User:Jeffq/Wikiquote:Exemption Doctrine Policy

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This page is an experimental draft of Wikiquote:Exemption Doctrine Policy (or other title to be determined). It is marked as a policy draft for ease of access, but is still in the experimental stage. Although it is in User:Jeffq space, it may be edited by anyone. If the community decides to use it as a formal draft, it will be moved to a more appropriate location in Wikiquote: space.


An Exemption Doctrine Policy (EDP), as defined by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees' resolution on licensing policy, is:

A project-specific policy, in accordance with United States law and the law of countries where the project content is predominantly accessed (if any), that recognizes the limitations of copyright law (including case law) as applicable to the project, and permits the upload of copyrighted materials that can be legally used in the context of the project, regardless of their licensing status.

This resolution calls for each Wikimedia project to develop and display its policy.

Wikiquote has a unique situation among Wikimedia projects: much (probably most) of its popular material is inherently restricted by copyright laws, and is therefore only available based on the principle of "fair use", as defined by United States law, and its equivalents in other countries. It is therefore necessary that Wikiquote define an EDP that provides some means to demonstrate how it complies with these "fair use" provisions. This EDP cannot guarantee that no copyright holders will take exception to the material quoted in Wikiquote, but it can at least establish a practical means to measure compliance to a specific, reasonable standard.

Wikiquote use of non-free material[edit]

For images and other non-textual media, English Wikiquote has adopted a practice of using only material on Wikimedia Commons, which should all be freely-licensed. Copyrighted images (except for those licensed and provided by the Wikimedia Foundation for internal project use) have been removed, and uploads of non-textual material have been disabled to prevent addition of any new material. Any potentially copyright-violating non-textual material appearing in Wikiquote can be deleted by removing its source in Commons.

For textual material, Wikiquote follows the industry-standard practice of quotation compilations by incorporating considerable numbers of limited excerpts from copyrighted material (as well as public-domain and other freely-licensed material). For this reason, Wikiquote's Exemption Doctrine Policy focuses on its use of quotes from copyrighted works.

General restrictions[edit]

U.S. copyright law identifies four basic factors that may be used to determine if the unauthorized use of copyrighted material is adequately protected by the "fair use" principle":

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Wikiquote's usage is reflected in these ways:

Purpose and character
Wikiquote is freely distributed under GFDL, which in simple terms means that anyone may copy and modify its pages so long as credit is given to the original Wikiquote page from which it was copied. Wikiquote's purpose is educational and not-for-profit. "Downstream" users and distributors of Wikiquote material may be commercial entities (e.g., for-fee compilation discs of a snapshot of Wikiquote), so while this use may not be restricted per se by the GFDL, it is not necessarily acceptable under U.S. law. Commercial users of Wikiquote should take this into account.
Nature of the work
Wikiquote selects material from all the works of humanity. Although many are in the public domain, have expired copyright protection, or are deemed sufficiently important in the public interest to warrant waiving of usual protection, the majority of creative works, especially works of fiction, are protected for the life of the author(s) plus some signficant number of years afterward. Therefore, Wikiquote must consider copyright restrictions when quoting these protected works.
Amount and substantiality
Simply put, this clause requires that fair use include no more than an insubstantial portion of a work, relative to its entirety. Case law varies widely on what constitutes "substantial", so Wikiquote must err on the side of caution. Very short works, like poems, may reasonably have a few lines quoted that comprise half the poem. Very large works, like television-series dialogues, may yield thousands of quotes that nevertheless make up less than 1% of the total material. The variable significance of portions of a work also factor into substantiality arguments, and quoteworthy passages are by definition more substantial than the rest of a work. To deal with this variability in a way to provide practical means to assess substantiality and correct excessive quoting, Wikiquote will define specific quantitative goals for different genres and media. These goals must be treated solely as a maximum guideline, and even as such do not guarantee that a work complies with the fair-use principle. They are only provided to allow editors to quickly reduce excessive material that should not be restored without deleting other existing material to compensate.
Effect on potential market
Since a primary goal of copyright law is to allow authors to benefit materially from their works, Wikiquote must strive to avoid interfering with copyright holders' efforts to market their works or derivatives. To this end, holders may contact Wikiquote if they believe their works are over-quoted. Such situations must be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Genre restrictions[edit]

