DOKK Library

Wikimedia Commons

Authors Wikimedia Deutschland

License CC-BY-4.0

The free media repository

Share your photos,
videos and audio
recordings with
Wikipedia and
the world!

“Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free
access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we‘re doing.”
(Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales)

   Wikimedia Commons is a rapidly growing media collection of com-
   mon and freely licensed media content – in the form of images, audio
   and video files – that everyone can participate in.

Today, well over 36 million media files are available for free use by every-
one. Wikipedia, for example, gets its images, graphics and videos from the
Commons media archive. The collection is compiled, prepared and made
available jointly by volunteers and cultural institutions.

The various Wikimedia projects are run by the Wikimedia Foundation ba-
sed in San Francisco, USA. Today, more than 110 Wikimedia organizations
and groups are supporting the work and objectives of the Wikimedia Foun-
dation. The strength of the Wikimedia projects lies in the voluntary efforts
of people of all ages, from all continents and from different cultures. Milli-
ons of people benefit from their commitment every day.

Join in and help make free access to knowledge something that’s taken for
granted all over the world!


The material in the archive is ordered into categories and presented in gal-
leries – in fact, working with Wikimedia Commons is incredibly simple.
Three categories of the media archive are particularly good examples of
the outstanding quality of the collection and the high standards of its users:
“Featured Pictures”, “Quality Images” and “Valued Images”. Since 2006 the
Wikimedia Commons community also holds an annual Picture of the Year

Cooperation with archives and other institutions is an important part of
growing Wikimedia Commons. Back in December 2008, for example, the
German Federal Archives made over 80,000 historical photographs available
for the free media archive. The Dutch Rijksmuseum not only made its colle-
ctions available online under a free license, but also collaborates with Wiki-
media Neederlands to integrate the media files into Wikimedia Commons.
Many other international archives are joining in step by step. In parallel,
campaigns on specific topics and regions are held to support the work of
the volunteers and the continuous expansion of the media archive. These
include photo workshops and contests, e.g. on the documentation of mo-

    Take part yourself in creating the largest collection of free media
    files and share your photos, videos and audio recordings with Wiki-
    pedia and the world!


Search and find

Here’s how to find files in Wikimedia Commons really quickly:

From Wikipedia, for example, you can get to the image integrated in an artic-
le quickly and simply by clicking on it (or on the file name for audio or video
elements). A click on the link “description page there” then takes you to the
media database. Another option is a direct keyword search on: commons. Or get inspired by clicking through the media archive’s ca-
tegory system!

Copyright and use

    All files on Wikimedia Commons can be used, reproduced and disse-
    minated free of charge in accordance with the terms of license – also
    for commercial purposes.

All files must therefore either be in the public domain or under a free
license. In most countries, works enter the public domain after the 70th
anniversary of the copyright holder’s death at the latest. Some countries,
however, do have special national terms of copyright.

Various kinds of free licenses are used in Wikimedia Commons. The most
popular free license model is known under the abbreviation CC BY-SA and is
provided by the non-profit organization Creative Commons. The copyright
holder of a work has to be named (BY) and the file, in particular when it is
edited, must be shared on the same terms (SA = share alike).

To meet the standards of the Wikimedia projects it is important in all cases
to state the copyright holder and the license on the respective image de-
scription page of the medium.


You can create the necessary license notice in just a few steps with the “At-
tribution Generator”. Just copy the internet address of the image (from Wi-
kimedia Commons or Wikipedia) that you want to use. The application then
guides you through a short dialog that asks you how you are going to use the
image, e.g. online, in print, in original or in edited form. You then get the
required license notice that you can use for your publication.

   You can obtain the details you need to re-use individual media files
   with the Attribution Generator.*

* Please note: The current English version of the Attribution Generator is
based on a near-verbatim translation of the initial German text snippets,
which were drafted with the copyright law of Germany in mind. Especially
the parts explaining legal concepts might thus differ from the copyright law
situation of other countries.



If you want to upload your own files to Wikimedia Commons you have to
register first. Click top right on “Create account”. You can then change the
language settings.

Uploading files

By uploading files to Commons you are making your files available to the
general public. Make sure that you meet the following requirements:
 you own the rights to the work or
 the work has already been published under a free license.

