Multiple people observing same individual with same photographs

Wondering what rules there are about multiple people observing the same individual and submitting the EXACT same photos. It seems like this falsely inflates the observation count and would cause copyright issues regarding who took and owns the photographs. I’ve seen that there has been some previous discussion about multiple people observing the same organism but in this case I’m most concerned about using the same images.
I’ve seen this happen a couple of times on the site and just wanted to confirm what the proper course of action would be.

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see https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/lots-of-duplicate-photos-one-place-different-people-in-washington-county-oregon/11070

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If this happens, it is most likely because there is a group of people(typically college students) in a class together that use the instructor’s photos. For this, you can ask them to add their own photos of the organism, or ask them to merge or delete the observations. If multiple people are posting the same image of an organism taken from the Internet or another person’s account, report “Copyright Infringement” as a flag.
Hope that helps

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I’ve learned that this happens mostly with classes and that the good news is that it will end soon. Probably best to ignore it unless there’s evidence of malicious intent.

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If it’s isolated, I just try to educate (ask them to please not do this unless you have specific permission from the user who took the photo - if so please note in the description).

If it looks like a class project (which it often is), you can try to find a professor/teacher leading it, send them a DM, and ask them to ask their students not to do this.

If it is a continuing problem with individuals doing this in bad faith, you can flag for copyright infringement. I have seen students seemingly come up against an assignment deadline and submitting a bunch of screenshots of assorted classmates’ photos for instance - not allowed.

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It happens rarely, but sometimes I see an organism with my own eyes, but don’t get a photo; i.e., on a BioBlitz. So, someone else has said, ‘you can share my photo; after all, you saw it, too.’ When we did that, I noted the photo was used with permission and the other person held the copy right. I do not see anything wrong with that sort of scenario.

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This sometimes happens when there’s a star bird at a birding location. This happened in December 2021 when 6 vultures were at Botanic Gardens (Singapore). 100+ people came to observe them, hence there were nearly 15 observations of the same group of birds. This can probably confirm a sighting or make a more permanent record in the area.

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What will end soon ?, is some new system being put in place ?

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But different pictures , while the original query is about the exact same picture being posted multiple times.

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How does one reflect the “permission” granted. Today I had to mark as “copyright infringement” for images downloaded from wikimedia commons - images that probably have the most liberal “permissions” but are still not acceptable on inaturalist.

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No, it means classes end, users never come back.

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Sorry. I just meant that each class will end, and the copying photos (or sometimes taking multiple photos of a tree from the same spot) will end with the class. To me, solving this for any one class seems hardly worthwhile to me, because it will end soon with the class. The problem will begin again with some other class. Life’s too short to chase these cases down.

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True that class will end, but there will be others. It reminds me of picnickers who leave a picnic site trashed for others to clean up the mess. They will be gone but the problem remains and will recur. I don’t bother trying to do anything with these class project iNat submissions. As you say, life’s too short.

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In the specific situation described above, I just write something like, “ used with Name’s permission. I do not hold copyright to the photo, which is retained by Name”. As for the Wikimedia commons, that’s an entirely different scenario, which I cannot address.

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I agree that uploading these forms of duplicates isn’t ideal, but my understanding is that it’s allowed by current guidelines. I’ve seen it come up a few times in observations, where the conclusion was that it was allowed. For that reason I don’t think just telling people to stop would work. It would seem most effective for people to instead request that the guidelines no longer allow these duplicates. A similar situation is where the same observers upload an animal twice only minutes apart from each other. I think that also is allowed, but also recommend changing guidelines for that.

Oh. I thought similar photographs. Some images look the same.

I do think it’s problematic when students use each other’s photos, even with permission, because

  1. they may just be skiving off and not actually going out and taking photos at all, and the friend is just letting them copy their homework more or less
  2. obviously this can cause attribution issues
  3. the dates and locations are usually slightly off

I don’t think that the observation count concern is particularly worth worrying about though. When there’s a cool bird reported dozens of iNatters may all flock to it at once to observe it, which is totally within the rules (the ethics depend of all trying to get close enough to photograph the same bird is a topic all on it’s own and not the point I’m making here). Abundance data isn’t really all that usable via iNat in my opinion.

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This is a real and embarrassing problem. There are also many fake accounts set up just to improve the stats, some people may have several such accounts and argue with each other which is both fun and scary. I appeal to amateurs and professional naturalists - such a scam is bad because it is simply unacceptable and terribly unpleasant.

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