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Wikipedia:Deletion of all fair use images of living people

See the following current policy pages that relate to this subject

Current Wikipedia rules are now demanding the deletion of all fair use images of living people. Please add to the essay.



The concept centers around the idea that if a person is living, their image can be captured by a Wikipedia photographer and released under a free license. This has led to the tagging of images of living people with a fair use license for deletion. This deletion process avoids votes for deletion, and allows individual administrators to delete, after the image has been tagged for 5 days.

For deletionEdit

  • Having free-content images as well as free-content text is in line with our goal of providing a free content encyclopaedia.
  • Having only images with a free license will allow publishers in the future to provide a "for profit" version of Wikipedia in print (but see objection below).
  • Our Wikipedia:Fair use criteria policy has, since 2005, said "Any non-free media used on Wikipedia must meet all of these criteria: 1. No free equivalent is available or could be created that would adequately give the same information."
  • Removing the option of using nonfree images in living person articles creates a greater likelihood that free images will be made available, either through someone being encouraged to take a free image to use in the article, or encouraging editors to request permission for free licensing from others who have taken such images. If a nonfree image is already in the article and is likely to be allowed indefinitely, editors are not encouraged to take free images, nor are free-release permission requests likely to achieve success.

Against deletionEdit

  • Having images is very helpful, and deleting them is stupid.
  • An encyclopedia containing images is more useful when visual guides are available. If you are looking for a person in a movie but only know what they look like, and what movie they appeared in, a visual encyclopedia is useful.
  • The fair-use photos currently getting replaced are of high quality, often because of access most free photographs don't have. Quality concerns are not being taken into consideration and because of that the potential for fair use images to be replaced by free images that are clearly not of the same caliber is very high.
  • If someone wants to create a "for profit" version of the encyclopedia, they can easily delete all the fair use tagged images at that time.
  • All images in a "for profit" version will have to go through a "rights clearance" process anyway. Images that are taken by Wikipedians, and released under a free license will still have to be checked, and there is no guarantee that someone else will not claim a copyright for that image after publication. A person claiming a copyright later may be an employer, or the owner of the image capturing device, or the person who composed the image and not the person who operated the shutter.
  • All fair use images are tagged and can easily be avoided by an "for profit" downstream reseller.
  • Corporate logos, newspaper covers and magazine covers are also being used under fair use, and will have the same legal ramifications to any end user
  • To say that a free equivalent "could be created" just because the person is alive is far from a straightforward interpretation of that sentence. Most people would take it to mean that creating the free equivalent must not be too difficult--not that it must be literally impossible. For example, it may be more difficult to obtain a free use photo of a reclusive and transient person than it is to obtain a free use image of a dead person by begging every copyright holder. This is also not how we interpret policy in other areas; for instance, Verifiability says that "any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source", but we don't interpret that to mean literally any reader.
  • Fair use images such as movie or television screenshots, magazine covers, and the like, are not freely replaceable. Although it may be possible to find free images that depict the person, those images will not depict them in context such as, for instance, their appearances on television that are likely important to illustrate in the article on that purpose, for reasons beyond mere identification.
  • An image of someone who remains alive, but could not be duplicated today (for example a photo of someone famous for modelling as a young woman who is now in their 80s would not be replaceable, even if they are still alive).
  • The copyright holder may allow Wikipedia to use the image, thereby nullifying any claim that Wikipedia could face legal action for using the image.


Three exceptions have been offered:

Somewhat against deletionEdit

This is a late entry, but I am fairly against the deletion of fair use images of living people. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a piracy website that profits off of photographs of people. I see no reason to delete such images. -- Matthew - (talk · userpage · contributions) 19:42, 29 June 2016 (UTC)