Wikipedia:Image use policy

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This page sets out the policies towards images—including format, content, and copyright issues—applicable on the English-language edition of Wikipedia.

For information on media in general (images, sound files, etc.), see Wikipedia:Creation and usage of media files. For information on uploading, see Wikipedia:Uploading images, or go directly to Special:Upload. For other legal and copyright policies, see Wikipedia:List of policies#Legal.

Requirements[edit]

Whenever you upload an image, you should meet the following minimal requirements.

  1. Always tag your image with one of the image copyright tags. When in doubt, do not upload copyrighted images.
  2. Always specify on the description page where the image came from (the origin, sometimes called its "source") and information on how this could be verified. Examples include scanning a paper copy, or a URL, or a name/alias and method of contact for the photographer. For screenshots this means what the image is a screenshot of (the more detail the better). Do not put credits in images themselves.

Rules of thumb[edit]

Below this brief checklist of image use rules is the detailed reasoning behind them.

  1. Use the image description page to describe an image and its copyright status.
  2. Use a clear, detailed title. Note that if any image with the same title has already been uploaded, it will be replaced with your new one.
  3. Upload a high-resolution version of your image whenever possible (unless the image is being used under fair use; see Fair use images for details), and use the automatic thumbnailing option of the Wikipedia image markup to scale down the image. MediaWiki accepts images up to 100 MB in size. Do not scale down the image yourself, as scaled-down images may be of limited use in the future.
  4. Crop the image to highlight the relevant subject.
  5. If you create an image that contains text, please also upload a version without any text. It will help Wikipedians translate your image into other languages.
  6. Try not to use color alone to convey information, as it is inaccessible in many situations.
  7. Use JPEG format for photographic images and TV or movie screenshots; SVG format for icons, logos, drawings, maps, flags, and such; PNG format for software screenshots and when only a raster image is available; GIF format for inline animations; and Ogg/Theora for video.
  8. In general, there is no need to specify thumbnail size. Users can select their ideal size in preferences.
  9. Shocking or explicit pictures should not be used simply to bring attention to an article.

Copyright and licensing[edit]

Before you upload an image, make sure that the image falls in one of the four categories:

Always note the image's copyright status on the image description page, and provide specific details about the image's origin. An Image copyright tag provides a standard template for the licensing of the image. The image summary provides necessary details to support the use of the image copyright tag. An image summary should contain the following:

Description: The subject of the image
Origin (source): The copyright holder of the image or URL of the web page the image came from
Author: The original creator of the image, especially if different from the copyright holder
Permission: Who or what law or policy gives permission to post on Wikipedia with the selected image copyright tag

In addition, the summary might also contain the following, where appropriate:

Date: Date the image was created. The more exact, the better
Location: Where the image was created. The more exact the better
Other versions of this file: Directs users to derivatives of the image if they exist on Wikipedia
More information on how to provide a good description of the image's origin
  • A good description of the origin for an image from an internet location is to point to the HTML page that contains the image (http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=3097) and not directly to the image itself: (http://www.navy.mil/management/photodb/webphoto/web_021028-N-3228G-006.jpg).
  • A good description of the origin for an image from a book is to provide full a bibliographic citation for the book (Author, Title, ISBN number, page number(s), date of copyright, publisher information, etc.) and not just title and author.
  • A good description of the origin for a self-created image is to state "It is my own work." and not just use a tag that indicates it is your own work ({{self}} or {{PD-self}} for examples).

User-created images[edit]

Wikipedia encourages users to upload their own images. All user-created images must be licensed under a free license, such as the GFDL and/or an acceptable Creative Commons license, or released into the public domain, which removes all copyright and licensing restrictions. When licensing an image, it is best practice to multi-license under both GFDL and a Creative Commons license.

