I know that links to images online are discouraged. If the link breaks, the question loses its content.

This is all about this question, but there's a general problem behind it.

  1. I followed the link, and added the image to the question. I used "link from the web" for that. This uploads the image to imgur. Which is independent from the original source.
  2. The author of the question (Blackbird) changed the included image to being sourced from its original source and asked if I can take the image down from imgur, because I was breaking his copyright in uploading it there, which also conflicts with their terms of service.
  3. I stated that my intention is not to break any copyright, but to ensure the availability of the image in the question. I was hoping that using a source that is considered reliable is in the intent of the author. It was not.


  1. Is this special case a copyright infringement or fair use?
  2. How can I remove the image from imgur?
  3. How should this conflict be resolved in general? Moving an image to a "reliable" source means possibly breaking copyright. Should images be removed entirely if including them in the post is not possible due to possible copyright conflicts like this one?


When making an edit that includes images, force the edit to be either approved or rejected by the original author. If approved, the image is uploaded to imgur, by that approval and not the original edit. This way, there's no copyright problem, because there's no copyright being broken (not even with good intentions) and the image has an independent source from the original one.


2 Answers 2


The upload functionality used on the Stack sites does have a licensing requirement that you need to be able to satisfy before uploading. If you don't the ability to do that, as was the case here, then requesting that the author do it as an option (presuming they can) in the comments is the way to go. They may still not do that and, should link rot happen, may find that their question gets deleted by a moderator at some point in the future.

Ideally, a sample image (even with a watermark) that is embedded via the imgur feature is the way to go, but that's up to the author. I don't think the privilege system is going to see much change just for this purpose, so it's up to you to be responsible as an editor of content.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Whats the apropriate way to flag a dead link? \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @null - Flag for moderator attention with an explanation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 18:17

Shouldn't that decision of where to host images lie with the copyright holder ? Why make that choice for them ?

You're quite right about external content being unreliable, the internet being what it is, links aren't really very useful. However, I would rather have the post flagged or close it myself than have my images automatically hosted on some third-party I know nothing about. Assuming imgur is a reputable service (I don't know anything about them), what if tomorrow SO decides to change their provider ?

My answer to this question is, textual edits are fine, ask before taking action on user content

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hence my recommendation of requiring approval by the author. Also note that my edit required approval and got approved. \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @null the first edit including the imgur link ? Yes I approved it, it was already uploaded to imgur. Rejecting the edit wouldn't change that fact. I took it because I agree with your point about links \$\endgroup\$
    – user40720
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 14:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Please read the full suggestion in my question. I wanted to point out that obviously the current approval system does not handle this very well. \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 14:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I understand and agree to your concerns. It's not really a "third party", because the images are uploaded to an account associated with Stack Exchange. \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @null I trust SE and SE trusts imgur, aren't they ? :-/ \$\endgroup\$
    – user40720
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 15:15

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