Are wikiHow Images Copyrighted?

Many wikiHow articles feature step-by-step illustrations to make the instructions easier to follow and often hilariously bizarre illustrations have become an internet meme.

Freelancers surveyed by OneZero indicated that WikiHow hired contractors via contract work sites, and paid artists per image; one Manila-based freelancer refused to specify his compensation amount.


Copyright Law provides a legal framework to safeguard artistic works from unapproved appropriation or reproduction. While you don’t need to register your work with the US Copyright Office for protection, you should still understand its rules and regulations that pertain to your images. In case someone claims copyright infringement against them, respond quickly with steps taken towards resolution; consult an attorney should you have questions on copyright Law.

Every wikiHow article’s artwork is produced by an army of freelance artists, many of whom do not receive U.S.-standard wages. Artists are recruited through online contract work sites or are recommended by friends and colleagues, according to one freelancer interviewed by OneZero. According to their style guide, artwork must feature soft color palettes, age-appropriate characters, gender/ethnic diversity as well as realistic body proportions as per OneZero guidelines.

Even with low pay, wikiHow illustrators are generally content with their jobs. They enjoy the variety of assignments available and the chance to hone their craft while the company provides benefits like an employee stock option plan, health insurance and flexible work hours. Furthermore, it encourages their illustrators to produce multiple images per assignment and pays extra when meeting certain criteria.

However, due to its lack of transparency and lack of artist crediting, this site has come under scrutiny for allegations of plagiarism and violations of copyright law. While they have yet to respond directly, critics have accused it of using stock photos instead of artists and paying artists in cash instead of checks – both practices which may violate U.S. money transfer regulations.

To prevent legal trouble, it’s important to examine any image before posting it to an image repository. Most public domain image repositories also host copyrighted material; therefore it is wise to conduct due diligence when posting images to depository. If unsure whether an image contains copyrighted material, consult an attorney before uploading or posting any photo online.

Creative Commons

Before using images from WikiHow, be sure to read their license terms. These should be displayed either within image search results or attached directly to each work itself. If an image has a Creative Commons license attached to it, the image can only be used with proper credit given back to its creator and as long as its terms of usage are not violated.

Creative Commons offers seven different licenses that vary in their ability to restrict or permit activities. Four of these six require attribution while five do not. Of the seven options, CC BY license is the most flexible, permitting anyone to copy and repurpose works as long as credit is given for them; on the other hand CC BY-NC-ND licenses restrict users from commercial usage or creating derivative works from such work.

Some Creative Commons licenses allow for a degree of exclusivity that limits who can use a work. This enables creators to protect their work from unauthorised usage; such restrictions can also help safeguard valuable or sensitive pieces.

Alongside attribution requirements, it is also important to think carefully about how an image will be used. If it will be displayed online such as on a website or blog post, for instance, include a link back to its source as well as whether any changes have been made by yourself and note this accordingly. Likewise, before printing an image it’s always a good idea to check its citation details first as this can affect their accuracy in printing as well.

WikiHow obtains its images from an international network of freelance artists who are paid varying rates – none exceeding $.40 per image according to OneZero’s 2011 style guide – according to their 2011 style guide. These pictures are then integrated into articles as instructive visuals to complement every step.

Tracking how often content from WikiHow is being misused without permission can be difficult, even though technically this violates the rules. Content owners have difficulty keeping an eye out for all those using their images without their knowledge for presentations or family videos – though some infringement cases have made their way to court and resulted in judgments against content owners.


If you want to use someone’s image without their consent, it is vital that you obtain their approval first. Copyright laws exist not as a way to restrict or prohibit people from viewing and using creative works but as an encouragement of them. Failing this step could result in lawsuits for infringement being filed against you by either side.

WikiHow, an easy-to-follow instructions website offering instructions on almost everything, recently faced backlash after publishing a cartoon depicting Beyonce, Jay Z and former president Barack Obama with white skin. Although the cartoon was quickly taken down and an apology offered from WikiHow itself was issued shortly thereafter, many were still outraged and have created “worst of WikiHow” lists to highlight any instructions that contain offensive, bizarre or/and/or discriminatory material.

However, wikiHow remains an online platform that enables anyone to submit articles with step-by-step instructions for anyone to use. While its goal is to make knowledge accessible to everyone, sometimes its articles range from innocuous and helpful to outright bizarre or offensive; some articles have even sparked lawsuits filed by people who felt mistreated or discriminated against on wikiHow.

Regardless, wikiHow is taking steps to rectify its mistakes. Starting in 2017, it started commissioning original artwork from freelance illustrators as a response to Google’s change in search ranking algorithm that placed more value on custom images. Furthermore, they are working towards developing an improved quality control system and mobile-friendly user interfaces.

Some, but not all, of wikiHow’s article text content is released under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Creative Commons license and may be republished in certain forms. This applies to sections like introductions, things you should know, steps, tips and warnings within articles but excludes staff content as well as references to images or related wikiHows.

This license covers text only, not images or other media that accompany an article. Furthermore, wikiHow reserves the right to claim ownership and protect its intellectual property rights of any User Content you submit through their service; furthermore their Terms of Service stipulates that you cannot post illegal material which could offend children or violate other regulations.


Using images without authorization is illegal, and could land you in court. To stay out of trouble and avoid prosecution, it is wise to remove them prior to being sued; courts tend to favor those who respond quickly and in good faith when complaints are lodged against them. Furthermore, keep an electronic copy of each signed permission just in case the photo needs to be used again later.

You may use images from WikiHow provided that they adhere to their license requirements. For instance, when placing them in blog posts or websites, make sure they attribute back to their source by linking back. However, if using images without CC BY-NC-SA licenses it’s wise to get permission first from their owner prior to using them.

wikiHow’s aim is to aid individuals in learning how to do things and resolve issues more easily, using images as guides for readers. The site employs paid artists who create drawings for its readers while photographers shoot photos. A style guide has also been established which details expectations regarding illustrations and photos; for instance it requires that artists have “age-appropriate characters for each topic”, “gender and ethnic diversity”, realistic body proportions among other criteria.

WikiHow also has guidelines that outline how authors should present their instructions. These include a list of preferred styles that authors should become acquainted with prior to submitting an article for consideration; additionally, formatting and layout recommendations must also be observed. wikiHow’s style guides aren’t mandatory but can help authors improve their writing.

Deletionism, or the practice in which editors of WikiHow remove articles they find offensive or inappropriate without seeking author consent, has become another issue with regards to racism and gender. While WikiHow claims not to discriminate, its editors have come under scrutiny for deleting material pertaining to race and gender that it finds offensive.

wikiHow’s service is hosted from within the United States, and you must comply with all local, state, national, and international laws, rules, and regulations related to your use of it. Access or usage may not occur from countries under embargo by the U.S.; nor may any person or entity that exports prohibited by U.S. law access it for any reason.