Photos of photos - DQA?

I feel this has been discussed a lot but I can’t seem to find an answer I fully understand, sorry.

How do you deal with photos of photos like in this observation (the user is inactive, so I hope it’s ok to point this one out): ?

I guess it’s some kind of school papers. It might be that the user is the original photographer, maybe the teacher, so it doesn’t have to be a copyright problem, but it obviously doesn’t show an actual observation.

I’m having problems to chose the correct dqa.

Copyright? - maybe
organism visible? - yes
Recent evidence? - well, yes
captive? - no
date and location correct? - maybe, I can’t tell

So how do you treat observations like this?
Thanks for you help

EXIF is almost always there, so you can check date, place is checked with the map.
The one you linked is fitting copyright flag.

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I think it’s usually copyright but not always. I flag stuff like that just in case and I always leave a comment to ask about it too, just so there’s room for an explanation or elaboration. Flags can always be resolved.

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Yes, a photo of a photo isn’t necessarily a copyright issue, but is often a reason to look into whether it is. There’s a group of users who regularly post pics of the backs of cameras or their computer screens (often some type of photoediting software is visible) because they perceive it to be easier. I don’t think this is an optimal workflow, but it’s allowed and shouldn’t be DQAed if everything else with the observation is fine.

I think you took appropriate course of action in your example - leaving a comment to ask is a good first step. I also often use Google Lens (or similar image search) to see if the photo is obviously on the web.

If you leave a comment and the user doesn’t respond in a reasonable amount of time, I think it’s fair to DQA. When I do that, I usually leave a comment saying something like “I’ve marked this as captive/inaccurate/no evidence, etc., but if this is wrong, please leave a comment, and I’ll remove that vote”. I hardly ever get a response though.


My first impulse would be to mark yes - it’s an aquatic organism inside a house, so these would have to be kept in an aquarium if the location is accurate. I see someone marked location inaccurate - that’s another way to look at it. Pictures of pictures are often located inside someone’s home where the picture was taken, not where the organism was photographed originally.


I’m with the other repliers here. It’s a judgement call. But it’s always immediately suspect to me.

I’ll leave a comment, e.g.: “This appears to be a photo of a computer/camera screen.”

Most often, I see this with users who have just joined iNaturalist who may not know the rules. In which case I’ll usually preface it with something like: “Welcome to iNaturalist! iNat is for uploading your own observations of organisms. Please replace it with your original photo.”

When it’s a computer screen, it often includes other clues from the screen, e.g.: a banner, icon, etc. In that case, I’ll do a reverse-image search, e.g.: Google Lens, TinEye. If this turns up a hit, I flag the photo for Copyright infringement, and vote “No” on the Data Quality flags: Location Accurate, Date Accurate, Evidence of Organism.

If they’ve just done this with a bunch of observations, it’s usually clear they came from different places, in which I’m confident to flag all of them.

If it’s part of any Projects, I’ll check them out to see if it’s an assignment or some student project. I’ll look for other inappropriate photos in that project’s observations, and follow the protocl above. (This depends on how much time I have!) Then I’ll send a message to the admin(s) of that project about the problems I found.


I see these marked as human all the time. I guess that makes sense per the rules, but I think it takes away a bit from the goal of people interacting with nature. I’ve seen cases where someone’s taken a photo from a magazine of an unnamed organism and just want to know what it is. By wanting to know what it is, are they interacting with nature? The best one I’ve seen in my area is someone who made an observation of a whale shark figurine that was detailed enough to get to species (Hint: It shows up in searches of whale sharks marked casual grade).


I would think artwork such as paintings and sculptures probably should be either marked human (since they were created by humans) or even copyright infringement, unless the artwork was made by the observer and/or displayed in public. There is a reason museums and such restrict photography of their exhibition pieces. Posting an artist’s work on the web typically requires their permission, just like posting somebody else’s photos.


Thanks everybody for your thoughts. So I learned that the rule to handle those observations doesn’t exist and you have to search for the little irregularities - or maybe just skip them while id’ing :see_no_evil:

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