SpottingWorld:Image use policy

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...

This page is a brief overview of the policies towards images — including format, content, and copyright issues — on the English-language edition of Spotting World. If you have specific questions, you should go to the most specific policy page related to your question, for a prompt and accurate response.

Rules of thumb

Below this brief checklist of image use rules is the detailed reasoning behind them.

  1. Always tag your image with one of the image copyright tags. When in doubt, do not upload copyrighted images.
  2. Always specify on the description page where the image came from, such as scanning a paper copy, or a URL, or a name/alias and method of contact for the photographer. For screenshots this means what the image is a screenshot of (the more detail the better). Don't put credits in images themselves.
  3. Use the image description page to describe an image and its copyright situation.
  4. Use a clear, detailed title. Note that if any image with the same title has already been uploaded, it will be replaced with your new one.
  5. Upload a high-resolution version of your image whenever possible (unless the image is being used under fair use), and use the automatic thumbnailing option to scale down the image. MediaWiki accepts images up to 20 MB in size. Do not scale down the image yourself, as scaled-down images may be of limited use in the future.
  6. Crop the image to highlight the relevant subject.
  7. If you create an image that contains text, please upload also a version without any text. It will help Spotting Worldns in other languages translate them.
  8. Try not to use color alone to convey information, as it is inaccessible in many situations.
  9. Use JPEG format for photographic images, and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format for icons, logos, drawings, maps, flags, and such, falling back to PNG when only a raster image is available. Use GIF format for inline animations, Ogg/Theora for video. Do not use Windows BMP format images; they are uncompressed and take up too much space.
  10. Add a good alternative text for images.
  11. In general, there is no need to specify thumbnail size..
  12. Do not upload shocking or explicit pictures, unless they have been approved by a consensus of editors for the relevant article.

Adding images

Please note: this is not the official copyright policy — it is merely a reminder with helpful tips:

Before you upload an image, make sure that either:

  • You own the rights to the image (usually meaning that you created the image yourself).
  • You can prove that the copyright holder has licensed the image under a free license.
  • You can prove that the image is in the public domain.
  • You believe, and state, a fair use rationale for the specific use of the image that you intend.

All images which are for non-commercial only use and by permission only are not acceptable for Spotting World[1]

Always note the image's copyright status on the image description page, using one of the image copyright tags, and provide specific details about the image's origin. An image summary and image copyright tag are required for all images. The image copyright tag provides a standard template for the licensing of the image. The image summary provides necessary details to support the use of the image copyright tag. The recommended image summary contains some or all of the following:

Description: The subject of the image
Source: The copyright holder of the image or URL of the web page the image came from
Date: Date the image was created. The more exact, the better
Location: Where the image was created. The more exact the better
Author: The image creator, especially if different from the copyright holder
Permission: Who or what law or policy gives permission to post on Spotting World with the selected image copyright tag
Other versions of this file: Directs users to derivatives of the image if they exist on Spotting World


  • Public Domain images
  • Image by author other than the uploader
  • User-created image
  • Fair-use image
  • Screenshot

User-created images

Spotting World encourages users to upload their own images, but all user-created images must be released under a free license (such as the GFDL and/or an acceptable Creative Commons license) or be released into the public domain (no license). If licensing, it is best practice to multi-license your images under both GFDL and Creative Commons.

Such images can include photographs which you yourself took (remember that rights to images generally lie with the photographer, not the subject), drawings or diagrams you yourself created, and other self-created work. However, simply re-tracing a copyrighted image or diagram does not necessarily create a new copyright — copyright is generated only by instances of "creativity", and not by the amount of labor which went into the creation of the work. Photographs of three-dimensional objects almost always generate a new copyright — photographs of two-dimensional objects (such as paintings in a museum) often do not (see the section on "public domain" below). If you have questions in respect to this, please ask them at Copyrights.

Images with you, friends or family prominently featured in a way that distracts from the image topic are not recommended for the main namespace (user pages are OK). These are considered self-promotion and the Spotting World community has repeatedly reached consensus to delete such images.

Also, user-created images may not be watermarked, distorted, have any credits in the image itself or anything else that would hamper their free use, unless, of course, the image is intended to demonstrate watermarking, distortion etc. and is used in the related article. All photo credit should be in a summary on the image description page.

Free licenses

For a list of possible licenses which are considered "free enough" for Spotting World, see Image copyright tags. Licenses which restrict the use of the media to non-profit or educational purposes only (i.e. noncommercial use only), or are given permission to only appear on Spotting World, are not free enough for Spotting World's usages or goals and will be deleted.[2].

Spotting World media (with the exception of "fair use" media — see below) should be as "free" as Spotting World's content — both to keep Spotting World's own legal status secure as well as to allow for as much re-use of Spotting World content as possible.

Public domain

Under United States copyright law, all images published before January 1, 1923 in the United States are now in the public domain, but this does not apply to images that were created prior to 1923 and published in 1923 or later. The year 1923 has special significance and this date will not roll forward before 2019.

Because Spotting World pages, including non-English language pages, are currently hosted on a server in the United States, this law is particularly significant here.

If you strongly suspect an image is a copyright infringement (for example, no copyright status exists on its image description page and you have seen it elsewhere under a copyright notice), then you should list it for deletion (see below).

