Is it legal to publish photos of products and their packaging? Can such be done anonymously on some open license? (which would be the best for such data to be open for public use, as products are generally available to see in shops for everyone?)

Where and how to publish?

Is Wikidata+Wikimedia right place?

I am thinking on (structured) data, that includes:

  • packaging photo
  • product photo
  • derived information
    • barcode(s) (EAN)
    • ingredients
    • weight, nutrition, etc.

What information requires publishers to be careful regarding sharing (e.g. prices in given shops)?


Thanks to insight from one of the answers the topic of "copyrighted materials" or "trademarks" on packages was pointed out. Fair concern. Therefore, let me frame question in direction of purpose, so additional questions, requirements:

  • what additional steps would make such collection feasible? (something that scales and is feasible for crowdsource preferably, e.g. "blurring out"/"black out" parts of images with products logos ? Converting to "black&white"? (unless product owner comes and gives permission by him/her self)?)
  • goal is to collect most "data" about product: barcode, ingredients, dietary information, amount of contents (ml,pieces,grams), plus eventually approvals from organizations.
    • imagine use case: you want to find set of products that compose into desired meal, but need to take care of allergies, diabetics and other constraints. Such db when cross across shops in (or webshop delivering to) your area, could provide valuable suggestions!
  • For barcodes, so far this is the best I could find: barcodesdatabase.org/barcode-search as unfortunately there is (to my knowledge) no open source database of barcodes yet.
    – Swier
    Jan 23, 2017 at 12:59

1 Answer 1


As you can see in Wikimedia Commons, packages usually involve some copyrighted content and therefore its image can't be published under a free license. It can only be published with permission of copyright owners or under a suitable exception (like de minimis or fair use) although I'm afraid no such exception is suitable for a large collection of commercial packages - at least, I'm sure that collection wouldn't be allowed in Wikimedia Commons.

Update after question update:

Blurred images should be considered in an one by one basis. The main question is if all copyrighted material has been eliminated.

  • Probably OK to keep: Bare text without creative design stating bare facts without any creativity (list of ingredients, producer name and address, etc.), product name if typography is not creative.
  • Not OK to keep: photographs, text talking about the product, any graphical design elements.

Depending of your purpose, using copyrighted photographies may fall in fair use (in the USA), but fair use is not accepted in Wikimedia Commons. Furthermore, if you went for borderline cases, Wikimedia Commons would be a bad choice to store them, since they are at risk of being deleted at any time.

  • What if those logos would be blurrex/pixelized or blacked out, and only text left ? I think mostly about ingredients and dietary information, to make collection useful in finding products fitting dietary needs. (And yes -> rewriting contents of packages would not scale, I can imagine blurring out scaling) Jan 23, 2017 at 11:54
  • 1
    The best way to store text is scan it with character recognition and just store the text. Anyway, a photography or a scan of the text can be OK, specially if anything else is cut out or blurred.
    – Pere
    Jul 15, 2017 at 13:12
  • Why are images protected? Wikipedia contains community-made photos for every major product. Like this one: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Jul 17, 2017 at 8:36
  • 1
    @AntonTarasenko You pointed to an image of the product, not of the packaging. Quoting US law, it doesn't incorporate "pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independ­ently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article". commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/…
    – Pere
    Jul 17, 2017 at 8:42

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