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Contributing to the Tree of LifeToL Policies

Tree of Life Use of Contributions

ToL contributors generally keep the copyright for content submitted to the Tree of Life (see exceptions below), and they grant the ToL Project non-exclusive, royalty-free, and full rights to use submitted materials subject to a particular license. Licensing is handled differently for text and media (images, videos, etc.) contributions, and we explain the available options below.

By default, ToL contributions are released under the Attribution-NonCommercial Creative Commons License. If you prefer a more restrictive or more permissive license for your materials, you can specify another default license in your contributor registration record. Also, you can specify licenses for individual text or media contributions by selecting a specific license in the relevant page or media data forms. If you have submitted materials to the ToL before 2008, please see Legacy Materials for information about relevant use policies.

Licensing Options for Text Contributions

Contributors of ToL TEXT contributions (branch & leaf pages, other articles, notes, treehouses) are asked to select one of the following licensing options:

Licensing Options for Media Contributions

Contributors of ToL MEDIA contributions (images, movies, sounds, pdf documents, etc.) are asked to select one of the following licensing options:


The copyright for both the ToL glossary and the tree structure represented on the ToL site belong to the ToL project, and these materials are made available to the public under the terms of the Attribution-NonCommercial Creative Commons License. Contributors participating in the building of the glossary and tree can use these materials as specified in the license, but they do not retain any rights to limit their distribution.

Legacy Materials

If you contributed materials to the Tree of Life before the project instituted explicit licensing policies, your text contributions are currently set to Tree of Life use only.

For images and other media that were added to the ToL database without explicit licenses, we have adopted the following policies:

If you would like to change the licenses of materials you have previously uploaded to the ToL, log into your ToL account, and follow the Review license defaults link in the Scientific Materials Manager. If you need any help, contact We will be happy to help you to get the proper licenses associated with your contributions.

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