Wikimedia Image Deletion for non-Wikimedia/Wikipedia users
December 8, 2013 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Talk to me like I'm stupid about requesting removal of my own images from Wikimedia Commons.

Many moons ago I had very liberal Creative Commons-licenses applied to my Flickr account before I thought through the potential ramifications. As a result, many of my pictures ended up being harvested via what appears to be a bot into Wikimedia Commons. My Flickr account name is similar enough to my real name, that when one googles my name, those images pop up. One of them is an embarrassing photograph of me in a slightly NSFW Halloween costume. As far as I can tell, it's on a Wikimedia Commons page, but has not yet been used in any Wikipedia pages or in any projects.

There are other photos ingested from my Flickr feed that I'd prefer to have removed, though I feel slightly less strongly about those. Ideally, I'd like to just have any pictures associated with my Flickr account removed en masse from Wikimedia. It's less than 30 photos, many of them are pictures of identifiable people and very few have any educational value.

What is the easiest and quickest way to get rid of either the first photograph, or the entire set, with minimal drama or pushback?

Relevant details:
--I changed back all the licensing on my Flickr account to Copyright-only. I have heard that if something was used at the time a CC license was active, that "status at the time" still goes for allowing people to use the image. My entire Flickr account is currently only visible to me.

--My understanding is that there is a public deletion request method you're supposed to go through. I've read the process here ( and am still confused, because:

--I do not currently have a Wikimedia/Wikipedia account. I may want to create one for future editing of pages, and really don't want to have this deletion linked to an account I may use for being an active user later. It seems sock puppet accounts are discouraged.

--I really am not interested in learning the syntax and language of doing wiki deletion requests at this time. Ideally I'd want to fill out a form or send an email and have this taken care of.

--I am a woman, and really do not want to have to defend why I don't want an embarrassing picture of my body out there anymore. I just want it gone.

What is the best way to have this photograph removed from Wikimedia Commons? Should I be prepared for pushback, or should this be relatively hassle-free? Would it be easier to just get the one photo of myself removed, or could I make a case for having the other photos associated with my Flickr account removed?
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
from the terms of use page:

If you are the owner of content that is being improperly used on one of the Projects without your permission, you may request that the content be removed under the DMCA. To make such a request, please email us at or snail mail our designated agent at this address.

that said, if you publishee the other pics via creative commons, I'm not sure this would do much.
posted by jpe at 5:43 PM on December 8, 2013

I do not currently have a Wikimedia/Wikipedia account. I may want to create one for future editing of pages, and really don't want to have this deletion linked to an account I may use for being an active user later. It seems sock puppet accounts are discouraged.

There's a difference between sock puppet accounts that are created to give the illusion of multiple people when there is only one person and "I am making an account for this administrative purpose" accounts. Making an account for the sole purpose of saying "I'd like the pictures of me removed" and then having another account at a later time as long as there are no shenanigans is okay.

I'm a person who is on the advisory board to the Wikimedia Foundation. Unfortunately, as I understand this, since the image has been up for more than seven days you have to go through the normal channels which means making an official request. Presuming you are not a public person this should be a non-problem. Here are some similar requests (though in other languages). I'm not sure if you saw this page, but it should be a relatively hassle free situation, the guiding principle is this one: "The precautionary principle is that where there is significant doubt about the freedom of a particular file it should be deleted." The nomination for deletion option (in the toolbox on the left, you may have to expand the tools menu to see it) on the page the image appears on should allow you to fill out a form which can log your IP address and not require you to log in.

Generally speaking if you go through the normal channels (and you can let me know if/when you do that and I'd be happy to support you) this should be hassle free since there are pictures of you. The other pictures, not of you, might be more of an issue especially if they're being currently used in other wiki stuff.

I would absolutely not do a DMCA because this is content that was not, at the time it was imported to WC, being improperly used. It's up to you if you want to go this route, but I think it would be bringing a tank to a soapbox derby.
posted by jessamyn at 5:48 PM on December 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

This page might also be of interest: Resolution:Images of identifiable people, a statement from the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. COM:IDENT is a related guideline document at Wikimedia Commons.
posted by XMLicious at 6:41 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am pretty sure that once you post things under the Creative Commons license, you can't revoke it. It amounts to waiving copyright, and once you've waived copyright it's gone forever.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:41 PM on December 8, 2013

When you license something under a Creative Commons license, it is perpetual. For example, from the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license:
3. License Grant. Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, Licensor hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual (for the duration of the applicable copyright) license to exercise the rights in the Work as stated below…
So I would be sure to not use the DMCA for a takedown. First, you would be committing perjury since you know the image does not infringe as you gave all comers a perpetual license. Second, the Wikipedia people know this too and might resist misuse of the DMCA.

I think you would be better off nicely requesting the photo be deleted as an identifiable person. The Wikipedia Commons Contact us/Problems page describes how to get in touch with "with copyright violations or similar issues." I would email them but describe it not as a copyright violation but as a privacy violation. Either they will remove the images straight out or describe what you should do to get them removed in-wiki.
posted by grouse at 6:54 PM on December 8, 2013

Write to this address:, and explain what you want done and why. Give URLs for all the images you want taken down. Tell them you own the copyright to the images and released them under a free license, but that they are of identifiable people (including you) and you don't want them on Commons. Good luck!
posted by Susan PG at 9:04 PM on December 8, 2013

Hi Anon. I may be able to put you in touch with a Commons user who can help you sort out your options. If you're comfortable doing so, could you please memail me?
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 7:15 PM on December 10, 2013

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