Foe example the following image in Wikipedia article.


To best of my understanding it has creative common license. Can I use it in my scientific paper without obtaining copyright permission?

Many thanks

  • 1
    It's not enough to know that an image has a Creative Commons license. There are a number of different Creative Commons licenses, with different terms. You have to look at the specific license used.
    – PersonX
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 21:00
  • I'll also note that the wikimedia images aren't uniform in their licensing. You have to look at the requirements of each one. Many are CC-BY, but not all.
    – Buffy
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 21:28

2 Answers 2


On the same page, under the picture you link to, it literally states

The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed.

In other words, yes, you can use it without obtaining further permission. Note that other pictures on Wikipedia might have other licenses, but the terms are generally stated quite clearly.

However, you should also do your due diligence and try to see if the picture might have been published elsewhere before. After all, it might have been uploaded against the real copyright-holder's wishes, in which case the statement of license terms wouldn't hold water.


The page clearly states the CC-BY license for this image. That means that the creator of the image has given permission for any use as long as you properly credit the source. Whether this will be acceptable to your journal publisher is another question- they might require you to ask the owner of the image to sign some other agreement. You'll need to contact the journal to get an authoritative answer.


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