Such images can include photographs which you yourself took. The legal rights for images generally lie with the photographer, not the subject. Simply re-tracing a copyrighted image or diagram does not necessarily create a new copyright—copyright is generated only by instances of "creativity", and not by the amount of labor which went into the creation of the work. Photographs of three-dimensional objects almost always generate a new copyright, though others may continue to hold copyright in items depicted in such photographs. Photographs of two-dimensional objects such as paintings in a museum often do not (see the section on the "public domain" below). If you have questions in respect to this, please ask the regulars at Wikipedia talk:Copyrights.

Images with you, friends or family prominently featured in a way that distracts from the image topic are not recommended for the main namespace; User pages are OK. These images are considered self-promotion and the Wikipedia community has repeatedly reached consensus to delete such images.

Some images may contain trademarked logos incidentally (or purposely if the image is either freely licensed, covered under freedom of panorama, or being too simple to be copyrightable). If this is the case, please tag it with {{trademark}}.

Free licenses[edit]

For a list of possible licenses which are considered "free enough" for Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Image copyright tags. Licenses which restrict the use of the media to non-profit or educational purposes only (i.e. non-commercial use only), or are given permission to only appear on Wikipedia, are not free enough for Wikipedia's usages or goals and will be deleted.[1] A list of websites that offer free images can be found at Wikipedia:Free image resources. In short, Wikipedia media (with the exception of "fair use" media—see below) should be as "free" as Wikipedia's content—both to keep Wikipedia's own legal status secure as well as to allow for as much re-use of Wikipedia content as possible.

If the place where you found the image does not declare a pre-existing free license, yet allows use of its content under terms commonly instituted by them, it must explicitly declare that commercial use and modification is permitted. If it is not the case, it is to be assumed that it is not unless verification or permission from the copyright holder is obtained.

Public domain[edit]

Public domain images are not copyrighted, and copyright law does not restrict their use in any way. Wikipedia pages, including non-English language pages, are hosted on a server in the United States, so U.S. law governs whether a Wikipedia image is in the public domain.

Images may be placed into the public domain by their creators, or they may be public domain because they are ineligible for copyright or because their copyright expired. In the U.S., copyright has expired on any work published anywhere before January 1, 1923. Although U.S. copyrights have also expired for many works published since then, the rules for determining expiration are complex; see When does copyright expire? for details.

In the U.S., reproductions of two-dimensional public domain artwork do not generate a new copyright; see Bridgeman v. Corel. Scans of images alone do not generate new copyrights—they merely inherit the copyright status of the image they are reproducing. For example, a straight-on photograph of the Mona Lisa is ineligible for copyright.

If you strongly suspect an image is a copyright infringement you should list it for deletion; see Deleting images below. For example, an image with no copyright status on its file page and published elsewhere with a copyright notice should be listed for deletion.

Fair use images[edit]

Some usage of copyrighted materials without permission of the copyright holder can qualify as fair use in the United States (but not in most other jurisdictions). However, since Wikipedia aims to be a free-content encyclopedia, not every image that qualifies as fair-use may be appropriate.

Unauthorized use of copyrighted material under an invalid claim of fair use constitutes copyright infringement and is illegal. Media which are mistagged as fair use or are a flagrant copyright violation can be removed on sight. Editors who notice correctable errors in fair use tags or fair use rationales are urged to fix them, if able. Voluntarily fixing such problems is helpful to Wikipedia, though many errors may be impossible to fix.[why?] Frequent uploading of non-fair use non-free material can be justification for banning a Wikipedia user.

