Big tech companies may soon have to pay for Wikipedia content

(Image credit: / Tero Vesalainen)

Wikipedia is set to launch a paid option to get major technology companies like Google, Google, Amazon and Facebook pay up for using its content.

But don’t worry, you as a lay user of Wikipedia, will continue to have it free.

The new paid service, a first of its kind effort by Wiki, is only aimed at big tech companies.

The Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia and other projects, has revived its project for large-scale commercial re-users of its content. 

Named ‘Wikimedia Enterprise‘, the platform will provide “paid developer tools that make it easier for companies and organizations to consume and re-use Wikimedia data.”

Quite simply, it is a commercial product that will tailor Wikipedia’s content for publication on services provided by, say, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon.

Wiki already in talks with tech companies

According to multiple media reports, the new endeavour will be unveiled in the latter half of 2021, but Wikimedia Foundation has already gotten down to discuss the modalities of the new programme with the tech giants.

While the regular Wikipedia offering will be free, the new option is an experiment toward sustainability and maintaining independence for the platform.

Top tech companies fall back on Wikipedia in myriad ways. Google’s “knowledge boxes”  has info from Wiki. Voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri also have inputs from the same platform.

Some fund Wikipedia through donations but many others that use Wikipedia resources in a major way, get away without even so much as a thank you note.

“This is the first time the foundation has recognised that commercial users are users of our service. We’ve known they are there, but never really treated them as a user base,” Lane Becker, a senior director at the Wikimedia Foundation, was quoted as saying.

If indeed Wikipedia’s paid service for big tech companies gets going, the foundation may also have to get down to compensating monetarily its own legion of volunteer contributors.

But that is a story for another day.

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