Wikipedia:Media copyright questions

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How to add a copyright tag to an existing image
  1. On the description page of the image (the one whose name starts File:), click Edit this page.
  2. From the page Wikipedia:Image copyright tags, choose the appropriate tag:
    • For work you created yourself, use one of the ones listed under the heading "For image creators".
    • For a work downloaded from the internet, please understand that the vast majority of images from the internet are not appropriate for use on Wikipedia. Exceptions include images from flickr that have an acceptable license, images that are in the public domain because of their age or because they were created by the United States federal government, or images used under a claim of fair use. If you do not know what you are doing, please post a link to the image here and ask BEFORE uploading it.
    • For an image created by someone else who has licensed their image under the GFDL, an acceptable Creative Commons license, or has released their image into the public domain, this permission must be documented. Please see Requesting copyright permission for more information.
  3. Type the name of the tag (e.g.; {{GFDL-self}}), not forgetting {{ before and }} after, in the edit box on the image's description page.
  4. Remove any existing tag complaining that the image has no tag (for example, {{untagged}})
  5. Hit Save page.
  6. If you still have questions, go on to "How to ask a question" below.
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Note for those replying to posted questions

If a question clearly does not belong on this page, reply to it using the template {{mcq-wrong}} and, if possible, leave a note on the poster's talk page. For copyright issues relevant to Commons where questions arising cannot be answered locally, questions may be directed to Commons:Commons:Village pump/Copyright.

Suspicious Doctor Who images[edit]

What is the best tag to apply to File:Series 8 Doctor Who.jpg which is dubiously claimed to be "crown copyright"? It's a BBC TV programme title card, which apart from the format is a duplicate of File:Doctor Who - Current Titlecard.png. Other uploads of Theexploringgamer seem like copyvios too. --Redrose64 (talk) 17:20, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

BBC publications are not covered by Crown Copyright. These uploads would have to be covered under Fair Use and as the file is not in use it should be tagged for deletion as unused fair use. QuiteUnusual (talk) 21:04, 24 September 2014 (UTC)


@Jc86035: I want some opinion on the usage of public domain images ineligible for copyright in the United States but not in their source countries. File:MTR logo notext.svg brings my attention when it is added to {{S-rail/lines}} so the image is embedded in over hundreds of Hong Kong metro station articles. AFAIC, Wikimedia imposes stricter copyright policy to reduce legal exposure. If the media file is not ineligible for copyright in both US and the source country, shouldn't its usage meet our WP:NFCC instead? -- Sameboat - 同舟 (talk) 01:18, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

Commons has that stricter copyright police; the English Wikipedia doesn't. There is zero legal exposure to an organization established in the US from foreign copyright laws, and to the extent they might have to worry about it, being PD in both the US and the source country doesn't necessarily mean that it will be PD in a third-party country.--Prosfilaes (talk) 02:31, 24 September 2014 (UTC)
Do you mean that such media file can be used in all Wikimedia sister projects but Commons without restriction like any fully copyleft material? -- Sameboat - 同舟 (talk) 02:48, 24 September 2014 (UTC)
No, each project sets its own rules, and many projects will only accept images that are acceptable in their source nations.--Prosfilaes (talk) 06:06, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

Similarly, {{FoP-USonly}} (used on 368 images, example File:Burj Khalifa.jpg). I've never been comfortable with such licensing. --Hammersoft (talk) 15:52, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

By the letter of the Resolution and NFC these would be "free" and have no restriction on usage, and we do have disclaimers for content reusers to check licenses of all images to make sure they can be reused in their country, so there's technically no issue. But I'm in agreement that we really ought to treat these "less than free, but more than non-free"; they need a license tag (duh) and affirmed sourcing to know they were published previously, but I would consider restrictions on non-article space (particularly templates) so that reusers have an easier time using our content if they are in a non-US country. --MASEM (t) 16:17, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

Restrictions to what? What set of rules do you want? Commons rules hardly solve the problem; there are known problems using images from Commons in Germany and Canada (which has no rule of the shorter term for the US), in France and other nations (which do not treat non-renewal and no-notice works as having expired their term of protection for the rule of the shorter term) and quite possibly in any number of nations that don't use other nations FoP rules. In you want a work to be free worldwide, it's 120 years from creation for anonymous works (US law), both 95 years from publication and 100 years from death (US + Ivory Coast, no shorter term) unless it was published after 2002, in which case it's just 100 years from death (Ivory Coast, no shorter term).--Prosfilaes (talk) 06:06, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
Which resolution are you talking about? Under wmf:Resolution:Licensing policy, files are unfree unless they satisfy Freedomdefined:Definition. Under Freedomdefined:Definition, a file is unfree if it is copyrighted in one or more countries somewhere in the world, unless the file is freely licensed. A file with {{FoP-US}} or {{FoP-USonly}} is unfree in one or more countries (for example Samoa: 75 years p.m.a., no rule of the shorter term, no FOP). A file with {{PD-ineligible-USonly}} is typically unfree in the United Kingdom, and files with {{PD-ineligible}} are typically unfree there too. Thus, wmf:Resolution:Licensing policy stipulates that such files are unfree, and Wikipedia may not circumvent this.
In the Ivory Coast, the copyright term expires at the same time as in the source country (or 99 years after the death of the author if the Ivory Coast is the source country). --Stefan2 (talk) 14:07, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
If we need to treat files on that technically do not fully meet the world-wide free aspects as non-free, we need to do a massive sweep of files using those templates. Most are presented as "free" images and lacking the official non-free rational. --MASEM (t) 14:27, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
Keep in mind that Commons does not follow wmf:Resolution:Licensing policy either by only considering the copyright status in the United States and the source country but not in other countries... --Stefan2 (talk) 14:39, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
So a fair question is: how does commons consider the handful of images that have limited copyright-restrictions as free within the context of the Resolution? Assuming they have that langauge, we should also adopt similar language for these images if we don't want to tag, say, all PD-ineligible as non-free? I'm sure there's some rationale here for that approach, we just need to identify it. --MASEM (t) 14:52, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
The Ivory Coast does not have the rule of the shorter term; the footnote at that page says that "This country implements a reciprocity rule rather than a true "Rule of the Shorter Term". A foreign work is protected to the extent this country's work is protected in the foreign country.", meaning that many US works (for example) get a longer time in the Ivory Coast (a full 95 years) then they do in the US.--Prosfilaes (talk) 05:57, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
@Sameboat: I've removed the logos due to their disputed copyright status Jc86035 (talkcontributions) 10:32, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

Old photographs[edit]

Can a photograph taken in the USA at some indefinite point between 1900 and 1911 still be within copyright. I'm keen to use this image (Cadet Corp in Woodburn Circle) which clearly shows a building completely lacking a wing which was well documented and completed in 1911 - Allowing for building and construction time, I put this photo at about 1905. However, the site owner claims this image is copyright. What's the ruling on this please? Giano (talk) 10:50, 27 September 2014 (UTC)

I think you ar eout of luck. If the photo was actually published before 1923 it is in the public domain but if it was unpublished it falls into the public domain 120 years after creation when the author is unknown. If the author is known the copyright term is 70 years pma. See Cornell's public domain chart. ww2censor (talk) 10:55, 27 September 2014 (UTC)

how uplode aphoto or image — Preceding unsigned comment added by M.B raju (talkcontribs) 12:03, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

General copyright quuestion[edit]

I am trying to improve the article Buffalo, New York by incorporating an image I found from Flickr. I've reached out to the author who currently has all rights reserved on the image. The author said he is open to allowing his image for incorporation but is a bit insecure about how safe his content would be. In particular, he is concerned about his work being sold off or used by a company/other groups with no mention or credit of it being his photo. He said he isn't fully aware of licensing, and I'm not either and I'd just like to know what the CC licenses from Flickr do to help with image credit, if anything. --Dekema2 (talk) 17:02, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

Any CC license that includes BY requires attribution. However, CC licenses that include either NC or ND are not acceptable for Wikipedia, so their choices come down to two: CC BY CC-BY icon.svg and CC BY-SA CC-BY-SA icon.svg. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:04, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
And those two acceptable licences allow both commercial and derivative use, so if the author is not prepared that it could happen, he should not give permission. He can however define the nature of the attribution if he wants to but some further users just do not comply. Some Flickr users will change the licence for a while and then revert it back on Flickr. They cannot revoke the licence they give us at the time of upload but it may give them a better sense of security in so far as the only free licence is initially available here or on the commons. Good luck. ww2censor (talk) 19:56, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
An argument to make is that as long as he has the images up at flickr under a non-CC licnese, there will still be people that will attempt to use and sell the work without their attribution or permission in the same manner as if they were Cc-by/cc-by-sa - there's always that risk once you put something to the Internet. The only change is that there would be a second copy now at and while we will certainly assure crediting, there are also similar people that will sponge off our works without credit. --MASEM (t) 20:14, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

