How do I cite photos in the pubic domain?
May 3, 2007 7:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to cite photos that are in the public domain. How would I go about doing this?

I'm writing a paper where I could really use visual references. I'm trying to cite photographs that I found on wikipedia. One has been placed in public domain by the photographer, the other just requests that he be credited. I'm fine doing this, and I'm even willing to put down wikipedia as my citation (which is pretty embarrassing, but I'm not using any actual information on the site, so I guess it should be okay.)

Should I not in the citation that thee photos have be licensed under creative commons? Should I just treat it as a normal website citation? I just feel a bit lost, guides don't seem to tough this subject.
posted by piratebowling to Education (5 answers total)
Sorry for the typo, should read: Should I note in the citation that the photos have be licensed under creative commons?
posted by piratebowling at 7:15 PM on May 3, 2007

Just a normal website citation. Author, URL, date found, etc.
posted by signal at 7:34 PM on May 3, 2007

Here is an some info on citing images from a library where I have worked, SFU
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 8:04 PM on May 3, 2007

The best bet when writing a paper for school/university is just to give as much info as would be useful for someone wanting to track down the picture themself in the future. Name of photographer, date taken (if possible), where you found it and when. You can include the creative commons license info if you like; to my mind (for a school paper, rather than a published book) it would not be necessary. Look at the terms of the creative commons license the person has chosen and obey them; some require that you say in your citation that it's CC licensed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:09 PM on May 3, 2007

I am not an English Teacher... Someone please correct me if I'm wrong...

According to Perdue's Owl (, the proper way to cite an online image in the MLA style is:
Original Creator Name or Username. Image Name. Access Date <URL>.
You site an image that exists originally online as you would any website. You can provide the direct URL of the image itself, but you should give an in-context URL as it makes verification easier (meaning, don't cite the URL of the image when you can cite the article on Wikipedia that uses the image.) If the image exists outside an online source, in a museum or gallery, you cite both the real world source and the site you found the online image.

So if you took a picture of a sad clown and called it "Sad Clown #46" and I accessed it tonight on your website...
piratebowling. Sad Clown #46. 03 May 2007. <>.
But if your photo had been in the Museum of Modern Art before I found it online...
piratebowling. Sad Clown #46. 2007. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Piratebowling's Supercool Site "Sad Clowns: Modern Humor as a Sign of Depression" 03 May 2007 <>.
These examples are MLA style. APA style does not have a special way to site image, online or otherwise, from what I understand.
posted by aristan at 9:06 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

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