Media still hidden on images cleared of Copyright infringement flag

I just noticed that some flags that have previously been cleared for copyright infringement and had the picture restored are now back to removing the image.

I know I flagged these in error years ago (at the time, I legitimately thought they were infringements, but curators determined they weren’t), and the flags were cleared. I remember the pictures were restored.

They do not appear to have been re-flagged since, but the pictures which had been made visible again are now replaced with the “Copyrighted Media Removed” image:✓&flagger_type=user&flagger_name=star3&flagger_user_id=370785&user_name=&user_id=&flaggable_type=all&flags[]=copyright+infringement&reason_query=&resolved=yes&resolver_name=&resolver_user_id=&commit=Filter&utf8=✓&flagger_user_id=star3&commit=Filter

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I am seeing the same thing, including a note that the flag was resolved:

Yes, the link I posted is filtered for Copyright infringement flags that have been resolved.

If they weren’t resolved I would expect the picture to still be hidden.

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Just adding more detail as I separately documented this not realizing it was already a thread here :

Not quite sure how you will diagnose or review this given details, but worth sharing.

There was just a case where a photo was being blocked as a copyright violation despite the flag on it being resolved.

The 2 flags are here, they were added in 2018 by accident, while the photos came from a stock agency with watermarks the iNat user was the photographer so owned the copyrights. Both flags were resolved in 2018.✓&flagger_type=any&flagger_name=&flagger_user_id=&user_name=geoff22&user_id=811165&flaggable_type=all&flags[]=spam&flags[]=copyright+infringement&flags[]=inappropriate&flags[]=other&reason_query=&resolved=any&resolver_name=&resolver_user_id=&commit=Filter&utf8=✓&flagger_user_id=&commit=Filter

I suspect the search link above will fail due to what is listed below, but perhaps on the backups or logs etc it will help.

Recently somehow the original flagger saw the records and it was back to media removed despite the flag resolution and no new flags and commented on the record asking why it was blocked again.

I started to look into it. But her comment led to a notification being sent to the user who got angry at being accused of copyright violations and or this specific issue and has apparently deleted their account out of anger which will make looking into it harder.

Perhaps looking into what is showing on other records that have resolved copyright flags?

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The other observations in my search results in the first post should apply. I will refrain from commenting on them, in case the observers have not yet noticed their missing photos.

It’s not in github. Thanks for trying to assist, Chris, I hope it doesn’t make anyone else want to leave the platform.

Found another example that happens to be on one of my own observations:

I assure you the photo is mine, not a copyright violation, it was flagged as such by some user who created an account to do multiple acts of vandalism on my sightings.

The flag shows as resolved, but still the copyrighted material removed indication is there.


I’m going to try resolving it again, in case there was a glitch at the time that has been fixed since. [Edit: It did not work. I wonder if re-uploading the photo to the observation would? Not a very satisfying fix, but probably an option.]

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Yes, re-adding the photo would fix the issue, but render it impossible to investigate (I’m holding out hope the site will acknowledge the issue and formally add it to their bug tracking).I’m not worried about this 1 record, it can stay that way for a while if needed.


We’re definitely looking to it, I’m sorry for the late response.


I would not know where to look in the code, but I have to suspect that flagging a photo as a copyright violation deletes the photo in order to protect the database from holding copyright violating materials, and this might be why the photo does not reappear. Given that apparently any user can flip this flag, this appears to leave observations exposed to potential vandalism. Do vandals typically have many observations? Is there a way to restrict the throwing of the photo copyright violation flag to users with “enough” observations to be “trusted” users? Or some other system that provide a functional barrier to photo vandalism?

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Except in the past, when a copyright claim was resolved, the picture was restored. Also, why even bother asking curators to resolve copyright flags if the image will be deleted either way?

In fact, in the screenshot you provided, the timeline went something like this:

  1. I flagged the picture because I had found it as a stock image
  2. The user WAS the photographer for that stock image, so it wasn’t copyright infringement and the picture was restored and visible.
  3. At some point, the picture was removed again, even though no new flags had been submitted.
  4. I submitted this topic, and asked why on the observation itself.
  5. The user deleted their account, probably (as @cmcheatle stated) because the user saw a notification on my comment, noticed the picture was missing again, and was understandably upset at the implication that they were stealing their own work.

Steps 1 - 3 apply to ALL the resolved flags in my first link (they aren’t all stock photographers, but they all are not infringements and were restored and visible previously).

Now, it’s possible that iNaturalist changed the way they handle copyright infringement and just remove the picture permanently now…but if so, that’s a poor way to handle it, and they need examples like all of these to show why it’s bad: sometimes, a copyright infringement flag is wrong. Either it’s an honest mistake, like mine were, or someone is maliciously using flags, and either way the observer shouldn’t be punished by having the original image removed without an option to restore it after the flag resolution in their favor. Yes, the “copyrighted media removed” should be up when the flag is submitted. It should only be permanent (and the original deleted) when the copyright infringement has been determined to have actually occurred.


Marking a photo does not delete it, curators can still see them, in fact I can see mine via this functionality. This allows review or removing the flag if done in error or spite and was the case on mine.


Curators are actually not asked to resolve copyright flags. We have to leave them unresolved if they are in fact a violation. We only ‘resolve’ them if they are actually not violations. There is no tool to confirm that something is actually a violation which would then allow it to be deleted. Not sure if that was a design oversight or there is a specific reason for it.

That’s why there are going on 250 pages of unresolved flags related to copyrights (which itself is nothing compared to the 7000+ pages of unresolved flags on spam which has the same design).


yes, I agree with all of these responses, maybe just reupload the photo. It makes sense, although I do not know if it works or not because I have never had any of these problems.

If you mean iNat should “just reupload” the blocked pictures that have been resolved, I completely agree.

If you mean the user should “just reupload” the photo… why? They did nothing wrong, so why should they have to add the photo again? Also, if they upload the photo a 2nd time, it won’t have the flag history on it to show it’s been resolved, so it’s likely to be flagged again.

I suppose they could hope to avoid that by leaving the “copyrighted media removed” image up for the flag history and do the reuploaded copy as additional photos, but again why?

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Just FYI…I don’t know if it still occurs (I’m not going to falsely flag something as a test), but on previous erroneous flags it is still blocking the photos.

It’s still showing “media removed” on @cmcheatle’s example, as well as many other resolved (aka, not infringement) copyright flags. :frowning_face:

And I don’t see it logged in github (maybe I’m using the wrong filters? I’m looking at the bug label with “copyright” as a search term, ignoring open/closed status).

@tiwane, I know you’re very busy, but do you have any updates?
I can compile a list of links if you need more examples.

This observation of : Anderson’s Holly Fern had been flagged for copyright issue, as the identic image had been published at

After clearing the fact, that the uploading user is owner of the image, the flagging was resolved by curator Christopher.
Unfortunately the original iNat photo and other formats were not reinstalled till now.

My request: Could one of admins care for reinstalling the images, please?

With best regards and thanks in advance
iNat member Erwin

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This is a known bug, can @forum_moderators please merge into my original bug reports. I don’t think curators can fix it, if it is “resolved” there is no other then we can’t fix the flag any other way. There is no delete function on flags. Staff might be able to do something.

Alternatively if the user is still active, explain the bug (it only impacts a small number of resolved flags, not all and what the ones it does impact have in common is not obvious) just ask them to delete and then reupload the photo.

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