See also:

Deleting images[edit]

  1. Consider contacting the user who uploaded the image, telling them of your concerns. You may be able to resolve the issue at this point.
  2. Add a deletion notice to the image description page
    • If it is an obvious copyright violation: use the {{db-f9}} or {{db-filecopyvio}} tag
    • If it falls under certain of the other conditions listed under WP:CSD#Files: use {{subst:nsd}} for files that lack a description of its origin, {{subst:nld}} for files that lack licensing information, {{subst:nsdnld}} for files that lack both of these, {{subst:npd}} for files that have a licensing statement but no evidence that it really applies
    • If it is tagged as non-free but obviously fails the non-free content policy in certain ways: use {{subst:orfud}} if it isn't used in any article, {{subst:rfud}} if it is replaceable with a free file, {{subst:nrd}} if it lacks a non-free content rationale, {{subst:dfu}} if the rationale is in some other way obviously insufficient
    In all these cases, the file will be deleted by an administrator after a waiting period of a few days.
  3. If the file is tagged as freely licensed but you have reasons to suspect this tagging is false: list the file under possible unfree files, by adding the {{puf}} template on the file and then adding a listing to the WP:PUF pages following the instructions in the tag.
  4. If you think it should be deleted for some other reason: list the file under files for deletion, by adding the {{ffd}} template on the file and then adding a listing to the WP:FFD pages following the instructions in the tag. This process may be used for images that are low quality, obsolete, unencyclopedic, likely to remain unused, or whose use under the non-free content rules is disputed.
  5. For disputed non-free files, you may alternatively use a listing on the non-free content review page.
  6. In each case, give proper notification to the uploader, following the instructions in the deletion tag.

To actually delete an image after following the above procedure, you must be an administrator. To do so, go to the image description page and click the (del) or Delete this page links. Administrators can also restore deleted images.

Image titles and file names[edit]

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Descriptive file names are also useful. A map of Africa could be called "Africa.png", but quite likely more maps of Africa will be useful in Wikipedia, so it is good to be more specific in a meaningful way, e.g. "Africa political map Jan. 2012.png", or "Africa political map with red borders.png". Check whether there are already maps of Africa in Wikipedia. Then decide whether your map should replace one (in each article that uses it) or be additional. In the first case give it exactly the same name, otherwise a suitable other name. Avoid special characters in filenames or excessively long filenames, though, as that might make it difficult for some users to download the files onto their machines. Note that names are case sensitive, "Africa.PNG" is considered different from "Africa.png". For uniformity, lower case file name extensions are recommended.

You may use the same name in the case of a different image that replaces the old one, and also if you make an improved version of the same image – perhaps a scanned image that you scanned again with a better quality scanner, or you used a better way of reducing the original in scale – then upload it with the same title as the old one. This allows people to easily compare the two images, and avoids the need to delete images or change articles. However, this is not possible if the format is changed, since then at least the extension part of the name has to be changed.

Placement[edit]

See Wikipedia:Image markup for recommendations on the best markup to use. For ideas and examples of how to place images, see Wikipedia:Picture tutorial.

Image galleries[edit]

Shortcuts:

Images are typically interspersed individually throughout an article near the relevant text (see WP:MOSIMAGES). However, the use of a gallery section may be appropriate in some Wikipedia articles if a collection of images can illustrate aspects of a subject that cannot be easily or adequately described by text or individual images. The images in the gallery collectively must have encyclopedic value and add to the reader's understanding of the subject. Images in a gallery should be suitably captioned to explain their relevance both to the article subject and to the theme of the gallery, and the gallery should be appropriately titled (unless the theme of the gallery is clear from the context of the article). Images in a gallery should be carefully selected, avoiding similar or repetitive images, unless a point of contrast or comparison is being made. Just as we seek to ensure that the prose of an article is clear, precise and engaging, galleries should be similarly well-crafted. See 1750–75 in Western fashion for an example of a good use of galleries.

However, Wikipedia is not an image repository. A gallery is not a tool to shoehorn images into an article, and a gallery consisting of an indiscriminate collection of images of the article subject should generally either be improved in accordance with the above paragraph or moved to Wikimedia Commons. Links to the Commons categories can be added to the Wikipedia article using the {{Commons}}, {{Commons-inline}}, or {{Commons category}} templates. One rule of thumb to consider: if, due to its content, such a gallery would only lend itself to a title along the lines of "Gallery" or "Images of [insert article title]", as opposed to a more descriptive title, the gallery should either be revamped or moved to the Commons.

