Wikipedia:Media copyright questions

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Media copyright questions

Welcome to the Media Copyright Questions page, a place for help with image copyrights, tagging, non-free content, and related questions. For all other questions please see Wikipedia:Questions.

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:File 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 Publish changes.
  6. If you still have questions, go on to "How to ask a question" below.
How to ask a question
  1. To ask a new question hit the "Click here to start a new discussion" link below.
  2. Please sign your question by typing ~~~~ at the end.
  3. Check this page for updates, or request to be notified on your talk page.
  4. Don't include your email address, for your own privacy. We will respond here and cannot respond by email.
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.

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Leland W. Carr C. 1930.jpeg out-of-copyright in public domain?[edit]

I have an old newspaper clipping from The Detroit News C. 1930 of a portrait and caption of Judge Leland W. Carr that I have scanned and would like to include on his page in Wikipedia. My question to you: Is this 80-90 year old clipping in the public domain and, if so, why is my scan rejected for upload? Thank you. Paukenspieler (talk) 16:33, 24 April 2021 (UTC)

It will depend on if the copyright was renewed or not. See WP:COPYEXP. RudolfRed (talk) 19:31, 25 April 2021 (UTC)

Improper use of copyrighted image?[edit]

Hello, this movie poster for Tampopo is uploaded as "own work." This poster is apparently by Ping Zhu for Janus Films I find it very doubtful that the uploader has the rights to this work. Is there a place to flag potential violations such as this? Thanks. Thixotrofic (talk) 17:38, 24 April 2021 (UTC)

@Thixotrofic: you can mark it for speedy deletion under criterion F9 or if you think it should be retained you can delete the current information and add a fair use rationale instead. Nthep (talk) 18:41, 24 April 2021 (UTC)
@Thixotrofic: The issue with this file's licensing has been resolved by another editor who converted it to non-free use. Just reference, this type of "own work" claim isn't all that uncommon. Sometimes it's just because the uploader doesn't know any better and misunderstands the meaning of "own work"; it's not attempt to try and "steal" someone's copyrighted content. You can in the future convert the licensing to non-free yourself if you think it was just an honest mistake and the way the file is being used would satisfy WP:NFCC. -- Marchjuly (talk) 13:28, 27 April 2021 (UTC)
Thanks. I saw it got updated. I know about non-free justification but didn't make the connection to try to convert it myself. Will look out for doing so in the future. Thixotrofic (talk) 14:24, 27 April 2021 (UTC)

Discussion at FFD concerning use of non-free images[edit]

I've opened a discussion at Wikipedia:Files for discussion/2021 April 24#File:Beach Boys Maharishi.jpg concerning the use of non-free images that appear to serve as the main means of visual identification of the article subject – in this case, deceased individuals, or cultural events – yet there is no accompanying 3rd party commentary on the images or their significance. I had originally considered raising the issue here first, but FFD seemed a more suitable venue. If any editors wish to weigh in there, please do. JG66 (talk) 12:43, 27 April 2021 (UTC)

@JG66: You should add individual {{Ffd}} templates to each file you've nominated for discussion per the instructions given at WP:FFD. -- Marchjuly (talk) 13:21, 27 April 2021 (UTC)
@Marchjuly: Could've sworn I did – but then it is something of a new area for me. Done so now. Thanks, JG66 (talk) 13:33, 27 April 2021 (UTC)

External image[edit]

Back in July 2020 I inserted an external image into the article Grob G104 Speed Astir using the external image template. See my diff. I did this because existing photographs of the subject are of very poor quality. (I was acting in accordance with permissions and guidance at Template:External media.)