Also note that in the United States, reproductions of two-dimensional artwork which is in the public domain because of age do not generate a new copyright — for example, a straight-on photograph of the Mona Lisa would not be considered copyrighted (see Bridgeman v. Corel). Scans of images alone do not generate new copyrights — they merely inherit the copyright status of the image they are reproducing. This is not true of the copyright laws of some other countries, such as the United Kingdom.

Fair use considerations

Some usage of copyrighted materials without permission of the copyright holder can qualify as fair use in the United States (but not in most other jurisdictions). For details as to Spotting World's policy in regards to fair use, or to ask questions about a specific instance, please see the page at fair use. Improper claims of fair use constitute copyright infringement and are illegal.

As a general rule of thumb, Spotting World allows low-resolution images of copyrighted material if they are unlikely to affect the potential market for the material, are used for the purposes of analysis or criticism, and for which there is no alternative, non- or free-copyrighted replacement available.

Media which is mis-tagged as fair use or is a flagrant copyright violation can and will be deleted on sight. Frequent uploading of non-fair use copyrighted material can be justification for banning a Spotting World user.

Editing images

Use the Upload file page to replace an image with an edited version. Make sure your file has the same name as the one being replaced.

Converting an image to another file format changes the filename, hence the new image will have an entirely separate image description page.

Deleting images

  1. Contact (through their talk page) the user who uploaded the image, telling them of your concerns. You may be able to resolve the issue at this point.
  2. Remove all uses of the image from articles — make it an orphan.
  3. Add one of these notices to the image description page
    • copyright violations: add the copyright infringement notice for images from Project:Copyright problems to the image description page.
    • otherwise: add the deletion notice {{ifd}} to the image description page.
  4. List the image on one of these links:
  5. The image can then be deleted after a week in the normal way.

To actually delete an image after following the above procedure, you must be an administrator. To do so, go to the image description page and click the (del) or Delete this page links. Deleted images can now be undeleted.

Image titles and file names

Descriptive file names are also useful. A map of Africa could be called "Africa.png", but quite likely more maps of Africa will be useful in Spotting World, so it is good to be more specific, e.g. "Africa political map.yourinitials.png", or "Africa political map with red borders.png". Check whether there are already maps of Africa in Spotting World. Then decide whether your map should replace one (in each article that uses it) or be additional. In the first case give it exactly the same name, otherwise a suitable other name. Avoid special characters in filenames or excessively long filenames, though, as that might make it difficult for some users to download the files onto their machines. Note that names are case sensitive, "Africa.PNG" is considered different from "Africa.png". For uniformity, lower case file name extensions are recommended.

You may use the same name in the case of a different image that replaces the old one, and also if you make an improved version of the same image - perhaps a scanned image that you scanned again with a better quality scanner, or you used a better way of reducing the original in scale - then upload it with the same title as the old one. This allows people to easily compare the two images, and avoids the need to delete images or change articles. However, this is not possible if the format is changed, since then at least the extension part of the name has to be changed.

Currently there is no easy way to rename an image — they will not "Move" to new titles in the ways that articles will.


Uploaded image size

Uploaded files must be smaller than 20 megabytes. The MediaWiki software Spotting World uses can resize images automatically as of version 1.3, so it is rarely necessary to resize images yourself.

For line art, particularly that which you've drawn yourself, it may be better to manually resize the images to the right size and use them in the article. This is because the automatic resizing function can sometimes produce images that are larger in bytes than the original and/or of worse quality than the original. This is a specific case where SVG can be useful.

Displayed image size

In articles, if you wish to have a photo beside the text, you should generally use the "thumbnail" option available in the "Image markup" (this results in 180 pixels wide display in standard preferences default setting).

Larger images should generally be a maximum of 550 pixels wide, so that they can comfortably be displayed on 800x600 monitors.

Since Mediawiki dynamically scales inline images there is no need to reduce file size via scaling or quality reduction when you upload images although compression of PNGs is useful.

Animated GIF files sometimes have problems when thumbnailed. If you find your animation corrupted or distorted when scaled down, try re-saving it with every frame the same size: A common optimization method in animated gif crunchers is to write variable-sized frames, sometimes labeled as: "Save only the portions of frames that have changed".

Inline animations should be used sparingly; a static image with a link to the animation is preferred unless the animation has a very small file size. Keep in mind the problems with print compatibility mentioned above.


Images should depict their content well (the object of the image should be clear and central).

Image queuing

Articles may get ugly and difficult to read if there are too many images crammed onto a page with relatively little text. They may even overlap.

For this reason, it is often a good idea to temporarily remove the least-important image from an article and queue it up on the article's talk page. Once there is enough text to support the image, any contributor is free to shift the image back into the article.

If a contributor believes such a queued image to be essential to the article, despite the lack of text, he or she may decide to put it back in. However, he or she should not simply revert the article to its previous state, but make an attempt to re-size the images or create some sort of gallery section in order to deal with the original problem.

It is a good idea to use the <gallery> tag for queued images.

It is important that queued images not be lost when archiving of talk pages takes place.

Note: Unfree images (used under the fair use doctrine) should not be moved to talk pages in this fashion. Unfree images are only allowed as long as they are in actual use in an article for normal purposes.

Revision history of articles containing images

Old versions of articles do not show corresponding old versions of images, but the latest ones, unless the file names of the images have changed.

Browse Spotting World images in the Google cache

(warning: Many of these images are subject to copyright. Check their copyright status and seek permission if necessary before republishing.)