Wipipedia.org:Image use policy

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This page is in production and is not to be currently relied upon.


Be very careful when uploading copyrighted images, fully describe images' sources and copyright details on their description pages, and try to make images as useful and reusable as possible.

This page is an overview of the policies towards images — including format, content, and copyright issues — on Wipipedia. It is based on the policy formulated for Wikipedia so if you are familiar with that, this is unlikely to seem strange. However, since Wipipedia is hosted (i.e. "published") in England, the legal basis differs from that for Wikipedia.

If, after reading this policy, you have specific questions, look up an active sysop and leave a message on their talk page (discussion page).

For general help on using images when editing a page, see Help:Image syntax. To see what images are already loaded, see the list of images. When you are happy you should be uploading an image, go to Special:Upload.


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 this will cause copyright issues), and use the automatic thumbnailing option of the Wipipedia image markup 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. Use JPEG (JPG) format for photographic images, and 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.
  8. Add a good alternate text for images when including them in a page. This aids people who are not displaying images, especially blind people using a voice reader.
  9. In general, there is no need to specify thumbnail size. Users can select their ideal size in preferences.
  10. Do not upload porn pictures 'just because'. Wipipedia is not shy of dealing with sexual subjects, but it is an encyclopaedia, not a porn site.

Adding images

Please note: this is not an 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 suitable free licence.
  • You can prove that the image is in the public domain.

Note that the USA concept of "Fair use" does NOT apply to the Wipipedia, which is hosted (i.e. "published") in England.

Images and text which are listed as for non-commerical use only, by permission for Wipipedia only, or licenced under a licence which restricts deriritives are unsuitable for Wipipedia as they do not conform with the GFDL, under which all content on Wipipedia is licensed. They are liable to be deleted on sight. Rather than uploading such images, try to look for an alternative which is licenced freely or in the public domain whenever possible.

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, including if possible links to appropriate Wipipedia pages.
  • 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 Wipipedia with the selected image copyright tag.
  • Other versions of this file: Directs users to derivatives of the image if they exist on Wipipedia.

User-created images

Wipipedia encourages users to upload their own images, but all user-created images must be released under a free licence (such as the GFDL and/or an acceptable Creative Commons licence) or be released into the public domain (no licence). 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 but not always 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 labour that 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 Wipipedia_talk: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 not suited for the Wipipedia encyclopedia.

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. All photo credit should be in a summary on the image description page.


Free licences

For a list of possible licenses which are considered "free enough" for Wipipedia, see the list of mage copyright tags below. 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 Wipipedia, are not free enough for Wipipedia's usages or goals and will have to be deleted.

Public domain

While there are many places to acquire public domain photos, 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).

Sources of free images

Sources of free images can be found at Wikipedia's article on Free image resources. In short, Wipipedia media should be as "free" as Wipipedia's content — both to keep Wipipedia's own legal status secure as well as to allow for as much re-use of Wipipedia content as possible.

List of general Wipipedia image copyright description tags

Name Display Purpose
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution icon
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Notice of copyright requiring attribution.
Creative Commons Licence
Creative Commons Attribution iconCreative Commons Share Alike icon
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons "Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Netherlands" Licence.
Notice of restricted copyleft.
Some rights reserved
Creative Commons Attribution iconCreative Commons Share Alike icon
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons
Attribution ShareAlike license versions 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0.
Notice of restricted copyleft.
Copyleft Copyleft: this work of art is free, you can redistribute it and/or modify it according to terms of the Free Art License.
You will find a specimen of this license on the site Copyleft Attitude http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en/ as well as on other sites.
Notice of copyleft, for example with images copied or placed under that licence.
GNU head Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this image 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 "Text of the GNU Free Documentation License."
Notice of copyleft, for example with images copied or placed under that licence.
{{PD-user|User Login}}
Public domain This image has been (or is hereby) released into the public domain by its creator, User Login. This applies worldwide.
In case this is not legally possible,
the creator grants anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.
Subject to disclaimers.
Notice that an image was created by a Wipipedia user and is free of copyright.
Public domain
This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. This applies worldwide.
Notice of freedom from copyright of an image, for example with one made by someone and donated for Wipipedia or copied here and known to be free of copyright.

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.
  3. Annotate the image description page to explain why the image has to be deleted.
  4. The image can then be deleted after a week by an Administrator.

