We’re revising the Wikimedia Foundation Terms of Use. Here’s how you can get involved!

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The Wikimedia Foundation Legal Team would like to announce that we are opening a comment period for amending the Foundation’s Terms of Use. The comment period will run from February 21 to April 24.

The Foundation last updated its Terms of Use (ToU) in June 2014. The last comprehensive review was in May 2012. In the last decade, we have witnessed a series of global legislative developments, as well as policy updates within the Wikimedia projects, which have led us to start a new round of updates. We want to ensure that the final document is high quality, meets our legal obligations, and supports the work of Wikimedia volunteer communities to the greatest extent possible, and we’d like to collaborate with you to get there. We’re sharing a brief overview of the proposed changes and opening a sixty day community comment period. 

We invite you to share your thoughts with us on Meta.

  1. What are we updating now?

Legislative Reforms: As mentioned above, we have witnessed a series of legislative advancements regarding the regulations of online platforms. The European Union’s Digital Services Act, United Kingdom’s Online Safety Bill, and EU Anti-Terrorist Regulation, have established a series of compliance requirements for platforms that apply to any platform with a substantial number of users in the European Union in order to help protect the public. These requirements include rules against spreading misinformation and processes to address illegal content. Wikimedia communities already are hard at work addressing these issues every day, but it’s important that we have website terms that meet the requirements of the law. For example, under these new laws, the Foundation is mandated to introduce an updated way to receive complaints from users, including explaining options to appeal the results of a Foundation action. The proposed ToU changes align the projects with these new applicable laws. 

Policy Updates

CC BY-SA 4.0: The update will also upgrade the Wikimedia projects’ default license to CC BY-SA 4.0, an upgrade that has been long-requested from the community since its approval in 2016. The 4.0 version of the license significantly improves readability, offers flexibility for people remixing content in new formats, allows external CC BY-SA 4.0 text content to be added to the Wikimedia projects, and has a much better international structure with fully translated versions of the license in over forty languages. 

Proposal for better addressing undisclosed paid editing: The Foundation intends to strengthen its tools to support existing community policies against marketing companies engaged in systematic, undisclosed paid editing campaigns. The proposed changes aim to introduce new dispute resolution options to more efficiently address bad actors who disrupt the projects through undisclosed paid editing.

UCoC: To help ensure users’ safety and carry out the results of the recent UCoC vote on enforcement guidelines, the Foundation is introducing the Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC) as a reference within the Terms of Use. This will help to ensure that the UCoC is brought to the attention of all users and ensure consistency in Foundation policies. 

Wording updates: The updates also include a handful of semantics updates and new hyperlinks to existing policies. 

API policies: We have added a new section on API policies that references and explicitly includes use of APIs in the Terms of Use. Although the previous ToU wording implicitly included the APIs, as the use of project APIs becomes more important over time, we want to explicitly call further attention to policies around them. It’s important to note that this change is not an update in substance (the ways developers can use the API isn’t changing).

To see all the proposed changes and a more detailed explanation for why we’re doing them and how community comments can help improve the document, please see the project page on Meta-wiki.

  1. What Next? Are these Proposed Changes Binding?

Unlike several other digital platforms that introduce unilateral updates to their terms, these ToU updates will happen collaboratively. We are presenting a draft of proposed changes to kick off discussions with you, which you can review on Meta. We will also be holding conversation hours to answer any questions and discuss proposed changes in more depth. Dates, times and links are available on the Meta project page.

In order to make this process as inclusive as possible for our global community, we have prepared translations of the proposed changes in nine different languages and will be working with staff members and volunteers to translate comments to the greatest extent we can. Because most of the Foundation lawyers are required to practice law in California, responses are likely to mostly occur in English and during Pacific Time Zone working hours. 

Throughout the comment period, we will be integrating your feedback and discussing revisions with you. When the comment period is complete, we will publish the finalized version of the ToU in several languages. We also plan to add further language translations in the next fiscal year. 

The Foundation legal team welcomes your feedback and invites Wikimedians across the globe to participate in the conversation to enable us to produce a comprehensive and sound update to the ToU.  

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