Articles consisting entirely or primarily of galleries are discouraged, as the Commons is intended for such collections of images.

Note that it is not recommended to use animated GIFs to display multiple photos. The method is not suitable for printing and also is not user friendly (users cannot save individual images and have to wait before being able to view images while other images cycle round).

Fair use images may almost never be included as part of a general image gallery, as their status as being "fair use" depends on their proper use in the context of an article (as part of analysis or criticism). See Wikipedia:Fair use for more details. A clear example of an exception would be a gallery of comparable gameplay screenshots from a video game as it appears on two different platforms if the differences are relevant (e.g. reported controversy in the gaming press about the matter). Gallery markup is not intrinsically "unfair"; rather, most uses of that markup are for purposes that make fair use questionable.

Collages and montages[edit]

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Collages and montages are single images that illustrate multiple closely related concepts, where overlapping or similar careful placement of component images is necessary to illustrate a point in an encyclopedic way. (See File:Phoebian Explorers 2 PIA06118.jpg for an example montage.) The components of a collages or montage, as well as the collage or montage itself, must be properly licensed; and (as with galleries) fair-use components are rarely appropriate, as each non-free image used in the creation of the montage contributes towards consideration of minimal use of non-free images. If a gallery would serve as well as a collage or montage, the gallery should be preferred, as galleries are easier to maintain and adjust better to user preferences.

Image queuing[edit]

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Articles may get ugly and difficult to read if there are too many images crammed onto a page with relatively little text. They may even overlap.

For this reason, it is often a good idea to temporarily remove the least-important image from an article and queue it up on the article's talk page. Once there is enough text to support the image, any contributor is free to shift the image back into the article.

If a contributor believes such a queued image to be essential to the article, despite the lack of text, he or she may decide to put it back in. However, he or she should not simply revert the article to its previous state, but make an attempt to re-size the images or create some sort of gallery section in order to deal with the original problem.

It is a good idea to use the <gallery> tag for queued images on the talk page.

It is important that queued images not be lost when archiving of talk pages takes place.

Note: Unfree images (used under the fair use doctrine) should not be moved to talk pages in this fashion. Unfree images are only allowed as long as they are in actual use in an article for encyclopedic purposes. See Wikipedia:Fair use#Policy and Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion#Images/Media for details.

Format[edit]

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Generally:

  • Drawings, icons, political maps, flags and other such images are preferably uploaded in SVG format as vector images. Images with large, simple, and continuous blocks of color which are not available as SVG should be in PNG format.
  • Software screenshots should be in PNG format.
  • Photos and scanned images should be in JPEG format.
  • TV and movie screenshots should be in JPEG format.
  • Inline animations should be in animated GIF format.
  • Video should be in Ogg/Theora format.

Generally speaking, you should not contribute images consisting solely of formatted or unformatted text, tables, mathematical formulas, and musical scores. In most cases these can instead be typed directly into an article in wiki markup (possibly using MediaWiki's special syntax for tables, math, or music). This will make the information easier to edit, as well as make it accessible to users of screen readers and text-based browsers.

In general, if you have a good image that is in the wrong format, convert it to the correct format before uploading. However, if you find a map, flag, etc. in JPEG format, only convert it to PNG if this reduces the file size. For further advice on converting JPEG to PNG, see Wikipedia:How to reduce colors for saving a JPEG as PNG.

Most of the maps on the CIA World Factbook website were coded as JPEG, but are now coded as GIF. To update these photos, download the GIF picture from the CIA factbook, resave it in PNG format, and upload it to Wikipedia.

Try to avoid editing JPEGs too frequently—each edit creates more loss of quality. If you can find an original of a photograph in 16-bit or 24-bit PNG or TIFF, edit that, and save as JPEG before you upload. A limited variety of edits (crops, rotation, flips) can be performed losslessly using jpegcrop (Windows) or jpegtran (other); try to use this where possible.

