I have found many questions about "attribution" of work in SE but not specifically about this issue.

I've found a book published on paper using many images coming from "Wikipedia". At the end of the book a single page contains all the credits for the numerous images used in the book. This page has a "section" titled "Wikipedia" and the list of locations where images from Wikipedia have been used (and only that). No attribution or copyright notice is given beyond the fact that the photos are listed in that section. No reference about any licence is given, neither hyper link, etc.

I was wondering if it was a proper attribution of photographies with Creative Common Licences.

I have checked one of the photos. It was not a public domain photo and has not been modified by the publisher of the book. On the Wikimedia - not "Wikipedia" - page corresponding to that photo, the licence is a "Creative Common Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported". If I understand well, the author should have been credited, unless they explicitly requested the inverse. Meanwhile there is a notion of flexibility in attribution. I refer in particular to the following statement from the licence:

You may satisfy the conditions in (1) and (2) above in any reasonable manner based on the medium, means and context in which the Licensed Material is used.

I understand that printing more pages would make the book more expensive, and putting the attribution for each photo used would add a lot of text to this page. Although I am still wondering. Assuming that the author is not aware of the use of the photograph, is it a legal use of the photos or should the attributions be more precise?

Update: Yes some photos are just plain reproductions of the paintings which means they are public domain. Other are not. I have contacted two of the authors so far. The task of identifying them is rather daunting. One of them answered. They told me to contact the publisher myself. I don't think that's my role as I am not the author and this is already taking me a lot of time. I will try to contact other authors. One issue is that messaging on Wikicommons or Wikipedia is not private (unless the user has set an email address to receive messages and only for Wikipedia). I'd rather not give the title or even the ISBN publicly. So trying to contacting the author privately is an issue.

Here is an edited picture of the page: Credit page (with identifications redacted)

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It sounds lazy and/or incorrect, but also like something you should bring up with the author. I'm not sure it's really on topic here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleb
    Jan 17, 2017 at 21:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is mostly off-topic on this site but would be on topic at opensource.stackexchange.com (which is not just about software). \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jan 17, 2017 at 23:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be somewhat on topic if the OP is a photographer considering whether or not they want to contribute images to wikipedia... \$\endgroup\$ Jan 17, 2017 at 23:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you want to post at opensource.SE they ask: "Is your question about open source software?" That's why I asked here. I don't know where else. \$\endgroup\$
    – user85659
    Jan 18, 2017 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ But you're right I'm not here specifically about photography but rather about copyrights. I am indeed considering contacting the authors but was wondering how likely it is that the publisher already contacted them and they approved this. I don't want to annoy them for nothing. \$\endgroup\$
    – user85659
    Jan 18, 2017 at 20:20

2 Answers 2


In general, attribution type depends how and where the photos are used.

For printed material, like books: the photographer should receive proper credit for his work: his name and all image titles released under "Creative Common Attribution Share Alike 3.0".

However, it doesn't need to be on the same page. It can be by the end of the book, with the page number specified.

Source: http://creativecommons.org.au/learn/fact-sheets/attribution/


In this particular case the question should be directed to the folks at Wikipedia. Unless you're planning on doing something similar it is really a question for any attorneys for the various parties. It's not really something that a lay person could address.

If you are planning on doing something similar I would suggest that you do not. It cuts too close to infringement to be considered a safe practice. If you ask the folks at Wikipedia for their opinion (which the author of the book you mention may have done) and they say it's okay I would get it in writing and put that in the book as well.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with "folks at Wikipedia" (which is a rather nebulous entity anyway); the license that the photo is released under is the license it's released under, whether the file is hosted at Wikimedia Commons or flickr. There are some gray areas about what constitutes "attribution", but from what the OP describes, the book is clearly in violation of at least one image's license. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 17, 2017 at 23:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Indeed Wikipedia/Wikimedia doesn't provide any protection. That's not their role. No I'm not planning to publish photo with such poor attribution, or even publish anything by the way. Thank you for confirming me that this is wrong. I will contact the authors. Although some photos - but not all - might just be public domain as they are only pictures of old paintings. \$\endgroup\$
    – user85659
    Jan 18, 2017 at 20:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TTFarreo The policy on WIkimedia Commons is that a literal reproduction of a two-dimensional public domain work is also in the public domain, so the public domain status of photos of old paintings often depends on whether or not there's a picture frame in the shot, interestingly enough. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2017 at 7:00

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