When an image has different copyright licenses, which one should I follow? For example, this image is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 and in public domain.

Under CC2.0, the author should be attributed while under public domain, the attribution is not required. I don't know why the same image has two conflicting licenses and is it legal to use the image as public domain?

  • It does not have two copyrights, but two licenses. In the USA, you may use it under public domain or under CC (take your pick). Outside of the USA, you may use it under CC.
    – Brandin
    Jun 25, 2019 at 8:06
  • The outcome is correct, but the analysis is slightly flawed. Having a statutory exemption from copyright in the USA is not the same as a license. The work has no US copyright, under 17 USC § 105. License is a grant of rights. One cannot grant what they never had.
    – Upnorth
    Sep 5, 2019 at 0:48

1 Answer 1


Different jurisdictions may result in different requirements or rights applying to the same work, depending on where any derivative or other usage occurs.

The image is only known to be public domain inside the USA, per USA federal government copyright law which makes all work produced by federal employees in the course of their duties public domain.

It is not necessarily in the public domain outside the USA, and therefore requires other permission there, such as by the CC license.

Thus, the appropriate license, if any, depends on where the work will be used.

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