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Main » FAQ » About Wikimedia Commons

Commons is a place to upload free media that becomes available on all Wikimedia projects.  Normally, I upload my maps.  However, you can upload any free media.  Their homepage is
Added by: Will Pittenger (WillPittenger)

According to Commons:File types, only the file types listed below are allowed.
  • Images:
    • SVG
    • PNG
    • GIF (avoid if possible; such files might get tagged as {{BadGIF}} or something similar)
    • JPEG (photos only; non-photos might get tagged as {{BadJPEG}} or something simlar)
    • XCF (GIMP)
    • SXD ( 1.x)
  • Audio:
  • Video:
    • Ogv using Theora codec. (.ogv replaces .ogg which is still allowable as video)
  • Animation:
  • General:
    • PDF (Caution: There are users that call PDFs in general as "out of scope of the project and may delete such files on sight)
    • DjVu.
Added by: Will Pittenger (WillPittenger)

From Commons:File types:

Wikimedia Commons only accepts "free content"; likewise, ONLY free file formats are allowed.

Patent-encumbered file formats like MP3, AAC, WMA, MPEG, AVI and the like are not accepted at Wikimedia Commons. Our mission requires content to be freely redistributable to all. Patent-encumbered formats fail to meet this standard.

Non-free formats must be converted to a free format before uploading. Fortunately, this is not difficult.

Added by: Will Pittenger (WillPittenger)

Unless the site you are posting to happens to have an image with the same name, just pretend the image was uploaded to that wiki.  So if the image is "Image:My Image.jpg", use "[Image:My Image.jpg]" to display the image or "[:Image:My Image.jpg]" to link to it.  The Wikimedia generates pages for each wiki that matches the Commons page for the image.  A box linking the wiki's page to the Commons page will be added.  All the options for things like thumbs, captions, and image size are allowed.
Added by: Will Pittenger (WillPittenger)

Also, what do they mean by free?

From Commons:Licensing:

All copyrighted material on Commons must be licensed under a free license that allows anyone to use the material for any purpose. In particular, the license must meet the following conditions:

  • Republication and distribution must be allowed.
  • Publication of derivative work must be allowed.
  • Commercial use of the work must be allowed.
  • Acknowledgment of all authors/contributors of a work may be required.
  • Publication of derivative work under the same license may be required.
  • For digital distribution, use of open file formats free of digital restrictions management may be required.

The following restrictions must not apply to the image or other media file:

  • Use by Wikimedia only (the only non-free-licensed exceptions hosted here are Wikimedia logos and other designs which are copyrighted by the Wikimedia Foundation).
  • Noncommercial/Educational use only.
  • Use under fair use only.
  • Notification of the creator required, rather than requested, for all or for some uses.

For example, the following are generally not allowed:

  • Screenshots of software that is itself not under a free license. Screenshots of software under the GPL or a similar free software license are generally considered to be OK. See Commons:Screenshots.
  • TV/DVD/Videogame screenshots. See Commons:Screenshots.
  • Scans or reproductive photographs of copyrighted artwork, especially book covers, album/CD covers, etc. See Commons:Derivative works.
  • Copyrighted symbols, logos, etc. (Not to be confused with trademarks.)
  • Models, masks, toys, and other objects which represent a copyrighted work, such as a cartoon or movie character (rather than just a particular actor, regardless of a specific role). See Commons:Derivative works.

Commons also allows works that are not protected by copyright (i.e. works in the public domain). Please read the section about public domain below.

Added by: Will Pittenger (WillPittenger)

In a word (or three), "Depends, depends, depends."  Personally, I use CC-BY-SA-3.0.  If you don't care about your rights as an author, go with PD (public domain).  Just remember, that once you give those rights away, you can't change your mind and take them back.  Some people go with GFDL, but it is meant for documents like HTML or PDF pages.  (The 'D' in the acronym is "Document".)

Some poeple like to use multiple license, but I don't understand why.  At Wikimedia Commons, the most common either combine FreeArt with GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 with GFDL.

For a full list of Creative Commons licenses, go to  Note: Creative Commons is not related to Wikimedia Commons.  They are a gallery site with their own licenses, some of which happen to be compatible with Wikimedia Commons licensing requirements.  In fact, some Creative Commons licenses, as noted below, are incompatible with what Wikimedia Commons requires.

Meaning of Creative Commons Licensing codes
Just means that the license is a Creative Commons license
Those using or modifying (derivatives) your image must give you attribution
All SA licenses are "copyleft".  That means that any derivatives are required to use the same license that you chose.
The version of the license—Note: The version is important.  Version 3.0 and Version 1.5 are different
The following codes mark licenses that are incompative with Wikimedia Commons.
NDNo derivatives
NCNon-commercial use only

Added by: Will Pittenger (WillPittenger)

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