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Understanding Attribution on Wikia

Sharing information is the backbone of editing on Wikia. Part of that sharing means that content is often reused and repurposed after the initial contribution. This freedom makes it much easier for all of us to share our knowledge, passion, and creativity.

Giving credit where credit is due one of the cornerstones of polite society. And we all benefit from this generosity, so making sure to properly credit the source of any information that you find useful is the least you can do.

No, really.

It's literally the very least.

Anything less violates the terms of the CC-BY-SA license. When you contribute text to a wikia, you agree to release it under the CC-BY-SA. (Images are slightly different, but we'll get to that in a minute.) While you do retain the copyright to your edits, CC-BY-SA means that you agree to share them with the entire world, just as you are free to reuse similarly licensed content under the same conditions.


The "BY" in CC-BY-SA means that the license requires attribution. Attribution is a fancy way of saying that you must acknowledge and provide credit to the author of any text you reuse. Anyone is free to redistribute or reuse your content in any format, as long as you are attributed as the creator.

Attributing Text

Ideally, textual content is reused in creative and appropriate ways that allow the information to find a new audience or shine light on a different facet of the subject. Things like translating a wikia page into a new language, or including a character page from a comic book wikia on a new community dedicated to the movie version, are prime examples of best use cases for importing content. But however you make use of the text, you have to attribute the source.

Attribution can take many different forms, depending on the nature of the reuse. Any of the following methods will satisfy the attribution requirement:

  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

Best practice when importing text from another wiki is to use the Import/Export tool. This method covers all your bases because it allows you to include the entire page history along with the content. Failing that, a simple link to the copied page is sufficient, but you have to make sure that each page that gets reused includes a link to the specific page it was copied from. A blanket general link to a source wiki is not enough.

Attributing Images

Images work a little differently than text when it comes to reusing them. Unlike your textual edits, the images you upload to Wikia are not automatically released under the CC-BY-SA license. While Creative Commons licensing is one of the options users can select when they upload an image, you shouldn't assume it applies.

That doesn't mean you can't reuse the image, but it does mean that you have to be mindful of the license the image was uploaded under. You can find this information under the "Licensing" section of the file page for the image.

If an image has been explicitly noted as falling under fair use or a similar variant, it isn't strictly necessary to attribute any particular author—although noting the source of the image is still a best practice. The vast majority of images on Wikia would likely qualify under fair use, and reusing them in a different place would fall under the same protection.

Of course, that does not apply to wholly original images that retain full copyright protection. Images created by a user and not from a third party source should be treated as fully copyrighted material and not reused without permission.

Lastly, if the image licensing page does reveal a CC-BY-SA license you are definitely required to fully attribute the source.

Attribution Failure

If someone reuses your text without providing proper attribution, then they have violated the terms of the license and may be infringing your copyright. It's a good idea to assume good faith, because the vast majority of attribution failures are entirely unintentional. While no one likes to see their work being used without getting credit, often if you take the time to explain the attribution policy to the offending user or local admins they are more than willing to fix the issue.

If the friendly approach fails, your next step depends on whether the copying is happening on Wikia or somewhere else. If it's another Wikia community, use Special:Contact to send us a link to the conversation you've had with them and examples of copied pages (including two URLs each—one for the page on their wikia and one for the page on yours) so we can research the issue further.

If an outside source is refusing to give you credit, you may need to to send a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Even if the license does not strictly compel attribution, it is always the polite thing to do. By providing the proper credit, you are thanking the other Wikians who worked hard to create the original content.

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