Wikipedia:Media copyright questions

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Media copyright questions

Welcome to the Media Copyright Questions page, a place for help with image copyrights, tagging, non-free content, and related questions. For all other questions please see Wikipedia:Questions.

How to add a copyright tag to an existing image
  1. On the description page of the image (the one whose name starts File:), click Edit this page.
  2. From the page Wikipedia:File copyright tags, choose the appropriate tag:
    • For work you created yourself, use one of the ones listed under the heading "For image creators".
    • For a work downloaded from the internet, please understand that the vast majority of images from the internet are not appropriate for use on Wikipedia. Exceptions include images from flickr that have an acceptable license, images that are in the public domain because of their age or because they were created by the United States federal government, or images used under a claim of fair use. If you do not know what you are doing, please post a link to the image here and ask BEFORE uploading it.
    • For an image created by someone else who has licensed their image under an acceptable Creative Commons or other free license, or has released their image into the public domain, this permission must be documented. Please see Requesting copyright permission for more information.
  3. Type the name of the tag (e.g.; {{Cc-by-4.0}}), not forgetting {{ before and }} after, in the edit box on the image's description page.
  4. Remove any existing tag complaining that the image has no tag (for example, {{untagged}})
  5. Hit Publish changes.
  6. If you still have questions, go on to "How to ask a question" below.
How to ask a question
  1. To ask a new question hit the "Click here to start a new discussion" link below.
  2. Please sign your question by typing ~~~~ at the end.
  3. Check this page for updates, or request to be notified on your talk page.
  4. Don't include your email address, for your own privacy. We will respond here and cannot respond by email.
Note for those replying to posted questions

If a question clearly does not belong on this page, reply to it using the template {{mcq-wrong}} and, if possible, leave a note on the poster's talk page. For copyright issues relevant to Commons where questions arising cannot be answered locally, questions may be directed to Commons:Commons:Village pump/Copyright.

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Where to get Public Domain or similar license for satellite images for geographic areas?[edit]

Are there sources for satellite imagery, preferably that can show geographic areas worldwide, similar this one for Kansas that are released as public domain or any image license that are compatible with If so, what are the fair use/public domain image tags that we use for those? --Lenticel (talk) 03:33, 5 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]

File:Holiday Corporation Logo - 1985-1990.jpg: PD or not to PD.[edit]

File:Holiday Corporation Logo - 1985-1990.jpg is currently licensed as non-free content and being used in Holiday Inn#Logos. Is this logotoo complex to be relicensed as either {{PD-logo}} or {{PD-ineligible-USonly}}? It looks as if the company was American owned up until 1988 when it was bought by a UK company. This logo apparently was used from 1985 to 1990 so I'm not sure whether that means c:COM:TOO United Kingdom also needs to be applied. If this logo is otherwise simple enough to be PD in the US per c:COM:TOO United States, then maybe "PD-inelgible-USonly" is OK for local use on English Wikipedia. If the file needs to remain licensed at non-free content, then its current use seems to fail WP:NFCCP per WP:NFC#cite_note-4 and WP:NFG. -- Marchjuly (talk) 04:42, 5 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Copyright for a book cover[edit]

Hi, I am writing an article about a short story called 'Media Naranja' (Orange Half). I would like use the cover of the short story book it comes from, which has an orange half on the cover, as an image in the article. The book is freely available in PDF form at this link and its first page is the cover photo I would like to use. Can I use an image of this cover freely in my article without permission? (Many articles about movies seem to use their posters and I don't image they always get permission.) If not, how might I go about figuring out who to contact? Any response would be greatly appreciated.

Potentially relevant info:

The PDF is hosted on

The publisher of the book is Seix Barral

The designer of the cover is Josep Bagà Associats

The designer's website has a page of work done for Seix Barral, but this particular cover does not appear on it.

