A Liquipedia Guide to Copyright

From Liquipedia Commons Wiki

The Liquipedia Copyright Policy governs the acceptable use of images and other files on this wiki with the licensed permission of rights holders. This policy also seeks to establish a limited fair use regime for the wiki in order to maintain its flexibility. As well as setting forth proposed regulation, this document seeks to educate both current editors and future contributors by attempting to explain the legal system of copyright as it exists, with specific focus on the impact that the system has on the operation of this wiki.

Executive Summary[edit]

In short, this policy can be summarized in a few key points:

  1. Any and all images and files uploaded to this wiki must be accompanied with the permission or license of the copyright holder. This permission or license must be sought before uploading, not after.
  2. Sufficient file information must be appended to the file description to reflect compliance with the above point. Suitable attribution to the creator and rights holder of the work in question must be made. Use {{FileInfo}} to do this.
  3. In the very limited and narrow case of the fair use of non-free works, the formulation of a legitimate fair use rationale for the file's upload and use on the wiki is mandatory.
  4. Files failing to meet these standards will be deleted.

This policy exists because the continued success of our wiki depends on the contributions of a number of rights holders in the community. Unfortunately, Liquipedia has acquired a reputation of being a haven for rampant copyright infringement, stifling the will of many rights holders to wish to contribute when they would otherwise. In addition, the lack of a copyright policy has led to many instances of images being taken off Liquipedia by organizations and companies in the industry, who assume that anything uploaded on Liquipedia is free for them to use as they wish because of the current seeming lack of care of enforcement exhibited on the site.


Defining Copyright[edit]

Copyright is a legal concept of intellectual property that gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time.[1] The owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, license, and to prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work.[2] Copyright protection is applicable to original works fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.[3]

A work is the copyright of its creator from the moment of its creation until 70 years after the author's death, except for a limited number of situations. If the work was created by two or more authors who did not work for hire, the copyright endures for 70 years past the death of the last surviving author. For works created anonymously, under a pseudonym, or for hire, the copyright endures for the copyright holder for a term of 95 years after the work's first publication, or a term of 120 years after its creation, whichever expires first.[4] Content creators do not have to register their copyrights to avail of copyright protection.[5] They are also not obligated to designate or otherwise place a notice of their copyright on or around their works.[6]

Impact on the Wiki[edit]

The impact of the existence of copyright law on the operation and maintenance of our wiki is simple: copyrighted material cannot be allowed to be uploaded to or remain on the wiki, except for limited circumstances to be explained later.

The very existence of copyrighted works uploaded onto the wiki without permission presents a clear and present danger to the wiki and the site as a whole. Failure to deal with the problem serves to exacerbate the legal situation, leaving the wiki and the site open to criminal liability for contributory and vicarious infringement of copyright. This is because contributory infringement is found when "[o]ne who, with knowledge of the infringing activity, induces, causes, or materially contributes to the infringing conduct of another." The knowledge requirement is satisfied where the defendant knows or has reason to know of the infringing activity; and providing the site and facilities for infringement is all it takes to meet the materiality requirement. Vicarious infringement occurs where a defendant has the right and ability to control an infringer's conduct and receives a direct financial benefit from the infringement.[7] Contributors on an individual basis, as well, could find themselves in legal trouble for implications of directly infringing on copyright.

Moving forward, we must have permission to use photos and art assets uploaded to the wiki. Permission grants to Liquipedia should be documented and remain easily accessible. If an image or file is being used on the wiki under an acceptable Fair Use rationale (to be explained below), it must be stated so on the file description.

Above all, images and files marked for deletion for copyright infringement must not be allowed to sit in the deletion queue for inordinate lengths of time. Contributors to the wiki must be encouraged to seek permission before uploading files in the future, and to document that permission by using {{FileInfo}} in the description. Further, it is suggested that relationships be established with known content creators in the ESPORTS space, in order to encourage them to license their works for use on Liquipedia on a blanket basis, preferably under a Creative Commons license (to be explained below).

Fair Use[edit]

Describing Fair Use[edit]

Fair Use is a concept that has been alluded to multiple times in this document. Fair Use is a limitation on the exclusive rights of copyright holders, allowing others to make a copy of part of all of a copyrighted work, even where the copyright holder has not given permission or objects to your use of the work.[8]

Statute Law on Fair Use[edit]

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, 
including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by 
that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple 
copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In 
determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be 
considered shall include—
    (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 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.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is 
made upon consideration of all the above factors.


