Google has entered into a formal agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that manages Wikipedia. The search giant will pay for Wikipedia content that’s displayed in the “Knowledge Panel” and search results.
Google recently entered into commercial agreements with several news outlets in Europe. The company has reportedly signed a similar agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation. Google has agreed to pay Wikipedia for content displayed by its search engine that is sourced from the online encyclopedia.
Additionally, Internet Archive, a non-profit that runs a site called the Wayback Machine, will also receive commercial services, presumably from Google, for free. The Wayback Machine has been quite critical for Wikipedia as it routinely saves snapshots of the website. These have often been used to fix Wikipedia links and may have also helped to reverse the damage inflicted by internet trolls.
Google was the first paying customer for Wikimedia Enterprise, the commercial venture of the Wikimedia Foundation which was launched last year. "We're thrilled to be working with them both as our longtime partners," said Wikimedia's Lane Becker about the new development.
Wikipedia, one of the Internet’s largest and most visited websites, relies heavily on volunteers for content. The website also seeks donations to maintain its operations. This arrangement will not change. Simply put, the website will continue to remain free for viewers and editors. The foundation confirmed that it won’t be changing the arrangement it has for individual users.
Google, on the other hand, is one of Wikipedia’s biggest clients. Google pulls a massive amount of content from Wikipedia for its "Knowledge Panel", which is essentially a sidebar that accompanies the main search results. The Knowledge Panel offers short but important information that correlates with the search query. Google also cites Wikipedia in the information panels it adds to some YouTube videos.
Google has previously given money to Wikipedia, but it has been in the form of donations and grants, confirmed Google's Tim Palmer:
We have long supported the Wikimedia Foundation in pursuit of our shared goals of expanding knowledge and information access for people everywhere.
Needless to mention, the recently signed contract goes far beyond donations or charity. The foundation did not reveal the actual terms of the contract. However, it seems Google may have to pay Wikimedia every time the search results have information sourced from Wikipedia.
Source: Yahoo Finance