Is this use of iNaturalist Content a breach of the commercial purpose terms?

A few weeks ago I mentioned in this thread about uploading stills from footage taken by/of Valerie Taylor.

Recently one of her media contacts/reps mentioned that to upload the stills, I would need to give a link for each one to the original footage I took it from. This footage is commercially available, so I wanted to check that I wouldn’t be breaching iNat’s Non-Commercial Use term before I upload anything. The link would be in the description and I would not be advertising it/expanding on it in anyway, I would just be acknowledging each still’s source (in my mind of course, but wanted to make sure others interpret it this way too).

If this is deemed a breach, how can I get around it/resolve it? The data is invaluable and it would be a shame to not be allowed to upload it.


The terms say “does not contain… unwanted commercial content designed to drive traffic to third party sites or boost the search engine rankings of third party sites”

“You agree not to use the Website, the iNaturalist Service, or any iNaturalist Content for commercial purpose”

Personally I think it’s fine. People may well be interested in knowing where the stills came from so providing that information up front with a link seems like a good idea.

It could be argued that any link to any commercially available product might violate these terms. I don’t think this is applied strictly and doing so would prevent all sorts of useful links (e.g. a journal post I read about using camera traps linked to some bait for attracting shrews).

I’m assuming so you’ll want an official answer so I’ve tagged @tiwane.


iNat’s not meant to be a data repository, it’s a community that generates data. Will Valerie be an active part of iNaturalist? We don’t want an influx of old photos without also bringing along someone who will engage with the iNaturalist community.


Genuine question, why not?


There are some staff thoughts on this in this topic:


Yeah, I think Ken-ichi says it better than I do. I also think the the main reason for iNat success is the community, not necessarily the data. It’s the thousands of people who’ve taken the time to add their own sightings help ID other users’ observations, curate taxa, moderate the site, etc. The fact that you can talk to the real people who’ve contributed is pretty powerful, in my estimation.


I’d like to argue that I’ll still be engaging with the iNat community. Just to explain myself/plead my case a bit more:

I won’t be uploading any photos via my own account, I’ve created a new account for Valerie, so all photos I upload will be as if they’re coming from her. When I explained iNat to her she was very amenable to and interested in the idea, especially the fact that she’d be able to share her images/observations with a wide global community. However, she’s 87 now, has bad arthritis in her hands, and is still very busy as she continues to dive, paint, write books, and engage in conservation efforts. She told me that while she doesn’t have the time or really even physical means re using a computer extensively to upload images, she loves the idea. So I feel like being able to upload images for her is satisfying the goals/aims of iNat as envisioned by yourself and Ken-ichi.

I also think that even though she won’t be physically active on the site herself, uploading these photos will still engage the iNaturalist community to a huge degree. People will be able to see these amazing fish/marine observations from decades ago that are essentially now a time machine to ecosystem states that don’t exist anymore. Going through some of her footage now, there are species I’ve never seen before, species that have gone locally extinct, enormous individuals that don’t reach those sizes before. I feel that regardless of whether it’s Valerie actually behind the monitor, these kinds of special uploads are almost tailor-made to foster community engagement.

I think these in lieu of accounts also create a cool testament/legacy for these amazing scientists/explorers and ensure their incredible observations don’t disappear forever. I assume there are some from other parts of the world too, but in Australia there are a few post-humous accounts floating around that are amazing. Even though you cannot talk to Graeme Cocks or Ken Graham anymore because they’ve passed away, their photos are still being made accessible. When Graeme’s account got created I spent hours going through his observations, and I’m sure others did too; half of the stuff posted for him is the first observation of the species (in many cases anywhere online, not just on iNat), and many observations are of undescribed species. Similarly with Ken; he used to be a commercial trawler. His photos are all of rare, amazing deep-sea fish and sharks, and every time one gets posted the Australasian Fishes community are engaged.

Would love to hear more on what you think here Tony (or anyone else).


my personal opinion is that this sort of thing is great, but you should keep monitoring the account if she doesn’t. But then again, we have lots of abandoned accounts, and this is no worse than those. Fundamentally the data is still part of the community, though less so if community ID is turned off. People can still discuss, add annotations and add to projects, offer ID, etc. I wish there were more of that kind of thing on here, to be honest!
(I’m not a dev)


I’ll definitely be monitoring it constantly to update IDs, reply to comments, etc


Thanks for the detailed and heartfelt reply. This sounds good, especially if it will be monitored. I just want to make sure it’s not a one-time data dump.

What’s an example of a page that will be linked to an observation?


Something like this:

I took screenshots of maybe 15-20 species from this clip (although I have access to a version without the watermark)


I’m sorry for the late reply - this sounds fine.


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