Edit license screen doesn't work

I’ve been contacting many iNat users asking them if they’d consider changing a license on an individual observation so as to enable reusing its photos on Wikipedia. So far, a few people responded positively, asking me how to do it, and I pointed them to the Edit License menu on the top right of the observation page. All of them came back to me saying they had successfully changed the license, but frustratingly the original license still showed up. I tried today changing the license on one of my own observations from CC0 (my default) to CC BY and CC BY SA and found out that the Edit License screen simply doesn’t work. After saving my preference, the license is unchanged. I think this is a bug not a delay in the propagation of the change, because the problem is still there 24 hours after these users attempted to make a change.

Platform (Android, iOS, Website): Website

App version number, if a mobile app issue (shown under Settings or About): N/A

Browser, if a website issue (Firefox, Chrome, etc) : Chrome

URLs (aka web addresses) of any relevant observations or pages:
Any observation page

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I think this is a confusion of the observation license and photo license. The Edit license button at the top right of the observation detail page is for the observation license (i.e. the observation itself and presumably in reference to text included in the description). (It’s often helpful if you can provide URLs and screenshots even if it doesn’t seem like it might be necessary.)


I was able to successfully change my observation license from public domain to CC-BY using that button, as well as the photo license to public domain at this page: https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/103039972


This is the text I typically use to ask if someone would be willing to change their photo licensing:

Hi, great photo(s)! Would you consider changing the photo permissions to CC-BY (“Attribution”) for use on the article about this species on Wikipedia? [link to Wikipedia article]

You can change the photo licensing at the following links, top right corner:

[link to actual photo page, e.g.] https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/103039972
[link to other photo page if I'm asking for more than one photo]

Alternatively, you can upload them directly at this link: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:UploadWizard

Thanks for considering this request. :)

See also this feature request: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/improve-viewing-editing-copyright-information-on-observations/308

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If you already making the effort of asking them, would it not be better to try to convince them to change the license of all their data (images and observations)? via the “account setting” this might benefit the community more than just change it for single observations.

If they are not into it you can still ask them to change a single obs. by giving them a good reason (ex. you would want to reuse it for wiki, or research).


I like the small ask, but feel free to adjust your personal approach as you like.


@bouteloua thanks for your quick reply. I am aware of the distinction from the account settings, but assumed the Edit license button would update the license of the observation and the associated photos (I’ve never used it before, whence my confusion). In fact, there’s no language in that screen that suggests it’s only about the metadata: if anything “your content” reads to me as “the media files associated with the observation”, not a timestamp or geocoordinates. I think it’s very misleading (and frustrating to the user), particularly because the photo license screen requires following a nearly invisible link and 2 more clicks. I understand the logic behind this but the interface seems to be design to actively discourage or making it really hard for people to update their media license. The fact that your instructions need to include a direct link that it’s not obviously findable from the interface seems to confirm this is an issue.

I’ll follow your advice for now, but should I turn this into a feature request to make the photo license edit screen more discoverable? Or maybe request an option to the main edit screen to specify to also apply the change to the associated photos?

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I’ve been doing this for a while and realized that in some cases a global license change is a big scary step for people to take until they see the value. I typically start with one request and if it’s successful and I find a second photo that would be useful on Wikipedia I ask at that point if they’d consider a default license change.


I already have a request open here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/improve-viewing-editing-copyright-information-on-observations/308 the latest thoughts from the staff were:


Noted and followed, what is “CNC”?

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the City Nature Challenge, which requires some staff attention to make sure the site can handle the massive number of observations and questions coming in at that time. citynaturechallenge.org