Hola soy Hunter (talk) 08:31, 8 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Hi Hola soy Hunter. Since the cover art is likely protected by copyright and that copyright is held by the book's publisher, the cover's designer, the book's author or some combination of the three, there are two possibilities here in my opinion.
Possibility #1 would be to contact the copyright holder of the cover (as explained in WP:PERMISSION) and ask them to give their WP:CONSENT for the cover to be uploaded to Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons under a free license that the Wikimedia Foundation accepts. If the copyright holder agrees to do this, it will make the file you upload so much easier for you and anyone else to use on not only English Wikipedia, but also on any of the non-English Wikipedias and any other Wikimedia Foundation website. Obviously, this would be the best thing for you and Wikipedia, but probably not the best thing for the cover's copyright holder since there's no way to limit the file's use to only English Wikipedia or any other Wikimedia Foundation website. Other would be able to download the file and reuse it as long as they comply with the terms of the license the copyright holder has chosen as explained in WP:REUSE#Images and other media. Such reuses might even be in a way the copyright holder doesn't like.
Possibility #2 would be to upload the file locally as non-free content to English Wikipedia for use only on English Wikipedia. Most images of book covers you see used in Wikipedia article are uploaded this way per item 1 of WP:NFCI. The use of non-free content, however, is quite restrictive since Wikipedia's non-free content use policy has been set up to limit the use of such content as much as possible. So, for example, you probably could use the cover for primary identification purposes at the top of or in the main infobox of a stand-alone article about the book itself, but it would be much harder to justify using the cover in other articles or in other ways as explained in WP:NFC#cite_note-3. You don't need the copyright holder's permission to do this, but you will need to make sure that the way you want to use the file satisfies all ten non-free content use criteria; if even one of the ten criteria is not met, the use is not going to be considered valid. If you decide to upload the cover as non-free content, you should try to find an official link for the copyright holder or some other type of reliable that shows the cover and use that as the source to avoid problems with WP:NFC#Meeting the previous publication criterion and only upload the file when there's actually a valid use for it in an existing article since non-free content can only be used in articles. In other words, if you're working on a draft for an article about the book, wait until the draft has been accepted as an article before uploading the cover art; if you try to use non-free content in a draft, it will be removed per WP:DRAFTS#Preparing drafts. -- Marchjuly (talk)
Marchjuly, thank you for the quick and throughout response. Based on what you've said, I believe it makes sense for me to pursue Possibility #2 and use the image as Non-Free content. As you suggested, I'll wait to put in in the article until I get it accepted. As a quick clarification, I am writing this article for Spanish Wikipedia at the moment, not English. That wouldn't change anything, would it?
Hola soy Hunter (talk) 09:12, 8 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, that changes everything since all of the information I've given you about non-free content only applies to English Wikipedia. You can't use a file uploaded locally to English Wikipedia on any other Wikipedia or Wikimedia Foundation website. You would need to upload the file either to Wikimedia Commons Spanish Wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons doesn't accept non-free content of any type per c:COM:FAIR. I don't know whether Spanish Wikipedia does, but even if it does its policies may be different from English Wikipedia's; so, you will need to ask about that on Spanish Wikipedia or check at meta:NFC. — Marchjuly (talk) 11:41, 8 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]

NFC -- Image of art for art exhibition articles[edit]

Kinda new to the Wikipedia non-free content rules, would love some clarity/guidance if anyone has any. I've uploaded several images of works of art to be used in articles about the works and the artists (non-free content with fair-use guidelines met and shown), but there is no clear standard on the use of these kinds of images for articles about art exhibitions that the work was featured in. I added several such images to Afro-Atlantic Histories, thinking it made sense to include images of key works from the exhibition, but I just noticed that the article was flagged in Wikipedia:Database reports/Pages containing an unusually high number of non-free files. Should I not include these images, do you think they cross the threshold of over-use? Happy to adjust and stick to uploading eligible images of key works for artist biographies and articles about specific works if this isn't in line with policy. Definitely not trying to break any rules in my quest to make Wikipedia's coverage of art more visual :) Thanks! 19h00s (talk) 17:19, 8 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Yes, exhibitions of art should narrowly use only a few key non-free images of representative art, as best to give an idea of the breadth of the works included. You should try to see what works are explicitly mentioned as part of the exhibit in part of what is being represented. You can still list out other notable art pieces are present, and can include free images, etc. --Masem (t) 17:30, 8 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks! Went ahead and took off all the non-free images of works not referenced in quotes by critics/curators in the article. Appreciate the help :) 19h00s (talk) 23:00, 8 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]


So, I just got my mail-in ballot for the 2022 Alaska's at-large congressional district special election, and it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen on a ballot. There's 40+ names, all running for the same position. I thought an image of it might enhance the article but I'm not sure a claim of fair use would be accepted so I haven't uploaded one yet. Thoughts?— Preceding unsigned comment added by Beeblebrox (talkcontribs) 22:26, 09 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]

