Wikipedia:Media copyright questions

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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Copyright question regarding British topographical mapsEdit

Hello everyone, here it says: Since 2010, almost all information owned by the UK Crown is offered for use and re-use under the Open Government Licence. Does this also apply for documents that had been published before 2010? Specifically for topographical maps that show a Crown Copyright notice like this one to the right?--Ratzer (talk) 17:48, 24 November 2022 (UTC)

@Ratzer I don't think so, see [1]. As I understand OGL it wasn't a "swap old conditions for new" but "from now on ..." Nthep (talk) 10:47, 29 November 2022 (UTC)
Ratzer However, crown copyright expires 50 years after publication, so 1977 works will be in the public domain in 2028 as is everything pre-1972. ww2censor (talk) 17:42, 29 November 2022 (UTC)

Memes in the context of documenting internet phenomenaEdit


My question is to whether copyright policy applies to memes shared across the internet, when added to an article for the purpose of documenting internet phenomena. If it does not, then what if the meme itself utilizes images or stills that may be subject to copyright? (An example being a meme that uses a screenshot from an anime as the base image).

Thank you! Snokalok (talk) 02:47, 29 November 2022 (UTC)

Meme images are subject to copyright and thus are covered by WP:NFC. Doesn't mean you can't use an image but there better be significant coverage of the meme on its own and the image essential to understand it. eg as in All your base are belong to us. Masem (t) 02:50, 29 November 2022 (UTC)

Using photo from a local government agencyEdit

Hi there, I recently was attempting to create an article and wanted to use an image provided by a county government, I'm sure this of public domain but was unsure of what tag to use TheScout18 (talk) 10:33, 29 November 2022 (UTC)

TheScout18: Exactly which image are you asking about? ww2censor (talk) 17:43, 29 November 2022 (UTC)
Apologies, this is the image in question. TheScout18 (talk) 03:45, 4 December 2022 (UTC)
Why are you sure the image you want to use is public domain? Under US copyright law, content created by local government employees as part of their official duties isn't automatically considered to be within the public domain simply because it's publicly viewable and was created by a local government employee. US copyright law treats works created by local governments and works created by the federal government differently per WP:PD#US government works. In addition, copyright laws vary quite a bit from country to country. Although there are sometimes some similarities, there can also be some big differences. Is the image you're asking about File:EverettSmelterSnohomishHD.jpg? If it is, then I would assume that it's protected by copyright and then try to work from there. It's not public domain just because it was posted on a Snohomish County government website and there's no information provided about the image's provenance by the website. There could be other reasons why the image might be public domain, but without knowing who took the photo, when it was taken and when it was first published, it's very hard to make such an assessment. I doubt anyone who created that government website had anything to do with the creation of that image, which means they got it from somewhere else. If you can find out where they got it from, then perhaps that will help in sorting things out. -- Marchjuly (talk) 22:04, 29 November 2022 (UTC)

Question about Wisconsin license plate design copyrights?Edit

So last year a lot of images were deleted off of various license plate related pages, including the Wisconsin one, which I work on a lot. Now, I've done some digging into this whole discussion (it happened when I wasn't active on Wikipedia, so I didn't know about it until after they'd been deleted) and for many plates, like the specialty plates, I understand why they were deleted based on copyright grounds. However, there were several images that were deleted, which, according to discussions for other plate image deletion nominations, shouldn't have been deleted at all. According to Magog the Ogre, who's apparently an administrator, pre-1989 license plates with complex art are fine to upload since copyright laws were different back then (source). However, since Wisconsin has used essentially the same design since 1987, with some tweaks here and there, I have the question of exactly when a plate would be copyrightable, as Wisconsin passenger plate designs stayed essentially the same from 1988 to 2000 (except for some font changes on the serial, and some caption changes which aren't really part of the plate art), and even after 2000 the current design of Wisconsin plates is essentially a facelift of the old design. I'm not an expert on copyright, but would this be considered a derivative of the old design and inherit the copyright status of the old design, or is it considered a whole new design that is copyrightable? Is it fine to upload images of plates that were issued in 1988 but were validated to 2015, since the plate design is what's causing the copyright issues and the design is from 1988, before the 1989 change? What about plates that were issued after 1988 but retained the exact same design as before? Are plates that only have minor tweaks to the design (such as an embossed caption on motorhome plates as opposed to a screened caption from before, or a new font for the serial but having the reflective sheeting design otherwise unchanged) considered substantially different enough to warrant a new copyright status on it? And why were simple plates without art deleted, like the 2011 Wisconsin dealer image which is a bare aluminum plate with black text on it?

