Commons:Simple media reuse guide

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Using photos from
Wikimedia Commons

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About Wikimedia Commons

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This simple guide will take you through the process of using the millions of high resolution photos on Wikimedia Commons which are free of charge to use, including for commercial use. This guide also applies to the other media (e.g audio and video) found on the website.

Wikimedia Commons has 74,162,481 freely licensed and public domain educational images, audio and video available to everyone, in their own language. Wikimedia Commons acts as the central media archive for the various Wikimedia projects including Wikipedia, it contains content from both organisations and individuals and is created and maintained by volunteers.

Wikimedia is a global movement whose mission is to bring free educational content to the world. Wikimedia strives to bring about a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

Free to use

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All media files on Wikimedia Commons can be used by anyone, including commercially and each media file has information about which license it uses. The most common licenses used are created by Creative Commons which require the author to be credited.

Find photos

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There are three main ways to find high quality photos on Wikimedia Commons:

Photography competitions

Wikimedia runs several photography competitions which create 100,000s of high quality freely licensed photos:

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Featured pictures: Excellent quality photographs on a wide range of subjects. Click more at the bottom of each section to see the full range of high quality images for that subject.

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Picture of the Year: A small selection of the very highest quality photographs available on Wikimedia Commons: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012.

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Wiki Loves Earth: an annual international photo contest of protected natural sites, best photographs from: 2016, 2015, 2014

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Wiki Loves Monuments: an annual built cultural heritage photo competition, the largest photography competition in the world. Best photos from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012.

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Wiki Loves Africa: An African photography competition with a different theme each year, best photos from 2017: (People at Work), 2016: (Music and Dance), 2015: (Cultural Fashion and Adornment), 2014: (Cuisine).

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European Science Photography Competition: A wide range of science photography including: people in science, microscopy images, sets and a general science category. Best images from 2015

The search bar

If you are looking for an image on a specific subject that is not covered by any of the competitions you can use the search box which is located in the top right of every page of Wikimedia Commons. Simply enter the subject you would like to search in the same way as other media sites like Flickr or Youtube. To refine the search to only include images that have been assessed as high quality you can include this phrase after your search term:


e.g to search for high quality images of World Heritage Sites use this phrase:

World Heritage Sites incategory:Featured_pictures_on_Wikimedia_Commons|Quality_images|Valued_images

Search Wikipedia
Often the best images on a subject can be found on the Wikipedia article, however not all images on Wikipedia can be used because some are shown under fair use. To reuse an image from Wikipedia simply click on the image within the article and then look for the  More details button in the bottom right hand side of the page to go to the page for the image on Wikimedia Commons. If the page does not have this button it is most likely a fair use image and cannot be reused.

Credit the author

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Crediting the author is required for reusing most Creative Commons images. Clicking on an image will provide a page similar to the one above, if you see a different kind of page simply click on Open in Media Viewer below the image.

1. Click on the download icon in the bottom right hand corner of the page.

2. Click on Download original file to download the highest resolution version available.

3. Click on You need to attribute the author show me how and copy the text provided, you can choose between Plain, used where hyperlink is not possible e.g printed materials and HTML for web.

Share your photos

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Hundreds of organisations and tens of thousands of individuals have shared their content with Wikimedia and reached a worldwide audience through Wikimedia's 500 million unique visitors and 15–20 billion page views per month. All media shared on Wikimedia Commons is made available under a free license as part of Wikimedia's mission to bring free educational content to the world, meaning you must own the copyright of the content to share it on Wikimedia Commons.

If you would like to share a small quantity of media you can simply create an account and upload it using the Upload Wizard. For larger collections please contact your local Wikimedia organisation who will be able to work with you to upload the content and measure reach.

Further information

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Commons:Reusing content outside Wikimedia: a more in depth guide on using content.

Creative Commons Search: a tool allowing you to search a range of sources for free content including large media archives like Flickr.

Wikimedia Commons help index: more information on Wikimedia Commons.

Creative Commons, best practices for attribution: Further information on crediting Creative Commons images.

Noun project: One million royalty free icons.

Unsplash: Royalty free images.

Pixabay: Royalty free images.