Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone, in their own language. It acts as a common repository for the various projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, but you do not need to belong to one of those projects to use media hosted here. The repository is created and maintained not by paid archivists, but by volunteers. The scope of Commons is set out on the project scope pages.
Wikimedia Commons uses the same wiki-technology as Wikipedia and everyone can edit it. Unlike media files uploaded to other projects, files uploaded to Wikimedia Commons can be embedded on pages of all Wikimedia projects without the need to separately upload them there.
Launched on 7 September 2004, Wikimedia Commons hit the 1,000,000 uploaded media file milestone on 30 November 2006 and currently contains 24,910,290 files and 119,054 media collections. More background information about the Wikimedia Commons project itself can be found in the General disclaimer, at the Wikipedia page about Wikimedia Commons and its page in Meta-wiki.
Unlike traditional media repositories, Wikimedia Commons is free. Everyone is allowed to copy, use and modify any files here freely as long as they follow the terms specified by the author; this often means crediting the source and author(s) appropriately and releasing copies/improvements under the same freedom to others. The license conditions of each individual media file can be found on their description page. The Wikimedia Commons database itself and the texts in it are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License. More information on re-use can be found at Commons:Reusing content outside Wikimedia and Commons:First steps/Reuse.
What is Creative Commons and what do you do?
Creative Commons is a global nonprofit organization that enables sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools. Their legal tools help those who want to encourage reuse of their works by offering them for use under generous, standardized terms; those who want to make creative uses of works; and those who want to benefit from this symbiosis. The vision is to help others realize the full potential of the internet. CC has affiliates all over the world who help ensure licenses work internationally and who raise awareness of their work.
Although Creative Commons is best known for its licenses, their work extends beyond just providing copyright licenses. CC offers other legal and technical tools that also facilitate sharing and discovery of creative works, such as CC0, a public domain dedication for rights holders who wish to put their work into the public domain before the expiration of copyright, and the Public Domain Mark, a tool for marking a work that is in the worldwide public domain.
Creative Commons licenses and tools were designed specifically to work with the web, which makes content that is offered under their terms easy to search for, discover, and use.
For more information about CC, the main website contains in-depth information about the organization, its staff and board of directors, its history, and its supporters. You can also read CC case studies to learn about some of the inspiring ways CC licenses and tools have been used to share works and support innovative business models. You can find regularly updated information about CC by visiting the blog.
Is Creative Commons against copyright?
Absolutely not. CC has responded to claims to the contrary. CC licenses are copyright licenses, and depend on the existence of copyright to work. CC licenses are legal tools that creators and other rights holders can use to offer certain usage rights to the public, while reserving other rights. Those who want to make their work available to the public for limited kinds of uses while preserving their copyright may want to consider using CC licenses. Others who want to reserve all of their rights under copyright law should not use CC licenses.
That said, Creative Commons recognizes the need for change in copyright law, and many members of the Creative Commons community are active participants in the copyright reform movement. For more information, see our statement in support of copyright reform.
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