My external image has now been removed from the article and it has been suggested to me that it may have been illegal or unwise for an image from that source to have been made available, regardless that it was inserted using the external media template. I would appreciate some advice on the status of this image when access is provided using the external media template. Thanks for your help. Dolphin (t) 13:18, 27 April 2021 (UTC)

Hi Dolphin51. It's not clear what you're asking. Are you asking about the copyright status of that particular photo? There is a copyright notice in the lower right corner of it which states that "Image Copyright © Marcelo484"; so, I think it's safe to assume it's copyrighted. Even if there was no notice, all photos published after March 1, 1989, are considered to be protected by copyright under US copyright law; so, a photo taken in 2009 is almost certainly still under copyright protection and linking to a website showing that photo is not going to change that. Whether you should link to the photo depends upon WP:COPYLINK and how you think it applies to this photo. Some websites do host content that they didn't not create without obtaining permission to do so from the copyright holder. Sometimes such a thing is allowed under a claim of fair use, but other times there might be some license laundering involved; it's those cases where the latter is considered likely that a link isn't allowed per relevant Wikipedia policy. -- Marchjuly (talk) 14:45, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
Thanks Marchjuly. The background to my question is that in Template:External media under the sub-heading Copyright it says “If you are uncertain about the copyright status ask for help at Wikipedia:Media copyright questions.” Dolphin (t) 22:27, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
The question is still the same: Are you asking about the copyright status of that particular photo? As I posted above, in my opinion, it should be treated as "copyrighted". -- Marchjuly (talk) 23:14, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
Dolphin51: Actually the template details {{External media}} give some clear reasoning on this matter. The second paragraph of "When to use" clearly states: The {{external media}} template should be removed as soon as a replacement of adequate quality and accuracy is available in WP:COMMONS. At that time, the link included in this template may be considered for inclusion as a regular WP:External link in the ==External links== section and because there is a suitable image already in the article your was removed. You can always ask the removing editor User:NiD.29 about for more clarity but their edit summary seems quite clear to me. ww2censor (talk) 16:26, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
Thanks Ww2censor. I acknowledge your quotation “The template should be removed as soon as a replacement of adequate quality and accuracy is available in WP:COMMONS. The key word is the adjective “adequate”! In the case of the Grob G104 Speed Astir the image in the Infobox and the two now available from COMMONS are clearly, unarguably, not adequate. (Have you looked at them?) Dolphin (t) 22:39, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
Determining whether a photo is "adequate" is sort of a content dispute (not a copyright dispute) that probably is best resolved through talk page discussion. Disagreements over external links need to be resolved according to WP:ELBURDEN and WP:DR. If a consensus is established in favor of adding a link, then it probably will be added; if not, it won't. An external link to copyright violating isn't going to be allowed per relevant policy, but an external link to non-copyright violating content isn't going to be automatically OK because it isn't to a copyvio. One thing about the image you're linking to that perhaps you didn't consider instead might be WP:PERMISSION. The website where you found the image has a way to "Contact photographer for terms of use." Maybe if you try that, the photographer would be willing to upload either this image or an equivalent image of the glider to Wikimedia Commons. Some editors have had success in procuring higher quality images for Wikipedia articles by simply reaching out to copyright holders and asking. -- Marchjuly (talk) 23:14, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
Thanks very much Marchjuly. That's good advice. Dolphin (t) 11:44, 29 April 2021 (UTC)
Dolphin51 - why are you starting the same discussion in four different locations? The outcome of this discussion won't overturn the fact that none of the links has any legitimate reason for being present.
This particular link fails for two reasons - it exists only as decoration (the caption provides no information beyond that it "is"), and wikimedia commons has three different images of the same subject - more than adequate to illustrate the page. Two of them show the subject in its entirety, even if they are not 100% ideal.
I posted a table of all of the affected pages I removed the links from, with the reasons why each was problematic at WT:AIR.
2 links were leeching directly to the image, with no copyright information. A third image was also leeching, but there was copyright info on the image.
This was where the statement of some of the links being illegal came from.
6 links were to search engine results.
5 links lacked copyright information.
Several links were to enthusiast sites that likely do not even have permission to use the image being linked to.
14 of the 27 links did nothing beyond provide an image of the subject, which was duplicated by wikimedia.
the other 13 only had value by way of identifying a specific variant that was in most cases also covered in wikimedia.
There was an average of 19.26 images per subject from these pages in wikimedia. The median was 11 images.
All of the links were from pages with at least one image in wikimedia. Only three had 3 or less.
100 images were in wikipedia for one of the pages, and 69 for another.
I did not go beyond pages I had recently edited for other changes, and did not check to see what other pages you have added these to - perhaps I should? - NiD.29 (talk) 00:59, 29 April 2021 (UTC)
Dolphin51: you have an opinion and just happen to disagree on the use of such images but as Nid.29 has stated the matter well and also pointed to an extensive discussion on this topic, I'll leave you to figure it out there. ww2censor (talk) 09:43, 29 April 2021 (UTC)
My thanks to all three Users who replied here. I will reply to NiD.29 on his Talk page and make an offer of how I think I can help. My thoughts now are how risky it can be to insert an external link into an article. At External media Wikipedia authorises the insertion of external media, grants permission for doing so; and even seems to encourage Users to do so. I certainly interpreted it as encouragement to go ahead, be bold and insert external images. There is a rather vague sentence or two about not violating copyright but not much really. One resource is offered - "If you are uncertain ask for help at Media copyright questions"; which I did.
NiD.29 has explained a lot to me. I now see that there are serious risks regarding hotlinking, theft of bandwidth, and others. There is nothing at External media to alert Users who, in good faith, wish to make use of the template to improve articles. NiD.29 determined there was a problem with the source to which I linked. He provided some links to documents I needed to read. Significantly, none of that information appears to be linked to External media. When I asked my question at Media copyright questions no-one commented on hotlinking or theft of bandwidth. I am beginning to think that External media contains inadequate information for good faith Users who are likely to fall into these traps. External media should be promptly supplemented with a lot more supporting and explanatory material. On the other hand, perhaps the best thing would be for External media to be taken down until it is re-worked to provide good faith Users with the guidance they need to avoid embarrassing Wikipedia by linking to "unsatisfactory" places on the internet. Dolphin (t) 12:00, 29 April 2021 (UTC)