Thank you all for your help, I think this should help clear things up for the author a bit. --Dekema2 (talk) 22:45, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

Wanted posters[edit]

A recent example of "FBI most wanted" is Eric Frein. His photo is available at and widely distributed in press sources --- nobody, outside Wikipedia, seems to have qualms about reproducing the photo in this case. However, File:EricFrein.jpg was deleted (user didn't specify). A previous case at [1] seemed to get no real definitive response. The FBI/DOJ site itself has a legal notice that is mealy-mouthed. [2] Some other wanted posters have been uploaded though, as government work. [3] Which leaves us in a predicament. I mean, if we go the usual Wikipedia anal-retentive route, then these photos are generally unpublished copyrighted works that we "don't have a right to copy" theoretically. I'm surprised the usual WP:EL fanatics don't block us from linking to Top Ten List entries, because the FBI is violating the shooter's copyright... But is there some loophole written into the law for wanted posters? Or is the whole thing a case of Fair Use? And if it is a case of Fair Use, is it possible that we could write up a boilerplate Fair Use Rationale template that accepts one parameter, the guy's name, and one other parameter, the agency out to get him, and all the rest is pre-filled so the user doesn't have to worry about it? Or something? It's just pathetic when we can't include the images everybody else has without a second thought. Wnt (talk) 02:33, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

The FBI using a copyrighted photo in fair use is not a copyright violation, and thus not an EL issue. Assuming that the person is notable for their own article, and the person is currently on the run, then yes, for identification of that image, the FBI photo from the most wanted list is allowable under non-free (since we cannot expect to find the person to take a free picture of it). --MASEM (t) 03:22, 30 September 2014 (UTC)
The "currently on the run" part bothers me. It would probably be faster to wait by the local police station to take a snapshot of Frein if/when he's caught than to try to arrange a paparazzo photo of many celebrities ... especially one meeting up to Wikipedia's "moral" expectations. And on the other hand, I'd think that the event of actually being put on a wanted poster would be worth covering/memorializing itself. The notion of being able to put up information temporarily not only seems offensive to the notion of making a permanent encyclopedia, but is at odds with the fact that news agencies definitely don't remove such photos from their archives of old news. Wnt (talk) 09:54, 30 September 2014 (UTC)
But we do allow for the NFCC#1 exception for this, because there's no reasonable expectation that one can take a free image at the immediate time, so a non-free is fine. Further, once caught, the booking photo may or may not be free (depends on where booked), and once incarcerated, is definitely out of the ability to get a free image. Of course, if it becomes a situation where a free image is possible - say, for some reason, all charges against a most wanted person are clearly dropped, and thus the person cannot be "on the run" anymore, then yes, we re-evaluate at that point. I would not say that the act of being put on the most wanted list would merit a nonfree image to show that (since that can be documented with text), but the image used for that can be used for the person's infobox photo. --MASEM (t) 05:52, 1 October 2014 (UTC)


The Facebook logo uploaded here claims that it's not copyrighted but it is trademarked. However, does this mean it can be freely used in any article? Facebook itself says no: "Don’t Use the Facebook logo in place of the word “Facebook”. I think Wikipedia might be misusing it here:

Thought I'd get an expert opinion before changing anything. — Brianhe (talk) 01:51, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

The Facebook logo is considered too simple to be copyrighted (eg it fails the Threshold of Originality test due to being just a text logo), so that is why it is considered free. However, we should still respect trademarks, so to use the logo in a disparagingly way would not be appropriate. But in all the cases you have above, the logo use is far from this: for 2000s and Social media, it's an example; it's a reasonable image on Censorship and fine for a template. Reading their brand guide, they're saying that if we used the phrase "Facebook is a social media site", we should not replace "Facebook" in that sentence with the logo, but in the cases here, its being used to illustrate outside prose, so should be fine. --MASEM (t) 05:48, 1 October 2014 (UTC)