I'd like to reupload my images but I don't want to upload anything that breaks the rules, and I'm not an expert on copyright so I'd like to get a better opinion on this. Which of my plate images would be fine to upload, and which ones wouldn't? GDog 0 (talk) 21:04, 30 November 2022 (UTC)

Can you link to images of the plates in question on the web? Derivative works of public domain art are copyrighted, but the changes need to have some creative component in order for the derivative work to gain that copyright. Without knowing the extent of the facelift, its difficult to provide guidance. I realize you were probably hoping for a simple yes or no answer, but as with all things copyright, the real answer is "it's complicated". -- Whpq (talk) 15:27, 2 December 2022 (UTC)
For the basic progression of the main baseplate design, this covers the minor changes well and explains when these changes were made. As for the very minor design changes, like a change from a screened caption to an embossed one, this covers several examples, particularly the motor home plates. GDog 0 (talk) 17:11, 2 December 2022 (UTC)
The images aren't very clear but from what I can see, there has been no change in the artwork itself, so it should be okay. Perhaps @Magog the Ogre: or others may want to offer an opinion. -- Whpq (talk) 18:25, 2 December 2022 (UTC)

Images of Roy Campbell (poet) in the public domain?Edit

Looking for a better, public domain image of Roy Campbell and would like your input.

Both sites seem to imply no, but would someone else smarter on this know? And submit them to Wikimedia/Wikipedia if they are public domain? TuckerResearch (talk) 19:59, 1 December 2022 (UTC)

Tuckerresearch: It's the artist's death date that really counts, unless published in the US before 1927 which does not appear to be the case for Augustus John who died in 1961 and Howard Coster died in 1959, neither of which are 70 years pma. So unfortunately no. ww2censor (talk) 22:20, 1 December 2022 (UTC)
@Ww2censor: Thank you for your swift reply!
Another question: The one at the National Portrait Gallery UK can be downloaded with a CC license, see, but it can only be downloaded, it seems, with this CC license:, which doesn't seem to be supported if you try to upload it on Wikimedia Commons. So, can it be uploaded to Wikimedia or not? TuckerResearch (talk) 15:15, 2 December 2022 (UTC)
Wikipedia licensing must allow for the commercial use and for the creation of derivative works. NC means non-commercial which is unacceptable, and ND means no derivatives which is also unacceptable. This is not sufficiently free to upload to the Wikipedia or Commons. Wikipedia:File copyright tags/Free licenses provides a list of free licenses. -- Whpq (talk) 15:21, 2 December 2022 (UTC)
That NPG photo was taken for the Central Office of Information ie the UK Govt, no doubt as "work for hire", & I'd think the NPG's claim to copyright on their print is very dubious. Whether it is covered by the UK govt's later release of such copyrights I don't know. These things get very tangled. I'd be tempted to upload it & use as "fair use" on en:wp, leaving Commons out. Johnbod (talk) 15:23, 2 December 2022 (UTC)
The applicable policy is non-free content and not "fair use". There is already a freely licensed image of Campbell so using a non-free image would not meet WP:NFCC#1. -- Whpq (talk) 15:31, 2 December 2022 (UTC)
@Whpq: I rather think that the already existing image of Campbell you mentioned, File:Roy & Mary Campbell (left), Jacob Kramer & Dolores.jpg, was probably uploaded improperly ("Book scan from Virginia Nicholson Among the Bohemians"! "Unknown author"!) and is really under copyright as well.... TuckerResearch (talk) 15:38, 2 December 2022 (UTC)
That's quite possible, and you would need to initiate a deletion request on Commons. -- Whpq (talk) 15:51, 2 December 2022 (UTC)

Using an image from archeological information article from University Museum, Bergen, NorwayEdit

Hello, I have added a new section to Heathen_hof about a new important archeological find in Norway two years ago. It is the remains of a Viking Hof (temple). I'm pretty surprised no one have added this already, as it seems central for norwegian history in this field.

