This question for meta.photo.se came to my attention:

(short version of the question)

Can we please inline images?

Can we re-upload to imgur images linked in questions? This will be useful for the future site visitors in case the original link becomes 404.

The concern of the OP is legitimate because he's been faced a couple of times with images that were no longer there and made the question useless or much harder to understand. (C.f. this fiasco with ImageShack.)

The answers were basically: It'd be useful, but you can't. Unless the original file is CC-BY-SA.

I often re-upload the images linked to by other users and in-line them in the question. Most of the time these images are screenshots uploaded by users to other services. Sometimes it's a graphics taken on the internet, and I state the source when I can.

Given the fact that re-uploading an image on stack's imgur might go against 3rd party sites and/or users licenses:

Should I stop? Should I comment and suggest to the user to re-upload their content on stack's imgur? Have I been naughty and Santa won't have presents for me this year? Should I bother at all?


3 Answers 3


Licensing Implications

In regards to potential licensing issues, unless glaringly obvious (watermarks, do not copy, etc. ), I would not worry about it. I can see several reasons; I will go in to them in greater detail.

Ultimately, if you do not feel comfortable with it, do not do it. Just because something is legally right, does not mean to say it is ethical. If you do not feel comfortable with it, no harm, no foul.

Potential for License Breach

In the event of a breach, I can only see two possibilities:

  1. The image was originally posted in breach of the concerning license.
  2. The image was originally posted by the owner, and re-posting it under a 'StackExchange account' constitutes the license breach.

A good rule I tend to follow is to assume good intention. If an image has been posted, I would assume that user has appropriate permission to do so. Furthermore, when we post content to StackExchange, we are stating that we have the right to do so. In fact, when we submit content, we grant ownership to StackExchange1.

According to a moderators reply on a related question, images are no different; and in situations where the user can not grant rights to StackExchange, I would not think they had the appropriate rights to post the image, in the first place. Furthermore, should we be alerted to a breach, all we really need to do is comply with the image removal.

Fair Use

All this aside, there is also the principle of fair use. In most cases, I would assume the image was being used in conjunction with a reasonable interpretation of "fair use" - especially when most of the images I intercept are tailor made, and only include fragments of copyrighted material2 for the point of demonstration. It is important to note that I am not a lawyer; If you wish to know more about fair use, I would direct any questions towards Law.SE.


I think context is important, here. The post you link to is on the photography stack exchange. The replies are all from users who have seasoned reputation in photography, but in comparisson, not much else.

I think it fairly obvious that in the context of photography, image licensing is far more important. Users are asking about photography, and are therefore posting examples of photography. This would be like someone asking about their game, and posting the entire game project. As previously mentioned, the context in which we commonly use images is not as critical, in comparison. We are far less likely to encounter a situation where an image poses a risk of breaking license.

As an additional comment, the answer you specifically link to asserts that '(Moderators)policing copyright; that's not StackExchange's policy.', and issues concerning copyright are a greater issue in protection of our own user's work. While I do not necessarily agree with this, this highlights the relevance of context, in relation to the actual community.

Correcting image links is an appropriate edit; but make sure others know that your making an improvement, too.

At the end of the day, your edits go towards future-proofing the question. These are the sort of edits we want.

That said, it is definitely worth addressing why you made the change, as a comment. Some users simply would not know that we prefer images to be uploaded in a specific way, and why. I personally did not know that correctly uploaded images were uploaded to a 'StackExchange account' until I raised the potential issue of answering a question in the form of a picture.

Other elements to consider, when improving an image.

I will personally make and approve edits that convert the image to the official account. I should point out that a link update is usually not the only improvement that can be made to most image links. Initially (and most of the time, indefinitely), a properly used link should look something like this:

[![enter image description here][1]][1]

    [1]: https://i.stack.imgur.com/5Z2Gi.png

Notice the text "enter image description here"? This is the alternate text. If a user is unable to load the image, the alternate text should take its place. As such, you should include an 'alternate text caption' as an alternate to the image. This caption should clearly convey the same intention as the image, but in text.

You can also include rollover text, by including it in double apostrophes (" "), which is a good way to include sourcing information. I usually include a rollover text to tell the user where the link will take them to, if there is one attached.

