Commons:Watermarks

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Legend

✓ = Acceptable
✘ = Not acceptable
✘ = Discouraged

A watermark is content embedded in a creative work that is not part of the creative work itself, and is used by the creator and/or copyright holder of the work to assert authorship and/or copyright, and to support the identification of unauthorised copying of their work.

For the purposes of Wikimedia Commons, watermarks are classified as

  1. ✘ Destructive watermarks, which significantly obstruct use of a work.
  2. ✘ Promotional watermarks, which go significantly beyond asserting authorship/copyright, for example to promote a website.
  3. ✘ Visible watermarks, which are neither destructive nor promotional.
  4. ✓ Invisible watermarks, which are forms of digital watermarking that do not affect use.

Information in unacceptable watermarks may be removed from the work and transferred to the file description page. Images with unacceptable watermarks may be tagged with {{watermark}} for processing.

Acceptable watermarks[edit]

✓ Invisible watermarks are acceptable, and should not be intentionally removed.

Invisible watermarks and EXIF data are the two main ways contributors can use to embed identifying information in media uploaded to Commons. See Commons:Enforcing license terms#Tools for identifying your work for more details.

Unacceptable watermarks[edit]

  • ✘ Destructive watermarks, which significantly obstruct use of a work
  • ✘ Promotional watermarks, which go significantly beyond asserting authorship/copyright, for example to promote a website

Neither of these forms of watermarking is acceptable, and continuing to upload media with these watermarks after warnings may be treated as a form of spam, which may lead to contributors being blocked from editing.

Information in unacceptable watermarks may be removed from the work and transferred to the file description page.[1] Images with unacceptable watermarks may be tagged with {{watermark}} for processing.

Discouraged watermarks[edit]

  • ✘ Visible watermarks

Visible watermarks are discouraged, as they detract from the usability of a work. Authors are encouraged to use the guide at Commons:Enforcing license terms#Tools for identifying your work. However, uploading of files with visible but relatively unobtrusive watermarks is merely discouraged, not prohibited. Authors and uploaders are reminded that any logos used as watermarks will be subject to separate copyright considerations: they may be available under a compatible free license, or be too simple to qualify for copyright, or be de minimis - or they may not.

What are not watermarks[edit]

  • Artists' signatures on paintings, captions and signatures on historic plates etcetera are not considered watermarks. In some cases it may be useful to provide a version of the file with such details cropped out or otherwise removed, but this should be uploaded as a separate file.
  • Timestamps added by digital cameras as visible details within a file are not considered watermarks. They are, however, discouraged – such details are often also added to metadata and therefore redundant, and in any case detract from the quality of the file – and their removal can be requested by tagging them with {{watermark|timestamp}}.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Does the Creative Commons license compel Wikimedia Commons to retain watermarks?

    Authors who are concerned about attribution will often be alarmed when visible watermarks are removed from their images. In the past, some of them have claimed that Creative Commons licenses explicitly forbid the removal of these watermarks, since they are a form of attribution. The community has explicitly rejected this interpretation of the license, adopting instead the interpretation that attribution statements can be re-located to the image description page and/or image metadata while remaining in compliance with the license. See Commons:Deletion requests/Template:CC-Dont-Remove Watermark.