Question on newly-discovered Mozart allegro[edit]

A student editor that I support, Helicopter331 raised a question that I'd like a second opinion on.

For my article Mozart Allegro in D major, my partner and I were planning to add an image of the first few measures of a score of the piece. There is a score available on We wanted to screenshot the first few measures and use it in the article. I was wondering if this is considered fair use? It states that the copyright is Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 and I believe that the work itself is in the public domain. Please let me know your thoughts.

I agree with them that the work itself is PD, and that the (admirable) work the authors did don't constitute enough to create a new copyright over the allegro itself, so that the CC-by-NC-ND licensing only applies to the first and last page, or maybe the collected work as a whole. Thoughts? Ian (Wiki Ed) (talk) 13:59, 27 April 2021 (UTC)

Yes, Ian (Wiki Ed), you are correct. The notation is in the public domain due to age and no additional copyright was attained by the transcription. Please upload as PD. – Finnusertop (talkcontribs) 15:35, 27 April 2021 (UTC)
Finnusertop, thanks! Ian (Wiki Ed) (talk) 15:41, 27 April 2021 (UTC)

Flag question[edit]

Is there a reason why File:Flag of the Commissioners of Irish Lights.gif is subject to copyright when many other flags are not? What makes it different to File:Trinity House Ensign (pre-1937).svg, for example? Mjroots (talk) 18:05, 2 May 2021 (UTC)

Is Trinity House part of the British government? The file name suggests that File:Trinity House Ensign (pre-1937).svg is from before 1937 and in that case it is {{PD-UKGov}}. Even if it isn't a government work, it could still have expired due to age.
According to Commissioners of Irish Lights#Flags, a different flag was used until 1970, so the current flag can't have been created until then. The flag enters the public domain in the UK 70 years after the death of the flag designer. --Stefan2 (talk) 19:48, 2 May 2021 (UTC)
Trinity House has a royal charter but is not a part of the UK government so PD-UKGov isn't applicable. The Commissioners of Irish Lights is both a British and an Irish body. I have to say that I don't think either rationale for File:Flag of the Commissioners of Irish Lights.gif. In the article on CIL it's not fulfilling the function stated in the NFUR and the other article it is used in it is inaccurate as it isn't the right timeframe. Nthep (talk) 20:59, 2 May 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the input. I've removed the flag from the shipwreck list and it's NFUR from the image. I've also challenged the assertion that all parts of NFUR are not met, giving my rationale for that at talk. Mjroots (talk) 05:24, 3 May 2021 (UTC)

"link=" CC-BY files[edit]

