The Wikimedia Foundation that supports Wikipedia is located in California and the servers that host Wikipedia are located in Virginia, so Wikipedia is bound to comply with United States copyright law. However, it is an international project, and many of our users and contributors are outside the United States. The project's aim is to produce and maintain a free encyclopedia, which can be used in any way that doesn't reduce that freedom. Most of Wikipedia's material is original, licensed by contributors under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike (CC-BY-SA) and GNU Free Documentation (GFDL) licenses; some of Wikipedia's material, especially images, comes from third-party sources, and some of those third-party sources are outside the United States.
|This page documents an English Wikipedia content guideline.|
|This page in a nutshell: Copyright status of a work in its home country is often important in evaluating its copyright status in the United States. Nevertheless, a work that is in the public domain in its home country can sometimes be under copyright in the United States and so can not be used on Wikipedia.|
While Wikipedia prefers content that is free anywhere in the world, it accepts content that is free in the United States even if it may be under copyright in some other countries. For example works of the U.S. federal government are in the public domain in the United States and widely used on Wikipedia, but they may not be in the public domain outside the United States.
It is not always simple to determine the copyright status of a work first published outside of the United States. To determine the copyright status of a work in its country of origin (and there are at least 192 different national copyright régimes) it is typically necessary to know the date of death of the author, while to determine the copyright status in the United States it is typically necessary to know its publication history and its copyright status in the country of origin not on the date of uploading but on January 1, 1996.
What follows is by necessity a summary, our interpretation of U.S. copyright law as it affects "works" (images, texts, sound recordings, etc.) that were produced outside of the United States. Wikipedia does not offer legal advice on U.S. copyright law, let alone copyright laws in the other 190 sovereign states in the world. It is the responsibility of contributors to determine that content they wish to contribute is free of copyright constraints in the United States and to supply as much copyright information as possible so that users can judge for themselves whether they can reuse our material outside the United States. It is the responsibility of reusers to ensure that their use of Wikipedia material is legal in the country in which they use it.
This page does not apply to works first published in the United States.