We have a requirement on the main to give attribution for quotes and text from other sources.

However, in some cases a question needs an image to help clarify what is wanted.

According to an answer from Mod Andrew Leach addressing "new attribution rules" (2014), we should be giving attribution to images also.

"new attribution rules" apply specifically to quoted material. A simple link to further reading does not require attribution, but where there is material reproduced from elsewhere it is not sufficient merely to provide a link. A comment has reminded me that "quoted material" need not always be textual. The rules apply to text and images.


Meta: if it's obvious where material has been quoted from, perhaps because there is a link to it, then by all means edit the post to include the source in plain text.

see also: Including copyrighted images in questions/answers

Now some may think it is sufficient to provide a link to the website using those images, but it is possible that may not be enough. Many blog posts and amateur websites post images "borrowed" from the web via Google image search, and often do not give attribution, or they strip the meta-data.

[For those of you who do not know how to find image info, hover the cursor over the image, right click and then select "view image info"...If you want to see meta-data on an original image, use an exif viewer such as Opanda. Meta-data for your own images is available in "properties".](Windows users only...I don't use Linux or Apple OS)

I think what is messing some people up here is the difference between imprinting a "watermark" on an image, (like a Getty Photos, or ShutterStock image), and a copyright for an image. All image copyrights are due to the original author, unless sold. Professionals post a copyright in the original meta-data, also.

The following is an example of a properties search on an image included in a popular question of the moment. Notice it is marked "Associated text: image taken from the TV programme "Restoration Man". From what I understand of copyright law, that is the author.

enter image description here

This next is an example of meta-data of an original foto in an exif reader: notice that it has the author listed as "artist", and it is copyrighted 2017.

enter image description here

This is an example of the information available of a thumbnail with stripped data. Beyond the dimensions, nada..

enter image description here

Even here on SE, there are violations of users copyrights...

Context: I encountered an image I made (which was fully copyrighted and published in a blog post) in an answer here on the StackExchange network. The user luckily had his email in his profile and we resolved it without any issue. Still the fact that this happened and that the user in question had no idea that he had just published the image under a CC license felt wrong. I mean, I personally wouldn't mind publishing that image under a CC license (like with all my content on SE), but that should be my decision, not somebody's elses.

-David Mulder on Meta

Also see "Are we allowed according to the ToS to exempt a part of our post from the CC license?"

Without playing the "blame game", or "name and shame", I think there are many of us here who have done this. We tend to see any image we scoop up in Google to be fair game, and view it as public domain.

Why are people not giving a separate attribution to images in plain text, or is the image info and/or meta-data considered good enough, as it usually contains a link to the source and author?

  • 1
    "We are usually very careful on the main to give attribution for quotes and text" I'm not sure I agree with this, at least looking at the site as a whole; text seems to be more of a problem than images. I constantly see questions asking for the meaning of an unattributed sentence and answers that copy without attribution (and sometimes without quote format) from dictionaries.
    – Laurel Mod
    Apr 29, 2019 at 21:44
  • @Laurel Yes, and in the review queue we usually very careful to either 1) edit to include the pertinent attribution, or 2) we close them. When is the last time you can recall that somone edited to provide an attribution for an image? For professional photographers this an issue. I always copyright my material, and no longer publish any images on facebook, whatever. Apr 29, 2019 at 21:46
  • Apart from that, there are new rules coming down from the EU... Apr 29, 2019 at 21:53
  • Since you have already given the answer in the question, why is this not a duplicate?
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Apr 29, 2019 at 22:26
  • @AndrewLeach I am asking if we are "remiss". It is clear in your excellent answer from 2014 what the answer should be to "including the attribution". We do not seem to be following that procedure and I am trying to bring it to attention. "Intellectual rights" seem to most people to be mainly books and music, but it should also include images. Since I have been here, I do not see users doing that. Apr 29, 2019 at 22:28
  • What? Which new rules from the EU?
    – Mitch
    Apr 29, 2019 at 22:35
  • 2
    Also, what? What exactly is the question? Are you asking if people give full bibliographic info including the link? Are you asking for the motivation behind some behavior (but I'm not sure which behavior you are targeting)? Or are you asking a rhetorical question in order to encourage people to ... do something? (I think you're trying to remind people to give a little more than a link, but I can't tell)
    – Mitch
    Apr 29, 2019 at 22:38
  • @Mitch See: wired.com/story/europes-copyright-law-could-change-the-web sorry, my last edit was messed up. I am asking if we should not be more diligent in attributions to images...in many cases, users do not even give the link. Apr 29, 2019 at 22:40
  • @Mitch Sorry, but when I talk about meta-data in a pic, you know what I mean, right? Sorry if I sound condescending. We could go to chat if you want. Apr 29, 2019 at 22:56
  • No need for chat. But what meta-data in an image? meta data is usually outside of the plain data itself (in this case an image).
    – Mitch
    Apr 29, 2019 at 23:52
  • Also, no need to name/blame. Just pointedly ask in a comment "Can you give a link/label of the source (so as not to plagiarise)?"
    – Mitch
    Apr 29, 2019 at 23:52
  • But thanks for the Wired link. I hadn't heard of it.
    – Mitch
    Apr 29, 2019 at 23:54
  • @Mitch Please see my revisions to the Q. If my explanation is common knowledge then lemme know. Idon't understand your "outside of the plain data". Just like TV broadcasts, there is data riding on the signal you cannot see. Apr 30, 2019 at 0:49
  • 1
    @Cascabel I didn't 'get' this question. I didn't understand where you are getting all this info from. But what I now understand, you selected an image from some place on SE, downloaded it yourself to your own computer, opened the image with an image reader, and examined the meta data associated with the image (hidden in the file and not normally displayed). You could have avoided all this by saying that. Also, giving a link so we could do the same process as you did so we can verify the situation. (I assumed naively that the image saved on SE was a copy, without all that meta-data).
    – Mitch
    May 1, 2019 at 22:15
  • 2
    @Cascabel I think you've answered your own question, that it is impossible to rely on metadata as a record of provenance.
    – Mitch
    May 2, 2019 at 23:08


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