Commons:Picasa Web Albums files

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Google's Picasa Web Albums (link), or Picasa for short, is a photo sharing site similar to Flickr, but with a greater emphasis on search and a different payment structure. They allow hosting of media under a variety of licenses, some free and some non-free. However, they have a number of features that make it difficult to use Picasa files on Commons. This guide describes how to correctly locate, source, and confirm the license of Picasa files.

Permitted licenses[edit]

When you view an image description page on Picasa, there will be a grey bar on the right-hand side containing information about the photo. Among these will be "Photo reuse", describing the license of the photo. You can click on the license to go to the page at Creative Commons with the full license name. The following table summarizes which of these can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

Label License name Accepted License tag
BY Some rights reserved Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC-BY) Yes {{cc-by-3.0}}
BY SA Some rights reserved Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Yes {{cc-by-sa-3.0}}
Copyrighted All rights reserved Unlicensed No
BY NC Some rights reserved Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported No
BY ND Some rights reserved Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported No
BY NC ND Some rights reserved Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported No

Any license that forbids commercial use or derivative works is not permitted for images on Commons; see Commons:Licensing for details.

Searching Picasa Web Albums for free media[edit]

Since Commons only accepts media licensed under the CC-BY or CC-BY-SA licenses, it'd be awfully nice if you could just search exclusively for media released under these licenses on the Picasa Web Albums website. However, this is impossible - you can choose to search for "Commercial Use", which only lists works allowing commercial use but may include images with "no derivatives" restrictions; or you can choose to search for "Remix allowed", which only lists works allowing derivatives but may include images with "non-commercial" restrictions. Because of this, you must confirm the license on every image you find. More specifically, to search for free media on Picasa, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Picasa Web Albums home page.
  2. Create an account and log in. Some images are only visible to logged-in users.
  3. Enter a search in the search box and click the Search button. Your initial search results will probably consist mostly of files with all rights reserved.
  4. Click "Show Options" at the top, above the search results. On the left-hand side, click either "Commercial use" or "Remix allowed".
  5. Look for an image you like. Once you find it, click on it, and check the license on the right-hand side to make sure it is okay according to the above table. Also check the image comments for any ad hoc license statement.

Currently, we do not have an automatic upload process. Proceed using Flinfo or the manual upload process below.

Flinfo[edit]

The Flinfo tool can assist in identifying and uploading freely licensed Picasa images.

  1. Go to Flinfo and enter the URL of the Picasa image page; then click "Get info".
  2. If Flinfo can find the image and image information, and the image is indeed freely licensed, Flinfo will display an image description in wikitext suitable for the Commons. It will also display a link to download the image from Picasa in its original resolution.
  3. Download the Picasa image using the link provided by Flinfo (just click on the link).
  4. Make sure you're logged in at the Commons. Then click the "Open upload form" button on the Flinfo result page. This will open the upload form here at the Commons. Select the file you just downloaded for uploading to the Commons, and choose a meaningful destination name for the image here at the Commons. You do not need to select a license; Flinfo already added the correct license tags in the file description.
  5. Upload.

Manual upload[edit]

  1. Use the Download -> Download Photo operation at the top of the Picasa image page to download a full-resolution copy of the image. Do not save the preview image shown on the image page.
  2. Obtain a link to the image description page as described below in Linking to a Picasa file. You will need this during the upload.
  3. Visit a Wikimedia Commons page and click "Upload file" on the left hand side, then click "It is from somewhere else".
  4. Select the image you downloaded, fill in the upload form, and note especially the following fields:
    • Source: Use the link from step 2 above.
    • Additional info: Place the tag {{picasareview}} to request a license review.
    • Author: Link to the author's page on Picasa Web Albums.
  5. (Optional) Leave the Picasa user a comment on their image page linking to the newly-uploaded image on Commons and thanking them - you may also ask here if a higher-resolution, original quality version is available.

Note that most images on Picasa will be limited to 1600 × 1200 in size, and will be reduced in quality compared to the original — this is not a limitation of the Picasa Web Albums service, but rather a default setting of the Picasa software, which downscales and lowers quality of images on upload. If you can, consider contacting the author to request a higher-resolution version of the image; see #Contacting users below.

Linking to a Picasa file[edit]

Once you've identified a file you want to upload on Picasa, you should make sure that the "Source" field in your upload description references the image description page. Unfortunately, if you reached the image in question via search, the URL in your address bar will not be permanent and should not be used (an example of a bad URL is "http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/view?imglic=creative_commons&psc=G&q=test#5329128623194504146"). Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Copy the image ID from the end of the URL (the number following the "#" symbol).
  2. Click the name of the album (following the word "Album" on the right hand side).
  3. Add the image ID back to the end of the URL and press ENTER.
  4. The correct image should appear. Copy the current URL - this URL should be a reliable permalink. Example: http://picasaweb.google.com/mevers68/Test#5329128623194504146

Alternatively, use the Flinfo tool which can often (though not always) resolve such search links automatically. Just paste the Picasa search result link into Flinfo's URL input field and click "Get info".

