What is the Commons Worth? Estimating the Value of Wikimedia Imagery by Observing Downstream Use
OpenSym ’18: The 14th International Symposium on Open Collaboration, August 22–24, 2018, Paris, France. ACM, New York, NY, USA. DOI: 10.1145/3233391.3233533
21 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2018
Date Written: June 30, 2018
The Wikimedia Commons (WC) is a peer-produced repository of freely licensed images, videos, sounds and interactive media, containing more than 45 million files. This paper attempts to quantify the societal value of the WC by tracking the downstream use of images found on the platform. We take a random sample of 10,000 images from WC and apply an automated reverse-image search to each, recording when and where they are used ‘in the wild’. We detect 54,758 down- stream uses of the initial sample and we characterize these at the level of generic and country-code top-level domains (TLDs). We analyze the impact of specific variables on the odds that an image is used. The random sampling technique enables us to estimate overall value of all images contained on the platform. Drawing on the method employed by Heald et al (2015), we find a potential contribution of USD $28.9 billion from downstream use of Wikimedia Commons images over the lifetime of the project.
Keywords: Wikimedia Commons, Peer Production, Economic Valuation, Creative Commons, Public Domain, Curation, Open Licensing
JEL Classification: D64, K11, O34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation