Commons:OTRS

Shortcut: COM:OTRS

OTRS Noticeboard
Main OTRS-related pages

OTRS stands for Open-source Ticket Request System. OTRS is a tool used by the Wikimedia projects, including Commons, to manage and archive email conversations. The main use of OTRS in relation to Commons is to verify and archive licensing permissions.

In some cases, sending email to OTRS may be required in order to provide evidence that the copyright holder has given permission to publish a file under a free license. Such evidence should be sent to permissions-commons@wikimedia.org (or a language specific address). OTRS is also used to handle email reports of copyright violations.

Emails sent to OTRS are handled by a multilingual team of trusted volunteers. Each topic is assigned a unique ticket number to keep related emails together and to ensure that correspondence can be found and re-examined at a later date. The correspondence is not visible to the public.

OTRS volunteer interface
An image that received its permission for use via OTRS

Each ticket will be reviewed by a volunteer. If there is sufficient evidence of a valid permission, the volunteer will mark the file(s) concerned as reviewed. The volunteer will also act to restore any files which may have been deleted before the permission could be verified, so when following the procedure described here, there is no need to request undeletion. If there is not sufficient evidence, the volunteer may request additional information from the correspondent. Volunteers will also act to ensure that any copyright violations that come to their attention are deleted.

The number of active Commons OTRS volunteers is quite small in relation to the number of emails received. The current backlog for tickets in English is approximately 110 days, so apologies for the delay. Experienced Commons editors are encouraged to join our team of volunteers and improve our response times.

Inquiries about the validity or status of an OTRS ticket can be made at the OTRS Noticeboard.

Emails are handled by community volunteers. The Wikimedia Foundation cannot guarantee confidential treatment of any sensitive information you include in your message.

When contacting OTRS is unnecessary

If any of the following statements is one you could make with regard to the file you wish to upload, you do not need to contact OTRS:

"I do not have permission to use the file and it has not been released under a free license."
Commons can only accept images that are under a free license or in the public domain. If the file does not fall in one of those two groups, please do not upload it.
"I created the file myself. it hasn't been previously published, and I am the sole owner of its copyright."
Just follow the instructions found on the Commons:Upload page, unless the image/ file is of outstanding or professional quality or there is some other reason your authorship may be doubted.
"The image was first published on my website, or on my own space of a shared website."
That's great! Please follow Creative Commons' instructions to adopt the free culture license of your choice. It will then be reviewed when files are uploaded by you or others. Use the Internet Archive's "Save Page Now" feature to store proof of your license statement.
"Our website uses Wordpress"
You can place the entire website in CC-BY-SA license in a handful clicks.
"Our website is on Blogspot"
Follow the steps to update your theme.
"We publish on Flickr"
Follow Flickr publish steps.
"We publish on YouTube"
You can use CC-BY (video tutorial).
"I found the image on Flickr where it was marked as having been released under a free license."
Commons has a procedure in place for reviewing those images. Please have a look on Commons:Flickr images.

Licensing images: when do I contact OTRS?

If any of the following statements is one you could make, then you must send an email to the OTRS system:

"I have received permission from the original author (not me) to upload the file to Commons."
Please forward us a permission statement to the address listed above. We require that owners make a clear statement that they release the image under a free license. To help prevent confusion or misunderstandings we prefer one of the email templates be used. Permission grants must specifically contain a free license grant and may not merely give permissions for Commons or Wikipedia. If you have already uploaded the image to Commons, follow the instructions on Template:OTRS pending.
"I am the copyright owner but my file has been previously published without a free license on a medium I can't alter."
Please send us a clear statement that you wish to release your work (with a link to the original location) under a specific free license. See Commons:Email templates for the preferred form. Alternatively, add a free license to your work and place the text {{license review}} somewhere on the file description page on Commons. We will review your statement for authenticity and will let you know if we can accept it as valid.
"I regularly publish my work elsewhere and want to avoid the hassle of sending permission statements for every upload I make."
Please send us a clear statement that your Commons account (or some other Commons account) is authorized to license your works, either any work or some set of works, e.g. "My images from event X, 2013-10-15". We will make a note of this for your future uploads.
"I am the copyright owner and my file is being hosted on Commons without permission."
Send us an email (to permissions-commons@wikimedia.org) with as much information as possible about the problem, including the URL of the file on Commons, the URL of the place it was originally uploaded. We will review your request and if we find the file was uploaded without proper permission, it will be marked for deletion.

If you are NOT the copyright holder

If you are not the copyright holder and the work is not in the public domain or readily available under a Commons-compatible free license, you will need to contact the copyright holder and obtain permission for his or her work to be uploaded to Commons. Please follow these steps:

  1. Before you upload the file to Commons, please identify and contact the copyright holder and ask him or her to release the work under a free license.
    • The copyright holder must choose one of the licenses permitted on Commons; in particular, restricting use to Wikipedia or Wikimedia projects is not acceptable. See Commons:Email templates for a recommended reply from the author.
  2. When you receive a reply, please check that the license authorized by the copyright holder is appropriate to Commons. If so, upload the image to Commons and place the tag {{subst:OP}} ("OTRS Pending") on the file description page.
  3. Following this, ask the author to forward the email with their clear statement of permission to permissions-commons@wikimedia.org, including the full header and any previously exchanged correspondence with you, and a link to the image on Commons. Make sure to ask the author to include information on the origin (source) of the file and its license.
  4. An OTRS volunteer will check the email to verify that the permission statement is sufficient and authentic, and will then replace the {{OTRS pending}} tag with {{PermissionOTRS}}.