Avoid images that mix photographic and iconic content. Though CSS makes it easy to use a PNG overlay on top of a JPEG image, the Wikipedia software does not allow such a technique. Thus, both parts must be in the same file, and either the quality of one part will suffer, or the file size will be unnecessarily large.

Direct SVG support is implemented as of September 2005 (see meta:SVG image support). The SVG is dynamically rendered as a PNG at a given size when inserted into an article. If you find that a SVG image is being cropped too closely by Wikimedia's rendering software, one way around this is to draw a box around the image at the distance it should be cropped, and set the box to have no fill and no stroke color.

Size[edit]

Uploaded image size[edit]

Uploaded files must be smaller than 100 megabytes (see, for example, File:St Peter Salzburg panoramic view of interior fullsize.jpg for an image approaching that). The MediaWiki software Wikipedia uses can resize images automatically as of version 1.3, so it is rarely necessary to resize images yourself. Please help ensure that Wikipedia content can be reused widely—including use in printed media—by uploading photographic images at high resolution. Use the Wikipedia image markup to resize it. If the image is copyrighted and used under fair use, the uploaded image must be as low-resolution as possible, and not be a substitute for the original work, because to be fair use, it must be minimal.

Displayed image size[edit]

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Images beside the text should generally use a caption and the "thumb" (thumbnail) option; the default results in a display 220 pixels wide (170 pixels if the "upright" option is used, 220 pixels for upright=1.0), except for those logged-in users who have set a different default in their user preferences. In general, do not define the size of an image unless there is a good reason to do so: some users have small screens or need to configure their systems to display large text; "forced" large thumbnails can leave little width for text, making reading difficult. In addition, forcing a "larger" image size at say 260px will actually make it smaller for those with a larger size set as preference, so the use of upright with a scaling factor is preferred wherever sensible.

Sometimes a picture may benefit from a size other than the default; see the Manual of Style for guidance.

  • Where size forcing is appropriate, larger images should generally be a maximum of 500 pixels tall and 400 pixels wide, so that they can comfortably be displayed on the smallest displays in common use. Since MediaWiki dynamically scales inline images there is no need to reduce file size via scaling or quality reduction when uploading images, although compressing PNGs may be useful.
  • Lead images should usually be no wider than "upright=1.35" ("300px").

Animated images[edit]

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Animated GIF files sometimes have problems when thumbnailed. If you find your animation corrupted or distorted when scaled down, try re-saving it with every frame the same size: A common optimization method in animated gif crunchers is to write variable-sized frames, sometimes labeled as: "Save only the portions of frames that have changed". Wikipedia's current version of ImageMagick does not seem to support this. If the color and duration of the original animation is very rich and long, it is preferably to be converted to Ogg/Theora video format instead of GIF. The downsides compared with GIF is that embedded video cannot be looped and played automatically when the page is loaded, but Ogg video has generally better resolution and the ability to contain audio.

Inline animations should be used sparingly; a static image with a link to the animation is preferred unless the animation has a very small file size. Keep in mind the problems with print compatibility mentioned above.

Content[edit]

While the subject matter of this video is "bias", its artistic meaning is unclear and it should not be used to illustrate the concept in a Wikipedia article.

Images on Wikipedia should be used in an encyclopedic manner. They should be relevant and increase readers' understanding of the subject matter. In general, images should depict the concepts described in the text of the article.

Images should depict their content well (the object of the image should be clear and central). For more information on images please check out WP:Images which talks about uploading, using, choice & placement.

Media with contemporary art interpretations of concepts should not be used to illustrate articles unless they have historical significance. For example, artistic renderings with ambiguous meaning made by Wikipedians rather than notable artists are best left out of articles.

