Apple may soon have to pay if its wants to use data from Wikipedia

Wikipedia (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the Wikipedia project, has created a new enterprise product.
  • The product is aimed at companies who use its data to provide information.
  • It will offer real-time updates and customer service for its enterprise users.

Apple, Google, and everyone else may have to start paying for all of that information they've been enjoying for free from Wikipedia.

As reported by Wired, the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that manages the website, announced a new product called Wikimedia Enterprise. The new product enables the organization to sell the information from the website to companies who wish to use that information.

Conversations between the foundation's newly created subsidiary, Wikimedia LLC, and Big Tech companies are already underway, point-people on the project said in an interview, but the next couple of months will be about seeking the reaction of Wikipedia's thousands of volunteers. Agreements with the firms could be reached as soon as June.

Lane Becker, a senior director at the Wikimedia Foundation who has been working on the new product, says that this will be the first time that the project has asked for payment from companies that have used the information gathered on the website.

"This is the first time the foundation has recognized that commercial users are users of our service. We've known they are there, but we never really treated them as a user base."

Wikipedia currently does a data dump of its website every two weeks, but the enterprise version will offer real-time updates, guaranteed data delivery speeds, and a customer service team to support enterprise users.

But the formatting problems with the free version offer an obvious opportunity to create a product worth paying for, one tailored to the requirements of each company. For example, Enterprise will deliver the real-time changes and comprehensive data dumps in a compatible format. There will also be a level of customer service typical of business arrangements but unprecedented for the volunteer-directed project: a number for its customers to call, a guarantee of certain speeds for delivering the data, a team of experts assigned to solve specific technical flaws.

Wikipedia has long been a go-to source of information for search engines like Google as well as voice assistants like Siri. The report says that agreements between the Wikimedia Foundation and its new enterprise customers could be reached as soon as June.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.