-SA license! The project first began using version 3.0 of the CC licenses in 2009 following a community process, having previously used the GNU Free Documentation License.

This decision, made as part of a Terms of Use revision that was widely discussed by the Wikimedia community, will enable more compatibility and reuse with CC-licensed resources as well as take advantage of the improvements in the 4.0 licenses.

Wikipedia is run by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, and is one of the most widely-used websites in the world. Its resources are all freely licensed for reuse by the public. This change will now enable Wikipedia to incorporate content from a variety of useful sources that also use CC 4.0 licenses, including publications from the United Nations and many national governments.

This change was made through a revision to the project’s Terms of Use, where all new edits to Wikipedia will be under version 4.0 of the CC BY-SA license. Older edits will remain under BY-SA 3.0, which allows adaptations to be made with 4.0-licensed material. This presents a small amount of complexity for reusers, but over time, as more and more of the project is revised, this will become less of a practical concern.

Version 4.0 of the CC licenses, first published in 2013, introduced several important updates and improvements. Some of the key benefits of this upgrade include greater internationalization, more practical attribution requirements, a grace period for correcting reuse errors, improved clarity and simplicity, and better handling of rights outside copyright, such as database rights. These changes make it an ideal fit for Wikimedia’s mission of simple, globally accessible reuse in a wide variety of contexts.

A big part of CC’s ongoing stewardship of the commons is helping organizations like Wikimedia keep their platforms and communities aligned with current open licensing tools and practices. With Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikidata, and all the other Wikimedia projects together being some of the biggest contributors to the open commons, we know how important it is for these essential works made by people from all over the world to be as interoperable as possible with other open content. CC salutes Wikimedia and its community for doing the necessary work to align thinking and technology to make the move to 4.0 a reality!

Posted 29 June 2023