Commons:Village pump/Copyright

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Welcome to the Village pump copyright section

This Wikimedia Commons page is used for general discussions relating to copyright and license issues, and for discussions relating to specific files' copyright issues. Discussions relating to specific copyright policies should take place on the talk page of the policy, but may be advertised here. Recent sections with no replies for 7 days may be archived; for old discussions, see the archives.

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Je souhaite uploader une image qui n'est pas de ma création et qui n'est sous aucune licence[edit]


Je suis nouveau ici et je rédige depuis peu l'article Français portant sur le jeu The Talos Principle. Je souhaite uploader une image afin d'illustrer l'infobox de mon article seulement j'ai un soucis avec le processus d'upload qui m'impose de renseigner une licence de partage.

L'image que je souhaite uploader a été obtenue depuis le Dropbox entretenu par Croteam avec leur permission (obtenue via une conversation privée depuis leur page Facebook officielle). Quelle option dois-je sélectionner au moment de l'upload pour ne pas risquer de voir mon image supprimée ?

La précédente image que j'avais uploadé provenait de la page Anglaise traitant de Elle s'est vue supprimée un instant après l'upload, d'où ma confusion et mon inquiétude actuelle.

La personne chez Croteam a répondu cela quand je lui ai demandé sous quelle licence étaient les images de leur Dropbox : "This is picture made by ourselves, robot is our own 3D model and cat is a pet from our level designer. Therefore, we didn't use any 3rd party assets for which we would need to obtain license. We give you permission to use this pictures freely in your Wikipedia article."

Cordialement — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gamerizer (talk • contribs) 09:06, 28 January 2015‎ (UTC)

Images uploaded by MarshallADG[edit]

I am reviewing an article on the English wikipedia which uses many photos from the Marshall Aerospace website uploaded to Commons by MarshallADG (talk · contribs). I assume that the editor is someone associated with the company, since the material is somewhat promotional, but I noticed that the files all say "own work". Is there any documentation that Marshall Aerospace actually freely licensed this material? — Preceding unsigned comment added by StarryGrandma (talk • contribs)

Ukrainian govenrment map[edit]

Is this file in {{PD-UAGovDoc}}? --Rezonansowy (talk) 09:48, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

I'd say yes. While not legislative it is at least an official document with a political dimension. De728631 (talk) 13:59, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
I'd agree, on exactly the same argument. Seems fairly obvious. Revent (talk) 18:44, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

Copyright on selfie-by-bystander[edit]

I was unable to find if this has been discussed on Commons before.

There is a current deletion discussion where it is being asserted that the subject of an ostensible selfie video could not be the photographer, because the camera moved during the video, indicating it was being held by another. The real issue is not who is the "photographer," but who owns the copyright.

Normally, the "photographer" owns copyright, unless it is a work for hire and certain conditions are satisfied. However, that does not actually appear to be how the law is interpreted by at least one expert, see [1]. The "creator" of a work is not necessarily a person who merely holds a camera or pushes a button. It is the person who would commonly be understood as "creating" the work. I think that expert is correct, and this could have possibly affected many Commons discussions.

This is much more in accord with how a common person would think. If I hand my camera to a bystander, to take a photo of me, I don't expect that person to then claim ownership. I assume ownership. I have taken photos for strangers many times and never expected to have any rights at all. Never have I seen anyone suggest or ask for a written agreement.

Now, for the other side, see the argument at the end of [2]. I find the argument unconvincing, being based by analogy with a very different situation. The involvement of a bystander who merely holds a camera, spontaneously, under the direction of the person who is actually setting up the photographed situation is de minimus. The *most* that the camera holder could claim is co-ownership.

Where there is possible co-ownership with an unknown person, Commons, I'd suggest, may ignore it unless a second assertion of right is known. In fact, there could be possible co-ownership of many Commons images.

Another opinion: [3]. This may be informed legal opinion, but is ambiguous, in the end, and asserts that, defacto, the person who set up the photo owns the copyright, unless there is another claim.

Here is an opinion from another expert, very different: [4]. And another: [5].

The situation with the famous selfie being discussed is not the same as a complete bystander selfie, where the person's name often may not even be known.