Watermarks, credits, titles, and distortions[edit]

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Free images should not be watermarked, distorted, have any credits or titles in the image itself or anything else that would hamper their free use, unless, of course, the image is intended to demonstrate watermarking, distortion, titles, etc. and is used in the related article. Exceptions may be made for historic images when the credit or title forms an integral part of the composition. Historical images in the public domain sometimes are out of focus; display dye dropouts, dust or scratches; or evidence of the printing process used. All photo credits should be in a summary on the image description page. These may be tagged {{Watermark}}.

Privacy rights[edit]

When taking pictures of identifiable people, the subject's consent is not usually needed for straightforward photographs taken in a public place, but is often needed for photographs taken in a private place. This type of consent is sometimes called a model release, and it is unrelated to the photographer's copyright.

Because of the expectation of privacy, the consent of the subject should normally be sought before uploading any photograph featuring an identifiable individual that has been taken in a private place, whether or not the subject is named. Even in countries that have no law of privacy, there is a moral obligation on us not to upload photographs which infringe the subject's reasonable expectation of privacy. If you upload a self-portrait, your consent is presumed.

What are public and private places?[edit]

For the purposes of this policy, a private place can be considered a place where the subject has a reasonable expectation of privacy; and a public place is a place where the subject has no such expectation.

Examples of private places
  • Inside any private residence (including hotel rooms, tents, etc.)
  • Inside any restroom or dressing room
  • At any medical facility
  • Inside a private room in an otherwise public establishment such as a restaurant or hotel room
  • In the parts of a building where the general public is not allowed (for example, a private office)
Examples of public places
  • On the street or a sidewalk
  • Outdoors in an easily visible part of private property
  • In parks and recreation areas that are open to the public
  • At a large event where many people are openly taking pictures
  • In the parts of a building that are freely accessible to the general public (for example, a foyer or lobby)

Legal issues[edit]

There are a variety of non-copyright laws which may affect the photographer, the uploader and/or the Wikimedia Foundation, including defamation, personality rights and privacy rights. In consequence, the commercial use of these pictures may still be unacceptable unless the depicted person agrees.

Defamation may arise not only from the content of the image itself but also from its description and title when uploaded. An image of an identified unknown individual may be unexceptional on its own, but with the title "A drug-dealer" there may be potential defamation issues in at least some countries.

Moral issues[edit]

Not all legally obtained photographs of individuals are acceptable. The following types of image are normally considered unacceptable:

  • Those that unfairly demean or ridicule the subject
  • Those that are unfairly obtained
  • Those that unreasonably intrude into the subject's private or family life

These are categories which are matters of common decency rather than law. They find a reflection in the wording of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.

The extent to which a particular photograph is "unfair" or "intrusive" will depend on the nature of the shot, whether it was taken in a public or private place, the title/description, and on the type of subject (e.g. a celebrity, a non-famous person, etc.). This is all a matter of degree. A snatched shot of a celebrity caught in an embarrassing position in a public place may well be acceptable to the community; a similar shot of an anonymous member of the public may or may not be acceptable, depending on what is shown and how it is presented.

Examples[edit]

Normally do not require consent of the subject
  • A street performer during a performance
  • An anonymous person in a public place, especially as part of a larger crowd
  • Partygoers at a large private party where photography is expected
  • A basketball player competing in a match which is open to the public
Normally do require consent
  • An identifiable child, titled "An obese girl" (potentially derogatory or demeaning)
  • Partygoers at a private party where photography is not permitted or is not expected (unreasonable intrusion without consent)
  • Nudes, underwear or swimsuit shots, unless obviously taken in a public place (unreasonable intrusion without consent)
  • Long-lens images, taken from afar, of an individual in a private place (unreasonable intrusion)

Alternatives[edit]

If an image requires consent, but consent cannot be obtained, there are several options. For example, identifying features can be blurred, pixelated, or obscured so that the person is no longer identifiable. Also, the picture may be re-taken at a different angle, perhaps so that the subject's face is not visible.

See also[edit]