Let's say I get Wiktionary data (e.g. only the list of words) and I label them into 50 categories (e.g. colors, adjectives, etc.) and publish them on website A.

Naturally, I need to provide attribution to Wiktionary as my work is an adaptation, and offer the same license, which means website A would be also operating with CC-BY-SA.

And let's say, another person takes my 50 categories and creates sub-categories based on them (e.g. branches them to 300 sub-categories by keeping my 50 categories at the top). As this is an adaptation of my work, it should provide attribution as well.

Now my question is, how should website B attribute?

Option 1: Attribute to Wiktionary only, as it is the ultimate source of data.

Option 2: Attribute to website A only, so the attribution cascades (website B to website A, website A to Wiktionary, so website B can be traced to Wiktionary)

Option 3: Attribute to both Wiktionary and website A.


1 Answer 1


Wiktionary uses version 3.0 of the CC-BY-SA license, which requires any reuser to attribute the "Original Author." The Original Author is defined as follows:

"Original Author" means, in the case of a literary or artistic work, the individual, individuals, entity or entities who created the Work or if no individual or entity can be identified, the publisher; and in addition (i) in the case of a performance the actors, singers, musicians, dancers, and other persons who act, sing, deliver, declaim, play in, interpret or otherwise perform literary or artistic works or expressions of folklore; (ii) in the case of a phonogram the producer being the person or legal entity who first fixes the sounds of a performance or other sounds; and, (iii) in the case of broadcasts, the organization that transmits the broadcast.

So this is very straightforward. You must provide a list of each person who created any of the content you are using, and attribute the work to those people. Because Wiktionary does not employ its editors, it is not the author of any of its entries for copyright purposes, so you can't (shouldn't) attribute those entries to Wiktionary itself. You can get a list of the people who worked on a given Wiktionary article by looking at the page history (click "history" in the top right of the page), and refer to them by their usernames. Note that the license also has other requirements besides attributing the authors. The full requirements are spelled out in section 4.

As for intermediate re-publishers, you should only attribute them if they creatively contributed to the final work that you will be distributing. If they're just hosting a copy of Wiktionary's content, then that doesn't qualify them for authorship.

Finally: Section 4 states that you must satisfy these obligations in a manner "reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing" - which means that, for example, it might be sufficient to provide a hyperlink to the Wiktionary history page(s) of the entry or entries you used (rather than having to reproduce their contents yourself). However, there are a number of caveats:

  • Wiktionary sometimes moves or deletes pages, and if they delete the page, its history will also go away. This might cause you to violate the license, and then coming back into compliance will be your problem.
  • Providing a hyperlink in printed or otherwise offline matter might not be "reasonable." It is up to the court system in your jurisdiction to decide what counts as "reasonable" in any given situation.
  • If the work was subsequently modified, you have to give proper attribution to the people who modified it as well, and this can further complicate things.
  • Please consider section 4c of v3.0 of the CC-BY-SA license. It says "You must ... keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and provide, reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing: (i) the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied ...". Going through the history and collecting the names of all authors in the page history in the manner you describe sounds to be above and beyond what is reasonable in this case. See also Best practices for attribution.
    – Brandin
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 5:59
  • @Brandin: I simply do not agree with that. Wikipedia managed to do it just fine back when they were still offering print-on-demand books. IMHO, that creates a precedent that this very much is a thing you can do in print, even for very long articles with many more authors than would be typical of a Wiktionary entry (which are much shorter than Wikipedia articles). If you can do it even in print, then surely you can do it in digital media like what OP is describing.
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 6:53
  • See also Wiktionary itself's own terms that contributors agree to. Section 7b mentions the attribution method you have proposed here (listing all the authors). The terms also suggest that this list of authors, if provided as attribution, may be filtered to exclude authors who have only contributed minor edits. Another attribution method endorsed by Wiktionary (Section 7b) is to simply link to the Wikipedia page itself, since each page already contains the list of authors/contributors.
    – Brandin
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 7:07
  • @Brandin: I have added a note about reasonableness, but the terms you link are primarily between the WMF and the editor - OP is a third party and probably doesn't benefit from them. Besides, if the entry gets deleted, then the WMF has done no wrong (the content is deleted at the same time as the attribution), but OP would be in the wrong because the history would no longer be accessible.
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 7:10
  • The sentence "The credit required by this Section 4(c) may be implemented in any reasonable manner ..." is part of the CC-BY-SA license itself. It's not part of Wiktionary's or Wikimedia Foundation's Terms of Use. Listing all authors meets this requirement, but in my opinion it's not the only reasonable way for all situations.
    – Brandin
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 7:20

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