News

Wikipedia community votes 75% in favor of CC BY-SA

Mike Linksvayer, May 21st, 2009

Results of the WIkipedia community vote on licensing are now in:

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has proposed that the copyright licensing terms on the wikis operated by the WMF — including Wikipedia — be changed to include the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) license in addition to the current GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). This will affect all text and rich media (images, sound, video, etc.) currently licensed under “GFDL 1.2 or later versions”. This change is meant to advance the WMF’s mission by increasing the compatibility and availability of free content. Further details and motivation for this change are explained in the licensing update proposal and the associated FAQ.

To gauge community support for adopting this change, a Wikimedia-wide vote was conducted between April 12 and May 3, 2009. The vote was managed by volunteers associated with the licensing update committee and conducted on servers controlled by the independent non-profit SPI.

Licensing Update Poll Result
“Yes, I am in favor of this change” 13242 75.8%
“No, I am opposed to this change” 1829 10.5%
“I do not have an opinion on this change” 2391 13.7%
Total votes cast and certified 17462

If “no opinion” votes are not included, the Yes/No percentage becomes 87.9%/12.1% (15071 votes).

For lots of background on why this is a great thing, see our post on the community vote and the previous posts it links to. CC Denmark public project lead Henrik Moltke’s immediate microblogged reaction is a good summary:

Wikimedia/pedia adopting CC a giant leap; will unite & focus strengths, facilitate participation + convey strengths of free licensing

Thanks for voting for licensing sanity!

As the results page says, the Wikimedia Foundation board must still approve any licensing change.

4 Responses to “Wikipedia community votes 75% in favor of CC BY-SA”

  1. Erik Moeller says:

    Thanks for the post, Mike. This is big news and we’re very happy. :-)

    I think it’s more accurate to say “88% in favor”. The only reason we included a “no opinion” vote option is because this is a very complex issue, and we didn’t want people to feel like they had to make a yes or no choice if they didn’t have an informed opinion. We’ve always said that for purposes of evaluating the decision, we’d consider “votes that express a preference”.

  2. Utaka says:

    Unfortunately despite the good intentions the end result will be fewer contributions and reuse.

    You only have to read the “Proposed terms of use” section on the following page: .

    They violate the KISS principle. They aren’t either simple or straightforward. And the wording will likely deter people from contributing and reusing.

    Just an example: “If you want to re-use pages under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, you must verify, for every page you re-use, that it does not include information that is exclusively licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.”

    Would anyone go to such trouble?

    I’ve to question the decision to to use dual licensing at all. Dual licensing is always a cause of confusing even when, as is the case of software development, people that want to contribute, reuse or use have the legal resources to understand all the implications. Something that is not the case.

    These are “single user” contributors/users/reusers with a very low knowledge of copyright in general much less of the different interpretations of the particulars.

    Therefore keeping it simple and straightforward is essential. This move is a grave mistake and all around failure.

  3. Utaka,

    See http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Licensing_update/Questions_and_Answers#Dual_licensing for an explanation.

    Note that a re-user only needs to accept one of the offered licenses. The KISS case (after the change is complete) will be to use the work under CC BY-SA.