Wikipedia’s Chief Revenue Officer, Lisa Gruwell, has said that companies which pull data from the service without donating could be considered guilty of exploitation.

She said that smart assistants relied heavily on information sourced by Wikipedia, but while Google has made substantial donations, Apple and Amazon haven’t …

Gruwell told TechCrunch that Wikipedia allows companies to use its service to answer user queries, but thinks that implies a responsibility to give back.

Our content is there to be used. It’s freely-licensed and it’s freely-licensed for a reason. At the same time, it’s like the environment. It’s there to be used, but it’s not there to be exploited. We do need the people who use the content to give back in some way […]

In the case of Alexa and Siri, our content gets intermediated. Wikipedia works because people can contribute to it, people can edit it. Also, once a year, when we ask people can donate. When they get their information not from us — but Wikipedia content through something like Siri or something like Alexa — that opportunity to either contribute back as an editor is broken, and that opportunity to contribute, to donate is also broken.

Amazon donates nothing, and Apple does so only by matching employee donations, which last year amounted to around $50,000. Google, in contrast, donated more than a million dollars in the same period.

Many Siri queries are answered by citing Wikipedia. In the example shown in the photo above, the answer to the question ‘What is the capital of China?’ is presented as Siri Knowledge, but the content is drawn from Wikipedia.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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