Wikipedia:Licensing for community images

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This is a proposal to modify the image upload policy for the English Wikipedia, to allow limited use of non-free images on user and community pages (but not in the encyclopedia). Non-free in this context means that unrestricted re-use outside Wikipedia is not allowed.

Pronouns such as "I" used below refer to User:Thue.


User pages are an important part of the Wikipedia community, as they allow editors to present themselves to each other. Images is a natural part of such a user page, for example an image of the user. For example User:Jimbo Wales, User:Angela, and User:Anthere have images of themselves on their user pages; until very recently Anthere also used a non-free image on her user page. An example of a non-free image currently in use is image:Raul654.jpg used by user:Raul654.

Wikipedia currently requires that images are licensed under a free license such as the GFDL. Free licenses are obviously very permissive, and if I upload a picture of myself under such a license, then it means that I among other things allow the image to be used in adverticements such as banner ads. For privacy reasons this is not very appealing.

Another example of why non-free community images are desirable was made on Jimbo's talk page by User:Raul654:

Having recieved similiar comments [that the images must be licensed under the GFDL] regarding both my userpage picture and the pictures I took at meetups (and bearing in mind the incident involving Sollog and the picture I took of Jimbo's daughter) I think I'd like to hear Jimbo's opinion on this.

The requirement for images to be free exists to make sure that Wikipedia is free content. As images of Wikipedians on Wikipedia userpages are not as such part of the encyclopedia, the policy demanding that the images should under a free license serves no purpose when applied to userpage images; it doesn't make Wikipedia any more free.

Some people seem to have reasoned that the reason I do not want to license my image under the GFDL is that I have not understod the point about Wikipedia being free, and I do not want to contribute to Wikipedia under the GFDL. A look at my contributions, and the fact that I license my contributions into the public domain, should show that this is not the case.

Existing policy[edit]

  • Non-free images can be speedied according to candidates for speedy deletion, which was created by a decree from Jimbo: "Non-commercial only and By Permission Only Images to be deleted".
  • There used to be a requirement on the image upload page that image you own must be uploaded under the GFDL license. This text seems to have been removed.
  • Wikipedia:User page explicitly disallows non-free images on userpages.
  • There is precendence for allowing personal images on user pages.
  • There is some precedence for using non-free images on user pages.
  • Wikipedia User pages are currently included in database dumps, and images database downloads are not filterable by their use on different namespaces. As such, it is technically difficult for content re-users not to download Wikipedia User pages, and it is quite easy for them to accidentally violate the terms of such images. This is a technical problem and presumably could have a technical solution, though one does not currently exist.


I propose that an exception is make to the existing Wikipedia copyright policy to allow limited use of non-free images on user and community pages. The images should be tagged with the license tag

Used by permission only

This work is copyrighted and used on Wikipedia by permission only. This work is licensed only for use on community pages at Wikipedia (that is, user pages and Wikipedia pages). It should not be used in any article.

It will still be required that the image source is cited.

Only images which have implications for the privacy of Wikipedians may be tagged with this template. For example, an image of a Wikipedian may be tagged, but an image of Angkor Wat the Wikipedian took on a vacation may only be tagged if the image contains members of the Wikipedian's family.

This proposal is not meant as a blanket permission for all kinds of images on userpages. The images of course still need to be legal, and Wikipedia is not a mirror or a repository of links, images, or media files should still be respected. Images for deletion can be used on a case by case basis for deleting inappropriate images.


Revisions of this proposal[edit]

  • Added a requirement that the covered images should have an element of privacy. Thue | talk 18:36, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Making this proposal official policy[edit]

As recommended by Wikipedia:How to create policy, unless consensus is reached a vote will probably be held at some not yet determined point at Wikipedia:Licensing for community images/vote. The voting time will be 14 days, will require 70% support to pass, and will be announced at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy).