Help:Changing your wiki license

From Meta

By default, your wiki comes with the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. If you like this license, you can stop reading now. By default, CC-BY-SA requires attribution, and redistribution under the same license.


Nothing on this page shall be construed as legal advice.

Permissive licensing

If you're using one of the usual sets of licenses, like another Creative Commons license or GFDL, and are not listed on ManageWiki (additional settings, tab edit), the best way is probably to go ahead and put in a feature request. Be sure to include a link to the license.

However, for the licenses listed, you can easily change it by yourself on ManageWiki. The available options there are:

  • All rights reserved (no licenses, fully protected copyrights)
  • CC BY 4.0
  • CC BY-NC 4.0
  • CC BY-ND 4.0
  • CC BY-SA 4.0
  • CC BY-SA 2.0 Korea
  • CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
  • CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
  • GPL 3.0
  • Public Domain
  • No license provided

The Creative Commons Suite

There are a few version of Creative Commons, with traits that can accumulate and combine. The traits are:

BY - Attribution
This means that the author of the text is mentioned in the credits somewhere. In wiki software, this is usually automatic: you can click the "history" tab.
SA - ShareAlike
This makes the license viral: Every edit that builds on your page must use the exact same license.
ND - NoDerivs
No one is allowed to make a derivative work -- the text must be redistributed verbatim. Not terribly suitable for wikis, because each edit is a derivative work.
NC - NonCommercial
The work may be reused, so long as it is a non-commercial use. This typically means you can't make money off of selling someone else's work -- but this is a rather nebulous concept.
0 - Zero
This is a special license that places an item into the public domain, or as close as possible to being worldwide. This gives away all ownership possible to the whole world.

Non-permissive licensing

I want a copyrighted wiki

Well, good news. Under the Berne Convention, everything on your wiki is already copyrighted.

I mean I don't want to give away my copyright

Technically, you're not. OK, I get it -- you don't see the difference between a copyright and the license. A copyright is something that happens when you create and distribute some sort of creative work. It means that you get to choose how copies are made. A license is what allows someone else to make copies on your behalf.

OK, I don't want to give anyone a license

Well, OK, but if you don't give Miraheze a license to distribute your work, we cannot legally host your wiki. By the fact that we host your content, we assume that you give Miraheze a limited, worldwide license to redistribute the content of your wiki, as authorized by your wiki's user permissions, as well as to Miraheze staff and global stewards. If you don't agree to this, we cannot host you and suspect that no one else can either.

However, there are a couple of ways to go about what you want:

Copyright assignment

Basically, you change user messages to read something like "By submitting this, you agree to assign copyright to (whomever)." This isn't always nice to contributors, because it means they can't copy their own writing without permission. It may be more desirable in private group settings, where these things are already arranged financially. This may otherwise be on shaky legal ground, as it implies a contract in which one party signs away property in exchange for no consideration.

In this option, your sitenotice can read something like "All content on this wiki is copyrighted by (whoever) unless otherwise noted."

License assignment

You can also do something similar to what Miraheze request from you: a license to redistribute the content on the wiki. In this case, you'd want your edit notice to read something like "By submitting this, you agree to grant (your wiki) a worldwide license to distribute and edit this content to display on (this wiki)." This is less likely to get you into trouble legally, but it is unsuitable for organizations that do, in fact, own the output of their employees.

In this option, your sitenotice would read something like "All content on this wiki is copyrighted and licensed by its respective holders."

Editing the License yourself

There are three files that you can change: Mediawiki:Copyrightwarning (edit page), MediaWiki:Copyright, and MediaWiki:Mobile-frontend-copyright (footer). Keep in mind you need to use HTML links here, not wikicode -- you're editing system messages. This is in some ways the most dangerous option -- make sure you know what you're doing legally. Linking to a more extensive Copyrights page is recommended.