Commons talk:Watermarks

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Policy and other info[edit]

Most of this info could probably be moved to a subpage, just leaving the policy-related info or the "official text" here and having a link to the subpage with the more informational stuff and suggestions... for now I'll leave it in one place while it gets edited and gone over. -- Editor at Largetalk 06:55, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I take it that this is a policy proposal on images containing visible watermarks. Do we care about invisible digital watermarks at all? Lupo 07:40, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ah, yes. Thank you for pointing that out :) I'm not sure about invisible digital watermarks... this is more a case of watermarks that impact the image's visual quality. It would be interesting to see opinions on invisible watermarks, though. -- Editor at Largetalk 08:00, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's not made very clear what happens when an image is uploaded with a watermark that can't reasonably be cropped or removed without destroying the image. Should we say that such images will be deleted? Is that actually the case? I suppose often it will be, as a large unremovable watermark will usually amount to unwanted advertising, making the image out of scope. --MichaelMaggs 21:35, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That is what I was hoping to have people decide :) Images with logos etc. will be deleted as they aren't free, and images with website or product text are advertising. The only grey area where we could keep images is author signatures/names. I'll add info about what happens, though, make it clearer. -- Editor at Largetalk 01:42, 13 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Should discuss automatically-added on-image visible date tagging (not really a watermark, often not intended by the image uploader, but raises some similar issues...) AnonMoos 01:37, 13 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It actually is added, in comment markers. I wasn't sure about having that as part of a "policy" per se, we don't want to delete every good image that happens to have a timestamp... could be added to a possible subpage? -- Editor at Largetalk 01:42, 13 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Is this a hard policy to adhere to? I thought Commons was supposed to accept images as long as they are legal. I have a lot of good photos from Nepal (with date/time stamps). I was under the impression it was up to the end user to decide on usage, these photos may get used outside of Wikimedia projects. --MMuzammils (talk) 16:00, 18 November 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Money and Watermarks[edit]

Okay guys, This is a delicate theme. Are watermarks required for banknotes? How are banknotes supposed to be used in printed and electronic media. Every country seems to have a different policy on that. Wikimedia could get into trouble when people begin to use the images hosted here for counterfeit money. In 2003 the EU has issued a policy that might comply (or not) with other countries:

  • a well readable watermark at least 75% of the banknote in width and 15% in height
  • low resolution scan (72ppi)

Hope we can find a generall way to collect the currencies of the world here. Or at least set a strict system of rules concerning images of money on a Free International Website like Commons. --Yamavu 12:20, 26 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Русский: Оправдывать нанесение на изображение банкнот (10 долларов США и др.) надписей "Образец" - глупость, ибо у любого фальшивомонетчика в руках будет настоящая банкнота, зачем ему скан из Википедии - он что, совсем больной на голову, даун?--Vizu 14:06, 26 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry I don't speak Russian. I think you said that any real money in the hands of a counterfeit would be a template. Thanks for that, I was getting a bit too much into it, seeing things a bit too paranoid. But the question is still Are watermarks required for scans of banknotes on Wikicommons? --Yamavu 17:09, 26 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Спасибо. Я думаю, что я был параноиком. Тем не менее этот вопрос должен быть дан ответ.--Yamavu 10:49, 29 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Не Вы параноик, а любой фальшивомонетчик, не имеющий купюры) --Vizu (talk) 20:42, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, I don't speak English.--Vizu 10:20, 27 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Unless there is a specific legal complaint, Wikimedia should not boulderize its images preemptively. It reduces the ability to "reuse" them for legitimate purposes (e.g., graphic design, illustration, etc.), while in no way cutting down on illegitimate purposes (if we can scan a five dollar bill at high res, so can everyone else). It takes a lot more than a straightforward scan to make convincing fakes. Making unconvincing fakes is done easily but carries with it a high risk of being caught. I don't think we need to worry about people who know how to make convincing fakes—they will make them without Wikimedia scans. -- 12:40, 29 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Categorisation Watermarks[edit]

Class 6E Watermark Removed
Class 6E Watermark Removed
Mafalda Salvatini Watermark Intact
Mafalda Salvatini Watermark Intact