And my personal opinion: we will not know the true answer to the selfie-by-bystander issue unless it is actually tested in court, and that decision is confirmed on appeal. Meanwhile, there will be users who claim "own work" when, really, someone else pressed the button. What do people think? Does anyone have better evidence on this? --Abd (talk) 19:03, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

You haven't cover the case when a monkey presses the button.[6] -- Swtpc6800 (talk) 19:30, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
I certainly read plenty of that researching this. It's partially relevant, but greatly complicated. The issue with the "monkey business" is the creative involvement of the human who was claiming copyright. Many opinions I saw were generally shallow. You go to Africa to take photos, say, you set up many situations. You spend money and you do work. Do you own the product of all that work? However, the specific monkey photo was not deliberately created. It was unintentional, though the photographer had obviously allowed the animal to play with the camera. There are ontological issues here, as to causation.
The story calls it "legal quagmire" because that is commonly true with copyright law. Nobody really knows for sure how to interpret it, because it is often outside of common law. Attorneys can only guess. Or have strong opinions that can lose in court.
However, this is very different from an intentional selfie. The DeGeneris group selfie is also complicated. The role of DeGeneris and the holder of the phone, as to the "creation" is unclear. Here, I'm asking about a true selfie, set up by the subject, who does provide the camera and the setup, and simply asks someone to hold the camera and press the button. This is unlikely to ever reach a court or be legally decided, or, at least, such would be so rare that we might wait a long time, and then still never hear about it unless it goes to an appeals court.
I have one opinion so far, by a Commons administrator, because I also raised this on an old proposed guideline talk page: [7]. That opinion is quite what I thought before researching it. I think it is what most people will think, who are not copyright experts. --Abd (talk) 20:01, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
Reading more on the w:Monkey selfie, that issue is not resolved. the U.S. Copyright office issued a ruling that a "work created by a non-human" will not be allowed copyright, but if I set up conditions, say in my studio, where natural forces create an image, which I select out of thousands created, say, I'm the artist. The photographer will claim that he set up the conditions -- at great expense, in fact -- where a non-human force resulted in a photo. He created it. And I have no idea how a court will decide. I have an opinion, shown by the example I gave of the artist, but courts, amazingly, sometimes don't agree with me. --Abd (talk) 20:12, 21 February 2015 (UTC)::*Here is another opinion, from the Guardian.[8]. Answers depend on questions, and the real question hasn't been answered by anyone with authority, i.e., a court. I have a sense that a court will agree with Slater, and that Wikipedia may lose. Having denied a DCMA takedown notice, it could be expensive. But that's not really the issue here. --~~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by Abd (talk • contribs) 20:23, 21 February 2015‎ (UTC)

My Canon SX600HS point and shoot camera has an "Auto Shooting after Face Detection (Smart Shutter)" feature. For example: "Auto Shooting after Smile Detection. The camera shoots automatically after detecting a smile, even without you pressing the shutter button." You can use the Wink Self-Timer: "Aim the camera at a person and press the shutter button all the way down. The camera will shoot about two seconds after a wink is detected." Who is the photographer? The button pusher or the winker. It has other modes like detecting a person entering the shooting area. You can control the camera from your smart phone. The human holding the camera is just acting as a tripod. -- Swtpc6800 (talk) 20:17, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

