I asked a question recently and used an image in the question.

The image is from a random website. I did not explicitly give credits or references to the picture.

I am not sure whether I can upload images like I do.

Is it allowed to do? If no, why it is not allowed to do so? Is it because of ethical reasons or because of copyright issues?


Is it allowed to do?

No, this is not allowed in general for images, or in fact any content that you discover online or anywhere else.

To use an image in a question or answer, you need to be the original image author, or to have been given copyright that is compatible with uploading to Stack Exchange.

The Stack Exchange terms and conditions include a section on content permissions and this has a section called "Subscriber Content" which covers this in detail.

In short, all content that you post - any question or answer - is licensed to the Stack Exhchange by you under a Creative Commons v4 license. You must have the rights to do this, otherwise you are in copyright violation (and so is Stack Exchange, but they can hold you responsible).

As well as being an image author, you may have received it in a way that means it is OK to re-use it in Create Commons content. For instance, it may be public domain or already licensed as Creative Commons or compatible license.

If you are not sure about rights to re-use an image on the site, then you have a few options:

  • Link the image where you found it, don't embed it.

  • Contact the image author and ask.

  • Search for a similar image that is Creative Commons already. Google image search allows you to do this, and Wikimedia Commons allows you to search for images on its site that might cover your needs.

  • Re-draw your own version.

A lot of people do not understand the fine details of copyright rules. That also means that a lot of technically invalid content gets posted, and also that a fair amount of that is de-facto OK, because the original owner does not mind (they just don't know or care about the licensing to do the work to share legally). However, the safe advice is to not use images that you are not sure about.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm taking some classes in an online masters with regional accreditation, and the professors have PhDs. But in the orientation, the school itself seems to be teaching students to use synonyms and rearrange sentences and paragraphs to avoid getting caught by a last-gen plagiarism checker. My feeling is, based on Spry Fox v. Lolapps (settlement) and Tetris v. Xio (district ruling), it's not entirely clear that recombinant sentences and paragraphs don't constitute infringement. I see it as a syntactic structure with the same keywords, which is how I imagine an NLP algorithm might. $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou Mod
    Aug 31 at 0:47
  • $\begingroup$ My takeaway from the referenced cases is that, if reskinning a game constitutes copyright infringement, and straight ripping a game just because it's not patented constitutes infringement, then recombinant sentences and paragraphs could constitute infringement when used for commercial purposes, if some deep pocket private enterprise decided to pursue it. It's too much work for a human to check, but my guess is it's either possible today for NLP, or on the present horizon. (People seem to have forgotten when Zuck tried to exert copyright over all the FB content.) $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou Mod
    Aug 31 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ With something fundamental, such as redrawing a graph, I don't see a problem. (Ideally, the student understands the concept fully so they can recreate the graph from first principles, similar to not having to repurpose prior linguistic content b/c one understands the material.) And I do think there may be some wiggle room via "fair use" for journalism or non-commercial research. However, I strongly agree that it is better for Stack if people stick to creative commons, and avoid posting material that is or may be copyrighted. $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou Mod
    Aug 31 at 0:59

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