I was kind of asked to write this blog so here it goes. If you are working on a wiki, chances are you are working with copyrighted images. That means if you want to use them, you either need to have the copyright holder's express consent (not something you will easily get) or you can use them in a manner that qualifies as Fair Use under U.S law. The latter is your best option and with the right set up, qualifying those images under fair use will be pretty simple.

First, what Fair use is, is a means by which copyrighted material can be used legally without the copyright holder's consent. On Wikia, a few templates can help you qualify your images for Fair use. I will be using Bleach Wiki as my main example here as it is both my home wiki and a wiki that is excellent about legally tagging their images.

Bleach Upload Screen

The Upload text found on Bleach Wiki.

Whenever you go to Bleach Wiki, if you upload an image, we have many things in place to make sure that images get tagged properly. The first is our image policy. We are very strict about it but you do not necessarily have to be so strict on your wiki. The basics of the image policy on Bleach Wiki state that when you upload an image, it must have proper legal tagging. We tell users this right on the upload screen using MediaWiki:Uploadtext. This gives the run down of our image policy and is a good place to tell your users about legal tagging and how the can do it.

Bleach Fair Use

An example of a filled out Fair use rationale.

Next, in the summary box you will see a template is loaded in there. This is our fair use rationale template. This is the main qualifier for fair use. I suggest all wikis use this template on their wiki. It is easy to fill out and covers most everything you need for Fair use. Bleach Wiki autoloads this template into the summary box for all image uploads in order to make it easier for people to fill out. I will place the instructions for how to do this at the end of this blog. But once you select the image you upload, you can now go down into the summary box. As you can see from the picture, there are 7 fields to fill out. Only 5 of the top 6 need to be completed.

I will run through an example here. So say I am uploading a screenshot of a scene from the latest episode of Bleach. The first thing I am going to do is go to Special:Upload. Once I select the image I want to upload, I am going to give it a nice descriptive name so that it is easier to place around the wiki. Then comes time for the licensing. Here are all the fields that need to be filled in.

  • Description - Give a description of what the image is and what is happening in it. In my case, I am going to give a description of the scene and describe what the characters are doing.
  • Source - Who is the owner of the image and where did you get it from. For me, I am going to say Bleach anime by Studio Pierrot. This gives credit to where I got it from, the Bleach anime, and also who owns it, the animation studio Studio Pierrot. If it was say a Call of Duty game, I would say Call of Duty X by Activision, obviously replacing X with the name of the game.
  • Portion - How much of the copyrighted work is being used? For me, I say Episode X where x is the episode number I took it from. For the call of duty game I mentioned above, it would be the level it was taken from.
  • Purpose - What is your intent with the image? This can be very general, I usually say "to illustrate articles".
  • Resolution - How high is the resolution? If you know the exact resolution, you can put it here or you can give a general description again. For most of my images, I simply say "High".
  • Replaceability - Can someone replace the image using the upload a new version of this file feature? I generally say something like "only by a higher quality image with the same license". What this does is say you can only upload a new version of this file if it has the same license, meaning it is the same picture, but a higher quality one.
  • Other Information - This is the only non required field. If you dont fill this in, it won't show up. You can use this field to write any comments you have about the image.
Bleach Licenses

Bleach Wiki's licensing options.

Only one thing left to do now before you can hit upload file. There is a licensing drop down menu below the summary screen. This has a few options by default but you can add new ones by editing the MediaWiki:Licenses page. Each option in there links to the proper template to be used for various purposes. We at Bleach Wiki have a Fair use template with parameters for manga, anime, books and other assorted media. Each one gives how the image qualifies as fair use. So pick the right and you are set. To see how Bleach Wiki made these templates, see our Fair use template. All these templates I linked are free to copy to your wiki and you are welcome to customize them to look good on your wiki.

Well, that's it. You know have a fully license image and you are safely protected under U.S law. I strongly urge all wikis and admins to adopt a more advanced system of legal tagging like this as it is very beneficial to the wiki and not only protects it against copyright suits (yes, there have been images removed from wikis in the past due to copyright infringement) but it also makes the wiki look very organized. So credit where credit is due, I have to thank Dantman as many of these templates and licensing options were set up by him for anime wikis.

As I mentioned earlier in the blog, Bleach Wiki uses some js for placing the fair use rationale in the summary box on image upload. This can be done by placing the following code in your wiki's MediaWiki:Common.js page.

function preloadUploadDesc() {
if (wgPageName.toLowerCase() != 'special:upload') {
document.getElementById('wpUploadDescription').appendChild(document.createTextNode("{{Fair use rationale\r| Description       = \r| Source            = \r| Portion           = \r| Purpose           = \r| Resolution        = \r| Replaceability    = \r| Other Information = \r}}"));
addOnloadHook (preloadUploadDesc)