Wikidata is a database licensed under CC-Zero.

If Wikidata would include CC BY content with Wikidata properly labeling the source, would that be okay? Or do third-parties that want to reuse the Wikidata database without attribution get in trouble for this?

1 Answer 1


I'm not familiar with Wikidata, but I don't think this would be ok.

When you go to create an article on Wikidata, you're met with this:

By clicking "Create", you agree to the terms of use, and you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the Creative Commons CC0 License.

There's nothing there about contributing content that is licensed by others. It must be your own original content. So, no CC-BY content, no GFDL content, no all rights reserved content, nothing - unless it's written and owned by you, or already in the public domain.

I suspect the exact problem they're aiming to avoid is the one you stated: they want third-parties to be able to use the Wikidata content without fear of getting sued (having said that, there's still a risk if the person who originally contributed the data lied about where it came from).

Even though CC-BY isn't share-alike, you still can't release CC-BY content under CC0, because by doing so you would be nullifying any requirements for attribution to the original author - something you don't have the right to do. The original author still retains all copyright on their creation, and absense of a share-alike clause doesn't allow you to change the license on their work - it just frees you to not have to release your changes in a similar manner.

It's also worth noting that CC0 may not hold under some jurisdictions anyway due in part to the inability to revoke moral rights. As mentioned by Zizouz212 in the comments, this includes Canada and Germany, among others.

  • CC-By isn't share alike so why can't you release content your contribution under CC0?
    – Christian
    Jun 29, 2016 at 9:59
  • @TimMalone Oddly enough though, many clauses under CC0 if I remember correctly wouldn't hold under many of the world's copyright laws, such as those in Canada.
    – Zizouz212
    Jun 30, 2016 at 20:21
  • @Zizouz212 That's interesting, I didn't realise Canada was one of those countries!
    – Tim Malone
    Jun 30, 2016 at 20:22
  • @TimMalone Yep. It's generally to do with moral rights, such as the right to attribution. Moral rights can't be revoked in Canada (although I don't remember if attribution is considered to be a moral right), and other countries such as Germany.
    – Zizouz212
    Jun 30, 2016 at 20:24
  • 1
    @TimMalone I'm actually going to see if I can get a good canonical answer over jurisdictions with copyright limitations and how that is relevant to open source on this site actually. Speaking of which, I'm debating whether to ask a few users at Law to help out as well. It would fit on both sites, so I'm sure we can adapt such a post and add some minor modifications and have a copy of it on both sites
    – Zizouz212
    Jul 6, 2016 at 21:36

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