Is it Permissable to use Photos Uploaded to iNaturalist as Project Icons & Banners?

Not sure if this is the correct category. What are the copyright issues in regard to just grabbing an image of an observation for a project about that or similar species?

The type of Creative Commons license chosen by any given user for the photo should determine this. However, in my opinion, it’s always preferable to ask - not everyone understands the CC licensing process. I have been asked on a few occasions to use one of my photos for various purposes, and I have always said yes.


Perfectly stated. :)

I once had another user ask my opinion on which photos to use for the banner and thumbnail of a project. We had seen some fitting ones, but they were in blog post or non-iNat forum posts. I went and searched for some that were available for non-commercial use under CC and/or were public domain.

I always use my own photos, but I’m sure most users wouldn’t have a problem with you using their photos if you ask and attribute them.

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You can search observations by photo license here:

From my amateur understanding:

  • Anything in public domain (CC0) can be used for any purpose with no attribution required.
  • Any of the other CC licenses that are not share-alike (SA) or non-derivative (ND) can be used, but you need to provide attribution to the photographer and a reference to the CC license somewhere obvious.
  • SA means if you edit photos in some way or use it as part of a larger work (which I think would probably include the edits required to make it into a logo), the resulting piece of work also needs to be given the same CC license.
  • You probably can’t use ND for the purposes you’re suggesting.

In no case are you required to ask permission, but for photos marked CC-BY-NC its probably a good idea - that license was the default for a long time and people may not necessarily be aware of the implications.

For newer users the license defaults to full copyrights retained - if anyone is reading this I strongly suggest going to your account settings and setting the photo licenses to whatever you feel comfortable with. Personally I don’t believe I have any right to restrict what others do with the photos I take and release everything to the public domain. I’ve been pleasantly surprised a couple of times already to find my photos being used in random places. Just now I looked and noticed that my photo of Drosera linearis is illustrating the species page on the German Wikipedia.


I tried that and it went about how I expected. There aren’t many photos of the species I’m cataloguing. It’s no big deal though. If I really feel the urge, I’ll just contact one of the observers for their permission.

On a related note, does anyone know how people get different project layout templates? Most of them look the same, but some, like this one: have a totally different layout.

That is a “traditional” project, which work entirely differently from the new kind of project. See here:

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