Click left in the navigation on “Upload file” and you will be guided step by
step and very easily through the uploading procedure.

Further upload tools are available at:


Photo contests

The Commons community holds regular photo contests. The competition
themes can be specific objects or subjects, abstract concepts, photographic
techniques and methods, or artistic styles and forms of presentation.

In addition, there are the large international photo contests Wiki Loves
Monuments (WLM) and Wiki Loves Earth (WLE) that take place on an an-
nual basis.

The photo contest WLM – the largest in the world according to the Guinness
Book of World Records – has been held annually in September since 2011,
and invites volunteers to take photographs of cultural monuments and up-
load them onto Wikimedia Commons.

WLE generally takes place in May and focuses on natural monuments and
nature reserves.

Winning images of the Wiki Loves Earth and Wiki Loves Monuments 2016 photo contests


Categorizing files on Commons

To make it easier to find what you are looking for, the files on Wikimedia
Commons are assigned to categories.
There are also gallery pages that provide a selection of files on specific to-
pics. If you do not find a suitable category for the file you are uploading then
you can either select a higher level category or create a new one. Wikimedia
Commons, like all other Wikimedia projects, is continually being expanded
by the volunteers.

How do I assign my file to a category?

The basic rule is: Select the most specific category you can find. Beforehand,
take a look at some similar files and check the categories to which these
are assigned. Then open the editing page of your file by clicking on the tab


How do I create a category?

First make sure that there is no existing suitable category for your file. To do
so, enter the category name you have selected in the form “Category:Selected
name” in the search field. Bear in mind that names in Commons are in plu-
ral. Animals and plants are categorized under their Latin names. If your
category already exists you will get a hit from the database. If not, you will
be requested to create this category.

Now enter the names of existing parent categories to assign your category
to the right place.

 Tip: By activating the HotCat Tool in your user settings, you can add or
 remove categories with a click.


What types of files are accepted?

Wikimedia Commons uses free file formats. These include:
 For audio files: MIDI and ogg-Vorbis
 For video files: ogg-theora and WebM
 For image files: PNG, JPEG, SVG, GIF and TIFF
 For text files: DjVu. PDFs are also accepted even though this is not a free file
The patented formats MP3, AAC, WMA, MPEG, AVI are not accepted.

An overview of all accepted file types is available at:

How big is a digital photo allowed to be?

As big as possible! The size of the file does not affect the loading time for the
reader as the photo is shown as a preview image. Furthermore, the original
from your camera also contains important image information that photo
editing professionals can use to improve blurry photos as well.

To help you edit, you can use Graphics Lab for example, which is available at:


My file was deleted or cannot be found. Why?

You will be informed via your discussion page about an (impending) deleti-
on. The most frequent reasons are:

1. Perhaps the file was inadvertently not uploaded or uploaded under a dif-
ferent name. Sometimes it’s just because of a typo. Even changes in the up-
per/lowercase spelling of the file name (such as “JPG” rather than “jpg”) can
result in a photo no longer being found.

2. The photo is not directly yours but evidently belongs to someone else and
was deleted due to possible copyright infringement.

3. The photo is yours but the information on the copyright holder/author
was not clear. An example of this would be that the file was uploaded under
a pseudonym but the real name was given as the author. The source infor-
mation must be clearly understandable for third persons.

4. The information on the author and/or the license was missing or not
plausible. Files with non-free or missing licenses are deleted immediately.
Restrictions such as limiting use to Wikipedia or only subject to copyright
permission are also not acceptable. Files may also not be declared as freely
usable press material or show the following: CD covers, logos, press photos
and other material that is evidently protected by copyright.

   Tip: If you think that your file was deleted without cause then submit
   a request to undelete it to “Commons:Undelete” request. Before you
   do so, take a look at the deletion log book that you can access via the
   option “Contributions” in your user account.


Integrating media files in Wikipedia articles

Media that are stored on Wikimedia Commons can easily be integrated in
Wikipedia articles. Alternatively, photos that are to be integrated in a Wiki-
pedia article can also be uploaded to Commons directly via the Wikipedia

To do this, retrieve the article you want to add an image to and click on “Edit”
in the menu at the top. This may open a dialog window that asks you for your
preferred editing mode. The simplest way is to choose the option “Switch
to the Visual Editor”. This will open a text editor with a toolbar. Choose the
menu item “Insert” and then “Media”. This will open a dialog window that
guides you through the next steps.