Contacting users[edit]

Unlike Flickr, Picasa does not provide any means of privately contacting users. If this were possible, it would be very helpful for obtaining original full-resolution versions of images, and for requesting that authors release their non-free works (or low-resolution versions of these works) under a free license. Since this is not possible, the next best thing is to leave a comment on the image you're interested in leaving your e-mail address (or a link to your Commons talk page) and making your request - see Commons:Flickr files#Changing_licenses for a guide to requesting a license change. Check the image page again later, as the author may choose to respond there using another comment.

See an example, used to procure File:JosephJackson2007.jpg.

Automatic upload[edit]

In the future, there will be a Picasa upload tool similar to Magnus' Flickr upload tool page. User:Dcoetzee is working on this.

Setting up a Picasa account[edit]

If you wish to set up an account on Picasa Web Albums, you will greatly aid compatibility with Commons if you follow the following important steps:

  • Use a valid e-mail address as your username. This will facilitate contacting you privately with any inquiries.
  • Choose a Commons-compatible license:
    1. Go to the Picasa Web Albums home page, log in, and click "Settings" in the upper-right.
    2. Click "Privacy and Permissions". Click "Allow reuse with attribution". Check "Allow remixing" and "Allow commercial use". If desired, check "Require Share-Alike". Click "Save Changes".
  • Set up your Picasa software to upload original size, original quality images, as follows:
    • Make sure you are running Picasa 3.6 or later, released in December 2009. You can check your current version from the Help→About Picasa menu. If you are not, download it here. Previous versions of Picasa reduced image quality unpredictably.
    • Open Picasa. Choose Tools→Options, then the "Web Albums" tab. From the "Default upload size" drop-down, choose "Original size".
  • Do not add watermarks to your photo; Commons has a policy against the use of visible watermarks. Instead, add EXIF metadata to your photos.

Picasa review[edit]

Just as on Flickr, users on Picasa Web Albums can change the license of any image at any time without any logging or tracking of prior licenses. To deal with this, Commons uses a review process for verifying the copyright status of images uploaded from Picasa, which allows for the verification of freely licensed images by a bot (not currently operational) or trusted user (admins and community approved users) and identification of images where the Commons license is different. This method cannot tell if the image was ever freely available.

Becoming a trusted user[edit]

A user who is not an admin can request permission from the community to review images at Commons:License review/requests. The community has seven days to raise any objection to the review permission.

Reviewers who regularly erroneously tag images may have their permission revoked on this subpage.

Questionable Picasa images[edit]

Some Picasa users may upload images they don't have the rights to, then license those images as free. When Commons users with Flickr accounts do this in an attempt to upload non-free photos to Commons, this is known as Flickr washing - so this might analogously be called "Picasa washing." So far we don't have a process for tracking questionable Picasa users - in the meantime, nominate any problematic images for deletion using the "Nominate for deletion" option on the left-hand side, and/or consider leaving a note at Commons talk:Picasa Web Albums files.

Guidelines[edit]

  • Images should be tagged with {{picasareview}} for review by bot or trusted user.
  • Images verified as freely available should be considered free, even if the license on Picasa changes.
  • Images which are no longer freely available at time of review should be marked as possibly unfree pending a decision on what to do with them on Commons talk:Picasa Web Albums files.

Static links[edit]

One problem when checking licenses of images coming from Picasa is some users provide a static link to an image preview, e.g. http://lh3.ggpht.com/_QrGuDcr0SYU/SfTeP3Pf-9I/AAAAAAAAAgA/rx7MHDaHrUc/IMG_0315.jpg. The final part, "IMG_0315.jpg" in this example, is the actual filename of the image, and you can try searching for it, possibly in combination with suitable keywords; once you find it, you can update the URL according to #Linking to a Picasa file above. Other than this, there is currently no known simple way to obtain the original image description page URL based directly on this cryptic URL.

In some cases, when not given a specific URL, you may find it helpful to search for the name of the depicted subject in various languages (e.g. Chinese, Russian) - Picasa has a large number of international users.

Protected public domain images[edit]

Some users on Picasa upload public domain images and mark them "all rights reserved," preventing you from downloading the full resolution version of the image. There is a workaround for this using the web API and User:Dcoetzee has a tool that uses it; leave a note on User talk:Dcoetzee.

See also[edit]