Most media files found online are copyrighted and cannot be used on Wikibooks. This policy explains our requirements for images and other media files used on Wikibooks. Media files which do not meet these requirements will be deleted as described in the deletion policy.


Textbooks on Wikibooks are created under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license so that anyone can freely use, modify and redistribute our books whether for free or for profit. Media files included in our books must be licensed under similar terms, using a free license or be in the public domain, and must be properly tagged. Limited use of non-free use media files may also be allowed, but strongly discouraged.

Media files and images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, Wikibooks' shared media repository, unless otherwise stated by policy, must allow the four freedoms:

  1. the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
  2. the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
  3. the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
  4. the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works

These freedoms may not be restricted, and attempting to restrict these freedoms for an image or media file is grounds for immediate deletion of that file.


Wikimedia Commons limits the scope of files that can be uploaded. They must comply with all of the following conditions. Every file:

Free licenses

In countries which recognize copyright, most creative works are automatically protected by copyright. Usually the creator of the work maintains all rights to the work ("all rights reserved") unless the creator gives or transfers their copyright to someone else. This may happen through contracts, licensing or by law. A free license is a license in which the copyright holders gives everyone the right to use, modify, redistribute, and create derivative works of their copyrighted work for commercial or non-commercial uses. Some free licenses may have additional conditions in exchange for these rights, such as requiring all derived works to use the same license or a compatible license, including the names of all copyright holders and not using the names of copyright holders as a selling point.

Media files uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under a free license must include:

  1. An appropriate free license template
  2. All information required by the appropriate free license, such as the name of the copyright holders and original source.

If you wish to use media or images that you created in a book on Wikibooks, you may use any free license, such as the GNU Free Documentation License or Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. You may also choose to dual license your work under multiple free licenses. Dual licensing, where possible, is the preferred method because it grants maximum freedom to the users of the media. Wikimedia Commons has additional information at Commons:Licensing.

Public domain

Public domain works typically have little or no protection under copyright laws, or are ineligible for copyright protection. Works may be placed in the public domain, or become public domain from the application of laws. Some countries may limit the use of public domain works or may not acknowledge public domain works at all. Public domain media files may be used if the media may be freely used, modified, and redistributed for commercial or non-commercial uses by anyone without restrictions or limitations.

Public domain media files uploaded to Wikimedia Commons must:

  1. Be in the public domain in both the United States and the country of origin of the work (if they differ).
  2. Include an appropriate public domain template.
  3. Include author information.

If you are not the author, you must also include:

  1. A trusted link to where the media file can be obtained and can be easily verified as being in the public domain.
  2. The date the work was first created or first released.

Examples of public domain media:

Non-free use

Non-free use refers to the use of copyrighted works without the copyright owner's permission. Some countries allow copyrighted works to be used without permission under certain conditions. Fair use in the US and Fair dealings in the UK are two examples of such cases. The inclusion of non-free media files is strongly discouraged and must only be used when:

  1. Free license or public domain alternatives aren't available;
  2. Creating a free licensed or public domain alternative is not an option;
  3. Books are enhanced by related media being used;
  4. A reasonable rationale has been given for using a non-free media file; and
  5. Deleting a non-free media file would render a book unusable.

Non-free media files must be uploaded to Wikibooks and must include:

  1. Who the current copyright holder(s) is/are, and the copyright date(s).
  2. An appropriate non-free use template.
  3. An easily identifiable explanation for why a non-free use media is required for each instance of its use.

Non-free use on Wikibooks excludes:

  • Media files released under a free media license, and public domain media (as described by this policy).
  • Media files "used with permission" since this infringes upon the four freedoms mentioned above.
  • Media files created by you or other works not previously published.
  • Media files that are not used in any book.
  • Parody applications, such as screenshot parodies of proprietary software. These are outside project scope.
  • Decorative uses and uses unrelated to the subject matter.
  • Violations of any laws governing "conditional use" of copyright work in:
    1. the country you're uploading from;
    2. the country of the copyright holder;
    3. the United States.

Examples of non-free uses that are acceptable include:

  • Coat of arms, flags, seals, company logos, trademarks, etc. used in a book or module about the government or entity.
  • Low-resolution screenshots or videos of proprietary software (or media used in accordance with the license the media is released under) inside books or modules about the software.
  • Coins, banknotes, or stamps resized, partially covered, watermarked, or otherwise changed to comply with counterfeiting laws.

If you are unsure about non-free use, ask about it in the Reading Room.

See also