Many of the topics and objects on Wikimedia Commons are assigned to ca-
tegories. Overarching themes are also collected in galleries by users. When
writing a Wikipedia article, refer to these in the web links. Then you don’t
need to indicate the photo collections in the article as well. Readers will be
grateful to you! To make a reference to a category, use the template “Com-
monscat”. You can retrieve this via the menu item “Insert” and then by se-
lecting “Template”. You can choose the template “Commons” to make a re-
ference to a photo gallery.


First points of contact

 If you would like to use images and you are unsure about how to create the
 license information, help is available at:

 If you would like to upload files for which you have received consent from
 the author personally, please contact:

 You can also put general questions to the forum:

Further information

 All information at a glance and a step-by-step guide is available here:


 Useful tools:

 Plug-in for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom


For the creation, collection and preparation of free content, Commons vo-
lunteers can obtain financial and organizational support, e.g. in the form of
technology, travel expenses or software.

There are over 110 Wikimedia organizations and groups around the world. If
there is a Wikipedia organization or group in your country, you can contact
it directly to find out about the possible opportunities for support. An over-
view of all organizations is available there:

Further (although perhaps not complete) details on support provided by the
individual chapters are also available on the following page:

If there is no Wikimedia organization or group in your country you can con-
tact the Wikimedia Foundation directly, which offers comprehensive op-
portunities for support. These include e.g. so-called Rapid Grants of up to
US$2000 for e.g. renting technical equipment, and Project Grants for larger
projects that are awarded twice a year.


Today, the task of museums, libraries and archives is not just to preserve
cultural heritage but also make it available in digital form. Many collections
and exhibits have their own Wikipedia articles. But these often lack accom-
panying photos.

Wikimedia organizations and groups together with cultural institutions
from around the world are encouraging Wikimedia project volunteers to
comprehensively photograph the collections. The global activities of volun-
teers in the cultural sector are referred to by the acronym GLAM (galleries,
libraries, archives, museums). The event format GLAM on Tour was develo-
ped for this purpose in the German-speaking countries:

GLAM on Tour: Wikimedia volunteers from a particular region meet up on
a weekend in a museum, archive or a library. The staff lead the volunteers
through the collections to take photographs of the exhibits. The volunteers
then upload their photos to Wikimedia Commons and assign them to the
respective categories. The entire collections can thus be made available for
Wikimedia projects and for re-use all over the world.

Over the past few years, volunteers have created more than 10,000 photos
from the cultural sector for Wikimedia Commons and made them openly
accessible in this way.

You can take the initiative! Read this Learning Pattern to find out how to
persuade a cultural institution near you to join Wikimedia Commons: Your Wikimedia chapter will be happy to
help you.

 Further information is available at:


Cover page:                                                del Carmen“,
Pierre Dalous (
File:Pair_of_Merops_apiaster_feeding.jpg), „Pair of        (
Merops apiaster feeding“, https://creativecommons.         JPG), World Map 1689, public domain
                                                           yeowatzup from Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany (https://
Mike Kaplan ( ,_Sana,_
File:Shea_Smith.JPG)_141202-F-PO994-001.jpg), Shea         Yemen_(4324865585).jpg), „Souk Al Milh, Sana, Yemen
Smith, public domain                                       (4324865585)“,
User:Yves Picq (
wiki/File:Népal_rana_tharu1818a_Crop.jpg), „Népal          David McNally, USAG-Yongsan, (https://commons.
rana tharu1818a Crop“,,
licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode                               2008 Yongsan Fall Festival-01, public domain

GentsBilder (           Bernard Gagnon (
File:Brandenburg_Unteres_Odertal_Polderwiese_              wiki/File:Adansonia_grandidieri04.jpg), „Adansonia
Sommer_0122.JPG),             grandidieri04“,
licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode                               sa/3.0/legalcode

