Record availability/documentation to educators of copyright violations from student accounts?


I run a class project, and saw one of my students had content flagged as copyright violation removed.I want to see whether there is proof or documentation of violation(s) available beyond the flag page?

We take academic integrity very seriously, and I have had a small number of students do similar actions in the past, and want to better understand it going forward to make sure it doesn’t happen or at least reduce the frequency.

I really need solid evidence of this sort of activity in order to help mitigate the problem, so any definitive documentation (pictures/screenshots of copyrighted content and student-submitted content for example) would be really helpful. I guess this is a question and a feature request if such a system doesn’t already exist.

I searched for this topic and these were what I could find, which were not directly relevant to my question/request:

I also was referred to this blog post (last updated by @zdanko ) which was very helpful, but not directly in terms of what I am requesting:

For privacy concerns, if any curators or administrators could help or need relevant links/accounts, I’d rather keep this in private messages if possible.

Thanks for your time!


Many IDers who flag for copyrighted material include details of the infringement, either as a comment on the flagged photo, or on the observation itself. Have you already checked for comments both places? If so, and no details were provided, I recommend messaging the user who flagged it for the information you’re requesting. As for a bigger long-term solution to address this issue as a whole, I’m no help and you’ll have to wait for more replies.


sometimes people will leave a comment on the flag. I try to do that when I flag:


You used to be able to “hack” the URL on a photo to see what the image was even when it was hidden by the “Copyrighted Media Removed” asset image by going to[photo number]/medium.jpeg?1592989967, but it doesn’t work on newer observations (though it seems okay for older observations & images still).

I think the newer URL for photos is[photo number]/medium.jpg, but I haven’t been able to make that work consistently by changing out the photo number (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t)


Welcome to the Forum!
I believe it is possible to track where an observation came from. I’ve tried once or twice with no success. I’m not very computer savvy. I believe the only people who can remove a photo are the administrators, although curators are able to see the hidden image. There also should be a note left when the flag is resolved. I don’t encounter it much in my identifications.

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Keep in mind, @sblanco, especially with students who are likely to be new users, to assume good motives. Sometimes, it happens that a user was excited to see something (like a bird, for example) and unfortunately they weren’t able to get a photo. So, they find a photo of the organism they observed, and upload it (unaware that not only is it a potential copyright violation, but also that they should have added a “No photo” observation instead).

I’m so glad you take this issue seriously — so do we! But personally, I think a discussion between you and the student, and an explanation of it all is all that’s needed for a first offense. Even if you already went over this subject in class doesn’t necessarily mean that they were listening — I myself zone out at times. And we certainly don’t want to discourage any potential future iNaturalists:)


Hi @sblanco,

Only curators and staff are able to view the images that are flagged as copyright infringement. Therefore, if one of your students is flagged, I would recommend going to the flag and leaving a comment, asking the flagger if they could share the proof so that you can be sure.

Here's how to do that:

First, go to the observation where the image has been flagged. Next, you have two options. You can either:

Click on the flag icon or the “i” icon, both right below the image:

If you clicked on the flag icon, you will see this pop up:

Then, click on the “View Flag” link.

Going back to the first step, if you clicked on the “i” icon, you’ll see this page:

Click on where it says “Details” at the bottom of the “HEADS UP” section.

Now, no matter which way you went in the beginning (flag icon or “i” icon), you will end up here:

Here you can leave a comment, and tag the user who flagged the photo in the comment to ask them to see the evidence (it shows their username in the center of the screen under the “Flagger” column).

Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you! You may feel free to tag me on flags or observations.

P.S. Some of the other responses here are slightly confusing and don’t actually contribute to answering the question here… let’s try to keep things relevant. The OP was asking how to see the proof of/reason for a copyright flag, not how to find copyright infringing observations.


In one situation that may have prompted this post (the OP and I already messaged privately), I as the flagger was lazy and did not leave a comment indicating why I flagged the photo for copyright. When he messaged me to ask, I went back to look, but the observer had already deleted the photo, so I could no longer see what the issue was.

I have been in the habit of not leaving a reason when the reason seems obvious from the photo itself. But this is a good example of why it would be good to always leave a reason and documentation, regardless of how obvious the violation seems. Given the constant barrage of copyright violations, not sure how practical this is for everyone, but something to consider for sure.


Thanks for updating us, and for catching the copyright violation to begin with:) I hope the teacher sees my comment above concerning assuming good motives.


One of those people was probably me. I conflated ‘proof’ with seeing the source of the photo. I understand better reading your post.


You lost me. I don’t see any responses that aren’t relevant. Am I missing something?


I am all for encouraging newbies. But not by turning a blind eye when they violate copyright, or break the relatively few rules on iNat.


I think my comment was misunderstood, but thanks for the reply.

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Apologies, I thought the sblanco was saying he wanted to see the “student-submitted” photo that was flagged himself (hence my URL hacks). I may have misinterpreted this line:

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@zdanko ~ The OP was not referred to that blog post, on how to find copyright infringing observations, by any of us here on this thread. He mentioned in his original question that he had been referred there (meaning in the past).

I hope that clears up some of this confusion.


FYI ~ note the “and” … In all that confusion, nobody has yet addressed Scott’s latter concern — unless I misunderstood, I think he wants a future system that will easily enable him to have “proof” (i.e. — of what the student submitted, and whether or not the submission is a copyright violation of xyz photographer/photograph). Does anyone know if a similar, past feature request has been made? If not, he may possibly appreciate advice on how to structure and submit said feature request.


I’m not mentioning anyone specifically, just making a general statement, no need to read into it.

No, you were exactly right, it seems my postscript is being misunderstood. My response was to clarify and give a different option, as what you said works also.

I know that, that’s not what I was responding about! I have no confusion.

I hope my tutorial was of some use.


Ok, thanks. …I was confused LOL … and I may have confused a couple users with my comment :joy:. But yes definitely helpful screenshots!

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This part of Scott’s post is still unanswered/unaddressed.

Do we have a tutorial on flagging? If so, maybe this should be included.