I have found an image at the following URL:


There is no copyright notice in the image or html source code.

I'd like to use it in a presentation and potentially re-publish.

How do I find out its copyright status?

Is it fair to use it?

(n.b I am attempting to find a usable image of slime-mould as a network/graph)

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is an example of a question that is off-topic (this is more of a legal, or internet research question), but one that I'm really happy provided such a good answer (that not only provides the "fish", but also "teaches how to fish") so quickly. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Dec 9, 2020 at 0:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't matter whether there's a copyright notice and do please check this with your favourite specialist lawyer… Anything that is published is automatically copyrighted, by virtue of being published. The only questions are the date - is that in dispute here? - and whether someone else got there first - did they? Here, you need to contact the publisher and request permission to use the image \$\endgroup\$ Dec 9, 2020 at 21:44

3 Answers 3


Lee's answer is great (I'm glad to learn about the photoID URL hack). Here's how I found the answer:

  1. Perform a Google "Search by Image".

  2. The search results led me to a couple articles using the same image. Hopefully, I'm looking for a page or article that credits the photographer and links directly to the hosted image (Flickr, in this case).

    • At the time of this writing, the best result (at the time of this writing) leads to a JSTOR article that credits "Flickr", and links directly to Norbert Hülsmann's Flickr page of the image. Done.
  3. However, sometimes the answer doesn't come so quickly. When I first searched for this image a couple days ago, that wasn't the first result. Instead, one of the first results was an article at Quartz.com, which had the image and credited "Norbert Hülsmann/Flickr", but didn't link to the Flickr image.

  4. After finding the photographer, adding their name to the Google Image Search produced a link to a blog article that credited Hülsmann, and also linked to the Flickr page. Done. (again).

In this example, the path was unnecessarily circuitous (for explanation purposes), but this is path sometimes required to figure out copyright and/or licensing for images. Search, refine, repeat.


All photos on Flickr are copyrighted to the original poster. It is clearly written in the user agreement. All images are copyrighted at a minimum level no matter where you find them. Typically, you must ask permission before you copy any photo from any source. Ask the owner, always.


I managed to find it using this guide:

In summary:

  1. The number before the first _ is the photoID

  2. Append this to http://flickr.com/photo.gne?id=

And you get the full flickr URL for the image.

In my case the link was http://flickr.com/photo.gne?id=14742720206 (note, image now removed from flickr).

Which has a non-commercial CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.


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