My opinion: the person who set it up. Intention is key (as it is with many legal situations). David Slater -- the nature photographer -- knew what he was doing. The specifics of the photos were "accidental," but that photos were taken was apparently not, he set it up, or so he claims. So in this case, Commons is hosting a photo where there is a human who may have ownership rights. (If a human has co-ownership with an animal, i.e, if the animal had been human, the human doesn't lose the rights because an animal can't own the rights.) Perhaps I should ask the uploader if he asked a monkey to hold the camera.
And, bingo. This is the monkey selfie, hosted here. It is now under a deletion discussion, since yesterday. Ah, it is such a beautiful photo. --Abd (talk) 20:43, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
This type of thing muddies all sorts of copyright situations, and (as you've found) you'll probably find as many opinions as there are responses. It's likely that different court cases could also end up different ways -- judges could also have differing opinions. And it could vary by country quite a bit. Without court guidance, it's going to be impossible to have any sort of real guidance. In general, the copyright in a photograph is based on the angle chosen, the framing, the lighting -- elements under control of the photographer. My own take... Degeneres probably owns the copyright, with perhaps a joint copyright with Cooper. Not because it was her idea, but more rather she chose the basic angle and framing, and handed the camera to Cooper to get a better angle -- if the angle was still her choice, that is primarily her authorship regardless of who pressed the button. But, it could be arguable that Cooper added his own specific framing -- in which case it could be joint authorship. There could also be an element of "work for hire" when someone asks and directs someone else to take a photo using their equipment -- may not meet one of the statutory definitions but a court might still rule that way. Simply owning the equipment doesn't do it though -- to me it's the act of directing that other person as to the elements and angle that makes the photo more the original person's authorship and less the person pressing the shutter. As for the monkey photo... yikes. Most of the time, I'd guess there is copyright on photos where someone sets up a camera, perhaps on a timed basis or a trigger or some sort, hoping to get a particular type of shot. At least in that case, the camera is positioned and framed by a human. For the monkey one... it's hard to identify exactly what specific expression is attributable to the human author. He put the equipment in place to potentially get a happy accident, I guess, but expression due to nature is not copyrightable -- and it's hard to attribute any of the actual expression in the photograph to the human author. The angle, framing, etc. was chosen by the monkey (or it just happened that way). Similar situation might be giving an elephant a paintbrush and canvas -- a human set up the conditions for a work to be created but the actual resulting expression is not attributable to that human. It's close, and maybe Slater could claim some sort of focus settings on the camera which resulted in the type of shot he wanted, but at least in the U.S. that might be a tough argument (particularly given the Copyright Office's guidelines -- those are challengeable in court but it's an uphill battle to get a court to contradict them). The UK uses a "skill, labour, and judgment" criteria... I'm not sure that skill and judgement are present either. But he may have a better chance in the UK than the US (which can also be an issue in disputes like this... someone used to a copyright regime in their own country may not completely understand when the subtleties are different elsewhere). Still, there could be a judge who sees things differently -- sometimes they rule like copyright was more intended to protect the expense or effort involved; it can feel "wrong" to make copies like that, and a judge may search for a way to rule that way. Another interesting question might be a camera attached to a rocket or balloon, set to take pictures at fixed intervals, then fired off -- the angles would be all over the place, with perhaps a happy accident resulting in a cool photo. There are probably many other similar situations which blur the lines as well. But in the end, you have to identify a copyrightable aspect of the photo (framing, angle, lighting, arranging the subject matter, perhaps timing) attributable to a human author in order for there to be a copyright. Some situations which might seem similar may differ in just one of those aspects and thus the result could be different. Carl Lindberg (talk) 00:26, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Your second-to-last sentence here is quite apt, in that one must be able to point at a specific identifiable aspect of 'the work itself' to create a claim. Well stated. Revent (talk) 23:09, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Willard Libby[edit]

I would like to use w:File:Willard Libby.jpg in w:radiocarbon dating, and asked another editor who knows more than I do about images to explain the tags. They think it's probable that the image meets {{PD-URAA}}, meaning that it could be uploaded here. They suggested I ask here and at the media copyright questions page on en-wiki, which I've done. Any advice? Thanks. Mike Christie (talk) 13:38, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

Several of these Nobel Prize photos have came up, and the basic problem is nobody knows the provenance of them, and it seems likely they could have been sent in by the winners themselves, with various photographers and varying places of first publication.--Prosfilaes (talk) 14:52, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
OK, I'll leave it on en-wiki and use a fair-use rationale. Thanks. Mike Christie (talk) 14:59, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

Need assistance[edit]

Hi! I found a logo for Bohol Wisdom School here: and Would it be alright to be uploaded for use in Thank you! Marvgabo (talk) 01:46, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

As it is copyrighted, you may only upload it as a fair use image (see the guideline) and only to English Wikipedia, not to Commons. Ruslik (talk) 18:48, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for that, User:Ruslik0! I'll try what I can do. — MG (talk) 07:03, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

File: Nityananda_Math_-_Simurali_2015-01-30_5375.JPG[edit]

"Dear Madam/Sir,
This photograph has been taken and uploaded by me with the 'self|GFDL|cc-by-3.0' license. All the photographs and EXIF of dated 30-01-2015 may please be seen. I can not understand reason for deletion. If there is any mistake from my side, please let me know, I shall rectify. I request to restore the image. Regards." As per the suggestion from User:Fastily, I wrote this letter to '' on 18 February, 2015. -- Biswarup Ganguly (talk) 15:57, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

I agree it should not have been deleted. Ruslik (talk) 18:45, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
@Gangulybiswarup: The OTRS volunteer will make an undeletion request, if all is in order, once they have processed your email. They are usually somewhat backlogged, and the 'temporary' deletion of an image that is later restored by OTRS request is not unusual, as their backlog can be longer than the time limit for a 'no permission' deletion request. You will get an email response from OTRS if there is still a problem. Revent (talk) 21:38, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

No subject[edit]

If I put a screen shot of google earth on my wikipedia page, am I violating any copyright issues? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kjenk28 (talk • contribs) 02:12, 24 February 2015‎ (UTC)

