Proposal:Tools for tracking reuse of Commons media

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  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


Wikimedians who contribute media content (photos, videos, graphics, sounds and music) like to know how their work is being used beyond the Wikimedia projects. This lets them know their work is valuable and also allows them to contact people and organizations who are not respecting the relevant free licenses and/or crediting media incorrectly (for example, "Credit: Wikipedia" or "Credit: Wikimedia Commons" is very common, when the author of the media should be credited instead). Wikimedia Commons include tools for tracking how media is being reused.

As a start, something like refbacks (software that detects and lists incoming links to a page) combined with image recognition software could be used to automatically identify many instances where images from Commons are being reused.


Create software to track instances of reuse of images from Commons and incorporate it into Commons.


Being able to track reuse effectively would be a powerful incentive for media contributors. Professional and semi-professional photographers are often hesitant to contribute to Wikimedia, in part because it is very difficult to see how their work is being used and misused downstream. It would also be an opportunity to educate more people (those who are misusing or misinterpreting free licenses) about the principles of free culture.

Key Questions

  • How does media from Commons get reused downstream from Wikimedia projects?
  • How often are free licenses properly followed?
  • How much more contributions would Commons have if their were better author-centric tools for keeping track of contributions?

Potential Costs

  • Developer time. Fuzzy image recognition and refbacks software already exists, so it may be possible to cobble together a basic system fairly easily.
  • Processing costs.


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Tools for tracking reuse of Commons media.

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