wikiHow:Image Licensing Guidelines

Over the years, wikiHow has been improved by images from all over the world, whether they have been imported from other websites or taken by wikiHow's own volunteer editors. However, not all images that are seen on the internet are available to use and must be known to everyone whom wishes to contribute to wikiHow when uploading them.

EditAbout these rules

wikiHow is a collaborative project to create the world's best and most comprehensive how-to manual, and make it available to as many people as possible. To further the goal of making it available to as many people as possible, the text of our articles is licensed under a Creative Commons license that permits people to make copies of it.

To this end, any images that are uploaded to wikiHow must be freely redistributable by everyone as well. This means that, outside of a very narrow range of circumstances (such as for screenshots) we cannot allow copyrighted images which we do not have explicit permission from the copyright holder to use.

EditThe short version

If you are not sure whether an image should be uploaded to wikiHow, then the general rule is take a photo or make a drawing yourself. It's a lot more work, but it's far more rewarding (and much more polite) than taking random copyrighted images from the Internet.

EditWhat we do not allow

In general, we do not allow copyrighted images without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

The vast majority of images that you will find on the Internet will be copyrighted, and should not be uploaded to wikiHow. In order to legally use copyrighted images on wikiHow, you must first receive explicit written permission from the copyright holder. A person may thoroughly read and use http://www.wikihow.com/wikiHow:Boilerplate-Request-for-Copyright-Permission as a guide for further information. If and when a person has the explicit permission, they must forward the email from the image owner to the email address in the Boilerplate Request link and license it as the material as {{copyrighted-rerelease}} thereafter.

Some examples of what is not allowed on wikiHow:

  1. Images found on Google Images or any other search engine: The vast majority of these are copyrighted, even if they do not bear a notice saying that they are copyrighted. With a very few exceptions, everything created in the last few decades is copyrighted by default.
  2. Stock photographs: Even if you have purchased a license from a stock photography agency, this would only be a license for you to use the photograph. Stock photography agencies do not give you permission to grant other people permission to redistribute the images (known as "sublicensing"). As explained earlier, being able to grant wikiHow readers permission to redistribute these images is essential if they are to make their own copies of wikiHow content.

    This includes "royalty-free" images; the "royalty-free" simply means that you have been granted a license to use it for your purposes without having to pay a fee each time it is used. It does not mean that you can give others permission to use them under the same terms.

EditWhat we encourage

  1. Photographs that you have taken yourself and licensed for re-use by anybody: As you are the copyright holder, you are allowed to license them any way you see fit, and we welcome original contributions to wikiHow as long as you give others permission to redistribute your work.
  2. Public domain images: This does not mean "made available to the public"; it means that the image is available with no copyright restrictions. In the vast majority of cases, images published (including on the Internet) in the last few decades will not be in the public domain, and should not be uploaded to wikiHow. Public domain images usually fall under one of the following categories:
    • An image first published in the United States before 1923
    • 70 years after the creator's death, or 95 years after publication for works of corporate authorship
    • The original author has given up their rights and provided the image(s) with an explicit disclaimer of any copyright interest
    • Most images produced by the federal government of the United States (specifically, "prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S. government as part of that person's official duties"). This does not include images produced by state or local governments, and does not include works produced by government contractors.
  3. Screenshots: Screenshots are images that are taken of websites and computer programs, such as Microsoft Word, PayPal, or an app on a telephone. While a screenshot is likely to be considered a derivative work of the computer program or website, it is believed that using screenshots of them in an article about them is considered legal under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law.[1]

    This does not mean that you can find any photograph that you wish to use, press "Print Screen" to make a screenshot of it then upload it to wikiHow; it is likely to be legal only in the context of educational commentary about the website or software program in question. There are no loopholes.


  1. There is some legal precedent to believe that this is true; see Sony Computer Entertainment America v. Bleem.

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