I’m sort-of in a moral dilemma right now.
So I was leading a group of people and educating them about how to use iNaturalist, and I had them take photos of some plants to make into observations. Time passed and they haven’t posted their photos, which doesn’t particularly bother me (no real purpose to force someone to do something—anything can be a chore if you make it).
However, I noticed that one of the plants that I used as an example (as practice for taking good photos for observations) was a relatively uncommon species, the Chisos Mountains False Indian Mallow, not particularly well documented in my area.
I didn’t take any photos of the plant myself (repetitive observations are not ideal, and I didn’t need to learn this), so I couldn’t post an observation myself. I could ask the two people who took photos of the plants…
…but what would happen is that if I uploaded their images into my own observation, those photos (at least officially according to iNat) would be marked under my copyright ownership. It would be in essence me taking credit for the photos, maybe even stealing those images. I could release them into the public domain, though again I would have to ask the owners of the photos.
What would be the best course of option? Can I just ask them if it’s okay to release these photos into public domain? Can they waive the rights to their photos and allow me to take rights onto those photos? Do I need fancy paperwork? Should I just hope to catch the plant if it grows back (It got mowed down, don’t think it’s there anymore)?