As far as I know, doing this is a violation of the license, because it doesn't provide any attribution. The same guidance is also at Wikipedia:Extended_image_syntax#Link and Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Accessibility/Alternative_text_for_images#Decorative_images which says to only do this on CC0/public domain images and not CC-BY/GFDL. However quite a few experienced editors and even admins do this, so I'd rather confirm that it would be correct to remove the "|link=]]" syntax before going around and editing people's user pages. Dylsss(talk contribs) 14:00, 3 May 2021 (UTC)

If the file is not in the public domain but licensed under a free licence, then usually the licence requires attribution and a reference to the licence in one way or another. As I see it, if you make it impossible to click on the image, then this information has to be provided in the image caption (or some similar location) or else the licence terms are violated. --Stefan2 (talk) 15:54, 3 May 2021 (UTC)
Thanks. Dylsss(talk contribs) 16:04, 3 May 2021 (UTC)

Image on Wikipedia - is it correctly licensed?[edit]

I was reading up on the North American Numbering Plan just now and noticed that the article uses an image of the front cover of an area code handbook from 1962 published by the Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, which seems to be Verizon Pennsylvania these days. The image was uploaded to Wikipedia by User:Kbrose, who claims to hold the copyright to the image.

That isn’t right, is it? Either Bell renewed the copyright to the original, in which case its successor still holds the copyright, or it didn’t, in which case the image is in the public domain. Given that the image on Wikipedia's servers is a faithful representation of a two-dimensional image, I can't see how Kbrose can own the copyright of that image.

I looked over his file history and he has uploaded a couple of similar images, some of which are old enough to be indisputably in the public domain (and correctly labelled as such) but at least one other not.

What if anything should be done about this? Thanks. (talk) 19:29, 3 May 2021 (UTC)

The uploader might hold the neighbouring right to the photographic image in countries where there is a neighbouring right for photographic images, such as the Nordic countries, Germany and Italy. The uploader is unlikely to hold any rights to the image in countries where there is no such neighbouring right, such as the United States.
The original front cover is either in the public domain in the United States (if it was published without notice and/or without renewal) or copyrighted by the phone company if published with notice and with renewal. The original front cover is copyrighted in France and possibly other countries because of a ruling in the French supreme court which says that the Berne Convention's ban on copyright formalities trumps the Berne Convention's right to use the rule of the shorter term. --Stefan2 (talk) 22:10, 3 May 2021 (UTC)
Thanks. I'll bring it up with the uploader. (talk) 01:42, 4 May 2021 (UTC)

Is Pokémon Go Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.jpg actually non-free?[edit]

Pikachu on the side of a plane, marked as CC0 and available on Commons

File:Pokémon Go Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.jpg is currently marked as a non-free poster, but there's nothing in the file that could be construed as a poster. Indeed, the only copyrighted media present in the photograph is the Pikachu, which is why I'm here. Here's a full size version of the image. The use of Pikachu is not the main attraction of the image, it's the blue sign in its entirety (with more emphasis on the text than the yellow Pokemon). Would the Pikachu count as de minimis here in the same way that the Pikachu on the side of the plane has been determined as being de minimis? If not, would we be able to edit the file, censor the Pikachu, and reupload it? It's not much use in the Pokemon Go article if the readers can't read the text. Anarchyte (talkwork) 14:19, 4 May 2021 (UTC)

I agree with your assessment that this is probably a case of c:COM:DM regarding the Pikachu image. The file was most likely uploaded in good faith by an editor who was just tying to be cautious. However, I think the image is of questionable encyclopedic value even if its licensing is converted to PD for the reasons you give; moreover, it clearly fails WP:NFCC#8 (in my opinion) if it needs to be kept as is, but changed to a different non-free license. As for blowing up the sign and removing or bluring the Pikachu imagery, such a thing might work but the Pikachu is wearing a cap which I’m assuming is connected to the facility; so, the connection between the sign’s text and Pikachu imagery might be deeper than it appears in that particular Flickr photo. There might also be an issue with the sign’s text per c:COM:CB#Noticeboards and signs even without Pikachu if the sign itself isn’t PD since the text itself could possibly be protected by copyright. My guess though is that the photo and sign are both c:Template:PD-USGov-Interior-FWS since the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is the US government agency in charge of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and the photo is attributed to an employee of the USFWS. I’m not sure of the quality you could get from such a blown-up image or whether there would really be much encyclopedic value in doing so. Perhaps someone at WP:GL/P could do a good job with that, but it seem better to just try and get a cleaner image of the sign minus the Pikachu imagery since the photo would likely be ineligible for copyright per c:COM:2D copying if the sign is PD. — Marchjuly (talk) 15:56, 4 May 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply, Marchjuly. I'll respond in more detail later, but you're not alone in your NFCC concerns. That was the initial reason I brought this up. Anarchyte (talkwork) 16:02, 4 May 2021 (UTC)

