Duplicate images, observations & copyright matter

Hello how are you?

Yesterday I came across two profiles uploading the same photos of the same individual. I understand that if I go out to the field with a person and we both register a bird with our cameras or cell phones, it is ok for each of us to upload it. The difference in this case is that these two profiles share the same photos and when I go to see the metadata, sometimes one profile has the data loaded and sometimes another. In addition to the fact that one of these profiles has all image rights reserved but still uploading “other people’s” photos.

I left a comment:

Hello, this is the same picture as this observation xxx but the metadata of the image shows it was taken with a cellphone in the other account who has the rights. Photos should be only uploaded if you are the observer and the owner of the photo.

and his answer was:

Hello, My husband and I are both the observers and owners but have only one phone with a waterproofed cover for canoeing.

So in these cases should it be marked as infringing copyright taking into account the profile settings? In my opinion it’s not ok to upload the exactly same photo as other account but let me know

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As I became a more active iNaturalist user this summer I was looking around old forums about how to share sightings. My understanding is that there was a vote and I guess it was voted down? You can share sightings with eBird no problem, and this missing feature with iNaturalist is frustrating and would alleviate the problem you brought up. Time for a revote!

Observations with the same photo where permission is given are OK on iNaturalist. Since an observation records a person’s encounter, and there were two people there, these wouldn’t be considered “true” duplicates by iNaturalist’s definition. There is no copyright infringement because permission was granted, so no curator action needs to be taken.

hi - welcome to the forum! The request for a shared observation feature hasn’t been voted down or closed by staff as an unwanted feature. The topic is still open for voting and discussion.


Yes, as long as permission is granted, it is fine to do (and would conform to the image licenses of the original poster). In situations like these, it is best practice for the second poster of the same photo to note in their observation (description, comment) that they are using the other person’s photo with permission and helpful if they provide a link to the other observation as well.

You could suggest that course of action to the poster that you got in contact with. It will likely be beneficial for them to post something like this on shared observations as it will cut down on people asking them like you did or maybe just marking the observation as infringing without asking (which sometimes happens).

As you note, it is a little bit strange if the second poster is posting someone else’s photo with an “all rights reserved” license. However, I don’t think this is a serious problem for iNat and would only really be an issue if the original poster decided to try to enforce their rights on the photo (which hopefully won’t happen given they received permission).


Occasionally I have observed something but my photo didn’t come out, and I have used one taken by a companion. In those cases I put in the description “Photo by Jean Doe who was with me and gave permission.” I think that covers it if Jean Doe also wants to submit the observation. Just keep it transparent.


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