This was in relation to a discussion begun on Wikipedia Village pump (policy) about an editor's image collection either being edited to remove a watermark. Although the Photographers name did appear in these shots the purpose of the watermark was for categorization - containing the Class of the Train, The Train ID, The Location and Date that the Photograph was taken. In historical collections and photographs these type of watermarks are often left untouched, and to my knowledge it is quite common in particularly large collections on a subject or in historical photographs to find such marks - should we be setting a higher threshold for newer collections to remove these categorization watermarks or have the same threshold in removing/retaining them? As I stated on the Village Pump page, IMHO we should look at clarifying policy to retain for the same artistic/informative purposes they were originally included and whilst other editors may wish to produce a cropped/edited version this should not supersede the original. Stuart.Jamieson (talk) 16:05, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Propose a different policy for diagrams and maps as distinct from photographs[edit]

All the references to images on this page seem to be about photographs. Yet a photograph is something that can be captured in a split second at a chance moment, though certainly it sometimes take a long time to set up that choice moment. However a signature on a photograph is not in the same category as the name visibly appearing on a diagram or map by an illustrator and draftsman who has laboured hours to create it. A photographer can hardly be called an AUTHOR because they are not creating the scene or object they are imaging, whereas illustrators and draftsmen must be called an author because they are CREATING the image. They are not capturing something but making it. This current policy against signatures will result in a paucity of diagams in this encyclopedia: it will be just a lot of snapshots. All we'll end up with images of accidents whereas Diagrams and maps illuminate eternal ideas and hence demand different treatament. If I put up a quotation from a literary author you would insist it be visibly ascribed, would you not? Kildwyke (talk) 01:26, 11 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your view of photographers as not being real creators is antiquated (this is particularly false in studio photography). The policy exists because the credit distracts from the main purpose of illustrating the topic, and this does not change for diagrams. It is true, however, that author names are sometimes less distracting in diagrams that already contain a lot of text. Still I would prefer to retain the present policy, and I have personally removed author names from hundreds of diagrams and illustrations. We retain author names where the signature itself has educational interest (although even in that case we may have two versions of the image, for different purposes). Dcoetzee (talk) 08:50, 11 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Legality of watermark removal[edit]

See Commons:Village_pump/Copyright#Commons:watermarks. Rd232 (talk) 11:40, 15 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The removal of artist signatures and printers marks could also be something to consider - Commons:Village_pump#Watermarks Shyamal (talk) 07:40, 3 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Historic captions[edit]

I added a section about historic captions and signatures after having read Commons:Village_pump#Watermarks, noted above. In the spirit of Commons:Overwriting existing files I think we should have both versions, as both versions seems to be useful (that point of the proposed guideline does not seem to be controversial). Thus it is unsuitable to treat such text as watermarks. --LPfi (talk) 07:41, 4 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Logos and de minimis[edit]

Commons:Watermarks state that an unfree logo will render the file unfree and that the file will be deleted unless the logo is removed. I am puzzled. Isn't such a logo de minimis in most circumstances? And isn't it good to have the image here until somebody with the time, interest and skill comes around and removes it? I suggest we use a little milder language. --LPfi (talk) 07:41, 4 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How-to stuff[edit]

I moved the non-proposal stuff on this page to Help:Removing watermarks --moogsi (blah) 18:23, 21 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New guideline draft[edit]

I thought the old guideline draft was really rather poor - far too wordy, far too unclear. So I made a new one, at Commons:Watermarks (the old one is at Commons:Watermarks/old draft). What do people think of that? (NB this is inspired by the current Commons:Village_pump#Watermarks discussion.) Rd232 (talk) 15:53, 22 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Opposition to the direction of this proposal[edit]

As I have stated in the discussion on VP, I feel that the project is set up to provide educational material, and thus at no time should freely licenced educational material be deleted (and definitely uploader should not be blocked) when no alternative exists. In many ways it is akin to the proposal to block for blurry images, but even worse (nobody can "unblur" images, but watermark could at least potentially be removed).

But it's no good to complain without proposing something, so:

  • I propose to state clearly that once an alternative with no watermark that is at least as good appears, than the media damaged by watermark can be deleted.
  • I propose to completely remove all instances of "not acceptable" (with the exception of possible non-free watermark, that would create a non-distributable derivative work, and that note should really also be added to COM:L).
  • A mention that watermaked image cannot become "quality image", "image of the day", etc; should be added.