Questions about Wikipedia should be raised at whichever language edition of Wikipedia you have in mind. That said, you should not upload non-free Google content to Wikimedia Commons (this site), as you did less than half an hour after posting the question above. (And no, you're not the copyright holder of this content.) Wikimedia Commons only hosts free content. Please read Commons:Project scope/Summary for more information. LX (talk, contribs) 06:42, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

File:Yvonne De Carlo older.png[edit]

Please delete File:Yvonne De Carlo older.png Copyrighted screencaps. -- 11:21, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

✓ Done Next time, you can just add a {{copyvio}} template. Regards, Yann (talk) 14:30, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Uploades of User:Francomcdaddy[edit]

All six images in en:Aran knitting patterns were uploaded by User:Francomcdaddy, placed on the article page when it was created by the same user and the images are claimed to be own work but are all available in exactly the same resolutions on this webpage. They have not been questioned since their upload almost 2 years ago and the website has a clear "all rights reserved" notice. As a inactive user we are highly unlikely to get an OTRS verification for the images even if the user has such rights. What to do? Nominate all for deletion? Ww2censor (talk) 14:47, 24 February 2015 (UTC)


Hi, the above map was deleted a short while ago. As explained by Fastily, the map was deleted due to "Reusing copyrighted works (the 2 books from Taylor and Forty) into a derived work does not permit relicensing it with an open licence, without an explicit permission from authors, even if their attributions are present." In addition, he noted " Derivatives of non-free content are forbidden on Commons".

I still have a question about this, which i was not able to get to the bottom of. The map in question was largely based off Second World War British aerial reconnaissance photographs, reproduced in Forty's book with permission of the Imperial War Museum. Forty's work included an aerial photograph of the area with an overlay highlighting the various German and British positions and key features in and around the town. As i can no longer see the file's description, i do not know what page of Taylor's work was cited. If pp. 16-17, there is a hand-drawn map of the area (that would have only served a purpose of being used as a guide since the map deleted looked nothing like it and if i am not mistaken included features from the recon photo), otherwise the only other candidate would be p.40 that contains another Second World War British aerial reconnaissance photograph used in a similar way to Forty.

As the Commons is full of images uploaded from the IWM, all of which are in the public domain, and as far as i am aware the position of certain units is not copyrightable, is this file still classified as a derived work of a copyrighted work that cannot be reproduced?EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 22:14, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Prehistoric and historic cave paintings[edit]

Are w:cave paintings that are made thousands or hundreds of years ago all in public domain? An example is this prehistoric South African bushmen painting: the uploader claims it's licensed under GFDL and Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, however, the original work was created long before 1886, so it should be considered public domain. Editor abcdef (talk) 06:02, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

There are two separate works here: the cave painting itself, and the photograph of the cave painting by Jimfbleak. The cave painting is clearly in the public domain, but the copyright of the photograph is owned by Jimfbleak. Thus, the photograph was properly licensed by the uploader. — SMUconlaw (talk) 07:20, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
The surface the cave painting is on is not two-dimensional, but instead has a rough texture. In such a case, the photographer is making a 'creative decision' in how they chose to light the surface. Also, there are no defined borders to the original work (the drawing) and thus the actual framing is an artistic decision. For a photograph of a PD work to also be PD, any 'realistic' depiction of the same work would have to have an essentially identical appearance, which does not seem to be the case here. Revent (talk) 22:11, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Right, as with SMU and Revent. The uneven and non-flat cave walls mean that photographs attract their own copyright. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 05:48, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

File:Smyth The Great Comet of 1843.jpg[edit]

PD-old (Charles Piazzi Smyth lived from 1819 to 1900) or CC-BY-ND-SA as mentioned in the source website [9]? Started a DR . --C messier (talk) 14:27, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Nobody may license an image that is in public domain. Any such a license is invalid. So, the only option is pd-old. Ruslik (talk) 20:33, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Extract from Post Stamps[edit]

Hi. I have a question. Is it possible to upload extract images from post stamps? For example here. The original photo is copyrighted, but the post stamp where this photo is used not. So, could we keep this image under the same liscence under which the post stamp was uploaded? --Interfase (talk) 19:37, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Why do you think that post stamps are not copyrighted? Ruslik (talk) 20:36, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
Because they are product of state and can be upload under {{PD-AZ-exempt}} liscence. --Interfase (talk) 08:10, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't think this is permitted. The postal authorities have presumably obtained permission from the copyright owner of the image to use it on the stamps. However, the image remains copyrighted, and its appearance on a stamp probably doesn't mean that it is magically now in the public domain. — SMUconlaw (talk) 09:07, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
DR created: Commons:Deletion requests/Files in Category:Sattar Bahlulzade on stamps. Yann (talk) 10:40, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
I cannot agree with "image remains copyrighted". We don't upload original image. We just used the version which is used on the stamp. Original photo of course will be with higher quality and copyrighted, but we just upload a part of this stamp. --Interfase (talk) 14:08, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
FYI, the size of the file doesn't change its copyright status. This is only valid for fair use claims, which are not allowed on Commons. Regards, Yann (talk) 14:16, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Answered on DR page. --Interfase (talk) 14:24, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

