Wikipedia:Guide to image deletion

Images may be deleted on Wikipedia if they do not conform to our image use policy or if they are no longer needed. The purpose of this page is to provide a brief overview of the procedures in place for deleting images or bringing them up for evaluation for inclusion. If you have specific questions, you should go to the most specific policy page related to your question for a prompt and accurate response. The primary avenues for image deletion or evaluation are speedy deletion, proposed deletion, and discussion on image usage (deletion or review).

While images may be deleted for many reasons, a frequent cause of concern is our legal right to display them. If you believe an image should be deleted for reasons related to copyright, licensing, or compliance with non-free content guidelines, please see the "Copyright concerns" section below. Problems not related to copyright or licensing are addressed under "Other concerns".

This page describes the process for deleting images hosted on the English Wikipedia – for deletion of images hosted at Wikimedia Commons, see Commons:Deletion policy. If an image is available on both projects, and it is deleted here, it's a good idea to also bring it up for deletion on Commons.

Copyright concerns

Images and photographs, like written works, are subject to copyright. Any work created in the United States since 1978 is automatically copyrighted unless it has been explicitly placed in the public domain, and this also applies to most other nations in the world today. Many older works are copyrighted as well. Most images found on the Internet need to be licensed directly from the copyright holder or someone able to license on their behalf. In some cases, fair use guidelines may allow an image to be used irrespective of any copyright claims. Image description pages must be tagged with a special tag to indicate the legal status of the images, as described at Wikipedia:Image copyright tags. Untagged or incorrectly-tagged images will be deleted.

If you are uncertain of the copyright status of an image that you would like to use or have concerns about an existing image that are insufficient to prompt action as set forth below, you may seek feedback at media copyright questions.

Addressing suspected copyright infringement

If you encounter an image that is indisputably non-free, and it can comply with our non-free content policy, be bold and retag it as a non-free image with an appropriate tag. Otherwise:

For images claimed under free license

  • If the image lacks a source, so copyright status cannot be determined, follow the usage directions at Template:Di-no source. Note that editors sometimes specify such information in the upload summary, so be sure to check the circumstances of the image.
  • If the image lists a source with no evidence of permission, such as release at the source website or VRTS ticket number, follow the usage directions at Template:Di-no permission. This does not apply to images where the uploader claims to be the copyright holder.
  • If a copyright infringement is blatant—that is, if the image is claimed under a free license when this is obviously not the case—it may be tagged for speedy deletion under speedy deletion criterion F9. This does not include images used under a claim of fair use, nor does it include images with a credible claim that the owner has released them under a Wikipedia-compatible free license. Those may, instead, be handled by one of the processes below. This does include images from stock photo libraries such as Getty Images or Corbis.
    • Tag the image with {{db-f9|url=original source}}, replacing "original source" with the URL where the image may be found. No further action is mandatory, but it is a courtesy to notify the contributor. The tag will generate a notice which may be easily pasted onto the user's talk page.
  • If a copyright infringement is not blatant—that is, if you dispute the source or licensing information, but further investigation may be necessary to confirm infringement—it should be listed for review at files for discussion according to instructions there.

For images of uncertain or restricted license

If the image:

  • lacks a license, follow the directions at Template:Di-no license. Note that editors sometimes specify such information in the upload summary, so be sure to check the circumstances of the image.
  • is not truly public domain or licensed under GFDL or an appropriate Creative Commons license and claims non-commercial use, non-derivative use or used with permission, if it was uploaded after May 19, 2005 and/or is not used in any articles, you may tag it with {{Db-f3}}, but first consider whether it can be properly brought into compliance with our non-free content policy. If it can, please provide a fair use tag and a fair use rationale, also adding {{Non-free with NC}} to images licensed for non-commercial use.

For images claimed under fair use

For fair use images:

Be sure to check the template that will appear on the image after tagging to see if additional steps, such as notifying the contributor, are necessary.

Other concerns

Speedy deletion

There are several circumstances unrelated to copyright which may result in an image being speedily deleted. These include, but are not limited to:

  • redundant image. If an image is a redundant copy of an image:
    • on Wikipedia, in the same file format, and at the same or lower quality/resolution, and all inward links have been updated, follow the usage directions at Template:Db-f1.
    • at Wikimedia Commons, under the same name, and it satisfies the additional conditions set out at WP:CSD#F8, follow the usage directions at Template:Db-f8; images tagged as {{Keep local}} should not be speedy deleted if copied to the Commons.
  • image corruption. If an image is corrupt or empty, follow the usage directions at Template:Db-f2.

Uncontroversial deletion

If a deletion fails to meet criteria for speedy deletion but is uncontroversial for any other concerns, tag an image with {{subst:prod}}.

Deletion discussions

For other concerns that may require deletion of an image, including if the image is unneeded, Wikipedia:Files for discussion should be used. Please follow the instructions there for listing the image for review. Images that have been listed there for more than 7 days are eligible for deletion if either a consensus to do so has been reached or no objections to deletion have been raised.

Mass nominations

Users may feel attacked or demoralized when a large number of their uploads are nominated for deletion all at once. They may feel that the result is fait accompli because they are unable to thoughtfully respond to so many nominations in a short period. In situations where a larger number of images uploaded in good faith by a single user, or multiple images from the same group of articles, need to be tagged for deletion, nominators should consider ways of softening the impact on the editors affected. This may include:

  • Inititate a discussion with the affected users before making the nominations
  • Avoid rapid repetitions of templated notification messages on their talk pages (e.g. through automated nomination scripts)
  • Choose carefully between group nominations (several file in the same deletion discussion) or multiple individual nominations. The former are more efficient for groups of cases that fall under exactly the same criteria, the latter for groups of cases that are different enough to require individual scrutiny.
  • Consider only nominating a limited number at a time. If these cases turn out to be contested, consider waiting until the first group of deletion discussions has concluded before making more nominations.
  • If the cases in question are representative of a more general problem, consider opening a discussion at Wikipedia talk:Non-free content or Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents to gain wider feedback and provide the users a fair opportunity to respond.

Unused images

Generally, an image should not be deleted merely because it's unused, because if it is has been previously used in an article, that article's history becomes harder to understand since old versions of the article can no longer display the now-disused image. Exception: A fair-use image which, for seven days, remains unused will have to be deleted – see Wikipedia:Non-free_content#7.

Undeletion requests

Non-controversial undeletions may be requested at Wikipedia:Requests for undeletion. This includes images which were being deleted for licensing reasons, when a user is prepared to provide correct licensing information, or when there is a need for a file which was previously deleted as orphaned and non-free.

For undeletions that are not non-controversial, a suggested first step in requesting undeletion is to approach the deleting administrator. The administrator should be courteously invited to take a second look at the issue. If the matter cannot be resolved through conversation with the deleting administrator, undeletion requests should be brought to deletion review.

See also