However, since I believe that I am somewhat at the fringe of the consensus, I will not be bold and incorporate any of my suggestions myself at this time. Sinnamon (talk) 06:12, 23 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I support these ideas, the only place we differ is the QI and IOTD, I figure that they wouldn't make it anyhow, and if they were going to, then there would be good reasons, basically, I'd leave it up to the people who choose those images rather than give a minority a stick to beat the crowds with.
Incidentally, have a look through my recent uploads to see what is possible in regards to watermark removal today. (some people are behind the times on technology) Penyulap 10:45, 23 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, what I wanted to do with the redraft was simplify, as a platform for discussion and development. I have some sympathy for the view that as long as watermarks are not obviously promotional, they should merely be discouraged, not banned, and I think that attitude somewhat colours the redraft. If that's something people agree with, we can try and make that more explicit. Rd232 (talk) 13:33, 23 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
NB we don't generally delete media that are superseded, and I don't think that this should be changed for watermarked media. Rd232 (talk) 13:33, 23 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I do agree with that and found the fact that discouraged came under the heading of unacceptable a little confusing so have made it a little more explicit. Obviously if there's disagreement it can be reverted. As with my previous comments on the subject, I believe that some watermarks either on historical works, certain types of work (postcards for instance), or on recent works that contain useful information (detailed categorisations for instance) should be retained as a separate image no matter how good the corrected version is. Stuart.Jamieson (talk) 23:53, 28 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Another reason to make it clear that Watermarks are acceptable.[edit]

Please see the discussion and closure at Commons:Deletion requests/uploads by VBLPhoenix. Sinnamon (talk) 00:44, 31 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • So, by that precedent setting case we should we assume that there is a new Commons policy banning watermarks on uploads? Saffron Blaze (talk) 20:22, 30 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A multidimentional approach[edit]

Currently there are just words "acceptable" "unacceptable" etc, that are being considered. However, I feel that this really makes it more difficult. I would argue that it would be much better to create a 2D grid showing +/-.

Type of watermark New user created uploads Newly copied from free sources New versions of existing images
Destructive watermark ? ✘ ✘
Promotional watermark ? ? ✘
Just visible ? ? ✘
Invisible ✓[OK] ✓[OK] ✓[OK]

Sinnamon (talk) 01:04, 31 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have amended it based on the precedent above:

Type of watermark New user created uploads Newly copied from free sources New versions of existing images
Destructive watermark ✘ ✘ ✘
Promotional watermark ✘ ✘ ✘
Just visible ? ? ✘
Invisible ✓[OK] ✓[OK] ✓[OK]

Saffron Blaze (talk) 20:26, 30 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

User uploading a lot watermarked images[edit]

User:Ment481 is uploading a lot of images watermarked with "". I'm not sure if any policy has been reached in this matter... The watermarks in these images are relatively faint though. Someone not using his real name (talk) 10:37, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Oppose "should not be removed" for invisible watermarks[edit]

I think that it should be fully permissible to remove EXIF information and other invisible watermarks from an image, provided that any attributions made only in the watermark are moved to the proper file documentation per the CC attribution policy. If we create a policy against changing any part of the image file - i.e. the EXIF - we could soon arrive at the logical conclusion that it is off limits to change any part of the image file, for example making a crop that cuts into visible watermarks. So we should stand on principle and not discourage removal in any case whatsoever.

