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Help Guide

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Information and resources for contributors

The goal of Powerbase is to create information that is available to everyone. The realities of modern copyright law demand that we pay attention to legal issues to ensure that our work can be made available and to protect the project from legal liability.

Original text of Powerbase entries is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (CC). The full text of this license is at Creative Commons Legal Code (the full license). Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify the text of all Powerbase entries under the terms of the CC Free Documentation License.

Essentially, this means that the entries will remain free forever and can be used by anybody subject to restrictions mentioned below, which serve to ensure that freedom.

Powerbase entries may include text, sounds or other material from external sources with different copyright terms, which is used with permission or under "fair use" or "Fair Dealing" doctrine. This is included in UK copyright law so that information &/or quotes from copyrighted work (such as books) can be used 'for the purpose of criticism or review, of that or another work or of a performance of a work', so that it in effect 'does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement' (emphasis added)[1]

In other words, quotes and information from copyrighted material can be included in Powerbase with the purpose of reporting, reviewing or critiquing it. This can be done only if the material can be identified as from an external source (which is one of the reasons why referencing is important). The sourced material does not become free under CC as the copyright holders of that material retain their rights.

Contributors' rights and obligations

If you contribute material to Powerbase, you thereby license it to the public under the CC (with no invariant sections, or parts that you specify cannot be altered or omitted at the time of its reproduction). In order to contribute, you therefore must be in a position to grant this license, which means that either:

  • you own the copyright to the material, for instance because you produced it yourself, or
  • you acquired the material from a source which allows the licensing under CC, for instance because the material is in the public domain or is itself published under CC.

In the first case, you retain copyright to your materials. You can later republish and relicense them in any way you like. However, you can never retract the CC license for the versions you placed here: that material will remain under CC forever. In the second case, if you incorporate external CC materials, you need to acknowledge the authorship by referencing the source and providing a link back to the network location of the original copy if possible. If the original copy required invariant sections, you have to incorporate those into the Powerbase article; but as with texts used with permission, CC texts with invariant sections should be replaced with original or more freely licensed text whenever possible.

If you use part of a copyrighted work under "fair use", or if you obtain special permission to use a copyrighted work from the copyright holder, you must note that fact (along with names and dates) by citing the source in the form of a reference. It is our goal to be able to freely redistribute as much of Powerbase's material as possible, so original material licensed under the CC is greatly preferred to copyrighted material (even used with permission) for our purposes.

Never use materials that infringe the copyrights of others. This could create legal liabilities and seriously hurt the project. If in doubt, write it yourself.

Note that copyright law governs the creative expression of ideas, not the ideas or information themselves. Therefore it is perfectly legal to read an article or other work, reformulate it in your own words, and submit it to Powerbase. However, you must be very careful to avoid plagiarism which can happen if the wording is not sufficiently reformulated.


Only copyright-free images, or images for which permission to use has been obtained, can be added to Powerbase. See Image Use Policy and Guidelines for further information.

Users' rights and obligations

If you want to use Powerbase materials in your own books/articles/web sites or other publications, you must follow the Creative Commons Deed, which entails the following conditions:

  • Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work.)
  • Share Alike— If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same, similar or a compatible license.

With the understanding that:

  • Waiver — Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.
  • Other Rights — In no way are any of the following rights affected by the license:
       -your fair dealing or fair use rights;
       -the author's moral rights; and
       -rights other persons may have either in the work itself or in how the work is used, such as publicity or privacy rights.

If the Powerbase article you wish to use contains text, images, sounds, or other material from external sources used with permission or under fair use, you must comply with the separate copyright terms for that material as well. For example, if the article includes an quote under fair use, you must ensure that your use of the article also qualifies for fair use (this might not be the case, for example, if you were using a Powerbase article for a commercial use that would otherwise be allowed by the CC).

If you find a copyright infringement

It is not possible for Powerbase managing editors to police every article for possible copyright infringement. If you suspect one, you should alert the Managing Editor by email to Melissa.Jones AT Powerbase.info. If possible provide a URL or other reference to what you believe is the source of the text along with a note of the infringed information in the Powerbase article/page in question. If you believe that your own copyrighted material has been infringed, you may contact Melissa.Jones AT Powerbase.info and/or sysop AT Powerbase.info

Some cases will be false alarms but it's better to err on the side of caution. False alarms may be, for example, if the contributor was in fact the author of the text which is published elsewhere under different terms. As long as the contributor still owns the copyright, he or she can publish it on Powerbase under the CC. Also, sometimes you will find text elsewhere on the web that was copied from Powerbase. In both of these cases, a note will then be made in the article's talk page to discourage any more false alarms in the future.

If a page really is an infringement, or if an appropriate challenge has been made regarding copyright ownership, then an editor or sysop will delete the infringing content and make a note to that effect in the talk page, along with the original source. A contributor may challenge any claim of copyright asserted by another individual. Such a challenge may lead to restoration of the text. If the copyright owner's permission is obtained later, the text can also be restored.

In extreme cases of contributors repeatedly posting copyrighted material, such users will have their accounts terminated to comply with applicable law and to protect the project. See the editorial policy for information on how Powerbase editors and sysops apply this and other policies.

Frequently asked questions

Can I mirror entire sections of Powerbase to my site? (Perhaps edited a bit) How much can I quote?

You may mirror or quote as much as you wish, as long as you maintain the text under the Creative Commons Licence. Don't do this if you're writing a paper for school, though!

If I link a word from my site to Powerbase, am I required to use the CC for my site? What if I use a small quote (3-4 sentences)? What if I quote entire articles?

The answer to the first two is "no", since it is covered by the fair use doctrine. For the third, check with your lawyer.

How do I cite a Powerbase article in a paper?

Cite it as you would any other web page, including the full URL to the article, in accordance with the normal citation practice the publication you are submitting the paper to follows. It would be a good idea to also include the date of the article revision you are quoting (for the current revision this is shown at the bottom of the page: "The page was last modified .."), and possibly the date you viewed it on. Citing the individual authors is not necessary.


There's a crash course in copyright law in relation to a wide variety of materials here.


  1. UK Parliament Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. section 30. Acts of the UK Parliament. Office of Public Sector Information. Accessed 26th November 2008