Wikiquote is a textual work, providing quotations through the printed word. Quotes are understood to be printed words said by someone or contained within a work. Wikiquote does not "quote" scenes, sights, sounds, actions, or other material whose essence is not represented by printed words. (It may include, in a very limited fashion, some non-quote material to define the context of its quotes.) For this reason, substantiality is most critical for literary works, but is also important for audiovisual media.

Literary works[edit]

Literary works, in which the essential component is the words themselves, require the most scrutiny and limitation of excerpt substantiality. [needs more overview]

Poems and other short works[edit]

[needs development]

Novels and other medium-length works[edit]

[needs development]

Serial literature[edit]

[needs development]

Audiovisual works[edit]

Audiovisual works include audio albums, films, television, direct-to-video programs, Internet videos, radio programs, podcasts, electronic games, and any other media whose essence is sound and/or video (moving pictures). Quotes from such works are limited to the printed-word representation of dialogue or lyrics. Although this is a much less substantive portion of these works, especially in visual media, fair use still requires observing limits on the amount of quoting.

Single audiovisual works[edit]

Individual audiovisual works, like a film, a radio or TV special, song lyrics, a news interview, or short Internet videoclip, or a videogame, typically contain no more than a few hours of dialogue, and as little as a few minutes. The tentative goal for individual audiovisual works is no more than five (5) short quotes per hour of material.

Serial audiovisual works[edit]

Serial audiovisual works may be as short as a music album or a three-episode TV miniseries, or as long as a 25-year-long television series (or even longer). With such a wide span of material, it is challenging to set a single goal to achieve fair-use limitations. At least two general goals must be set:

  1. Each serial installment (episode or track) must have a hard limit on the total number of quotes it is allowed. This is a maximum, not a guarantee. Many episodes or tracks will have no quotes.
  2. The entire series or work must be limited to prevent the whole Wikiquote collection from infringing on the substantiality and potential-market clauses of the "fair-use" principle. In general, the longer the series is, the more restrictive the limits per installment, because the copyright holder has a better case for a single collected-quotes work that Wikiquote may infringe upon. (See Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. v. Carol Publishing Group for how this happened for a Seinfeld trivia work.)

Previous informal Wikiquote practice for TV series was to limit each to 3-5 quotes. There has been no practice, even informal, that defined a total number of quotes per series. Nor has there been any specific practice to limit the number of quotes per song or per album.

The tentative goals for serial audiovisual works depend on the lengths of both the serial installments and the entire work.

  • For TV series, where the installments are episodes and are typically represented by an article section), the goal is no more than 3-5 quotes per episode, with no minimum, and no more than 100 quotes per series. Each of these two maximums must be met. Short series cannot have 100 quotes if it means more than 5 quotes per episode, and long series must have no more than 100 quotes even if it means episodes must be limited to less than 3 quotes each. Lack of quoteworthiness and originality may further reduce the total numbers below these limits.
  • For albums, which are typically represented by individual sections within an artist's article, the goal is no more than 2 quotes per song, and no more than 10 per album.

The per-section limit does not mean that each section should have the full limit of quotes, nor that the average number of quotes per section is 3-5 (TV) or 10 (album). It means that no section should have more than the section limit. Many sections will have no quotes because their material does not meet other Wikiquote guidelines for originality and pithiness. Furthermore, for larger works, sections whose best lines are not as pithy as other sections should be trimmed or even eliminated in favor of allowing up to the maximum number of quotes for other, more quoteworthy sections.

