Commons:License review

Shortcut: COM:LR




Lemill Web Albums



Scanned books, documents and ephemra

Other reviews

License reviewing is a necessary process for files from Flickr, Picasa, Panoramio, YouTube and other external websites that provide images under different licenses. People who upload their material to these web albums choose a license, some of which are free and suitable for Commons, and some are not free and should not be uploaded to Commons.

Some of these external sites allow their users to select the license of their choice and to change it at any time, without any logs of the prior copyright status of the image. This means there is no easy way to check whether an image currently marked as non-free was uploaded under a free license. This causes problems for the use of these images on Wikimedia projects.

Wikimedia Commons therefore has a review process for verifying the copyright status of images uploaded from these external sites, which allows for the verification of freely licensed images by a bot or trusted user (admins and community approved users) and identification of images where the Commons license is different. This method cannot tell if the image was ever freely available, however.


Editors uploading material whose license depends on a declaration in an external website should tag the file description page with one of the tags in Category:License review tags. Use {{Flickrreview}} for images from Flickr and {{LicenseReview}} if no website-specific tag is available.

Here are a few things you can do to make the task easier for reviewers:

  1. If it is a still image from YouTube make sure to add the time where the image can be found. For example, (0m40s)
  2. If the license is not clearly visible over/under/next to the image, add a link and short text in the "Permission field" telling the reviewer where to find the license.
  3. If it is a file from Flickr, iNaturalist (and other pages?) where we have a bot to review the file, please upload the original file and wait for the bot to review the file (usually takes a minute or two) before uploading a cropped/edited version.
  4. Consider going to and check if the webpage is archived there; if not you can save a copy.


Reviewers who are approved by the community are added to the image-reviewer group (see associated rights). Administrators do not need to be added to this group. This user group is used for managing the list of reviewers as opposed to having a manually managed list, which was formerly used and now archived here. Reviewers and administrators may confirm licenses from the various categories listed on the green template to the right (link), including files from Picasa Web Albums and Flickr.


To become a reviewer, you need to be familiar with the general licensing policy of Commons. A reviewer is required to know which licenses are allowed and disallowed on Wikimedia Commons and be familiar with restrictions that may apply, such as freedom of panorama. Post your request to become a reviewer on the requests page, so that the community can voice their opinions. After a few days, a reviewer or administrator determines whether there are no severe objections to the candidate. If there are not, they will close the request and add you to the image-reviewers user group. Once permissions are granted, you can add {{User reviewer}} (or one of its variants) to your user page and begin reviewing images.

There is currently no defined policy for removal of license reviewer rights. In case of clear abuse or gross incompetence, a request for removal can be raised on the administrators' noticeboard. Inactivity is currently not a valid rationale for removal of license reviewer rights.

Instructions for reviewers

The reviewing can be performed using Template:LicenseReview. The documentation explains how to use it. However, the simplest way to review images is using the LicenseReview gadget. To do so, enable it from Preferences.

Before executing the script, the file must be reviewed first. Please note that as of 21 February 2012, image-reviewers may not review their own uploads unless the account is an approved bot. This ensures that at least two individuals, or one individual and a bot, have checked that the license choice is correct. Reviews by image-reviewers on their own uploads will be considered invalid. When reviewing files from any album site, keep the following in mind and change the file page when necessary:

  • Free license. The first thing you review is the license on the album site. The license must be one that is accepted by Wikimedia Commons, otherwise the file should fail review and be marked for deletion (License - tab on License reviewer script). Commons:Where is the license on various sites? lists some large image and media sharing sites and where the license can be found on each one (sometimes it isn't obvious).
  • Both license and author should match those in the album site. If the license on the album site is accepted by Commons, but is not the chosen license on the file page, change it so that the licenses match. It is a courtesy to link the author’s name to the profile page of the associated website. Note that services like Flickr give their users the ability to choose nicknames. Both real and nicknames are displayed in the user’s profile page, and either can be used to attribute the author (unless the author specifies otherwise).
  • Source link. It is essential that the source links to the correct file page of the album site. If you come across a file linking to the wrong page, attempt to search for the right one and fix the link on the Commons file page. If there’s no success, use {{Flickr no source}} and {{Nsd}} (License - tab, select No source indicated, on License reviewer script).
  • Are they really the copyright holder? Consider whether the picture on the album site was really made by that user. Many users have no clue about copyrights, and “freely” license images for which they do not own the copyright! See Commons:Questionable Flickr images. If the image is of a sculpture or a building, do check also that there are no freedom of panorama issues.
  • If the uploader was not the author (the only way to be sure is for the web album user to post their Commons ID on the web album user page), check to ensure the web album user actually freely licensed the photo and that the correct license was cited by the uploader.
  • Thank you. Consider leaving a thank-you message on the album site image page (this requires an account in the associated album site). You can use the following message template; replace Foo.jpg with the real name (this is in pure HTML - depending on the site you may have to adjust the link syntax):
Thanks for licensing this image under a free license! Your choice has allowed us to use your image at <a href="">Wikimedia Commons</a>. The image can now be used to illustrate <a href="">one or more pages</a> on <a href="">the English Wikipedia</a> or other free knowledge projects.

Once all this information has been reviewed for the image, you now change the template manually or via script. For script, see script documentation for more details. You can also do it manually, which is described more in detail at {{Flickrreview}}. The following is a table of all possible combinations for the flickrreview template (change to picasareview, panoramioreview, etc.). If you like the manual procedures, you might copy the source code of this table into your user page and put your username into it. It helps with the copy and paste work, since the date is changed automatically and there are templates for every case of license. If the server forgets to change after midnight UTC, you can use the purge link to refresh.

Specific procedures for Flickr

See also Help:Flickr review templates
{{subst:Frw}} which expands to
{{subst:uffd|<YourUserName>|<LICENCE> (e.g. ND)}}
{{subst:Frw|copyright (all rights reserved)}}
{{subst:Flickr no source|<YourUserName>|2024-05-27}}
purge this page's cache

When reviewing Flickr files manually, use the following templates correctly.

  • Use the following if the license is correct:
  • Use the following if the license at Flickr is unfree:
Example if license at Flickr is cc-by-nd-2.0: {{subst:uffd|<YourUserName>|2=ND}}
  • Use the following if the license at Flickr is unfree but has Permission pending from VRT, deletion request, or anything that might exempt the file from speedy deletion:
{{subst:Frw|copyright (all rights reserved)}}
  • Use the following if the link to the Flickr page is not present:
{{Flickr no source|{{subst:REVISIONUSER}}|{{subst:#time: Y-m-d}}}} and {{subst:nsd}}

Other templates

{{Copyvio|Ipernity review NOT passed: Author is using NC, ND, or all rights reserved.}} ~~~~
{{subst:Irw|copyright (all rights reserved)}}
Depending on the situation, see notes about confirmation on template {{PBLR}} page.
{{Copyvio|License review NOT passed: Author is using NC, ND, or all rights reserved.}} ~~~~

{{Change-of-license}}, {{Flickr-change-of-license}}, {{Vimeo-change-of-license}} and {{YouTube-change-of-license}}: For use on file description pages for files which have passed license review but which are no longer distributed under the original license. Adds information about the irrevocability of Creative Commons licenses to the file description.