Impact on the Wiki[edit]

For the purposes of our wiki, because of our status as not being not-for-profit, potential Fair Use justifications for us are extremely narrow. A consultation with a Wikipedia administrator helps confirm suspicions that the only things we can get away with using on Liquipedia with a Fair Use assertion will be logos, banners and promotional graphics (not photos), and Blizzard-owned files.[10] This is because Fair Use is essentially a defense to be used when a target of copyright infringement suit; it is not a universally-recognized right. The final decision for whether a use is fair or not does not rest with the administrators of a wiki, but rather with a United States Federal District Court Judge.[11]

Wikipedia handles Fair Use rationales very strictly. Images can only be used under a Fair Use defense if and only if they meet the certain criteria. The following is a proposed adaptation of these criteria for Liquipedia use: [12]

  • No free equivalent. Non-free content is used only where no free equivalent is available, or could be created, that would serve the same encyclopedic purpose. Where possible, non-free content is transformed into free material instead of using a fair-use defense, or replaced with a freer alternative if one of acceptable quality is available; "acceptable quality" means a quality sufficient to serve the encyclopedic purpose, not an aesthetic purpose. (As a quick test, before adding non-free content requiring a rational, ask yourself: "Can this non-free content be replaced by a free version that has the same effect?" and "Could the subject be adequately conveyed by properly sourced text without using the non-free content at all?" If the answer to either is yes, the non-free content probably does not meet this criterion).
  • Respect for commercial opportunities Non-free content is not used in a manner that is likely to replace the original market role of the original copyrighted media
    • Minimal usage. Multiple items of non-free content are not used if one item can convey equivalent significant information.
    • Minimal extent of use. An entire work is not used if a portion will suffice. Low-resolution, as opposed to high-resolution, copies are used (especially where the original could be used for deliberate copyright infringement).
    • Previous publication. Non-free content must have been published or publicly displayed outside Liquipedia.
  • Content. Non-free content meets general Liquipedia content standards and is encyclopedic.
  • One-article minimum. Non-free content cannot remain orphaned, or else risk immediate deletion. In plain terms, uploaded files under Fair Use rationale must actually be needed on the wiki, and not be orphaned. Liquipedia is not a hosting service for non-free copyrighted content.
  • Contextual significance. Non-free content is used only if its presents would significantly increase readers' understanding of the topic, and its omission would be detrimental to that understanding.
  • Restrictions on location. Non-free content is allowed only in articles (not disambiguation pages), and only in mainspace (not userspace), except for instances where their use on non-mainspace areas are necessary for the administrative operation of Liquipedia.
  • Image description page.The file information template on the page must contain the following:
    • Identification of the source of the material, supplemented, where possible, with information about the artist, publisher, and copyright holder.
    • A description in the note section of which Liquipedia policy provision is claimed to permit the use of the file.

Public Domain[edit]

Defining the Public Domain[edit]

Works in the Public Domain are those whose intellectual property rights have expired, been forfeited, or are inapplicable. The Public Domain does not consist, as it is commonly mistaken for, of the body of works that are publicly available or on display; it rather refers to works that are unavailable for private ownership.[13]

Public Domain works are free to use on Liquipedia, or anywhere for that matter. The explanation of copyright law written above describes how previously copyrighted works can lapse into the Public Domain after a certain period of time, but because of the relative short age of ESPORTS, the only Public Domain files we will regularly see are those that have been dedicated into the Public Domain by their original copyright holders.

Examples of Public Domain works on Liquipedia

Creative Commons[edit]

What is Creative Commons?[edit]

A Creative Commons license is one of a set of several copyright licenses that allow the distribution of copyrighted works. They are probably, aside from Public Domain, the most preferred licensing structure for image and file uploads on Liquipedia.

