I'm writing an e-book, which is supposed to generate leads in the following way:

  1. People visit my landing page.
  2. There, they see a text like "Enter your e-mail address and get this e-book for free".
  3. Those, who entered and confirmed their membership, receive the e-book.
  4. As long as they haven't unsubscribed, they also receive several e-mails in the following weeks with information related to the e-book and the product I'll sell to them. The purpose of those e-mails is to make the subscriber to contact me and tell me what he or she liked/disliked about my offering (sort of market research).
  5. Based on the responses from the list members, I create and sell products.

Even though the e-book is free, it's a for-profit thing.

In that e-book I have this passage:

There used to be a Russian management guru, Georgii Petrovich Shchedrovitski, who argued that there are two fundamentally different kinds of knowledge work:

1) Science, which looks for sameness.

2) Activity, which looks for differences.

Thereafter follows a detailed explanation of his theory.

Is it legal (under US laws) to include a picture of G. P. Shchedrovitski from Wikipedia in this e-book?

1 Answer 1


Wikipedia has two kinds of pictures:

  • Reusable pictures, most of them stored at http://commons.wikimedia.org
  • Copyrighted pictures under fair-use, stored on the local Wikipedia (in your case, the Russian Wikipedia) but not on Commons.

To know what case it is, just click on the Wikipedia picture, click on the blue "Description" button, and see whether it redirects you to Commons or not.

  • Pictures on Commons are reusable if you include the author and license (see the full requirements). Commercial use is OK.
  • Fair-use pictures can not be reused.

Unfortunately, https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Файл:Tschedrovitsky.jpg is in the second case, so you can not reuse it, even in a non-commercial setting, unless you can justify that your usage qualifies as fair-use in your country. Hopefully one day someone will find a legally reusable picture of Shchedrovitski and upload it to Commons.

  • The reuseable-image case is a bit more complicated than you make it sound. In particular, some of the images are licensed under the GFDL, which has license terms that make it impractical for anything but online content and large books.
    – Mark
    Jun 22, 2015 at 10:50
  • Even GFDL-licensed images are reusable. The GFDL requires a short notice after the title page, and an appendix with the full license (5 pages or less depending on the font). Nothing impossible, especially for an e-book. Jun 22, 2015 at 11:20
  • What if there was only the link for the image in the eBook ? It may be fetched and displayed by the eBook viewer
    – balki
    Jun 24, 2015 at 18:58
  • 1
    @balki, image hotlinking has its own set of legal (and practical) concerns.
    – Mark
    Jun 24, 2015 at 22:41
  • I was going to say that you hadn't accounted for CC NC licenses, but they're not actually allowed at the Wikimedia Commons. Aug 11, 2015 at 5:14

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