It is very important that you understand how copyleft works before you contribute to Wikitravel. If you find your work reused by someone else in a manner that you didn't consider, or if you stop using Wikitravel for any reason, it is not possible to change the licence for the text and photographs you have already submitted. Although you always own the copyright in your work, that does not give you the right to change how it can be used retrospectively.
If this seems confusing, skip down to the FAQ.
All written contributions to Wikitravel are and must be licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (CC-by-SA 3.0) or a compatible license (e.g., Public Domain, CC-by-SA any, dual CC-by-SA/GDFL any, etc.). Consequently, all redistributed and derivative works of Wikitravel text must also be licensed as CC-by-SA 3.0.
Files uploaded to Wikitravel are and must be licensed under any of the available options in the pulldown menu on the upload form. Consequently, all redistributed and derivative works including Wikitravel images and other files must provide file-specific attribution and licensing information, available on the individual file page.
Two small subsets of images on Wikitravel may be copyrighted, and not available for redistribution or derivative works, although these copyrighted images will never appear in a Wikitravel article. For more information on these narrow categories of copyrighted images, see Template:Copyrighted.
Things for users to know
Copyleft means that every single author, editor, illustrator, mapmaker, factchecker and photographer who puts their work into Wikitravel gives you the right to read, copy, print, save, download, read aloud, project, modify, email, distribute, sell, photocopy and correct their work however you want to.
The only restrictions are that:
In other words, we give you practically every freedom within the boundaries of the law to use the information in Wikitravel, except the freedom to take that freedom away from others.
The license we use is the Attribution-ShareAlike license. It's a piece of legal documentation created by the great people at Creative Commons that basically says the same thing as above: give Wikitravellers credit for their work, and share with other people.
If you want you can read the full text of the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. For the purposes of the License, a Work is the formatted text that makes up a single Wikitravel Shared article. Each file individually is also a Work for the purposes of the License.
In addition, there may be other restrictions on use or distribution based on law in your country or state; in particular, consider privacy rights for photographs of people and derivative works for photographs of buildings and artworks.
Lastly, to the extent possible there is no warranty on any of the articles or images in Wikitravel. Hotels close; bars raise prices; train schedules change; earthquakes, mudslides, wars and lightning strikes destroy sights, statues and cities. People make mistakes. Wikitravellers try their best, but none of the creators of these pages are responsible to you in any way for any injury or discomfort you endure before, after, or during your travels. See the License above for details.
If you're setting up a mirror web site, you might want to check out How to re-use Wikitravel guides.
Things for contributors to know
Copyleft means that every single yahoo, nutcase, screwjob, charlatan, shyster, weirdo, freakazoid, mouthbreather, goofball, lamer, cheater and jerk will have the right to read, copy, print, save, download, read aloud, project, modify, email, distribute, sell, photocopy and correct your work however they want to.
In particular, your work can be ruthlessly modified, edited, or cut from Wikitravel altogether by other Wikitravellers. It can be photocopied thousands of times and passed around as flyers by itinerant backpackers. It can be put in Hollywood movies, and it can be projected onto a screen at an outdoor rave. It can be used for commercial ventures, advertisements, or other purposes (with some restrictions - see privacy rights) without your direct control.
In return for your incredible generosity, you will have the knowledge that you are helping travellers all over the world, and that all copies made of your work will be attributed to you, and that everyone who derives new works from yours will have to be just as generous as you are. And, of course, you get to use all the other work in Wikitravel Shared the same way; but you don't need to contribute to do that.
You'll also get the pleasure of collaborating with hundreds of other Wikitravellers just like yourself. You'll get free spellcheck service from nit-picky folks you've never met. You'll work together with people you don't know to make better pictures, text, and maps than you've ever dreamed of. You still retain the copyright over your own work, and you can use it any other way you want (even if it's not compatible with our license!). By writing on Wikitravel, or uploading photos, you're using a license under which all our work is available - making it simpler for everyone.
Now, the hard part: because of the Attribution-ShareAlike license, you are legally responsible not to put other people's copyrighted work into Wikitravel without permission. You are responsible for getting model releases from people you take pictures of, and you are responsible for any libel you include in your articles.
Before editing Wikitravel articles or uploading pictures, you should read very carefully the full text of the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license, and make sure that you agree to it. For images, it's important to mark the image as either your own work, or give information on who made the picture and why you think it's acceptable under the broad terms of Attribution-Sharealike that govern Wikitravel's licensing. See Wikitravel Shared:Image policy for more information.
We want to make the best possible travel guide, with the most brilliant writing, the most up-to-date info, the most awe-inspiring photos, the most detailed and readable maps. But no one item is worth putting yourself and this project in legal jeopardy. If you have any questions about the source of something you want to put in Wikitravel, ask about it first. When in doubt, leave it out.
Frequently asked questions
What do I need to do to get writing?
Nothing, just plunge forward! Whenever you save something you write, you automatically license it for use under CC-by-SA 3.0. So all you need to do is get started writing—if the text is your own original writing, don't worry about licenses.
Can I copy text to Wikitravel from other sites?
No. That is, unless you are the original author of the text, or the text on the other website is either Public Domain or has been explicitly licensed as compatible with Creative Commons Attribution/Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 or greater. (Wikimedia projects like Wikipedia are now licensed under the 3.0 version, so we can copy relevant text over to here, although copy-pasting any significant amount of text is heavily discouraged.) For the text to be Public Domain, it basically needs to be created by the US Federal Government, the city government of Washington, D.C., or have a statement on the website saying it is released into the Public Domain. If you are the original author of the text, note that on the article talk page, or else someone will likely remove it as a copyright violation.
Lack of a copyright notice does not mean the content is free to re-use—all online content is automatically copyrighted unless the author explicitly states otherwise.
What do I need to do to get uploading images?
First, you should register an account on Wikitravel Shared, the central repository for Wikitravel files. Then, go to the upload screen, where you select the file to upload and enter an upload summary. The summary must include a choice of license from the pulldown menu, as well as attribution information indicating how you wish to be credited. If the image is not your own, be sure to provide accurate licensing and attribution information, as well as a link to the source from which you got the image.
The simplest way to make sure everything is correctly documented is to use the image credit template (see How to upload files for detailed instructions). If the template seems too intimidating, an acceptable comment might be:
There are some additional restrictions in specific cases (such as when photographing people) so please also read our Image policy.
How will I be attributed?
You will only be attributed for text contributions if you register a user account. Whatever you enter as your "real name" will appear at the bottom of any pages you modify, serving as attribution. If you register, but decline to enter a "real name," you will be attributed by your user name.
For files you upload, you must provide the attribution information yourself in the upload summary. So, just indicate however you want to be attributed as you upload the file!
Can GFDL content be used on Wikitravel?
This is complicated. In a nutshell:
Can content from other sites be used on Wikitravel?
Maybe. Text from other sites can be used only when it has been explicitly licensed under the Attribution Share-Alike license, a compatible license, or released into the public domain. When copying content from another site be sure to provide proper attribution, as required by the CC-by-SA license. This means citing the license, author and source of images on the image page, and noting the license, author and source of text content on the article talk page.
If content is available free-of-charge, can it be used here?
Probably not. Just because a map, brochure, or other item is given away for free does not mean that it has been freely licensed. For content to be usable on Wikitravel the content copyright owner must agree to license it under the CC-SA 3.0 or a compatible license.
How should I ask for permission to use a forum reply on Wikitravel?
The following template can help. Please quote your original message and reply to it at the respective article's Talk page. You may provide attribution to the original author(s) listing them by a template like en:Template:Attribution.