Can I use images from Google or observations in a journal post?

I am trying to make a journal entry guide for identifying different species of Kalanchoe, and would like the descriptions to be accompanied by images of leaves and flowers. Am I legally allowed to use images from the web or from other peoples’ observations since it’s not any sort of formal publication or anything? Sorry I don’t know too much about this legal stuff :)

if you want to err on the side of caution, you should look for the copyright and licensing terms on each photo and just make sure you’re following the terms of any license.

if you want to go with more of a caution-to-the-wind approach, you could just claim that you’re making the journal entries for personal use, or possibly fair use, and that could be your defense if anyone ever decides to sue you. whether that defense is successful will probably ultimately be decided in court though. or you could go with the perspective that folks will be unlikely to ever sue you. so even if you think you are likely to lose, it doesn’t matter because you will never be challenged.


Do you think it would be easier to just put links to the observations instead of using the images?

For iNat observations, it all depends on the settings people have for their observations. I think pretty much anyone would be OK with you using their photos if you ask first, even if they have more restrictive settings.


from a reader’s perspective, it’s almost always easier to have images in line with the text, but if you want to be super cautious with copyright and don’t want to go through the hassle of getting / interpreting licenses, then yes, it’s probably easier for you (the writer) to just link to things that you want to reference.


You should provide links to the observations and observer/photographer credit no matter what.


My picture was used here. He asked first. And I am delighted that my lookit the pretty moth!! Turned into such an interesting obs.

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If it has a CC (Creative Commons) license, you can use it without having to ask for permission. That’s what those licenses are for: granting anyone permission to use the work within the terms of those licenses. Almost all require attribution (image credit) and I would make that a link to the original observation. The exception is CC0, which is Public Domain and has no restrictions or requirements at all.

CC licenses with NC (noncommercial) require asking for permission for commercial use but a journal post on iNat would not be commercial in nature so any of them should be fine for what you want to do. Licenses with SA (share-alike) mean that you can adapt and build on the work (e.g. make modifications to the images) under the condition that the modified images will carry the same license as the original (and I would also disclose that modifications were made, e.g. enhanced contrast, color adjustments etc.). Licenses with ND (no derivatives) mean you would have to ask for permission before modifying the pictures but you don’t need to ask if you use the originals.


I think mine are automatically set to All Rights Reserved, but if someone asked me, I’d let them use it however they wanted. I’d prefer a credit, but I’m no professional, so in the long run, it’s not a huge deal to me.

I say err on the side of correctness and ask the observer.

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