However, I do accept that it would make sense to have as part of the policy that if a watermark (visible or hidden) appears to carry conditions contradictory to CC, the user should check carefully that it is really available under an acceptable license. Wnt (talk) 23:13, 13 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Should" means they can be removed in special cases. I do not want users to routinely strip EXIF information. When a image is reused, there is no guarantee the reuser links the description page, while few reusers actively strip EXIF information. Having some copyright information there is a safeguard some authors may regard valuable. Needlessly stripping it is needlessly annoying these authors.
Where there appears to be contradictory conditions, I prefer checking them myself, as I cannot trust a random Commons user to arrive at correct conclusions, even "carefully checking" them.
Is retaining EXIF information in most cases somehow a real problem? I do not see the slippery slope to generally forbid changes - we require the licence to allow them.
--LPfi (talk) 11:05, 28 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
+1. I don't see any reason why removing EXIF would be a good idea, even if it's legally allowable. I wouldn't want to see us removing EXIF "just because we can." --Ppelleti (talk) 04:14, 11 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A license only allows modifications when reused (if all modifications are properly mentioned with a link to the source); not on the source file itself. Note that the Commons "file page" is not a reuse; it is the source page where to all reusers (for all on and off wiki reusers) link to attribute. If we destroy the source itself, how attribution works? See meta discussion for more details. Jee 11:23, 28 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • EXIF serves many functions including copyright management. Removal of copyright management information in the USA is actually illegal. Removal of EXIF may also contribute to orphaning works. There are better ways of dealing with conflicts in the EXIF and the license in Commons if that is the actual issue. Saffron Blaze (talk) 22:05, 28 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We agree to attribution of images, thereby retaining the information. The information just doesn't belong in that place in the file record. If it's illegal to move it even slightly in the file record then you can't so much as crop the file. Because this is copyright, I can't rule out the possibility of absurd doctrines, like the claim that a CC license lets you use a larger work. But some people seem to be sucking that one up, and how can it be legal to cut and paste an entire different larger photo off the web under CC (which doesn't have the EXIF) but not to remove the EXIF from the one you have? Or is standard policy going to be that you'll be mandated to take your 8 megapixel image and affix to it the EXIF data for a 2 megapixel camera because that one has the magic words "copyright so-and-so", which cannot be copied to another form?
It's all absurd. Just attribute the source of the image in the text like the license says. If the lawyers come after people anyway, it's just random terrorism, it could just as easily be the Muslims mad over a Muhammad image. Wnt (talk) 18:42, 5 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wnt, are you arguing with me or the law? I am not stating an opinion here only summarizing the law as it is written in the US. Given the complexity and conflicting case law on this issue was put to MWF. As part of that it included when or if a watermark is CMI. People seem to be conflating attribution with CMI, which are not always the same, but there are those that consider certain watermarks to actually be CMI. Saffron Blaze (talk) 19:54, 5 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Can you point to something by the WMF lawyers to back that up? I'm a bit skeptical of your legal advice here. In any case, let's be clear: if people were actually contributing images with EXIF that can't be changed or moved to a text format, then that would be a major problem for Commons, because the whole point of our CC-licensed content is that you can take the legs of a llama and put them on the body of a camel and release that image under your own CC. We don't have free content if you can't cut and paste it together however you want. Indeed, even the possibility that someone could perpetrate such copyfraud in the future is a good reason to strip the EXIF crap off all our photos and replace with text based annotations. Let the reusers fudge up some EXIF if they want to track photos for their own purposes. Wnt (talk) 20:18, 5 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well,it was put to WMF legal and they are apparently in the final stages of preparing a response. Does that help? I get your point though... there are odd implications wrt to this CMI business and how we re-use images under CC licenses. CC licenses do address attribution but they did not address CMI. If we can treat CMI the same way we do watermarks then it will be business as usual even with the EXIF. Saffron Blaze (talk) 20:48, 5 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Given the legal opinion provided by WMF I think we need to re-look at this policy closely and amend accordingly. Saffron Blaze (talk) 00:21, 8 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The way I read that page, the situation seems to be unclear in the United States, although it is probably legal for CC files. What about GFDL files, which may have things which must be quoted verbatim? For example, we must keep "subject to disclaimers" if the uploader chose a copyright tag with disclaimers.
