Commons:Bad sources

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This is a list of so-called bad sources of content that initially appear usable on Commons, but on closer inspection are not usable or are self-contradictory. Files from any of these sources should be tagged with the {{subst:nld}} ("no license") or {{subst:npd}} ("no permission") templates. Doing so will place such files in the adequate subcategory of Category:Unknown.

List of bad sources[edit]


Alchetron combines Wikipedia articles with mostly non-free and frequently misidentified images grabbed from the Internet. There is a "CC BY-SA" notice at the bottom of every page, but this refers only to the text from Wikipedia, not the images. Clicking on an image on the site provides a "source" in the form of a "Visit Page" link, which is actually just a deeplink to the image file.

Beeld en Geluid wiki[edit]

Claiming {{Cc-by-sa-3.0-nl}} on screenshots for which they don't own the copyright.

Flags of the World[edit]

FotW's copyright policy contains several unacceptable restrictions:
  • ...use the material for non-commercial and non-political purposes only
  • if you distribute our materials by a non-Internet way (e.g., floppy disks or CD-ROM) you cannot sell these media
  • you limit your use to a maximum of 5% of the images or content of the website
  • you do not alter in any way the images or the content of the text
Do not upload any images from this site, unless you provide a very good reason (example)[edit]

At first sight uploading on Commons seems to be OK: the sites mention "Free license", "Attribution is required", "allowed for use on commercial and personal projects, for an unlimited number of times and without any time limits, anywhere of the world". But that is misleading. It turns out that in the Terms of use "commercial" and "use" are very severely restricted, not OK for Commons. See the Village pump discussions Is credible and Freepik images.[edit]

The usage conditions [1] are restrictive:
  • The images must not be provided for download (elsewhere) in the Internet. (original German: "Die Bilder dürfen nicht im Internet zum Download angeboten werden.")
  • The images must not be included in (other) collections of images. (German: "Die Bilder dürfen nicht in Bildersammlungen einverleibt werden.")
These are only two of more very clear hints, that this site is an unusable source.

GM Media Online photos[edit]

While they claim to be licensing their images under the Creative Commons Attribution license, the page that links to it adds several more restrictions, namely,
The use of these images for advertising, marketing, or any other commercial purposes is prohibited. These images can be cropped, but may not be altered in any other way, and each should bear the credit line "© GM Corp."
Despite the text of the license they linked to from their licensing page, their intent is quite clearly to allow a non-commercial, no-derivatives attribution license, which is not acceptable on the Commons. Whether linking to the CC BY license would invalidate these stated restrictions is a finer legal point than we are qualified to deal with; furthermore, even if this would lean in our favor, it is also good form to respect the intent of copyright holders, rather than try to catch them out on legal technicalities like this.
(On a related note, there are GM media pages such as this Chevrolet Austria video page which mentions "© Creative Commons Attribution 3.0" but which instead links to the CC BY-NC 3.0 license.)


While the site ( ) clearly has an overall wiki-inspired design and mechanics that leads many to believe it conforms to the same GFDL or CC BY-SA or free content licensing as Commons, that is NOT the case in reality. The problem is twofold:
  1. The photos taken by the site's admin (MPM2008) are certainly not freely licensed, and this author is known to go to great length to protect his copyrights. Also, it should be noted that not all of his photos carry any watermark and/or any copyright notice. These are certainly not suitable for Commons.
  2. On the other hand, the site's admins are very lax concerning other people's copyrights-while some files ARE really PD or freely licensed, most (excluding MPM2008's works) are grabbed from random sources (like press images or similar) and in most cases WITHOUT any attribution. It is also a common practice there to overwrite PD or freely licensed files with NON-free files of larger resolution while leaving the former file's attribution notice intact, causing users to believe the new file is also free, when in fact that is not the case...
Either way, these files seem 100% unsuitable for uploading here.[edit]

This site's license prohibits selling, licensing, sublicensing, renting, transfering or distributing of images without alterations. But modified images are free (including using for commercial purposes and using without attributing the original author). However, there is no information, if the license is revocable.[edit]

  • is a site for marketers and promotional uploaders. Its default license is a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, but this is not adequately understood by their uploaders, who frequently post images for which they do not own the rights to release under the Creative Commons license. Consensus is to avoid using the site.

Netherlands Ministry of Defence[edit]

Per Commons:Deletion requests/Incorrect PD Netherlands (government works), commercial usage of the images at this site is not allowed. Therefore, though they may seem to be allowable here as government work, they do not fall within Commons scope per COM:SCOPE: Non-allowable licence terms.