British Museum Pictures?[edit]

I read in the news that the British Museum recently changed their licensing and is now working with wikipedia and wikimedia to make their collections more accessible. There is a photograph of a statue on the British Museum website that I want to use for an article I am editing. It's the only photograph of the object available, to my knowledge, because the item is not on display. I read through their terms of use, and I STILL can't figure out if I can use the picture or not. I also searched through the archives and couldn't find and answer. Help please? Florimell1919 (talk) 06:19, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

According to the websites Terms of Use you can not use content from their website within our scope of free licensing or public domain content. You can only reuse content from their website for “Approved Purposes” which are exclusively non commercial, thats not enough here. Under our rules (COM:ART) you can reuse photographic reproductions of 2D objects. Not 3D objects, not statues. --Martin H. (talk) 11:08, 26 February 2015 (UTC)


Hi! The attribution template {{STFBr}} was created in 2005 by Carlosar (talk · contributions · Number of edits) (inactive since 2009), most likely based on this license (wayback 12.2005): "As fotos desta página podem ser usadas gratuitamente. O crédito para o Supremo Tribunal Federal deve ser mencionado." = The pictures on this page can be used free of charge. The credit for the Supreme Court should be mentioned.


  1. Is this license by any means interpretable as the template suggests: "STF allows it to be used for any purpose, if the source of the picture is given. (...) Redistribution, derivative work, commercial use, and all other use is permitted." ?? Example: File:CarlosAyresBritto.jpg.
  2. The pictures on this page (...) = NOT ALL images coming from the website of Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF) are {{STFBr}} as the template suggests. Note that changed to around 07.2008 and the 1st link mentioned above (the license) disappeared. Actually there is no CC/Attribution or PD whatever license (so far as I could see) available at

Files affected (what links here): [10]: Common has around 60 files, mostly uploaded after 07.2008 from and which were taken mostly from their image bank ("Banco de Imagens") or other related sources. Example: File:His Excellency Celso de Mello 20120906.jpg or File:Néri da Silveira.jpg or File:Ministro Marco Aurélio STF.jpg. Gunnex (talk) 09:43, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

The BR copyright law about governmental media is a mess, if we based ourself in one obsolete law, all governmental media are under a PD after 15 years Art. 46, but, in the currently law nothing is mentioned [11]. I really do not know what to do. -- RTA 10:12, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
The old 15 years copyright term is reflected in {{PD-BrazilGov}} after the law changed in 1998 (1998-15=1983). Gunnex (talk) 18:13, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Is this US Army or not?[edit]

So is it, or isn't it?

After a long conversation with the original poster of the image to the right, I can confirm 100% that the person who clicked the shutter was a pilot for an airline under contract to the US Army. The image is of what was then a limited-access base, where only members of the US military and invitees could work. So, does this fall under the US Army release, or not? Maury Markowitz (talk) 13:27, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

If the facts are not completely certain, then the precautionary principle is weighted by our common understanding of "significant doubt". In this instance (and after some google image searching) I would not see sufficient doubt to be concerned for copyright, even though there is no specific on-line US-Gov release we can find.
I think this counts as making reasonable efforts to determine copyright were anyone to try to claim damages. -- (talk) 13:40, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
Thank's Fae, as always! Maury Markowitz (talk) 17:13, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Books from Oxford library[edit]

I'd like to know if I can upload on Commons a scan of a book available on the Oxford Libraries Online, the file is described here:

The pdf file shows a CC by-nc-sa license but obviously this edition is in PD, the author died in 1896 and the book was published in 1875.

I didn't find any template like {{Gallica}} especially made for books from Oxford library, and we don't seem to have many books from this siteat the moment on Commons, so I'm wondering if this scan is acceptable here. Thank you for your wise thoughtful advice! WεFt (talk) 21:53, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

@Weft: Before uploading the 'cover page' should probably be removed (because of the Bodelian Library logo). As far as the actual 'page images', merely scanning a PD book is not a 'creative act', so generates no new copyright. If the book itself is PD, so are images of the pages. See Commons:When to use the PD-scan tag for a fuller discussion. Revent (talk) 22:36, 27 February 2015 (UTC)