Implementation of limitations[edit]

Defining limitations on the inclusion of non-free material is not sufficient to ensure that Wikiquote is practicing fair use. Editors must be willing and able to reduce excessive quoting quickly and easily wherever and whenever they find it. To this end, several practices have been used and are recommended:

  • Delete any unsourced quotes that seem unlikely to have been said or written by the person or included in the work. Unsourced quotes should be considered as mere requests that other editors source the quotes. If no one seems willing or prepared to source them, editors should feel free to remove them.
  • For theme articles, delete any quotes that are tangential or unrelated to the theme. Quotes should be essentially about the stated theme, not just mentioning it in passing.
  • Delete any quotes that are not original or pithy (i.e., terse and full of impact).
  • Delete any quotes that are not essentially about the words. This is a serious problem for audiovisual works, as much of the interest in such works comes not so much from the words but from the entire audiovisual experience. Some specific guidelines:
    • Ordinary exclamations are neither pithy nor original. Always delete them.
    • Catchphrases may be acceptable, but only if they are famous enough to have explicitly cited secondary or tertiary sources, not just the work itself.
    • Plot revelations and other story-related statements are typically not quoteworthy for the general Wikiquote audience unless the words themselves mean something outside of the immediate context. (Remember, we collect words that stand on their own, not just important plot points from stories.)
    • Large scene transcriptions are neither terse nor insubstantial. As interesting as they may be to read, they do not serve as pithy excerpts, and should always be deleted.
    • It should go without saying that descriptions of actions, sounds, or scenes are not quoted words and therefore have no place in Wikiquote, except in the limited situations where they provide needed context (usually in a single source line; i.e., a terse description of how to find the source, like "[After the fire, Captain Reynolds addresses the crew.]). Any quote that requires descriptions of what one is seeing or hearing while the words are being said is usually bad for Wikiquote, however entertaining the scene might be.
  • If the remaining quotes still exceed numerical limits, delete whatever quotes seem the least quoteworthy until the work or section of the work is within guidelines. If trimming the entire work, feel free to delete entire episodes if necessary. (But if the article is designed to include all episode titles for completeness, leave the headings in place.)

NOTE: Because quote deletion can be very controversial, deletions should always be accompanied by a specific edit summary that explains in a few words why the quote or quotes are being deleted. Since some of these guidelines, especially the last, will require individual judgment, there are inevitable disagreements, but these can be worked out on the article's discussion (talk) page. However, editors who insist on restoring material that has been identified as part of excessive quoting should not simply re-add material, but should remove a similar amount of material from the part of the work identified as excessively quoted. Failure to do so can be construed as attempting to violate fair-use guidelines, and may result in preventive action taken against the editor if it persists.

If deleted quotes are restored without explanation, editors should feel free to re-delete them once. If quotes are restored with an explanation, or unexplained restorations continue, editors should start a discussion (if they haven't already) about their actions on the article's discussion page. Do not engage in edit wars, even if other editors do not respond. If an editor fails to cooperate by discussing the issue, call for assistance either from the community (at Wikiquote:Village pump) or from administrators (at Wikiquote:Administrators' noticeboard).

Questions and answers[edit]

What use is Wikiquote if we can't quote everything we want to quote?
Wikiquote is not designed to be a collection of every quote that anyone finds interesting, just as Wikipedia isn't a repository of every bit of factual information. It is designed, like Bartlett's Famous Quotations, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, and many other quote compendiums, to be a select representation of the wit, humor, and gravitas of humanity. Millions of people find such works quite useful, and it is for those people that Wikiquote exists. (There are many websites these days that serve those who wish complete collections of material. Most if not all may not be legal, but that's their problem.) Three great advantages that Wikiquote provides are (1) a vastly larger collection made possible by its electronic form, and made freely available by its principles; (2) the ability for anyone to contribute famous quotes from a wealth of sources; and (3) immediate availability of even the most recent quotes. Even with fair-use restrictions, Wikiquote is very useful indeed.