Along the lines of my other question, I was wondering what the legal guidelines are on embedding images in StackExchange questions and answers. Many questions and answers here are greatly enhanced by including an image of what we're talking about. However, most of the photos you find in a quick Google Image search are copyrighted and have restricted use outside of their original context. Wikipedia seems to say that hotlinking images doesn't cause any legal problems in terms of copyright.

How are images embedded on StackExchange posts, and are there any legal considerations with searching for images and including them in questions and answers?

2 Answers 2


As I'm also a contributor to Wiktionary and occasionally Wiktionary I'm used to their hard line when it comes to image copyright.

I try to take a photo myself, look for a photo I took on my travels, or hunt around in WikiMedia Commons.

Stuff from WikiMedia is free to use but you must give attribution. Whether you quote from Wikipedia or include a pic from Commons always include in your post "from Wikipedia" or something equivalent.

If all else fails there are two other techniques I have employed:

  1. There's a picture at this link, but I can't include it for copyright reasons.

  2. I can't find a freely usable image to illustrate this post. Please edit one in if you find one, or leave me the link in a comment.


If the image is something simple, like a table or an image with words and arrows, I do it myself, take a screenshot and post it.

If it's something not simple, there are sites that allow linking or embedding in their policy, take Flickr for example (see comments).

When you face the problem that you might not be able to do either, then you do as hippietrail said, you link to the page. I did this myself when linking to some sounds in a certain language. I couldn't link the sound directly, so I linked to the Wikipedia page.

  • Do you have a reference for Flickr's policy on linking/embedding?
    – jrdioko
    Nov 23, 2011 at 17:44
  • 1
    I was a bit unclear I guess... Not all images from Flickr can be freely embedded/used, but I think some can. Honestly I didn't read it, someone told me. But if you make a search on Flickr, you can choose the type of license for the images in your research. You can read more about licensing on Flickr on this Creative Commons Wiki for flickr. P.S. If I turn out to be wrong, let me know! :)
    – Alenanno
    Nov 23, 2011 at 18:31

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