Writing Advice

How to Use Photos from Wikimedia Commons

A step by step guide on how to use photos from Wikimedia Commons for your blog.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on the subject of copyright, this is simply my own understanding of the subject. Do not take this post as legal advice

Wikimedia Commons is a worldwide database for millions of photos licensed under a term called “Creative Commons”.

In a nutshell, Creative Commons is kinda like Public Domain. The main difference being that the owner of the CC property intentionally released said property into the world of CC. When a property becomes CC, it is available to everyone. However, there IS a catch. Depending on the details of the CC, they may reqire you to credit the properties’ creator/publisher/author.

For my blog, I often use photos from a wwbsite called ‘Wikimedia Commons’. It’s a website with over 60 million photos, that you can use on your website for FREE!!!!

How to find pictures:

First give in Wikimedia Commons into Google, or Yahoo or whoever on Earth actually uses Bing.

Next, click the magnifying glass and give in a search subject. Assuning WC has something that matches the subject, it’ll give you several photo suggestions. Some categories, especially those of famous individuals will have categories, storing all the photos for you to scroll down through several pages and find exactly what your looking for.

Implementing them onto your website:

First of all, download the photo you wish to use by clicking on the photo. Depending on your platform, there may be different methods on how to put in a picture. The important thing is, unless the description specifically says you do not have to credit anyone, that you give the appropriate credentials. Those will be:

  • The name of the author ( the name at the author row of ‘Summary’ )
  • License ( a link to the license the photo follows )

I personally find myself frequently using photos from Gage Skidmore and Eva Rinaldi. Not on purpose, but those two seem to have made especially major contributions to Creative Commons. Shout out to you two! And everyone else I’ve used a photo from!

Note: You do not legally need permission from the photo uploader to use their photo. In most cases you will need to credit them, however unless given permission, you can not do so in a way that suggests they endorse you or the use of their photo

What to watch out for:

Not all properties are properly registered as CC properties. Below ‘Liscensing’ there may or may not be a green box. If there is no box, I leave it alone and try to find one with a green box. If I can’t find one with a green box, then I have to deal with not being able to use that picture. The box should say something along the lines of:

“This image was originally posted to flickr. It’s license was verified by ( organisation ) at the time it was transferred to Commons. See the license information for more details.”

There may also be a box titled “Personality Rights Warning” This is the literal definition of a red flag. Even if your willing to take the risks of having no green box, if it says “Personality Rights Warning”, meaning that the website your on is telling you this is a bad idea, DO NOT USE IT! Find another one, even if it means using a pucture of poorer quality. Otherwise you may be unintentionally commiting copyright infringement, which could lead to a major lawsuit.

That was my guide on how to use photos from Wikimedia Commons. If you’d like me to do more guides like this in the future, then lemme’ know in the comments below.

-The Screenwriter

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