Does anyone have any clue of the situation outside the United States? --Stefan4 (talk) 16:08, 8 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As I (IANAL) read the statement on meta, there is quite a risk that the removal of watermark containing copyright information from copyrighted works may violate DMCA law. In such a situation of legal uncertainty, removal of watermarks from works not being in the public domain should not be allowed on Commons, due to the potential legal risk for the remover, for re-users and the WMF. This would not be true for works in the public domain which just carry a copyfraud-type watermark. --Túrelio (talk) 18:27, 8 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • DMCA only disallows you to remove CMI without permission from the copyright holder. The way I read the page, by licensing a file under a CC licence, you probably permit such removal. However, the situation may be unclear, so it may be better to do nothing, or delete the files if the watermark makes them unusable. We also don't know how it works in other countries. --Stefan4 (talk) 20:38, 8 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'd be inclined to delete those with obtrusive watermarks/copyright notices and not allow removal of any type copyright notice for those we keep. Saffron Blaze (talk) 21:05, 8 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I agree with Saffron here. There's too much potential legal risk for us to expose volunteers to by permitting them to crop/clone out watermarks. Such an image isn't truly "free" and therefore of questionable value to Commons. This is yet another case where CC have performed an inadequate job in drafting their text -- they could have clearly stated that the licencee permits any modification to the material, including embedded copyright and attribution information, provided that information is retained and published alongside. In regard to the GFDL issue Sefan4 raises, hopefully such images are becoming rarer and imo there is no point in wasting any effort discussing legal issues arising from the use of such with standalone images. -- Colin (talk) 08:39, 9 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Agree with Saffron, Túrelio and Colin. But I think we can keep files which are important/useful to us (eg: an only picture of the subject) even though they contain watermarks.
  • I've a difficulty to understand CC's stand in this matter. CC encourages "mentioning the credits within the media itself" for videos and audios; but discourages it for images ("We don't recommend adding a watermark or visual marker directly on an image, as it can detract from the original and prevent the reuse you want to allow with the CC license. Instead, make sure that the license information is clearly visible underneath (or otherwise next to) the image.").
And some of our admins try to frighten our contributors who try to demand CMI "clearly visible underneath (or otherwise next to) the image".
So, IMHO, what we need is a clear policy to allow media files as far as the demand for credits is reasonable. I noway want to entertain watermarks in images. But the decision should come from the copyright holder himself. We should not forcefully remove them. I hope we get enough images without such obstructions if we are willing to respect the copyright holders and spend time to hear their complaints. Jee 07:54, 10 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What I take from that opinion is even if a Commons editor resides in a country where the DMCA does not apply, Commons should not publicly encourage editors to move visible watermarks containing statutory copyright information from an image to the description unless the image is either public domain or CC licensed. I think Commons policy should continue to allow editors to move a watermark to the description if the image is either PD, PD-Art, or CC licensed. I don't think I'd support a policy of deleting images that contain watermarks, but maybe I could be talked into a policy of banning future uploads of non-PD or PD-Art images with watermarks. —RP88 (talk) 04:37, 11 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't read that at all. There's nothing in the legal statement that indicates encouraging the removal of watermarks from CC-licensed images would be safe. The statement says there are strong arguments that it should be ok, but also reasonable arguments that it might not. This is frankly ridiculous that CC, a licence developed with WMF, might be unclear on so many standard points. We are in the situation that WMF legal can't assure us this practice is safe for CC, when clearly WMF legal could (and perhaps were) on the panel forming the latest CC licenses. And I assume that the majority of freely licensed images with watermarks are to be found on Flickr with an old CC license. We should just accept these are of very limited value to this project and that the creator of those images clearly wished to restrict reuse possibilities. That's not compatible with our mission. -- Colin (talk) 07:36, 11 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
+1. CC tries to fill the holes through their FAQ updates; but they are not legally binding as the legal codes. This matter (whether or not removing/moving watermarks from a copyrighted material) has a generic scope for all those licenses (CC, FAL, GFDL, etc.) and we should not encourage/practice it per the advice of legal. PD/CC0 works have no such issues. Jee 08:45, 11 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The interesting one (to me) is {{PD-Art}}. I've uploaded some images that are valuable (at least to me), from which I have then removed watermarks. According to WM Legal a removal is problematic only if the remover has “reasonable grounds to know, that [the removal] will induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal an infringement”. You can't "induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal" an infringement of a work which is truly {{PD-Art}}, so at least for {{PD-Art}} I don't see any reason for such uploads not to remain. Jheald (talk) 15:25, 11 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I don't see there being an issue with removing watermarks for any PD image. The problem with copyrighted works, even those with CC licensing, is that legal precedents seem to be migrating to more liberal interpretations of what constitutes CMI. Without clear precedents the WMF cannot tell us definitively one way or the other, but they did show that things are getting riskier. It would be inappropriate for us as a responsible community to allow people, even those so willing, to assume risk for the sake of an image. Saffron Blaze (talk) 22:44, 11 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is how I see this. It focuses on watermarks that could be construed as CMI:

  • Low quality or low value images with large obtrusive watermarks may be deleted summarily by an admin.
  • Other images with less obtrusive watermarks should be kept and if challenged be sent though the normal deletion process.
  • High quality or valuable images, where the removal of the watermark would be very welcomed, could go through a process where permission is sought to remove or reduce the impact of the CMI.

Saffron Blaze (talk) 22:50, 11 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I cannot see how you can interpret the WMF's statement in a way that suggests that watermarks should now no longer be removed. If anything, it reinforces the view that there is nothing at all wrong with removing watermarks. The WMF did not tell us in any way whatsoever to stop removing watermarks, and if that were against their legal interests, they would have done that. Obviously, every user who does that has to consider their own legal risks, but that is only that user's problem, not anyone else's. A reuser can in most cases easily see that a watermark was removed, and can also consider if they're taking any legal risks.
It strikes me as strange that the WMF thinks that the permission to make adaptations isn't relevant. If that freedom only applied to copyrightable changes, then there would be a very large hole in these licenses. Most crops or rotations probably aren't copyrightable: are they all not allowed by CC licenses? I don't think anyone seriously suggests that. Cropping out a watermark is neither technically nor morally any different from cropping out any other element that distracts from the reason you're displaying an image or reduces its overall quality. I think that if you're allowed to make big, copyrightable changes – which might, after all, potentially remove the watermark for one reason or another – then it's the most basic a maiore ad minus argument in the world that you're also allowed to make a change as trivial as removing a watermark. darkweasel94 14:11, 14 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think this matter and custom user tags demanding attribution near the images have some similarities. We asked the opinion of the legal in both cases; waiting for the second matter till now.
Regarding the custom tag case, many admins suggested that it is better to delete such files per COM:PRP. I think it the the reasonable stand for files with watermarks too, unless we can keep/use them as they are. Jee 15:30, 14 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let me repeat what the actual professional said:
There are good-faith arguments and caselaw supporting both interpretations, so neither position is ironclad. As a result, individual editors who are considering removing watermarks should seriously consider the legal issues involved and consider consulting an attorney before doing so.
Now, I don't know about you, Darkweasel94, but my participation on this project does not budget for attorney fees. I can't see how any amateur volunteer on this project would be wise to crop off watermarks after reading that. The only thing you are right about is that WMF don't care what legal risk users face. That's partly why the WMF in full collaboration with CC are utterly crap at drafting licences that actually protect reusers from legal risk. They've created a licence that appears to offer freedoms but in practice leaves too much in doubt. -- Colin (talk) 15:31, 14 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Whether it is wise for the individual user who crops out a watermark is one question. Another question is whether we should actively be doing something to discourage or prevent removal of watermarks, such as bulk-deleting everything in Category:Images with watermarks, or reverting removals of watermarks, or in extreme cases even block people who remove a lot of watermarks. I don't think we should do any of these things. Every amateur volunteer will need to consider for themselves whether to take that risk. If you don't want to take it, that's totally legitimate, but it's also legitimate if someone does want to, and we should not be keeping them from it. (It is however legitimate to warn them of these issues and I have no objection at all to linking to the WMF statement in Template:Watermark or anywhere else where it's relevant.) darkweasel94 20:13, 14 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Darkweasel94 WMF legal have said users would be unwise to remove watermarks without first consulting their attorney. This project is an accumulation of user edits and uploads. If those edits and uploads are legally unwise then morally our community should discourage them. Your personal amateur view on whether this practice is safe is utterly irrelevant and I suggest is biasing your suggestion that we should all turn a blind eye to people breaking the law or naively exposing themselves to legal consequences. From now on we have to regard an image with a removed-watermark to be as legally unusable/unhostable as an image that violates copyright laws. And, yes, persistent offenders would be asked to leave. The view on whether images that have watermarks should be hosted here is really a matter for judging whether the value to the project is negated by the watermark. As Saffron says below, we don't go removing signatures from paintings. -- Colin (talk) 10:00, 15 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with Colin here. Allowing removal of watermarks not only places editors at risk but we are also now fully aware of that risk. I find large watermarks annoying and removing them requires too much works. So delete them unless they are of considerable value. Images with discrete watermarks, while easy to remove, are not a major hindrance to their educational value. Yes, they hinder re-use, but so does having people in an image. In this latter case we educate potential re-users and leave the decision to them. We should do the same here. At least we'd be consistent in our approach. Saffron Blaze (talk) 16:13, 14 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Commons isn't only for external reusers, but also for use on Wikimedia projects, and a photo with a watermark, even a discrete one, in use e.g. in a Wikipedia article simply looks unprofessional, IMHO. That's the main reason for not keeping watermarks. An external reuser who doesn't hotlink is obviously in a different position. darkweasel94 20:13, 14 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I disagree. A professional looking discrete watermark is akin to a signature on a painting but we wouldn't dream of removing them. Regardless, allowing people to commit a crime, from which this project would benefit, is highly unprofessional. Saffron Blaze (talk) 22:18, 14 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with Saffron Blaze on this one. I constantly contribute high resolution concert photos, and it is discouraging to see my work get flagged because I have a discreet watermark on the bottom right. Some watermarks are not destuctive, obstructive, or promotional, they are signatures. Deleting or altering and reuploading watermarked images, is not what the photographer intends to be done when uploading his/her work. Enacting a "No Watermark Policy" would discourage many contributors from uploading in the first place. Instead, if users don't like the photo, remove it from the Wiki page, and use a better one instead, but don't delete the original file. While it is agreed that some watermarks are an eyesore, eyesores are a matter of opinion, and should be left up to discussion on an individual basis. Maybe a size policy would help. Lastly, and this is entirely a personal point of view, concert photographers are one of the least paid of all photogrpahy professions. We get abused constantly, but we are there taking photos because we love what we do. I'm kinda new to contributing, and I know that personal opinions don't matter much around here. I just want to take amazing photos and give them to world! Peter Chiapperino (talk) 03:59, 25 October 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Photographers' signatures on historical photos[edit]