I'm not experienced at all using images not from me illustrating wikipedia articles. The image I have used is File:Rekonstruksjon_Ose.jpg. This image was made by the University Museum in Bergen when presenting their new fairly sensational find to the general public two years ago. The image have been used by central newsmedia in Norway like NRK, the number one news channel and national broadcaster, on the net. It seems obvious to me that the university would have an interest in promoting further this story and have a high interest in it also appearing on Wikipedia articles. An illustration of a reconstructed building from their production seems then natural to present in this connection.

I have been looking through Wikipedia:File_copyright_tags/All for a suitable tag, but as there is none from goverment institutions in Norway, there seems none to select. So I'm obviously stranded here, what to do ? The image will be deleted after tomorrow December 6, so a solution to this problem is quite needed.. Astrogeo (talk) 17:42, 5 December 2022 (UTC)

Images are copyright by default. I assume the University Museum is the copyright holder based on the information you provided. Has the museum released this image under a free license? By default, most images are copyrighted and I would expect this one would be. Unless the copyright holder has released it under a free license, then the image cannot be used as a freely licensed image. Given its use in the heathen hof article, I don't think it would qualify for use as non-free content. Do you have a link to the source for the image? If it is under a free license, there should be a statement to that effect on the source page. -- Whpq (talk) 18:36, 5 December 2022 (UTC)
The image was used by the public broadcaster NRK, but signifying its origin by "Foto: Universitetsmuseet i Bergen". Since I believe all parties are interested in having a section about this find presented through Wikipedia, it's a paradox that it is such a hassle to use it here. Shouldn't there be an easier way to use govermental institutions material when they themselves are interested in promoting the story, just here at Wikipedia through an other channel ? As it stands now it will be deleted in about 24 hrs. Astrogeo (talk) 21:41, 5 December 2022 (UTC)
Hi Astrogeo. Your question Shouldn't there be an easier way to use govermental institutions material when they themselves are interested in promoting the story, just here at Wikipedia through an other channel ? is a good one, but it's one you really need to be asking the govermental institutions who create such content to answer. There is in fact already a widely used and globally recognized way called Creative Commons for doing exactly such a thing that many copyright holders (individuals and organizations) use to make their creative content easier to use by others who want to use it. In addition, some governments at both the national and sub-national levels have even gone as far to pass laws or establish statutes stating that works created by their employees as part of their official duties are to be treated as being within the public domain. However, these are steps that need to be taken by the copyright holders themselves; there's nothing that anyone editing Wikipedia can do about such a thing except perhaps to ask that they do so per WP:PERMISSION. -- Marchjuly (talk) 00:19, 6 December 2022 (UTC)

Dallas, Texas, 22 November 1963Edit

Hi, After reviewing images about that event, it appears that some have an uncertain copyright status, and may be deleted. Notably images in c:Category:Warren Commission and c:Category:Dealey Plaza on November 22 1963. c:File:Lee Harvey Oswald arrested at the Texas Theatre, Dallas, Texas, 22 November 1963.jpg and c:File:Warren Commission exhibit 697 (JFK motorcade).jpg have already been deleted. It may be useful to copy these files here under a fair use rationale. Opinions? Thanks, Yann (talk) 19:48, 5 December 2022 (UTC)

Where to find DMCA requestsEdit

In 2011, someone removed technical details from GS1 DataBar Coupon, claiming it was due to a DMCA takedown request. This is odd, because I assumed that DMCA requests are handled by the Wikipedia:OFFICE procedure and not by someone removing the information themselves. How can I find out if there was indeed a formal request filed with WMF or if the edits can be considered vandalism and some the information added again (many of the details are still missing today). I don't see how the information they removed would be susceptible to copyright anyway, but I want to check first. The details are just dealing with simple numerical encoding rules for bar codes. -- (talk) 11:28, 8 December 2022 (UTC)

Good question. I know where they are held on Commons but not here. You want to email ca and ask if there ever was a takedown notice for the article in question. Nthep (talk) 12:14, 8 December 2022 (UTC)