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Google will move the information inside its Freebase free database of structured data — about music, books, film, and other subjects — into Wikidata, a somewhat similar free database from the Wikimedia Foundation.

Next year the Freebase website will become read-only, and later the website will go down, as will the accompanying application programming interfaces (APIs) that developers have been able to tap to stream Freebase data into their applications, according to a post today on Freebase’s Google+ page.

But not all is lost for developers who have come to value the information inside Freebase. Freebase will “launch a new API for entity search powered by Google’s Knowledge Graph,” states the post, which comes from Google’s Knowledge Graph team.

Freebase first started in 2007; Google came to possess it by acquiring MetaWeb, the startup behind the database, in 2010.

The move to Wikidata is a bit ironic, given that some of the data sitting inside of Freebase — including musician genres, album names, and record labels, for instance — originated from pages on Wikipedia, which the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation hosts. And Googlers understand that.

“Loading Freebase into Wikidata as-is wouldn’t meet the Wikidata community’s guidelines for citation and sourcing of facts — while a significant portion of the facts in Freebase came from Wikipedia itself, those facts were attributed to Wikipedia and not the actual original non-Wikipedia sources,” the post states. “So we’ll be launching a tool for Wikidata community members to match Freebase assertions to potential citations from either Google Search or our Knowledge Vault, so these individual facts can then be properly loaded to Wikidata.”


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