What I want to do: Let's assume that there is article, on Wikipedia, that is under CC-BY-SA license. For exemple "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pies,_tarts_and_flans". Assume next that I want to get from that article only table that contain list of pies. I want to get only it data (only facts, only copying "words" from the "name", "origin" and "type" columns, but not from "description" column ), without pictures. Let's assume that I want to create pies database using data from this tables. And than I want to build some website, in which user can get "list of random pies". This "random pies" will, of course, be gotten from that database. At one time, user will get only some limited amount of such pies. For example - generating list of 10 pies - by one pressing of button "generate random pies".

What I already found: This type of use, in general, is linked to license on which that article are licensed. This Wikipedia article have license "CC-BY-SA". Also on wikipedia present detailed article on reusing Wikipedia content, where described how to correctly satisfy license terms. So for now I understand that I need to: make attribution, indicate changes, stick "licensing notice" of used article, and also satisfy "Copyleft/Share Alike" part. Please keep this last, "Share Alike", part in mind.

Also license notes from official site: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

So, here is my question: Trying to satisfy "Copyleft/Share Alike" part: - Am I obligated to make that database of pies publicly available, and with this also license them in the same license? For example, am I obligated to make a button - "download pies database as some file". Or I don't need to do this because I don't share the database directly. I just use some parts of it at once, in not direct way.

What I think about that: Problem is that, that I really need to apply the same license on that database if I will be sharing it publicly. If I made it public. Because this database is "build upon", or is something similar to "adaptation" (https://creativecommons.org/faq/#what-is-an-adaptation), of that table ("ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original." (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)). But I don't know, if giving to users of that site, random parts of that pies database - will this be considered as if database is shared publicly.

And I knew that there was such statement that there no copyrights on information. But there copyrights on databases, and also - is this creation of database will be considered as just use of information, but not other things from used tables.

So my question is merely about "Copyleft/Share Alike" part. Merely about of obligation of making database public.

  • "I want to get only it data" - When you say 'data' do you mean only facts? For example, the fact that the U.S. Population was 308,745,538 in 2010, a number that I 'copied' from a table appearing on a Wikipedia page is not copyrightable and so 'copying' that fact in a colloquial sense is not copying in a legal sense. Creative works, such as articles (which may incorporate facts), pictures, etc. are copyrightable. But the facts themselves are not copyrightable.
    – Brandin
    Apr 5, 2018 at 10:24
  • To @Brandin. I tried to explain more, what i mean. This explanation is already present in the question text (please look there, near the "only it data" words). Here is another question - is this tables, only its "facts" part, will be copyrightable, because this table "incorporate facts"(used your words) in the way, that facts are present in such groups like "name", "origin" and "type", and in this the same group they will be present in my database.
    – Revlos
    Apr 5, 2018 at 11:11
  • 2
    Please see Can you copyright data?
    – Brandin
    Apr 5, 2018 at 11:24

4 Answers 4


(For the data you use, you might not have to follow the license. But let’s assume you have to.)

The license only applies to the content you distribute (or publicly perform, but that’s likely not relevant in your context):

"Distribute" means to make available to the public the original and copies of the Work or Adaptation, as appropriate, through sale or other transfer of ownership.

It doesn’t matter what’s saved on your server, it only matters what’s published (i.e., distributed).

So you don’t have to publish the database. You have to attribute the content from the database when and as long you show (i.e., distribute) it. Not earlier nor longer than that.


To generate what is below i used next resources:

What is below is only mine interpretation, but I think, that is enough near to source interpretation.

So, approximation to solution:

  1. First of all, best way to solve such legal problems, and answer on such question, is to use legal advice, that can be received from legal experts, like e.g. from copyright lawyer. No one, nor from "Wikipedia", nor from "stackexchange", nor people from "creativecommons" , can give such legal advice (at least on the pages of such sites, and thru emails). It's maybe similar to medical advice, that only advice from professional is such that you can really rely on it. But still people from this sources can give something to work on.

Solution is linked to next two questions: What is used, and How it will be used.


  1. In our case we have tables from some article form Wikipedia. Will be used only collection of data from them. And here arise question - what will be controlling correct use of this data? Is this will be CC-BY-SA ( from Reusing_Wikipedia_content), by which nearly all content on Wikipedia is licensed (but there present a lot of exceptions). Or it falls under Sui_generis_database_right. Or falls under something else. But, holding in the head statement "1.", people from Wikipedia, and some from stackexchange, said that this tables, and their content, data, is available under the conditions of "CC-BY-SA".

So let's consider that that tables fall under "CC-BY-SA" (if not - than what is below can't be used).


  1. From that how that tables will be used will depend what obligation will be applied. A lot of important things was said by @unor. I add something from myself, also. This all is linked to legalcode of the license. So, as I understand, this license do "in particular" two things. First - its grants you with some possibilities. Which include possibility of distribution, and using in other way that is not distribution (e.g. personal use). Two - this license has some conditions that if you want to use tables you must follow them. This conditions include: "attribution", and "sharealike" parts. But what is very important is that that this two conditions must be done only when you distribute something, and only on that parts that you distribute. Better is to read original answer of @unor, there present some very important things.

General considerations:

  1. This all is only some approximation to solution. And one must think before use it somehow, because that this solution still can be wrong (or can be not). Also web developers must consider that they not only need to follow laws of their own country, but (maybe) also laws of country where will be stay server with web-app, and also laws of countries, of users. This is still open question for me. But there was already some discussion about it (http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showthread.php?t=1465264).

All nuances is hard to close by oneself, and there are many of them. So - professional advice, legal advice, is may be the best way. But, also, there can be some safe, small, things that developer can do by himself.


You don't only have to worry about copyright. A number of jurisdictions (in particular all the jurisdictions of the European Union) have a database right. Note that the term "database" doesn't just mean MySQL or similar. The table on the Wiki page counts.


All text content (and most images) from Wikipedia is available under the CC-BY-SA (v3.0) license. That license pretty clearly spells out the rights it grants and the obligations it imposes. The most important obligation is that if you distribute content that you have obtained under that license, you must place it under the same license. You also need to attribute the content to the source. That much is pretty clear.

Facts, which i would think include individual numbers, are generally not subject to copyright. However, collections of facts, and arrangements of facts are. If you used only one or two numbers, copyright is probably not an issue. Beyond that, if you don't want to accept the CC-BY-SA license, you should probably consult a copyright lawyer, as the question of how else you might use the content legally may be a bit tricky.

I am not a lawyer, and this should not be taken as legal advice.

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