If I was editing the question, I would change the above image link to give the following result:

[![Every banner in Terraria][1]][1]

    [1]: https://i.stack.imgur.com/5Z2Gi.png "Banners @ terraria.wikia.com"

Every banner in Terraria

Final Considerations

  • It is worth addressing the fact that you should be trying to improve the entire question. If you make the edit to improve the image, but refrain from reviewing the rest of the question, this might be considered bad form. You should always give the question a browse, and make any other improvements, if applicable. Does the user use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar? Does the title make sense? Are there any other edits you could make to improve the question?

1 It is not as black and white as "you post it, we own it", but there are some fair cases where it is. Answers, for example. For this reason, a user can not 'chuck a tanty' and insist on the deletion of multiple high-quality answers on the basis that they were the author. 2 For example, screenshots that include images of a trademarked editor or other piece of software.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have edited my question to highlight the concern I have, which is not currently addressed in this answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt Mod
    Dec 13, 2016 at 2:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexandreVaillancourt, addressing your concerns, now. I will retain the original answer, as I feel it addresses other issues that might not be as obvious. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gnemlock
    Dec 13, 2016 at 2:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can, it might be useful for other users :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt Mod
    Dec 13, 2016 at 2:57

When you edit questions, your goal is to make them more understandable and possibly future-proof. If this means to reupload and/or inline them, then do it. Putting the images in the text can make the reader's life easier, because they don't need to jump between sites, especially if it contains crucial information for the answer.

However, before doing this, check the img uploader's term of service, if you're allowed to download the images and use them. For example, Imgur's TOS says:

By downloading an image or copying other user-generated content (UGC) from Imgur, you agree that you do not claim any rights to it. The following conditions apply: - You may use UGC for personal, non-commercial purposes. - You may use UGC for anything that qualifies as fair use under copyright law, for example journalism (news, comment, criticism, etc.), but please include an attribute ("Imgur" or "courtesy of Imgur") next to where it is displayed.

Because you're not getting money from the answers, you are free to reipload the image to SO

  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexandreVaillancourt Sorry, it was clear, it was just a typo \$\endgroup\$
    – Bálint
    Dec 12, 2016 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have edited my question to highlight the concern I have, which is not currently addressed in this answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt Mod
    Dec 13, 2016 at 2:43
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ By uploading to SO, however, your granting said permissions to SO. Given that SO is not a nonprofit, your last comment raises concerns. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gnemlock
    Dec 13, 2016 at 23:38

IANAL, and I don't work for Stack Exchange, this here is only my opinion on the question.

It all boils down to the Terms of Service of the site:

Subscriber warrants, represents and agrees Subscriber has the right to grant Stack Exchange and the Network the rights set forth above. [...] Stack Exchange reserves the right to remove any Subscriber Content from the Network, re-post to the Network any Subscriber Content removed by any Subscriber or former Subscriber, suspend or terminate Subscriber’s right to use the Services at any time, or pursue any other remedy or relief available to Stack Exchange and/or the Network under equity or law, for any reason (including, but not limited to, upon receipt of claims or allegations from third parties or authorities relating to such Subscriber Content or if Stack Exchange is concerned that Subscriber may have breached the immediately preceding sentence), or for no reason at all.

As described in this answer on meta.se:

As far as rights go, your deal is with us1, and is subject to our1 terms of service, privacy policy, and cc-wiki content license.

That means that the images you upload are covered under our1 "attribution required" license just like anything else you contribute.

1 Stack Exchange

So if one wishes to improve the question by reuploding to stack's imgur account, it's at their own risk.

Some sites grant licenses that are not unlike the one used by Stack Exchange's (Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike), from which one could pull content and reupload to stack's imgur, while some others do not, in which case it could be considered a copyright infringement.

Stack Exchange will not police the content uploaded. They'll most likely wait until they receive a cease and desist notice from a copyright owner, remove the content, find the faulty user and then send them a 'you've been a bad user, don't do it again' email, do nothing or even suspend them.

So before reuploading, I think I'll

  1. make sure that the original host site's ToS is ok with it,
  2. reupload,
  3. then leave a trail to the original file. e.g.: (original image)
    (One could argue that it can be seen in the history.)
  4. leave a comment to the user.

In the case the original host does not allow to copy the content and/or the ToS is not aligned with Stack's, I'll simply suggest to the user to reupload to Stack's imgur account because it's sooo much better.


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