Creative Commons licenses, and their terms, are easily remembered and stated by their initialized shortenings.[14]
  • BY (Attribution)
    • Licensees may copy, distribute, display, perform the work, and make derivative works based on it (unless accompanied with ND) only if they give the author or licensor credit for the work. This is a basic requirement of all works released under a Creative Commons license.
  • NC (Non-Commercial Use Only)
    • Licensees may copy, distribute, display, perform the work, and make derivative works based on it (unless accompanied with ND) only for noncommercial purposes.
  • ND (No Derivative Works)
    • Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.
  • SA (Share-Alike)
    • Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work.
The available Creative Commons licenses are as follows
  • BY (Attribution)[15]
  • BY-ND (Attribution—No Derivative Works) [16]
  • BY-SA (Attribution—Share-Alike) [17]
  • BY-NC (Attribution—Non-Commercial Use Only) [18]
  • BY-NC-ND (Attribution—Non-Commercial Use Only—No Derivative Works) [19]
  • BY-NC-SA (Attribution—Non-Commercial Use Only—Share-Alike) [20]

Impact of Creative Commons on the Wiki[edit]

Works licensed under compatible Creative Commons licenses are free for use on Liquipedia, provided their use on our wiki confirms to the requirements of the license and the standards of the wiki.

Answers to Common Questions[edit]

I've noticed that a page lacks a photo. Isn't any photo better than nothing at all?[edit]

No, because this question demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of copyright law and a disregard for everything written about it thus far. While it is true that player pages would look better with a photo, the interest of having a photo does not outweigh the significant legal peril that action places our wiki and this site and this is not justifiable.

There are plenty of content creators out there in ESPORTS. Encourage them to grant Liquipedia permission to use their work in order to improve our wiki as the number one StarCraft reference work out there. Scour the internet for public domain or favorably licensed files that we can use on the wiki. Go out to an event that a player is going to be at and personally take a photo of them for the wiki.

If we truly want a player to have a photo, we're going to have work for it.

How do I prove that I have permission to upload a file for use on Liquipedia?[edit]

If you took the photo yourself and you retain the copyrights to the file in question, you can self-certify this fact and give permission to Liquipedia to use your work by setting the license variable in FileInfo to permission or another available open license, such as Creative Commons licensing. Do not attempt to lie about being the owner of a file's copyright, it is very easy to perform reverse image searches on files to discover their origin.

If someone else took this photo or if someone else retains the copyrights to the file in question, they are going to have to grant Liquipedia (not just you) permission to use the file on the wiki. Permission statements can be emailed to Liquipedia at photos@liquipedia.net, they can be included into the file description of a page, or posted onto relevant copyright permissions threads on the Liquipedia contributors forum.

Is it acceptable to upload a screen capture of a website or of a video broadcast?[edit]

Probably not, without permission. Check the licensing terms of the site to see what the copyright status of their content is. In terms of video broadcasts, they too are protected under the same copyright provisions as still images, and screenshots of frames from these works must be treated with the same respect. Making a copy of something is precisely what copyright law aims to prevent, and so even if you made the screenshot on your computer, you still do not own the content that you captured.

Why is this guide centered around American copyright law and policy?[edit]

There are a number of reasons for this
  1. Liquipedia is a part of the greater Team Liquid website and organization. In the website's Terms of Use, it is stated that "Any claim relating to Team Liquid's web site shall be governed by the State of New York without regard to its conflict of law provisions."[23] Consequently, American law applies to Liquipedia.
  2. Liquipedia, and Team Liquid, operate in the .NET top-level domain, which is governed by ICANN and American law. Recent events in copyright enforcement by the United States Justice Department demonstrate the American government's attitude towards intellectual property violations on its top-level domain space as well as its capability to act in such matters based on that link.[24]

How do I formulate a Fair Use rationale when uploading?[edit]

First, ensure that what you are about to upload meets the requirements of the Fair Use section written above. For now edit FileInfo in the relevant spaces as so:

|author=Author Name
|copyright=Copyright Holder
|note=Place fair use rationale here, details below this code box

Here's an example of a recent FileInfo description that I uploaded as a test:

|featured=IGN ProLeague
|description=IGN ProLeague general logo
|copyright=IGN ProLeague
|author=[[Kevin Knocke]]
|note=Cropped from IPL 4 logo available on Liquipedia. <br /><br />It is asserted that this file's 
use on Liquipedia is covered by U.S. fair use laws because: (1) it illustrates an educational 
article about the entity that the logo represents, (2) the image is used as the primary means of 
visual identification of the article topic, (3) it is a low-resolution image and thus not suitable 
for production of counterfeit goods, and (4) it is not replaceable with a non-copyrighted or freely 
copyrighted image of comparable educational value.