Official PSD[edit]

"A community of graphic artists creating and sharing free raw image files!" - that's the slogan. The website is intended as non-commercial but they also allow for CC BY licensing. Regrettably they take their slogan's "creating" with a grain of salt. For example, Vince-Carter-Magic-PSD32033 (and all images shown as related images) are taken from elsewhere, published on other websites. The EXIF of this image states "Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)". linksearch[edit]

Photos and videos on Pexels are mostly published under the Pexels Licence which applies non-commercial (NC) restrictions. It also states "Don't redistribute or sell the photos and videos on other stock photo or wallpaper platforms". Therefore Pexels media are ineligible for use on Commons. The Pexels Terms of Service do state that some images were published under a {{Cc-0}} licence — such images would be allowed on Commons, but apparently this only applied to images that were published on Pexels prior to 4 July 2018.[edit]

Appears to consist mostly of uploads by people who do not have the authority to license the copyrights in them, or release the content into the public domain. The website also does not retain good sourcing metadata. Clause 6.1 of the Terms of Use Agreement (last reviewed on 13 June 2011) allows uploaders to mark their files as private or to delete them, which is declared to have the effect of terminating the license for reuse of the files by other people.[edit]

As with, the usage conditions [2] are restrictive:
  • Images can be used (...) excluding collections of images or similar where images can be downloaded or bought. (original: (...) "Ausgeschlossen hiervon sind Bilddatenbanken, Bildkataloge oder ähnliche, bei denen Fotos zum Download oder Verkauf angeboten werden.")[edit]

They use (for their own work) the CC BY-NC-ND licence (neither commercial use nor derivative works), which is not compatible with Wikimedia Commons.[edit]

Skyscrapercity (sometimes referred to as SSC) is a forum to which users upload images (often original content, sometimes copyright violations from Flickr etc). No free licensing is required for uploads, so unless compatible licensing is explicitly declared in the forum, or the image is public domain due to age, a VRT email from the copyright holder is required.


See also Commons:Stock.xchng images
Images sourced from Stock.xchng ( are not allowed on Wikimedia Commons, unless they are explicitly licensed under a free license. Preferably those permissions are recorded in VRTS. All Stock.xchng image that have not been independently released under a free license are subject to speedy deletion since July 1, 2007. See Commons:Deletion requests/Template:Sxc-warning and Template:Sxc-warning for more information.

U.S. National Laboratories[edit]

Although these are commonly assumed to be projects of the Federal Government of the United States, they are actually operated by government contractors and reserve copyrights on their works and may have different terms which might be incompatible with Commons' licensing policy.
Subject to receipt by Berkeley Lab of any required U.S. Department of Energy approvals, Berkeley Lab grants you, and you hereby accept, a non-commercial, non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free revocable license to download, display, use and copy the image selected by you from and provided by Berkeley Lab (collectively, the “Image”), subject to the following terms and conditions:
You may use the Image solely for your own non-commercial use. If you want to use the Image for commercial purposes please contact;
You may not transfer the Image without the prior written consent of Berkeley Lab;
You may copy the Image solely to the extent reasonably necessary to exercise the foregoing license; provided however that:
you must reproduce all copyright notices and other proprietary or acknowledgment notices on any copies of the Image and you must not remove or alter those notices;
all copies of the Image shall be subject to the terms of this Agreement;
you may not otherwise copy or allow copies of the Image to be made.
You may not use, rent, lease, loan, sublicense, distribute or transfer the Image to any third party for any commercial purposes;
You may only use photographs of Berkeley Lab personnel, e.g., headshots and group photos, for noncommercial and educational purposes, limited to those that involve identifying the individual’s role at the Lab or the individual’s involvement in specific projects or research;
Berkeley Lab retains the rights to terminate this Agreement and withdraw its consent to the continued use, display or reproduction of the Image in any work, and expressly when then the purpose of such use does not advance the educational or scientific mission of Berkeley Lab. [3]
For Scientific and Technical Information Only: © Copyright 2011 Los Alamos National Security, LLC All rights reserved
For All Information: Unless otherwise indicated, this information has been authored by an employee or employees of the Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), operator of the Los Alamos National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC52-06NA25396 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. Government has rights to use, reproduce, and distribute this information. The public may copy and use this information without charge, provided that this Notice and any statement of authorship are reproduced on all copies. Neither the Government nor LANS makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for the use of this information.[5]

World News[edit]

The site claims images are in the PD, even though they are copyrighted. See also Commons:Deletion requests/File:773ER Pakistan.jpg.

World Stadiums[edit]

The site claims that you can use any of its images (which are watermarked) as long as references are made to their site.[6] It also does not explicitly allow free modifications of the image, which supposedly means no one can remove their watermark. The key point is that none of the pictures hosted on World Stadiums can be determined to be free of copyright. They do not attribute the authors of the pictures. Most of their photos are copyright violations (taken from forums, official sites, scans of magazines and newspapers, etc): cropped and resized copies of copyrighted images. Others are resized versions of images licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike, but World Stadiums do not attribute the licensors as required by the license.

See also[edit]