(If you are the copyright holder writing to confirm the license for a previously published work that you have already uploaded to Commons, you should, of course, send the permission statement yourself.)

Declaration of consent for all enquiries

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Try our new Interactive Release Generator!

If you have been directed to this page because you wish to release the rights to a file to which you own the copyright, please consider clicking on the link above rather than completing the following email template. The Interactive Release Generator is designed to make the process of releasing the rights to a file efficient and simple. The use of the following template, though still perfectly valid and certainly useful as a work of reference, is now discouraged and should only be used in exceptional circumstances. Thank you!

E-mail template for release of rights to a file

We receive a large number of e-mails from copyright holders wishing to allow Wikipedia to reuse their content (emails such as, "I allow Wikipedia to reuse my photos", etc.). Unfortunately, such statements are insufficient from a legal standpoint: we require a more-specific declaration of consent to accept your permission. The following template will allow you to produce such a declaration.

  • Before you send us us any e-mail, ensure that you've removed all the instructions from the template.
  • Replace the template text (such as name) with your own details, and remove all of the brackets.

To: permissions-commons@wikimedia.org


I hereby affirm that I choose one:, [name] or [represent copyright holder's name], the creator and/or sole owner of the exclusive copyright of choose one: [the media work][1] or [the work depicted in the media][2] or [both the work depicted and the media][3] as shown here: choose one: [web page of the content] or [in the attached images/text].[4]

I agree to publish the above-mentioned content under the following free license: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.[5]

I acknowledge that by doing so I grant anyone the right to use the work, even in a commercial product or otherwise, and to modify it according to their needs, provided that they abide by the terms of the license and any other applicable laws.

I am aware that this agreement is not limited to Wikipedia or related sites.

I am aware that the copyright holder always retains ownership of the copyright as well as the right to be attributed in accordance with the license chosen. Modifications others make to the work will not be claimed to have been made by the copyright holder.

I acknowledge that I cannot withdraw this agreement, and that the content may or may not be kept permanently on a Wikimedia project.

[Sender's name]
[Sender's authority (if applicable. E.g. "Copyright holder", "Director", "Appointed representative of", etc.)]
[Date]


  1. The words "media work" should be chosen for cases where the "medium" is also the "work", e.g., a photograph of a sunset or a person, an original digital drawing, diagram, or map, a sound recording of a bird, the text of a web page, etc., but not a photograph of another person's copyrighted painting or a sound recording of a person playing a flute or pronouncing a series of words, for which see below.
  2. The words "work depicted in the media" mean, for example, the case of a digital photograph (the medium) of an artistic sculpture (the work) where the sculptor did not take the photograph but is the individual here making the licensing statement.
  3. The words, "both the work depicted and the media" mean those instances when the person making the statement is the copyright owner of the thing depicted (e.g., the sculpture, the oil painting, the particular musical performance, the reading of a monologue from Hamlet) as well as the owner of the medium in which it is being provided (e.g., the photograph of it, the movie clip in which it appears, the Photoshop drawing of it, the sound clip containing it).
  4. You must clearly identify the content that you're permitting us to use. A statement such as "I am creator of the images used on XYZ page" is NOT sufficient. You must provide exact URL link(s) to the content or attach the content to the e-mail. For images, we prefer that you upload them to Wikimedia Commons, place the template {{OTRS pending}} somewhere in the file's description, and provide the URLs of the uploaded images in your e-mail.
  5. You may choose another license from our list of free licenses if you wish, but you MUST state a license; otherwise, this declaration is invalid. Please also indicate the license's most recent version number, if applicable: CC-SA 1.0 or Creative Commons 0 Public Domain Dedication 1.0 are acceptably specific; simply stating Creative Commons license, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike, or CC-BY (without the version number) is not.

Send the statement to our email response team ("OTRS") at permissions-commons@wikimedia.org. The email you send should come from an email address that we can recognize as somehow associated with the content being released. For instance, if you are releasing images shown on a website, your email address should be associated with the website or listed on the contact page of the website; if you are releasing images on behalf of an organization, your e-mail address should be at an official address of the organization; if you are releasing a work that is not available online, you may be asked to privately provide evidence of your identity to the OTRS volunteer who processes your statement; if you are releasing a work for which you are acting on the copyright holder's behalf, you may be asked to provide proof of this authorization such as a forwarded email from the copyright holder designating you as his/ her representative in this matter.

Templates to use on image pages

  • Users who have sent a permission to OTRS but haven't received confirmation yet can use {{subst:OP}} to tell others that it's in progress.
  • OTRS volunteers can use {{subst:OR|id=number or ticket=URL}} when the permission has been received but further clarification or communication is needed.
  • OTRS volunteers can use {{PermissionOTRS|id=number or ticket=URL}} when the permission has been accepted and archived in the Wikimedia OTRS system. This template should only used by OTRS volunteers. Unauthorized use will cause a AbuseFilter logentry and a warning will be shown.

See also

On Commons
On other projects
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