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.

Image titles and file names

Descriptive file names are also useful. A picture of a whip could be called "Whip.jpg", but quite likely more pictures of whips will be useful in Wipipedia, so it is good to be more specific, e.g. "Whip photo.yourinitials.jpg", or "Flogger with wide lashes.jpg". Check whether there are already photos of whips in Wipipedia. Then decide whether your photo 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 different 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, so "Whip.JPG" is considered different from "Whip.jpg". 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.


See the Wikipedia guide for recommendations on the best markup to use.

Photo montages

There are four different approaches to photo montages that different Wipipedians take. Different approaches may be suitable for different subjects, or it may be possible to set a standard. The options are:

  1. Photos at bottom of article
  2. Photos on "images of" page
  3. Photos on an image description page
  4. No photo montages allowed — only include a limited number of relevant photos accompanying article text

No decision on photo montages has been made yet. Please discuss pros and cons of each option on the talk page.

Note that it is not recommended to use animated GIFs to display multiple photos. The method is not suitable for printing and also is not user friendly (users can not save individual images and have to wait before being able to view images while other images cycle round).


  • Drawings, icons, political maps, flags and other such images are preferably uploaded in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format as vector images. Images with large, simple, and continuous blocks of colour which are not available as SVG should be in PNG format.
  • Drawings, icons, political maps, flags and other such images should be in PNG format.
  • Photos and images with photo-like colour depth should be in JPG format.
  • Inline animations should be in animated GIF format.
  • Video should be in Ogg/Theora format.
  • Screenshots should be in PNG or JPG format, depending on the photorealism/color depth of the subject.

In general, if you have a good image that is in the wrong format, convert it to the correct format before uploading. However, if you find a map, flag, etc. in JPEG format, only convert it to PNG if this reduces the file size without causing artifacts.

Try to avoid editing JPEGs too frequently — each edit creates more loss of quality. If you can find an original of a photograph in 16-bit or 24-bit PNG or TIFF, edit that, and save as JPEG before you upload. A limited variety of edits (crops, rotation, flips) can be performed losslessly using jpegcrop (windows) or Patched jpegtran (other) try to use this where possible.

Avoid images that mix photographic and iconic content; the Wipipedia software does not allow a PNG overlay on top of a JPEG image. Thus both parts must be in the same file, and either the quality of one part will suffer, or the file size will be unnecessarily large.

Direct SVG support is implemented as of September 2005. The SVG is dynamically rendered as a PNG at a given size when inserted into an article. If you find that a SVG image is being cropped too closely by Wikimedia's rendering software, one way around this is to draw a box around the image at the distance it should be cropped, and set the box to have no fill and no stroke color.

See also: Wipipedia:Preparing images for upload


Uploaded image size

Uploaded files must be smaller than 20 megabytes. The MediaWiki software Wipipedia uses can resize images automatically as of version 1.3, so it is rarely necessary to resize images yourself. Please help ensure that Wipipedia content can be reused widely—including as a source for printed media—by uploading photographic images at high resolution. Use the Wipipedia image markup to resize it.

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.

In the future, Mediawiki image markup may be extended to better support "manual thumbnailing"; for now, go ahead and upload a large version of a manually-scaled image and then link to the larger version in the original's image description page.

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 files in PNG format is useful. Faster page loading can be facilitated by selecting a smaller default size in your user preferences.

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". Wipipedia's current version of ImageMagick does not seem to support this.

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.


Please discuss the contents of images used on Wipipedia on the talk page.

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.

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.

Free and open-source software

These free software and open source software packages have been recommended by Wikipedians for use in image and media manipulation:

  • The GIMP [1] — Raster image editor. (Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X)
  • Inkscape [2] — Scalable Vector Graphics vector image editor. (Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X)
  • ImageMagick [3] — Image conversion and transformation suite. (Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X)
  • GraphicsMagick [4] — A clone of ImageMagick emphasizing consistency of the programming API and end-user command-line options. (Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X)
  • Paint.NET [5] — Raster image editing software based on the .NET platform. (Microsoft Windows)
  • Cinelerra [6] — Non-linear video editing software. (Linux)
  • Audacity [7] — General purpose sound editor. (Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X)
  • Ardour (audio processor) [8] — Multichannel digital audio workstation. (Linux, Mac OS X)

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

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