I have recently had a discussion with another user here whether original artists' signatures on photos are really supposed to be considered as "watermarks" or not. Since Commons:Watermarks obviously isn't very clear in this case I would appreciate a clarification.

"Artists' signatures on paintings" are clearly extempted from what should be removed, but what about corresponding singnatures on photos? For example: what about the pictures below by famous German-Swedish photographer Category:Henry B. Goodwin, all bearing various versions of his distintive hand-written personal signature? Are those to be considered as "watermarks" that should be removed? (I, being a historian and an archivist, hope sincerly not!) Or does the proposed guideline only apply to digitally added watermarks and not to text on original paper prints that have later been digitalized? /FredrikT (talk) 15:59, 9 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am the user with the opposing view. My main argument is that I believe that the photo without the signature is the more authentic version and thus preferable as long as the uploaded original image with the signature is preserved and accessible to all in the media page history. --Bensin (talk) 16:48, 14 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is quite obvious to me that the signature for historic pictures like these are an integral part of the works. So any version without the signature should be uploaded separately. Regards, Yann (talk) 19:06, 14 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The guideline states here that these should remain, the same can be said about non-interfering signatures in digital illustrations/scanned illustrations, such as the following images:

A signature is not the same as a Watermark, and should never be removed. Note that there is a template for this purpose which can appended to file descriptions: {{Signature}}. CFCF (talk) 02:54, 15 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for the answers! Does the same principle apply to things like postcards, collectors cards and such with text added on photos for the original prints (like for example File:Andersson, Olga (1912 postcard).jpg, File:Berglund, Björn.jpg or File:Lindroth, Knut - rollfoto vykort hamlet AF (beskuret).jpg? /FredrikT (talk) 08:49, 18 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes. Yann (talk) 11:35, 24 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, thanks for answering. Can someone clarify the proposed policy? Can we also create a template requesting that an image is edited and uploaded as a new image? --Bensin (talk) 10:44, 24 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
See {{Derivative}}, {{Derivative versions}}, {{Extracted from}}. Regards, Yann (talk) 11:35, 24 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks, but I need a template where I can request that a watermark is removed from an image and then uploaded as a new file. Or maybe some existing such templates (like {{Watermark}}, {{Crop}}, {{Extract image}} and {{Rotate}}) can be modified to take a parameter "newfile=yes" where the requester can specify if they want a new file to be uploaded. --Bensin (talk) 12:58, 24 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

QR code as signature/watermark[edit]

Has anyone seen this before? See File:Carlsen Magnus (30238051906).jpg, where there is a QR code used by the photographer to sign/watermark their work. I presume the QR code goes to their website. What are the views here on this? Carcharoth (talk) 17:17, 1 December 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Carcharoth: I tagged it {{Watermark}} and reproduced the contents of the watermark in the description. Crop or remove the watermark at your own risk.   — Jeff G. ツ 05:44, 11 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Which class of watermarks is on this map?[edit]

Which class of watermarks is on this map? Is that destructive, promotional, or just visible? They are a pest, sure, but the map is still very useful even with the watermarks. In any case, the project page should have a few graphic examples of each class of map.--Ratzer (talk) 20:02, 12 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Second map added, same question (watermark less noticeable).--Ratzer (talk) 21:04, 16 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Ratzer: The watermark on the 1st map appears to be destructive. I can't see a watermark on the 2nd map.   — Jeff G. ツ 13:41, 23 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you @Jeff G.: . Regarding the second image, there are many watermarks. They don't stick out, because they are in light grey and don't contrast much with the light background. Look again, I marked two of them as image notes. Regarding both images, I applied to de:Wikipedia:Fotowerkstatt/Wasserzeichen for the watermarks to be removed.--Ratzer (talk) 14:16, 23 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Ratzer: Thank you, now I see them, barely visible but destructive.   — Jeff G. ツ 22:16, 23 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  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. ✓[OK] Invisible watermarks, which are forms of digital watermarking that do not affect use.

