30 Days of Wikipedia: Week 4 Update

week4wikipediaBetter late than never on this.  My whole week feels reversed.  I am back from Atlanta, but I am exhausted.  So much happened at the conference.  So very little of it was related to Wikipedia.

That’s not to say I haven’t been working on Wikipedia.  It’s just been minimal.  I have been far more focused on simply monitoring vandalization than anything else.  I did add references to sources as part of the 1Lib1Ref event.  It has just been minimal.  I am considering continuing into February to maintain momentum and to feel like I got something done.

Something interesting did happen this week that got my focused attention.  I watch the Cyndi Lauper entry.  I must have edited it once and it never left my watch list.  I mostly check it for vandalism.  Last night one of the images on the entry was changed to a promotional photo.  It started a small investigation into the copyright permissions for the image.

Here is what a lot of people miss about images in Wikipedia: you can’t just add any photo.  You have to hold the copyright for the photos you want to add.  The easiest way to determine that: did you take the picture?  If so, then you hold the copyright.  If not, then you don’t.  This doesn’t mean your camera took the photo.  It means you took it.  There have been legal cases about it.  Not only do you have to hold the copyright, you have to give others the permission to repost it around the web.  This is done using the Creative Commons copyright system.  It has different levels of copyright permissions from simply reposting to being allowed to manipulate it to make new things.  I know just a little about Creative Commons, but the key is that only the copyright holder can give these permissions.

This is often why you see candid photos of people on their Wikipedia entries.  Editors will take photos at events and, as the copyright holder, post them to Wikipedia.  If you see a publicity still, you should wonder if someone had copyright permission to post.  In a perfect world, photographers and celebrities would think about these things.  They don’t think about these things, which is why I started investigating the image I saw on Cyndi Lauper’s entry.

What did I discover?  What I expected.  A user had uploaded 4 images of Cyndi Lauper that he/she did not hold the copyright for.  Another user had found that image and assumed it was allowed.  I reverted the edit to her entry, returning the original image (which is there now).  After that I focused on the 4 image files and asked for them each to be deleted.  I did that late Wednesday night and by Thursday morning they were removed from Wikimedia Commons (where they store all audio, video, and image files).

How could I tell the user who uploaded them was not the copyright holder?  I wasn’t 100% positive, but I was 95% sure.  One, the photographer who took them was mentioned in the notes of the image files.  Crediting the original artist does not allow you upload and use those images.  Two, the user account which uploaded the images was not the photographer’s name.  That’s a bit tricky to determine.  Obviously, I don’t use my name as my Wikipedia username, but I do identify my name on my profile.  The profile in the best way to confirm whatever identity you want the world to know.  If you are a creative entrepreneur (photographer, artist, etc) and want your material used on Wikipedia, use your account profile to clearly identify yourself and then upload your images.  In this case, the user had no profile page, but their account looked like a name.  When I nominated it for deletion I noted the difference between the copyright holder and uploader’s identities.

Is there a way around this?  It’s tough because photographers obviously want to make money off their photographs, but allowing other people to just post them around the web makes that less likely. Also, there is the current cultural ignorance about copyright issues.  Even I don’t know all there is to know about the issue.  I believe it may be smart for photographers to contribute content to Wikipedia and still make money off it.  They just have to be willing to give content for free and allow it to raise brand awareness.  I don’t have the depth of knowledge to really give a good answer.

How am I going to end the week?  I want to play with the World of Coca-Cola entry because I have some photos that I want to upload for the entry.  On Monday I will share my final thoughts about the month, share some pictures of the bullet journal, and think forward.  Hopefully I will also feel less exhausted!

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