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The CC-BY-SA License and You

Revision as of 16:39, July 19, 2012 by Semanticdrifter (wall | contribs)

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Part of contributing to Wikia means that you agree to our Terms of Use (TOU). Within our TOU it states that when you make an edit to Wikia, you are adding your content under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License (CC-BY-SA). This license is the engine that makes wiki projects possible and there would not be a Wikia without it. But what does CC-BY-SA mean exactly? Let's break it down.

Definitions

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CC is short for Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing easy ways for people to share and use their knowledge and creativity while reserving some of the standard protections of copyright. They provide a number of model licenses like the CC-BY-SA that are designed to foster creativity, sharing, and innovation.


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BY signifies that the license requires attribution. Attribution means that you must acknowledge and provide credit to the author of the work you are using. While you do retain the copyright to your edits, CC-BY-SA means that you agree to share them with the entire world. Anyone is free to redistribute or reuse your content in any format, as long as you are attributed as the creator. Attribution can take many different forms, depending on the nature of the reuse. You can be attributed in any of the following ways:
1. A link to or URL of the original article
2. A link to or URL of a stable copy of the article
3. A list of all the contributing authors
SA means Share Alike, and requires that anyone who reuses your work can only do
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so if they agree to use the same license for their version. This means the content is kept under CC-BY-SA, and anyone else who uses it must do the same. This grows the commons of free knowledge because it puts anything that builds on your work on the same level of openness, and allows people further down the line to continue to expand and refine it.

Impact

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So what does this mean to the average Wikia user? The CC-BY-SA license impacts Wikia users in two basic ways. It controls how you import material to your wiki as well as how other people can use the content that you create.

When you import text from other sources to your wiki, it has to be available under terms that are compatible with the CC-BY-SA license. Most wiki content will have been made available under a compatible license. As long as you attribute the original authors, you can generally import text from other Wikia wikis, Wikipedia, or most other wikis. Importing pages in their entirety using the Import/Export tool is the best way to make sure you cover all your bases because you can include the entire page history along with the content. However, it is good wiki spirit to only import content when you desire to use it in a new or unique way, or to re-contextualize it. For example, you may wish to use a page from a video game wiki on a new wiki for the film version, or to translate a page into another language.

On your wiki

When you see your content reused somewhere else, the person who is reusing it must credit you. If they do not, they are violating the terms of the license. If it is happening on Wikia, we advise that you contact the admins responsible for this content and explain this policy to them, and share a link to our licensing policy. If they are unwilling to address the issue, please use Special:Contact to send us:

1. The URL to the conversation you've had with them
2. Examples of copied pages (including two URLs each -- one for the page on their wiki and one for the page on yours) so we can research the issue further.

If someone outside of Wikia is using your content without attribution, as the copyright holder you should start by leaving them a friendly note explaining the issue and presenting them with options for how to credit you properly. Many times, the lack of attribution is unintentional. If the friendly approach fails, you are free to send a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The internet is full of sources for more information on the required elements for a valid DMCA notification.

The CC-BY-SA license is a powerful tool that creates an environment where we can all share our knoweldge, passion, and creativity. The broad permissions granted by the license foster an environment where our users can truly collaborate. It helps us make the best and most useful information created by our users available to the world at large.

(A few months back we did a joint webinar with Creative Commons on this topic. You can watch a recording here).

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