Curated Commons: free licenses facilitate free reuse

The new Wikimedia project makes it easier to find and use images under a free license on the internet. We welcome active participation!

  • Christina Rupprecht
  • Lukas Walenciak
  • 17. May 2021

Free licenses facilitate free reuse

Knowledge is truly free if it is free for all to access and use. However, this is only common practice in small segments of our society. In the vast majority of cases, reusing third-party content such as images, videos, or texts is not allowed without permission. At times, there are also fees for accessing and using content, or the scope of using content is restricted.

This is where content under a free license provides special opportunities: it is open and freely accessible, and everybody can use this content without infringing copyright and without having to pay fees. It is encouraging that over time, several search engines and media collections (repositories) have evolved with a commitment to searching for and offering free content.

With its Attribution Generator, Wikimedia Deutschland has already actively supported the use of free content in line with license compliance. The Attribution Generator is an easy-to-use tool supporting the generation of license notices for all images hosted on Wikimedia Commons, thereby making the use of images under a free license much easier.  

The next step for the Attribution Generator

The success story of the Attribution Generator has inspired us to work on it at a conceptual level to develop it further. Our initial goal is to ensure that the application can also be used for images from other repositories in addition to images from Wikimedia Commons. 

Another goal is not to limit support to our users to the final step of preparing the license notice, but to ease the entire process of searching and collecting images under a free license, and of using the images in line with license compliance.

In recent months, we have developed a concept for a social bookmarking platform for this purpose. It is directed towards people looking for images under a free license, who want to use these images without any legal obstacles and too much effort. Our platform is intended to adopt the role of a central and neutral intermediary, enabling the users to discover and compare suitable images on the various platforms in the fastest possible way.

From prototype to beta tests

Yet we did not stop at the conceptual stage: we have already designed a prototype and have run successful tests with potential users. So far, the prototype consists of three elements: 

We will now actually develop these elements and review and test their implementation in practice during closed beta tests. It is our defined goal to design the landing page, image capturing, repository management and content search as intuitively and easily accessible as possible. 

Right from the start, we want to work as openly and transparently as possible. This applies to the documentation of the development stages as much as each line of code that is written. Therefore, we are developing an open source application, which means that both the software and the infrastructure are open and freely accessible. In order to be able to use the application internationally in the future, it is designed as a multilingual platform.

You want to find out more? Just follow our invitation to participate and to create a community where we collaborate to further the collection and curation of this content. This will enable us to compile an attractive collection of free and high-quality content, offering a usable solution for many users that has the potential to reduce the workload for all of us during our next image search. And this where you can see the potential for social innovation of Curated Commons.

Join in!