If the ballot was produced by an employee of the US Federal Government, then it could possibly be within the public domain per WP:PD#US government works. If it was produced at the state level, then it would depend upon how the state deals with the copyright status of works produced by it employees. If the ballot contains logos or other imagery, then these might be considered copyrightable in their own right. Even if it's only text, the combination of everything on the ballot (including the order of the names and other formating stuff) might be considered eligible for copyright (see WP:CLIST) as whole even if individually they're not eligible as words. Whether you could use this as non-free content largely depends on whether it appearance is something that's receiving critical commentary in reliable sources. If there was a stand-alone article created about the ballot itself, then perhaps an image of it would be OK for the main infobox. Trying to use it in other ways or in other articles might be harder to justify per WP:NFC#CS, WP:DECORATIVE, and even MOS:TEXTASIMAGES. Being the most ridiculous ballot you've seen isn't really going to be a valid justification for non-free use and would likely be WP:OR; if, however, established media organizations start covering how ridiculous it is or how cotroversial it is or how anything it is, then maybe an argument for non-free use could be made in support of content about the ballot in some article. -- Marchjuly (talk) 23:08, 9 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
There's been coverage of how nuts it is that so many people are running, it's our first go-round with a new voting system with open primaries, and our first chance at a new representative in almost 50 years. 51 candidates, including a guy from North Pole who legally changed his name to Santa Claus. [1] Beeblebrox (talk) 03:23, 10 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
It might be a crazy election and there may be coverage to that effect, but that's not necessarily coverage of the ballot's appearance itself. I think the WP:NFC#CS threshold could be hard to reach with respect to non-free use such as this. Adding an image of the ballot to the article might add some encyclopedic value, but will it be a significant enough improvement so that omitting the image would be detrimental to the reader's understanding of the content about the election. If you just want to use the ballot to show that there were lots of candidates in the election, then the reader (in my opinion) doesn't need to see the actual ballot to understand that per WP:FREER. Same goes for trying to show the ballot contains the name of a candidate who legally changed his name to Santa Claus. An image of the ballot doesn't really need to be seen (at least in my opinion) be seen to understand those types of things as explained in WP:THOUSANDWORDS. -- Marchjuly (talk) 04:58, 10 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
I'm just going to add that the copyright status of the ballot might also depend on whether the ballot was created by a private company that was contracted to provide the ballots and other election-related equipment. This article may not be related to this particular election, but it does seem that there's been some outsourcing taking place in recent US elections which might also affect the copyright status of a ballot. So, if the ballot for this particular election has a copyright statement on it, then perhaps that might impact whether or how it can be uploaded and used on Wikipedia. -- Marchjuly (talk) 00:19, 11 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
I'm fairly certain the state prints the ballots, there's no indication otherwise on the ballot itself, To be clear though, the reason i asked is that I expected the answer would be "probably not" and didn't want to bother going through the whole FUR process if it was just going to be deleted, so thanks for the detailed replies. Beeblebrox (talk) 18:06, 11 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Pretty much all assessment of non-free content takes place after someone has uploaded it and started using on some page. Certain WP:NFCCP like WP:NFCC#1, WP:NFCC#7 and WP:NFCC#1 can be easy to assess, but others like WP:NFCC#8 often take some disucssion to sort things out. Opinions can vary (sometimes quite a bit) when it comes to such discussions, and basically it's a roll of the dice as to whether any file uploaded is going to end up being deleted or not used for some reason or another. If you feel that the way you want to use the ballot image meets WP:NFC#CS, then perhaps others will agree with you if the file's non-free use is eventually challenged. The things I've mentioned above are reasons why non-free files sometimes end up deleted, but they may not apply to this particular image and how it's going to be used. -- Marchjuly (talk) 01:37, 16 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]

NFC - Licensing/Attribution for images of copyrighted 2D art[edit]

Quick question about licensing and attribution for non-free images of 2D art. When uploading a fair use image of copyrighted 2-dimensional art (painting, print, etc.) that I took myself in the United States, should I include a license for the photograph itself? (I license all my photographs using CC BY 4.0) Per US copyright law, taking a photograph of 2D art does not create a new copyright, so technically I can't create a license for photographs I've taken of someone else's 2D artwork, correct?

