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15 June 2009, 09:48

Wikipedia begins content licence migration

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The free internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia is beginning its licence migration today. In the future, the content of Wikipedia will be dual licensed, under the current GNU Free Documentation Licence (GFDL) and under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike 3.0 (CC-BY-SA). The update is beginning with the English Wikipedia projects, as a reference implementation of the licence change, and will expand to Wikipedia in other languages in the near future. From this point on, GFDL-only licensed content will no longer be accepted.

The reusing of content under CC-BY-SA is allowed, as long as the author is attributed and the reused content is available under the same conditions. The new licence is better suited to Wikipedia than the previous GFDL, which was created originally for the distribution of software documentation and has posed problems for the Wikipedia community. The Creative Commons licence also means that there is no need to attach the full licence text to each re-use of content; a simple link to the licence terms is all that is required. Unlike the GFDL, the CC-BY-SA licence also explicitly allows commercial use of content.

To allow for the move to the new licence, the Free Software Foundation added a migration clause to the GFDL, which allowed communities to move to the Creative Commons without requiring each individual author to agree. In a vote within the Wikipedia community, 75.8 per cent voted for the licence amendment. Other language versions of Wikipedia are still operating under the GFDL licence, at least until August.


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