Person keeps uploading screenshots from livestreams. Is this allowed?

Hi I do a lot of Iding for birds and there is one particular person who keeps uploading screenshots from livestreams. I immediately recognized some of the observations as being from the Cornell Labs Livestream from Panama, and after looking into it it seems that the vast majority (with the person having over a thousand observations I’d assume it could possibly be over a hundred) of observations come from various livestreams mainly on youtube. Now I am 99.999% sure that they aren’t running any of these livestreams since they are from Poland meaning that they probably don’t work with Cornell or run other livestreams in the States. A lot of these observations are research grade as well. I have left a message, but I actually don’t know if or how this violates any rules, like I’m certain it violates the rules on copyright somehow but are livestreams copyrighted? Can you add observations that you observed but didn’t record yourself?

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Flag it as copyright infringement. Add a description stating your findings and why you suspect the infringement.


Photos must be the submitter’s experience of seeing the organism.


Curator here, a photo taken off the internet is not allowed, and I think screenshotting a livestream is taking a photo from the internet

Whether the image is copyrighted doesn’t change much in terms of iNat’s rule here, even public domain images taken from the internet are supposed to be flagged


Just to clarify - are they supposed to be flagged as copyright infringement (even if they’re technically not), or some other way?

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What I’ve always seen done by other curators/staff is flagging as copyright infringement


From iNat help page;

" Photos and sounds attached to observations should include evidence of the actual organism at the time of the observation, observed by the user who is uploading the observation. Media used in your iNaturalist observations should represent your own experiences, not just examples of something similar to what you saw. Please do not upload photos or sounds you found elsewhere, such as online or in a book, since they don’t represent your own experiences and are probably a violation of copyright law. Similarly, please do not upload screenshots from broadcasts of live cameras unless you are the owner of the live camera.

for broader discussion around this see :

I agree with comment on that thread that it would be good to have a workaround for some of these situations in theory though ( if source public domain )…
like for this google maps observer to be able to include images:

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I think the only way that the described scenario would be allowed would be if the user was on the trip where the photo was taken on the live stream, saw the organism in question with the photographer, and credited the photographer in the observation.

Otherwise, flag the photos.


in any situation like this, you should always also leave a comment on at least one of the observations or one of the flags, tagging the observer and letting them know what you’re doing. Lots of people don’t know, or forget, that when you flag someone’s content, they don’t get automatically notified.

who knows, maybe it’s the 0.0001% chance scenario where this person is affiliated with the livestream and has permission to upload; unlikely, but you won’t know until you ask, doesn’t hurt to extend that courtesy


I’d like to mention that there is at least one exception to the general livestream rules mentioned here. The Virginia DWR runs a Marsh Live Cam in eastern VA and encourages observers to upload screenshots to their iNaturalist Marsh Cam project. That said, that may not be the type of thing that’s going on here. I just wanted to mention it though.


I have no comments about whether the person is following iNat’s policies or not. There are, however, circumstances that might limit a person’s mobility, such as being housebound due to illness or injury. It would be a kindness to inquire about their circumstances before flagging everything they post.
Being housebound is horrible for nature-lovers.


In a way this is no different than me ( or anyone else) uploading pics from a camera trap where the animal wasn’t seen by the observer but was captured by a camera. Whether I own the camera or not is a technicality. Not that I’ve done what is described here. But I think if you’ve never been to the location where the image was taken and aren’t involved in the livestream project, it’s not really proper. The copyright issue is probably the main concern, if it applies in this situation.


Whichever their situation may be, by having a profile on iNat users are agreeing to the terms and conditions of the platform and should behave and submit their data accordingly. Being polite towards others and understanding what they are going through is a nice thing to do of course, but no tough situation is ever an excuse to violate copyright rules and use screenshots of someone else’s photos without their consent (just like having a hard time financially is never an excuse to steal someone else’s property).

The responsibility to clarify why there is an exception to the rules (camera traps, feeder or nest webcams, contributing important data that couldn’t be submitted otherwise, having acquired prior consent outside of iNat, team work, etc.) is the user’s, not of other people trying to figure out what someone else is going through. Sometimes when we are limited in doing what we would like, we will just have to accept that we are limited. If you cannot go outside easily, there are other ways to enjoy nature and iNaturalist instead of reuploading internet material from other sources and presenting it as your own.


Well after going through and flagging some I think this observation pretty much confirms it.
You can literally see the youtube progress bar at the bottom


It’s unfortunate that the owners of these cameras don’t have affiliated accounts to upload this data as it’s pretty useful. I always thought it would be very fun to add photos from deepsea ROV streams to iNat to potentially add some cool species, and keep a running tally of the organisms they often fly over and don’t collect. Unfortunately copyright prevents this and I doubt these organizations have much spare money to pay someone to do that. Plus a lot of that imagery will end up being published so I’m sure they don’t want this data getting out early to a free website! It is unfortunate that the thousands of hours of these livestreams remains unused online but I guess that is how it will stay.


For this situation I’d recommend submitting observations without evidence and linking to a screenshot or to the livestream in the observation description. Similar to what the seen_on_street_view account does for copyrighted Google Street View imagery.

It makes for boring-looking observations but it’s at least a workable compromise. Although the purist in me would suggest having a separate account for that kind of thing, like with the street view one, so that external livestream observations aren’t mixed in with your personal life list.

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