User:Rybec/watermark crimes proposal

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A watermark is information 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

  • Visible watermarks which can be seen when viewing an image.
  • Invisible watermarks, which are forms of digital watermarking that do not affect the appearance of an image.

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

Invisible watermarks[edit]

Invisible watermarks are encouraged, 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.

Visible watermarks[edit]

Visible watermarks are permitted, but discouraged because they detract from the usability of a work. Images may be edited to remove such watermarks, with information moved from the watermark into the file description page,[1] or the image may be deleted if this is not feasible. Knowingly restoring watermarked images after they have been deleted, or after a watermark has been removed, may be considered spamming, which may lead to being blocked from editing. If you know you are restoring such an image, provide an edit summary explaining the reason.

Contributors who knowingly upload media with these visible watermarks must promptly tag them with {{watermark}} or—before uploading—contact another editor who is willing to add the tag on their behalf. Failure to do so may be considered spamming. A list of editors who do this is at Commons:Editors who add the watermark tag for others.

Authors are encouraged to use the guide at Commons:Enforcing license terms#Tools for identifying your work. 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.

Large, prominent
across image
Akhal Teke Stallion- Gerald (2835597069)+w.jpg Make a request at the Graphics lab
Akhal Teke Stallion- Gerald (2835597069).jpg Image placed
in article
Large collection
of watermarks
'73 Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback (Hudson)+w.JPG I can't remember
where editors ask
Nuvola apps forward arrow.svg
'73 Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback (Hudson).JPG Bot removes all watermarks,
images ready for articles
  • Some examples of the bot's actual work before and after, ask an admin to do a history split on an image that's been completed by the bot, so you have before and after.
  • Examples of other kinds, especially those which are not meant to be removed.

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.

See also[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.