Not Enough Free Images On The Internet

Posted on 8/31/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Travel photographers take note. Wikimedia Commons thinks there are not enough free images available on the web. So they are running a contest to build their image database that already contains 13.6 million free-to-use photos and illustrations.

The images in this database can be freely reused by anyone, for any purpose, “on their website, in print or otherwise.” The images may also be used for commercial purposes. Photos and illustrations have come from two main sources—creators who give permission for others to use their work or the public domain. To search the database go to the main page of their site.

Through September, the foundation is asking users to upload photographs of historic sites and important monuments. Ten finalists and one grand prize winner will be announced in December. The winner will receive a trip to Hong Kong to shoot a photo tour in conjunction with Wikimania 2013.

The contest is Wiki Loves Monuments 2012, and is focused on photos of historic sites around the world. Last year’s contest saw 168,000 pictures uploaded by more than 5,000 photographers from 18 European nations. This year, volunteers in more than 30 countries, including the U.S., will join in as organizers attempt to surpass last year’s total.

For photographers in the United States, Wikimedia Commons has provided a link to a state-by-state list of historic places of interest. There are 5,436 locations in New York state, 2,543 in California and 528 in the District of Columbia. All told there are 86,912 locations in the United States alone, but they are looking for images from around the world.

Wikimedia Commons says their photos are “free-to-use,” but they also provide a very extensive list of “Non-copyright restriction” outlining ways the images should not be used. They say, “While all material on Commons is free to use under its respective license, some materials may be subject to additional legal restrictions when they are used in particular circumstances or in particular ways. These limitations may arise from laws related to trademarks, patents, personality rights, political censorship, or any of many other legal causes which are entirely independent from the copyright status of the work.”

Anyone trying to abide by the law might find it simpler to search a professional site and pay to use the images they need.

“Wiki Loves Monuments is an important way for volunteers around the world to showcase the cultural heritage in their countries and share these images with everyone through Wikipedia,” Lodewijk Gelauff said in a Wikimedia Foundation blog post.

Copyright © 2012 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Bill Bachmann Posted Aug 31, 2012
    How does Wikipedia make it's money? I would expect then that all their employees work with no salary so they can also SHARE with the world! Truth is far stranger than fiction in the stock photo world....

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