What are licenses? How can I update the licenses on my content?

Modified on Mon, 1 Jul at 4:43 PM


Licenses Explained

When you post content such as observations, photos, and sounds to iNaturalist, you continue to own that content as long as it's not infringing on someone else's copyright.

However, you can choose to license your content with Creative Commons licenses, which means you're permitting your content to be used by others, without their needing to ask for your permission, as long as they abide by the terms of the license. 

There are three types of content on iNaturalist can you can license. These are

  • Observation data: information about your observation, such as date, location, taxon, who posted it, etc.

  • Images: the images you add to iNaturalist as evidence for your observations.

  • Sounds: the sounds you add to iNaturalist as evidence for your observations.

By default, all observation data, images, and sounds posted to iNautralist have a default license of CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial). Basically, this means that the content can be used by others as long as they properly attribute it to you and use it for non-commercial purposes. More details can be found on the license's page. This license allows your observation data to be exported to data partners like GBIF and used in most scientific publications, but bars others from using it for commercial purposes. 

You can also choose to not license some or all of your content, which means it will be labeled "all rights reserved". Someone would need to obtain your explicit permission in order to use it.

Anyone can see a piece of content's license on our website. For observations, you'll see it on the right-hand side if you scroll down a bit, under Copyright Info:

And on images or sounds, you'll see the license (or lack thereof) at the bottom of its display. Click on it for more information:

How to change licenses

You can either change or revoke your default licenses, or you can change or revoke the license from an individual piece of content. 

To change the default licenses for your account, go to Account Settings on our website, then click on Content & Display. Scroll down until you see Licensing. You'll see a bit of text, as well as a link to an explanatory pop-up about the available licenses. Below that you'll see these options:

Click on the drop-down menus to choose the license for that type of content. This will only affect new content you post. To apply that new license to your existing content, check the "Update existing..." box. 

Then, click on Save Settings. Note that updating existing content may take a few hours. 

To change the license of an individual photograph or sound, go to the observation page where that content appears, and click on the "i" button at the bottom of it. You'll see an option to update the license there. 

Was this article helpful?

That’s Great!

Thank you for your feedback

Sorry! We couldn't be helpful

Thank you for your feedback

Let us know how can we improve this article!

Select at least one of the reasons
CAPTCHA verification is required.

Feedback sent

We appreciate your effort and will try to fix the article