If someone has previously given permission, is it now okay to upload anything they ever made?[edit]

Only if the rights holder has adopted a blanket permission for Liquipedia, or licensed their work under a suitably open and permissive license, such as Creative Commons. Otherwise, permission will have to be granted to Liquipedia for each and every proposed use from their body of work.

I've stumbled across an image on the Internet. Can I upload it onto the wiki?[edit]

No you may not, without permission, even if it is unknown to whom it is that you would need to ask permission for a given image use in the first place. All images are the copyright of the creator from the moment of creation until they themselves sign off or relinquish their rights to the work in a deliberate manner. This applies even if a creator remains anonymous or pseudonymous. Consequently, images that you may come across on the Internet, be they from Reddit/Imgur/Facebook or wherever else are not necessarily in the Public Domain and thus cannot be safely uploaded for use on the wiki.

Additionally, and especially for albums of photos available on social networking sites, the person who uploaded the images to the album may not necessarily be the copyright holder of the images in question. Specifically for player pages on Facebook, the player (or their team) may have just Google searched for images of their players and uploaded them to the social networking profile indiscriminately and without permission. In this case, they do not have any legal standing to the copyrights of those images and, consequently, cannot give you or Liquipedia permission to use files from their social networking profile that they do not own in the first place.

Are works of art, including fan art, protected by copyright?[edit]


Don't the Team Liquid Terms of Use enable us to use and upload any image posted on the site?[edit]

No, and here's why.

The terms of use on the site are standard boilerplate, placed there to enable the running of the forum in a legal and legitimate manner. As such posters grant Team Liquid the right to use and display a post on its site worldwide. However, the images linked to on the website are usually not hosted by Team Liquid; they are hosted by external websites.

For example take this blog that I posted onto this site back in March. The actual photos are hosted onto Flickr, and I retain absolute control over their copyright status. What I granted Team Liquid the ability to show worldwide is actually this:


Barcraft truly is an amazing thing. In total, we had well over a hundred people show up and cheer on
as MKP made a clean break from the Kong line.

If you are on the fence about attending a local Barcraft, or if you are thinking about making one of 
your own to support your area, hopefully this photoset helps you make your decisions.

[b]The Photos:[/b]

[center] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N07/7018754415/in/set-72157629310500864][img]http
://farm7.staticflickr.com/6104/7018754415_2ec8525f2f_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/pho
53_a9dbbe9e24_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N07/6872664040/in/set-7215
7629310500864][img]http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6057/6872664040_6ea104fb14_s.jpg[/img][/url]  [url=h
cflickr.com/6047/7018774415_08908c8c07_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N
s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N07/7018780901/in/set-72157629310500864]
[img]http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6040/7018780901_abaf070438_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flick
/6872681864_ea49912794_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N07/6872683378/in
] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N07/7018792429/in/set-72157629310500864][img]http://farm
7.staticflickr.com/6041/7018792429_7b25332025_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/543
e6c385_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N07/7018796571/in/set-72157629310
500864][img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7229/7018796571_31d6241558_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://ww
om/6228/6872694548_4d99803857_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N07/687270
g][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N07/6872703244/in/set-72157629310500864][img]http
://farm7.staticflickr.com/6059/6872703244_b3032e59c6_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/pho
69_a697d96372_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N07/6872712994/in/set-7215
7629310500864][img]http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6106/6872712994_4501fbb2f7_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=ht
lickr.com/6105/7018822381_6728e25ca4_s.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/54300605@N07
jpg[/img][/url] [/center]

In short, the photos are merely linked to by the post on Team Liquid; what Team Liquid has the okay to show world wide is the link, with which an end-user's browser can turn into a rendered image on their screens.

However, photos from Staff gallery space, and individual user profile photos from Team Liquid are potentially technically legitimate to use on Liquipedia based on the site's terms of use.

What if I am against the very idea of copyright and wish to upload things regardless of this policy?[edit]

I sympathize with your position and your politics, I really do. However, the legal framework in which I describe in this essay is precisely the legal framework in which we find ourselves having to operate. Placing the wiki and the site in legal jeopardy because of personal political opinion would be folly of the highest order, and would be literally hurting esports.


This was copied over from itsjustatanks userspace page.