Diego Delso (           Page 2:
DD_201-203_HDR.JPG),          GNOME High contrast icons, GNU Lesser General Public
licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode                               License, (
wiki/File:Pont_des_Arts,_Paris.jpg), „Pont des Arts,       Elegant Themes, GNU General Public License, (https://
                                                           Generalitat de Catalunya. Departament de Benestar Social
Kabelleger / David Gubler (https://commons.wikimedia.      i Família. (
org/wiki/File:SQM_GE_289A_Boxcab_Carmelita_-_              green_icon.svg), colour changed von Valerie Schandl,
                                                           Elegant Themes, GNU General Public License, (https://
Page 1:                                          
Karin Beate Nøsterud/ (https://commons.,                 Page 4:
by/2.5/legalcode                                           Paulrudd (
The Photographer, (https://commons.wikimedia.              Amritsar,_India.jpg),
org/wiki/File:Don_Quijote_de_La_Mancha,_Teresa_            by-sa/4.0/legalcode
Carreño_Teather.jpg), Don Quijote de La Mancha,
Teresa Carreño Teather, public domain                      Rest Fenner (
                                                           File:Aeronautics2.jpg), Aeronautics2, public domain
Carl Spitzweg, (
arme_Poet#/media/File:Carl_Spitzweg_-_Der_arme_            Hubertl (https://commons.wikimedia.
Poet_(Neue_Pinakothek).jpg), Der arme Poet, public         org/wiki/File:Museumsquartier_Wien,_
domain                                                     Vorweihnachtsstimmung_2014_HDR_-_5575.jpg), https://
Dan Molter (
File:Lactarius_indigo_48568_edit.jpg), „Lactarius indigo   Gustav Klimt (
48568 edit“,      File:The_Kiss_-_Gustav_Klimt_-_Google_Cultural_Institute.
sa/3.0/legalcode                                           jpg), The Kiss, public domain

H. Zell (               NASA (
File:Balaenoptera_physalus_skeleton_-_Salinas_del_         Shuttle_Columbia_launching.jpg),
Carmen.jpg), „Balaenoptera physalus skeleton - Salinas     Space Shuttle Columbia launching, public domain


Tomasz Górny (Nemo5576) (https://commons.                 Page 8:,
„Sympetrum sanguineum“, https://creativecommons.          Cedomir Zarkovic (https://commons.wikimedia.
org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode                          org/wiki/File:Stopića_Pećina2.jpg), https://
Gregory „Slobirdr“ Smith (https://commons.wikimedia.
org/wiki/File:Alaska_Red_Fox_(Vulpes_vulpes).jpg),        Ansgar Koreng / CC BY-SA 3.0 (DE) (https://commons.
„Alaska Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)“, https://      ,_          Littenstraße,_Eingangshalle,_160906,_ako.jpg),
                                                          „Landgericht Berlin, Littenstraße, Eingangshalle,
NASA Earth Observatory (https://commons.wikimedia.        160906, ako“,
org/wiki/File:City_Lights_of_the_United_States_2012.      sa/3.0/de/legalcode
jpg), City Lights of the United States 2012, public
domain                                                    Page 11:

Kenneth Muir (         Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. (https://commons.
File:Jokulsarlon_lake,_Iceland.jpg), „Jokulsarlon lake,, „Figuren
Iceland“,    klein“,
legalcode                                                 legalcode

Bain News Service (         Page 12:
wiki/File:Dutrieuc.jpg), Dutrieuc, public domain
                                                          Preston stone (
Kelvinsong (           File:GLAM_logo,_square,_transparent.png), „GLAM
File:Blood_vessels-en.svg), „Blood vessels-en“,           logo, square, transparent“, https://creativecommons.           org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

Wikimedia Deutschland
Gesellschaft zur Förderung Freien Wissens e. V.
Tempelhofer Ufer 23-24, 10963 Berlin
Tel.: +49 (0)30 219 158 26 - 0
Fax: +49 (0)30 219 158 26 - 9

The texts of the Wikimedia Commons Brochure
are published under the conditions of the Creati-
ve Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) in the
version 4.0.

Layout and design
Valerie Schandl, 2017

  Donate to support free content now!
  Would you like to support Commons and
  Wikipedia? Wikimedia Deutschland is gra-
  teful for every contribution.
  Donate to:
  Wikimedia Fördergesellschaft (WMFG)
  IBAN: DE33100205000001194700