@Jeff G.: Now that you place both images under class 1. (Destructive watermarks, which significantly obstruct use of a work), I would like to see, as a contrast, one or two examples of images in class 3. (Visible watermarks, which are neither destructive nor promotional). I would - without being able to orient myself along comparable examples - place the second image clearly in class 3., since the watermarks are barely visible. They (almost) do not obstruct the use of the map in any way. By constrast in the first image, the watermarks are clearly visible, annoying, and disruptive, and I can follow putting the image in class 1. But even here, shouldn't the rationale be the question, is it better to have no such map or to have the map with the watermarks? Greetings,--Ratzer (talk) 12:24, 24 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Ratzer: I admit I'm no expert at watermarks, and I was waiting for someone else to reply before you went wider with your question. You are welcome to review my watermark cropping work at File:Overview of Boston from State House in 2009.jpg and NSFW Category:Fantasy Fest 2006. Perhaps "destructive" was too strong, but at least for your first map, some of the original's significant data is obscured. Note that I have not advocated for deletion of either map, as they appear to be in scope, the watermarks are only an issue at original resolution, and it is better to have them than not to have them.   — Jeff G. ツ 11:48, 26 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Inferring mark to remove by example[edit]

According to the white paper On the Effectiveness of Visible Watermarks, it is trivial to figure out what a water mark is (and therefore what to subtract) given just a few examples.They offer a countermeasure, but it would likely not apply to many of the images on Commons this guideline concerns. Might there be a tool to help identify and remove such repeatedly-used marks? Arlo James Barnes 05:13, 22 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The "Unacceptable watermarks" section goes too far[edit]

I know that this is (thankfully) not an official policy, but I know of plenty of websites that place irritatingly large watermarks on public domain images which could be considered "disruptive", I personally don't think that we should exclude anything and that these watermarks should just be identified through a template, someone else could then potentially digitally remove the watermark, however the text "Promotional watermarks, which go significantly beyond asserting authorship/copyright, for example to promote a website" goes far beyond prohibiting major watermarks, it makes all "promotional" watermarks that contain a website "unsuitable for the Commons", I know plenty of Chinese websites that take either public domain photographs from the Manchu Qing Dynasty era or PD-scans of banknotes and places their watermarks on them, usually these watermarks contain the website and aren't even that intrusive. These watermarks should be seen as "included attribution" and should not be discouraged, many users require re-users to link to Wikimedia Commons as part of the attribution which could just as well be seen as "promotional" or "spam", the only difference with this and the watermarks is that in case of the watermarks it's a direct part of the image, but the principle is the same. I don't think that we should block/ban users who import useful educational images that happen to have watermarks that contain websites, it would probably best to remove that statement altogether, of course if it's an extremely large watermark with a website that's a different case but a simple minor watermark that doesn't appear overly visible at first glance of a website should not be discouraged. --Donald Trung 『徵國單』 (No Fake News 💬) (WikiProject Numismatics 💴) (Articles 📚) 18:33, 6 December 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also note that this would falsely paint importers as having "a conflict of interest" simply from importing from a certain website, adds "" to some of their PD-scans and even claims copyright over their scans (which they can't), but I highly doubt that anyone importing images from that website would actually actively try to promote them, and many of their images are of high quality and are the only available images of a certain banknote found online, Wikimedia Commons should not try to exclude educational content for whatever reason, especially not something as trivial as a watermark. --Donald Trung 『徵國單』 (No Fake News 💬) (WikiProject Numismatics 💴) (Articles 📚) 18:38, 6 December 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Certain types of watermarks[edit]

IMHO it's not essential to remove dates or small textual signatures, but emails (commonly found on old panaramio photos, maybe due to a website feature?), URLs, and logos that do not belong to the photographers/studios (e.g. stock photo websites' logos) should be removed.--Roy17 (talk) 17:58, 17 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No image is not better than Bad image[edit]

Here is my huge problem with this proposed policy. It once again tries to stop people from constributing. Let us consider some historical event, which has only been photographed once, and then photographer has released a watermarked image under a free licence. Is any rational person actually going to say that such an image is "not acceptable on Commons"? If so, then you have completely lost the forest due to the trees, and also managed to lose the trees due to their leaves. This project is here to create a repository of free media useable for educational purposes, any policy which makes this harder should never become official. ℺ Gone Postal ( ) 02:52, 29 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]