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Free knowledge is the foundation of all Wikimedia projects: anyone is
free to use, modify and redistribute the content for any purpose. But
copyright and free licenses are very confusing for new users, especially
when they want to contribute pictures and other media files. A new
illustrated licensing tutorial will now guide new users through the
basics of copyright and free licenses to make their first steps easier.

You may remember that the Wikimedia Foundation unveiled a prototype of
upload wizard for Wikimedia Commons (the repository of freely reusable
media files used in all of our projects) a few months ago. The prototype
was developed as part of the Multimedia usability project, a
grant-funded, one-year project aiming to increase multimedia
participation on Wikimedia websites.

One of the main issues identified early on is that the current workflow
of the upload process attempts to provide an advanced course in
worldwide copyright when the user uploads a file. In reality, our
research showed (unsurprisingly) that most users either gave up in front
of the overwhelming instructions, or simply ignored them.

Our approach was to separate the “educational” part of the upload page
from the actual upload form. Copyright has proven to be one of the most
unappealing topics to new users, who simply want to share their
knowledge and artwork. For that reason, we created an illustrated
Licensing tutorial in a comic-strip format.

This licensing tutorial was developed with experienced Wikimedians, who
had both the expertise on copyright and licenses, and the experience of
guiding new users. They collaboratively improved the wording and
suggested many changes to the illustrator.

You will see that the tutorial features a new character, who was
developed specifically for this project. We experimented with several
others, but the puzzle-piece character was the one that worked the best.

Although developed primarily for Wikimedia Commons, both the tutorial
and the character are under a free license; we hope experienced
participants will reuse them for similar tutorials and across help

The tutorial was created by Michael Bartalos, a freelance illustrator
from San Francisco. Michael did an awesome job at illustrating complex
topics without sacrificing readability or accuracy.

I would like to thank him for putting up with our hands-on approach; it
surely wasn’t easy to accommodate our requests and all the little
details in wording, typography and graphics that Wikimedians are expert

The tutorial is now available on Wikimedia Commons as an editable vector
graphics file (SVG) to facilitate localization. It will be included in
the Upload wizard’s interface when it is released at the end of

In the meantime, Wikimedia translators are warmly invited to help
translate and localize the tutorial. If you don’t feel comfortable
creating the localized tutorials yourself, you can focus on the text.
We’ll seek help from the Graphic Lab on Commons to create the localized

Main links:
* Licensing tutorial:
* Translation & localization:

Guillaume Paumier
Product Manager - Wikimedia Foundation
Support Free Knowledge:

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