Where did your picture come from?

Sofia Hassen has a point. The eagle-eyed among you might have spotted that the British wildlife photographer left a comment here earlier: “Don’t forget to credit photos and videos by others on your blog”. I was mortified to note that the feature on which she had commented didn’t have any attributions at all.

It’s something I’ve become more keenly aware of over the months, since I’m so pro-copyright when it comes to music but have been woefully neglectful when it comes to the pics I use on this site. I’m sure many of us are the same – we need a photo for a post, we’re in a hurry, and just nab something from Google without thinking where it comes from. For the past few months, I’ve been attributing images using the mouseover because the layout isn’t really conducive to actual captions: hover over the image for a second and you can see a brief description, the name of the author and where I found it. It’s not the best way of handling things, but it’s better than nowt.

Prompted to think a little more carefully, I realised that though I had dilligently credited the “tiny gypsy” picture by Shana Rae I used a couple of days back, I hadn’t checked to see whether I could use the image. As it turns out, the $5 usage fee was less of a problem for me than the 7-day turnaround on the usage request, so I nixed the pic and replaced it with a public domain image from WikiCommons. I don’t like it as much as the Florabella Collections pic, but that’s why Ms Rae is charging money for its usage. She’s got to eat, hasn’t she? That and pay for the equipment she uses. It’s all fair, so I feel a bit bad about being unfair to her by swiping her pic without permission.

Wikipedia is a quick, easy way of finding free, useable images without treading on any toes, but even that leads to some pretty interesting complexities. 

My first port of call was to try to re-find the sources of the original unattributed images I had used in my post. They were mostly culled from other blogs and sites which themselves had been woefully negligent in crediting the authors. I then grabbed some pics from Wikipedia, but for the first time actually looked to see under what terms I can use the photos.


This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made during the course of an employee’s official duties.

That’s interesting – the implication being that if it is from a government source then it’s fair game. That explains how people can use images from NASA.

Author: Mr. Mohammed Al Momany, Aqaba, Jordan


Wow! If you look at the source website, it’s a veritable cornucopia of non-copyright images. (Well, a few are restricted, but those are denoted.) I’ll be sure to check back there for all my nature photography needs.



Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

Own work (own photography)


You are free:

  • to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to remix – to adapt the work

  Under the following conditions:

  •   attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
  •   share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

Note: no details are provided on how or if attribution should be given


Honey_badger jaganath wikipedia

Honey badger

(as Wolverine)



Tom Friedel

Source: own work

http://www.birdphotos.com /

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.     

You are free:

  • to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to remix – to adapt the work

Under the following conditions:

  • attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

I think it’s deeply cool that people upload their own work to Wikipedia purely so that other people can freely use and enjoy it – but that’s what makes a gift so sweet, that the author was allowed to make the choice.



Ornithorhynchus anatinus
English: Platypus, shown by a zoologist near the Barwon River, in Geelong (Victoria, Australia)

Late 2001 or early 2002
Source: own work (scanned photography)

You can use this file freely as long as you respect its licence (see below). Nevertheless, if you use this work outside of the Wikimedia projects, I would be very happy to be informed (please give me the title of this work in your message).

Thanks in advance.
TwoWings (author)

I didn’t have the foggiest idea how to insert a comment in his User:Talk page so I left it alone. If he googles himself, he’ll find it.


Australian 20 cent coin featuring a platypus

Source :    user:Bignoter

Replaceable?     Any replacement will still have the same non-free status

This image depicts a unit of currency or similar official monetary token.
Some currency designs are ineligible for copyright and are in the public domain. Others are copyrighted.

This restriction tag has been placed because currency designs and images of them may be subject to additional legal restrictions outside of copyright law including laws regarding counterfeiting, which may also apply, particularly when this image is used in printed form.

This image depicts a non-free unit of currency design. For the purposes of Wikipedia, their use is contended to be fair use when they are used for the purposes of commentary or criticism relating to the image of the currency itself. Any other usage of them, on Wikipedia or elsewhere, may be copyright infringement. See Wikipedia:Non-free content for more information.

To the uploader: Please add a detailed fair use rationale for each use, as described on Wikipedia:Non-free use rationale guideline, as well as the source of the work and as much copyright information as is known.

Do not use this tag if the currency and image in question are known to be either public domain or freely licensed.
If the currency design shown is in fact public domain please replace this tag with {{PD currency}} if appropriate and an appropriate ‘free’ license.

Wow – I had no idea that currency could be copyrighted, but I suppose it makes sense in a way. However, I think my use of it falls under the “fair use” tag, so we’re OK here.


I’m now considering how far back to check the other posts to see whether I’ve cheekily swiped something without permission. I know I should, but it would take ages. I think I already know the answer: I’ll have to do it, but it will be a slow grind. I’m pretty sure that most of the band images are promo pics and of course record sleeves may be used, but I may have slipped up here and there. (I needn’t worry about videos, since the More Info tab takes care of attribution.)

Moral of the story: in future, I’ll be a bit more careful to think about where the pictures I use come from, check whether I’m allowed to use them and how I’m allowed to use them, and make sure to give credit where it’s due.

I definitely think that’s fair use, in the better sense.


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