D12's The Underground E.P. Cover[edit]

Hello, I recvently uploaded a file consisting of the cover of "The Underground EP" by D12. I lowered the resolution and is only used in 1 article about D12's discography in order to abide by the "limited use" rules. Still, it says it does not meet the criteria required by Wikipedia:Non-free content (see my talk page). I am a bit lost and would like some help in this regard. Germenfer (talk) 15:36, 6 May 2021 (UTC)

Hi Germenfer. Please take a look at this for more details. In general, non-free album cover art is considered OK to upload and use for primary identification purposes either in the main infobox or at the top of stand-alone articles about the album in question, but other types of non-free use are much harder to justify and almost never allowed. So, if you were using this file in a stand-alone article about the EP, then it would probably be fine; however, using it in that discography article is going to be seen as a decorative type of non-free use that isn't allowed. Just for reference, there's been a long-standing consensus against this type of non-free use in discographies (either in stand-alone discography articles or embedded discography sections) which means there's going to have to be a really strong justification for non-free use for the image to stay in that article. If you feel you can provide such a justification, you should do so at File talk:The Underground EP - D12 (CD Cover).png. An administrator will review what you post and decide what should be done next. -- Marchjuly (talk) 22:26, 6 May 2021 (UTC)

Jay Hennick Head Shot.png has been marked as a possible copyright violation.[edit]


This is an image of my Company's CEO from our corporate site. How do i get it undeleted/properly attributed so we can use his headshot on the Jay Hennick Wikipedia article? — Preceding unsigned comment added by CowPowMonly (talkcontribs) 16:30, 6 May 2021 (UTC)

(Non-administrator comment) Hi CowPowMonly. You've pretty much asked the same question over at User talk:Hut 8.5#File:Jay Hennick Head Shot.png. Hut 8.5 is an administrator and perhaps they will respond in more detail there, but basically you will need to follow instructions given either at User talk:CowPowMonly#Speedy deletion nomination of File:Jay Hennick Head Shot.png or c:User talk:CowPowMonly#File:Jay Hennick Head Shot.png. What is needed is a formal verification of the intent of the copyright holder to release the image under a copyright license that Wikimedia Commons accepts. You've tried to upload the same file twice (once to Wikipedia as File:Jay Hennick Head Shot.png and once to Wikimedia Commons as c:File:Jay Hennick Head Shot.png) and its been deleted each time by an administrator for the same reason; so, please don't re-upload the file again to either Wikipedia or Commons without addressing this issue because it's only likely going to only end up deleted again. For what it's worth, a deleted file isn't gone forever and can be restored by an administrator once the issue which led to its deletion has been resolved. You need to get in touch with the copyright holder of the image and ask them to email their consent to Wikimedia OTRS so that it can be verified. Verbal or written permission given only to you is insufficient for either Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons. You can find out more about this at c:Commons:OTRS#If you are NOT the copyright holder.
Finally, I posted some information about Wikipedia:Conflict of interest and Wikipedia:Paid-contribution disclosure on your user talk page for reference; such things aren't really related to the file licensing issues you're having, but those pages provide information that you may find helpful if you intend to continue editing content on Wikipedia related to Jay S. Hennick -- Marchjuly (talk) 22:16, 6 May 2021 (UTC)

Public domain question[edit]

In your opinion(s), is File:CommentaryOnTheGeneralPrologueToTheCanterburyTales.jpg simple enough to be public domain due to failure to reach the threshold of originality? Thanks in advance-- Therapyisgood (talk) 02:36, 8 May 2021 (UTC)

I'd say no, not simple enough to be PD in US. – Finnusertop (talkcontribs) 02:44, 8 May 2021 (UTC)