Another example - when uploading a photograph of copyrighted 2D art, freely-licensed by the photographer, sourced from Flickr, should I include the license that the photographer included on their Flickr upload? Again, per US copyright law a new copyright was not created when the photographer took the photo, so technically they can't create a license.

Two examples:

Am I understanding the law correctly here, and do I need to include the photograph license when uploading these kinds of images to Wikipedia? I always do with Flickr uploads, but I'm unsure what do with my own -- figured I'd ask for clarification.

Thanks! 19h00s (talk) 23:37, 14 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Yes, you should include the original license of the flat art as well as your own (presumably CC or PD) license on the photo, though for 2D art in the use, any mechanical recreation really doesn't get new copyright. --Masem (t) 03:48, 15 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for the clarification! A follow-up: when a non-free image is uploaded directly to Wikipedia, the media viewer doesn't format the license preview correctly, at least in my view. For example, when you view The American People Series #20: Die (1967) in the media viewer, as most users will do when clicking on the image from an article, the media viewer displays the license for the photograph in the bottom right of the screen, as opposed to the fair use label. Shouldn't the fair use label be the default as it's an image of art that shouldn't be used beyond Wikipedia? I might be overthinking this, but it feels like the fair use label should take precedent over the photograph license when dealing with copyrighted art. 19h00s (talk) 15:24, 15 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
This is a known issue, see this bug report. media viewer grabs the most permissive license it sees, which is known to be a problem for crediting photos of copyrighted art. Technically you are still fine but optionally if you want to clear it, you could spell out your CC photograph licensing without the template and that should fix it for now, but I think that we always resort to the File page as being proper licensing rights, not what the brief blurb on Media Viewer gives. --Masem (t) 15:35, 15 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Ah, good to know it's already been flagged. Thank you for the help, appreciate the explanation :) 19h00s (talk) 15:41, 15 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]
@19h00s: It's ultimately the responsibility of the person wanting to reuse Wikipedia content (including images) to make sure they do so in compliance with relevant laws. Because of the way Wikipedia has been set, it can be a crap shoot as to whether any information found on any Wikipedia page is correct at any given point in time, and this is why there are things such as WP:WPNOTRS, WP:General disclaimer and WP:REUSE, c:COM:REUSE and even c:COM:NCR. Most people uploading files do so in good faith under the license they think is most appropriate, but mistakes are sometimes (often?) made because there's no formal vetting or otherwise WMF approval of content prior to upload. Those assessing files after the fact are volunteers as well who can also make good-faith mistakes. The best thing that can be hoped for is there's enough information provided on a file's page to point someone wanting to reuse a file in the right direction to find out whatever more they need to find out. So, it's not that you're really overthinking anything here; it's just that Wikipedia can't really think for others when it comes to stuff like this.
As for your original question, as Masem points out and as explained in c:COM:2D copying, a 2D slavish reproduction of a copyrighted work 2D work of art is generally not deemed sufficient to generate a new copyright for the reproduction itself. There are cases where a 3D frame of other element might be eligible for copyright protection per c:COM:PD-Art#When should the PD-Art tag not be used?, but in many cases it's easy to just crop the frame out. So, if you yourself are photographing non-free 2D artwork, just crop out any frames, plaques, etc. before uploading the file. With respect to other photos, things are likely more complicated because you may actually have to crop a photo taken by someone else to avoid having to deal with multiple copyright eligible elements created by different people. That seems like it can a bit of an issue if the photo is not released under a "free" license that not only allows cropping but is also acceptable for Wikipedia possible. Similarly, trying to add separate licenses for each copyrightable element might also create WP:FREER issues since someone could most likely take a free photo of the work itself without any of the additional copyright eligible elements. In such a cases, it wouldn't necessary be a "free" versus "non-free" argument, but rather an argument involving different degrees of non-freeness. -- Marchjuly (talk) 01:27, 16 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]

EU country copyright on court rulings/laws[edit]

Not media specific, but since a lot of copyright-knowledgeable editors watch this page: Anyone with knowledgeable input on the copyright status of EU legislative and judicial documents would be greatly appreciated at Talk:Reverse Discrimination (EU Law)#Copyright status of the quotes?. I figure any actual conversation would be better kept not here since it's not really about images/media. Cheers. VernoWhitney (talk) 15:57, 19 May 2022 (UTC)[reply]