Here is the situation: I want to create a (perhaps commercial) offline trading card game. Like Magic: The Gathering. My game will be about animals. So I want to use CC photos from Wikimedia as an art for each card.

Photos on Wikimedia are under different CC licenses (CC BY 2.0, CC BY-SA 2.5, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 4.0 and so on). I'm not a lawyer, I just want to try to create a game, so before I start I want to be sure:

  1. Can I use such photos in a commercial product?
  2. How to properly attribute each photo? According to Wiki hints, the usual photo should be attributed in this way:


It's not enough space on the card for so long text. Can I print a short text on each card (like "Photo by AUTHOR NAME") and also make the web page with full credits for all cards' arts? Or credits should be printed and distributed with each booster?

Thanks in advance!

  • \$\begingroup\$ This looks more like a question for your lawyer than for a game developer. Would you take an internet stranger's claim "yeah, you can totally just abbreviate that license" and count on it as a defense in a court of law? \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 13:29
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ time to implement a credits screen where those attributions should end up... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 14:10

2 Answers 2


Commercial Use:

It depends. Some of the permit commercial use, some do not. Generally speaking, if the license type has NC in it, the answer is no. Even if it does not have NC there may be other restrictions that effective prevent you from you using it in your situation (for instance derivative uses). You'll need to check the license of each & consider your application.


According to the faq on attribution there is not a set standard:

CC licenses have a flexible attribution requirement, so there is not necessarily one correct way to provide attribution. The proper method for giving credit will depend on the medium and means you are using, and may be implemented in any reasonable manner. Additionally, you may satisfy the attribution requirement by providing a link to a place where the attribution information may be found.

While the attribution requirements in the license are the minimum requirement, we always recommend that you follow the best practices for the kind of use you are making.

You can read more about the best practices on attribution; here's a summary:

  • identify the specific CC license in use
  • retain any other legal (copyright, etc) info that was with the orignal work
  • double check the details of the legal code for the CC license in use
  • make sure your attribution is reasonable and suited to the medium you're working with


You didn't ask about this, but it's something you need to consider. The odds are likely that you will need to modify some of the photos in some way to fit your card format (that is to say, you're probably not going to find a bunch of photos at the right size & resolution, all using the same color profile, that you can use straight up). Combining and adapting CC material is another area where you'll need to tread carefully:

Whether a modification of licensed material is considered an adaptation for the purpose of CC licenses depends primarily on the applicable copyright law. Copyright law reserves to an original creator the right to create adaptations of the original work. CC licenses that allow for adaptations to be shared—all except BY-ND and BY-NC-ND—grant permission to others to create and redistribute adaptations when doing so would otherwise constitute a violation of applicable copyright law. Generally, a modification rises to the level of an adaptation under copyright law when the modified work is based on the prior work but manifests sufficient new creativity to be copyrightable, such as a translation of a novel from one language to another, or the creation of a screenplay based on a novel.

Basically, it hings in part on copyright law which in turn can get complicated, especially if the jurisdiction extends beyond a single country. Make sure the derivatives portion of the license fits your needs.


You could use public domain images instead, and then you won't have to worry about any attribution. There should be plenty of public domain images of common animals.

Pixbay is one of many resources for public domain images. https://pixabay.com


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