Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
The Wikimedia projects make up one of the world's largest repositories of human knowledge. With that much information, someone is bound to get upset by some of the content from time to time. While the vast majority of content disputes are resolved by users themselves, in some extreme cases the Wikimedia Foundation may receive a legal demand to override our users.
The Wikimedia projects are yours, not ours. People just like you from around the world write, upload, edit, and curate all of the content. Therefore, we believe users should decide what belongs on Wikimedia projects whenever legally possible.
Below, you will find more information about the number of requests we receive, where they come from, and how they could impact free knowledge. You can also learn more about how we fight for freedom of speech through our user assistance programs in the FAQ.
When another writer in another house is not free, no writer is free.
Police and Politics September 2018
It’s not unusual for notable individuals to write the Wikimedia Foundation and ask us to remove information from the projects. It is unusual for the police to do it on their behalf. In September 2018, Italian police requested that we delete content from an Italian Wikipedia article about a politician. We directed them to the article talk page, where they could raise their concerns to project editors. Around the same time, Italian Wikipedia contributors were discussing various improvements to the article, many of which they carried out. Perhaps the resulting changes addressed the issue, because neither the police nor the politician has contacted us again.
A City of Two Tales July 2018
When we get requests from governments, there usually isn’t a question if the sender is really in power. But uncertainty arose in July 2018, when trusted French Wikipedia volunteers received an email supposedly from the ministry of culture of a micronation. Looking closely, the volunteers realized that this was an unusual case. Not only is the existence of this country disputed, but so is the role of the group who sent the email, an opposition organization claiming to be its official government. The emailer was angry that the volunteers uncovered this information. Of course, they are still free to edit like anyone else—but they should review the Conflict of Interest policy, and make their affiliation clear.
Diorama Dilemma Multiple Months
Throughout the summer and fall of 2018, the Wikimedia Foundation and trusted project volunteers corresponded with a Canadian museum, which requested that we remove from Wikimedia Commons a photo of a model of a woolly mammoth. We determined that relevant copyright laws allowed the image to appear on the projects, and suggested the museum continue their dialogue with the volunteers. The photo remains on the projects. We believe that information in museums, archives, and other knowledge repositories should be available online. Through GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums)-wiki projects, the Foundation and communities partner with such institutions to bring their collections to Wikimedia users.
Because we did not collect data for projects potentially and actually affected until July 2013, this information is not available for July 2012 to June 2013.
Jul – Dec 2018
Total Right to Erasure Requests
Jul – Dec 2018
Number of Requests Granted
Right to Erasure
The Right to Erasure, or Right to be Forgotten, is a right under the laws of various countries that allows individuals to request that certain information relating to them be delisted or removed. We receive two types of Right to Erasure requests relating to the Wikimedia projects: requests relating to project content, and requests relating to user accounts. In the past, we have reported these requests as one combined total; in this report, we are separating them to provide greater clarity about the Right to Erasure requests we receive.
When we receive a Right to Erasure request regarding project content, we first direct the requester to experienced project volunteers, who routinely handle most requests to change content on the projects. Wikimedia projects have guidelines for content about living persons, and the volunteer community can review the guidelines and work with the requester to address their concerns. During this reporting period, we received 11 requests to alter or takedown project content based upon the Right to Erasure.
When we receive a request relating to a user account, we provide the user information on the community-driven vanishing process. During this reporting period, we received 195 requests related to user accounts.
We believe in a Right to Remember. Everyone should have free access to relevant and neutral information of public concern; delisting and removing such content from the internet harms our collective ability to remember history and understand the world. In October 2016, we filed a petition to intervene in Google’s appeal of a French administrative order that would expand such delistings from the European Union to all global domains. In July 2017, the French Supreme Court asked the European Court of Justice to address questions regarding the scope of right to erasure delistings, and we have submitted a filing to the ECJ presenting our concerns.
* Please note that this information only reflects requests made directly to us. Wikimedia project pages continue to disappear from search engine results without any notice or request to us. We have a dedicated page where we post notices of delisted project pages that we have received from the search engines who provide such information as part of their own commitments to transparency.
Jul – Dec 2018
Total DMCA Takedown Requests
Jul – Dec 2018
Percentage of Requests Granted
DMCA Takedown Notices
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.
If the Internet teaches us anything, it is that great value comes from leaving core resources in a commons, where they're free for people to build upon as they see fit.
Viral DMCA August 2018
Most of the material on the Wikimedia projects is in the public domain or freely licensed. Volunteer contributors patrol the site to ensure that content has been appropriately uploaded. In August, a company that makes anti-virus software contacted us to ask that we remove their logo from Wikimedia Commons. We received their message and went to examine the page, but found that Commons contributors had already removed the image. It is because of their hard work and diligence that the Foundation receives so few Digital Millennium Copyright Act requests to remove allegedly copyrighted content.
In the Name of My Name August 2018
In August 2018, someone demanded that we remove an article about them from English Wikipedia. They claimed that they had copyrighted their name, and therefore, the article had to be deleted. A few months later, we received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown request from another person, who also claimed that their name was copyrighted, and therefore they could not be mentioned in a French Wikipedia article. In general, a person’s name isn’t copyrightable in most countries. Even if a work of art is legitimately copyrighted, that does not prevent Wikipedia contributors from referencing it in the encyclopedia. Both articles are still on the projects.
Return to Sender? August 2018
Most requests that we receive are about content on one of the Wikimedia projects: English Wikipedia, French Wikisource, Chinese Wikibooks, and more. These sites may have different kinds of content, but they come under the Wikimedia umbrella. Occasionally, however, someone mistakenly sends a request about a site that is not associated with the Wikimedia Foundation. In August, project volunteers received a lengthy DMCA notice about content on a long list of sites on a Ukrainian domain. The notice even expressed uncertainty whether it was addressed to the right party. While we’re happy to support projects that give readers information about a wide range of topics and links to all sorts of reliable sources, we do not control the entire internet.