Wikimedia Foundation Transparency Report/December 2015/DMCA Takedown Notices

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The Wikimedia community is made up of creators, collectors, and consumers of free knowledge. While most material appearing on Wikimedia projects is in the public domain or freely licensed, on occasion, copyrighted material makes its way onto the projects.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provision requires us to remove infringing material if we receive a proper takedown request. We thoroughly evaluate each DMCA takedown request to ensure that it is valid. We only remove allegedly infringing content when we believe that a request is valid and we are transparent about that removal. If we do not believe a request to be valid, we will push back as appropriate. To learn more about DMCA procedures, see our DMCA policy.

Below, we provide information about the DMCA takedown notices we have received in the past and how we responded to them.

Sandra Day O'Connor.jpg

[C]opyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work.

JUL – DEC 2015
Total Number of DMCA Takedown Requests
JUL – DEC 2015
Percentage of Requests Granted


JUL – DEC 2015
DMCA requests received, and how we responded
Country Received Granted
  United States 14 8
  Spain 2 0
  United Kingdom 2 1
  Germany 1 0
  Italy 1 0
JUL – DEC 2015
Which Wikimedia projects were targeted?
Project Received Granted
English Wikipedia 6 5
Wikimedia Commons 6 2
Not a WMF site 2 0
Catlan Wikipedia 1 0
English Wikiversity 1 1
English Wiktionary 1 0
Multiple 1 0
Old English Wikipedia 1 1
Spanish Wikipedia 1 0


Precautionary PrincipleEdit

  • Time Period: October 2015
  • Story: Wikimedia editors work hard to ensure that media is uploaded to the projects under the appropriate license, even going beyond the requirements of copyright law in some cases. Due to their efforts, we receive relatively few DMCA notices, and we carefully evaluate the notices we do get. When we received a DMCA from a design group concerning a photo of one of their products on Wikimedia Commons, we denied it, because the request didn’t meet the law’s stringent standards. However, the community had concerns about the license, and decided on its own to remove the photo.

Let It GoEdit

  • Time Period: December 2015
  • Story: Sometimes a requester won’t take no for an answer, even when the law isn’t on their side. Last year, we received an email from a public relations firm that wanted us to remove an image of a rapper on Wikimedia Commons. Not terribly unusual—except that in September 2014, we had already explained to the same requester that the photo was properly licensed (see the story “No Take Backsies”, which originally appeared in our January 2015 Transparency Report). We denied this second request on the same grounds.

Bedtime StoryEdit

  • Time Period: December 2015
  • Story: Thanks to the diligence of the Wikimedia community, the Wikimedia Foundation receives a relatively small number of DMCA takedown notices. Most of these notices tend to concern photographs; however, on occasion, some allege that copyrighted text has appeared on the projects. We received a DMCA notice from a publishing company stating that text from one of its classic children’s books—the complete text of the book, in fact—had been posted on English Wikipedia. When we confirmed that the entire book had been improperly copied onto the projects, we removed the copyrighted text.