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Open Image Collections & Image Use Guide

This guide is to assist you in better understanding the various license agreements available when accessing images on the internet. Here you will find information on licencing, how to cite images for your papers and presentations, as well as an ever-growi

How to use WikiMedia Commons

WikiCommons LogoWikimedia Commons      

Wikimedia Commons, or simply Commons, is a wiki-based media repository of free-to-use images, sounds, videos and other media. It is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

In order to find certain media files on Wikimedia Commons, you can search an entire category, or see if a gallery page for your subject exists.

What You Need to Know

If you want to reuse Wikimedia Commons media files outside Wikimedia projects, you are welcome to do so. However, keep some very important points in mind:

  • Unlike traditional media repositories, Wikimedia Commons is free. Everyone is allowed to copy, use and modify any files here freely for any purpose including commercial ones as long as the source and the authors are credited and, in many cases, as long as you release your copies/improvements under the same freedom to others.
  • The Wikimedia Commons database itself and the texts in it are licensed under the CC-BY-SA and the GNU Free Documentation License. The license conditions of each individual media file can be found on their description pages.
  • However, be aware that WikiMedia gives no guarantee the correctness of the information given on each file. So please verify on your own the license conditions given on the media file you want to use.

How to Search and Attribute WikiMedia Commons 

Searching WikiMedia Commons:

1. Use the search bar to enter your search term, or

2. Select the content type you wish to search for from the options.

Screen shot indicating location of seach

3. Click the image or content you would like to use to open information on the digital asset.

Screen shot example of image search

4. Scroll to the bottom of the image page and review the terms of the License. Make sure that how you wish to use the content is permitted by the License terms.

screen shot example of wikicommons image license

Attributing digital assets from WikiMedia Commons:

5. Select the option "Use this file" to obtain the attribution statement.

Wkikimedia image of cat screen shot of option for attribution information location

6. Copy the Attribution and show it with the digital asset you are using.

screen shot example of wikimedia image attribution information