|Reference to an image of the object|
|Used on these elements|
|Status: de facto|
|Tools for this tag|
The image key has been used by mappers to link an externally hosted image that depicts the tagged object. However, the proposals for this tag were rejected due to several problems with the tag:
- Only one image can be linked to any OpenStreetMap feature with this tag.
- The selection of the image is subjective and might be biased or abused for commercial and advertising purposes.
- Attribution and licensing requirements for the linked image are unclear and might be missed by a direct link.
- Other third-party databases offer the option of adding images about a certain feature, for example mapillary=* and wikimedia_commons=*, that aleviate the problems mentioned above and should be used whenever possible instead of this tag. See § Unresolved issues.
There are at least three common styles of formatting the link:
- a Wikimedia Commons filename (formatted as
File:image.jpg) - although this is commonly tagged as wikimedia_commons=*
- Fetching the content of the image in this case can be done using HOTLINK
- or of the image itself
- URL or URI of a page containing the image alongside copyright information and other details
To get in impression of the current usage of this key, see taginfo's value list (linked in the box here on the right side). Note that it is sorted by usage count, so you may want to skip to a page where usage count of a value is one.
Choosing the best image
This key only allows one image to be linked, which may not be sufficient for all use cases. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that image tags are highly subjective, as well as susceptible to spam and/or edit wars, and therefore perhaps might not be well suited for OSM. Alternative approaches have been suggested to avoid these issues while still fulfilling the same needs as the image tag, but none has been widely accepted so far.
...with the best license?
Other considerations are related to choosing an image to be linked:
- Images stored on well-known platforms (e.g. Wikimedia Commons, Flickr) offer the benefit of machine-readable licenses – without this feature, only PD images could legally embedded into maps and applications. However, it is unclear whether this should be a requirement.
- Images under a free license may be preferable over less generously licensed images. Again, there is not yet a consensus whether to make this a requirement.
- Content on personal or commercial websites often have very limited lifespans (Wikimedia Commons e.g. is much more reliable).
OpenStreetMap does not host these images (merely a link to the image within this `image` tag) and cannot accept responsibility for legal issues. Mappers are advised to stay within the limits of the law in the applicable region, and within the restrictions of their image hosting. Beyond that though it may also be a good idea to make more restrained use of this tag where people may feel that their privacy is invaded (even if legally). When we link the photo with an image tag we're sharing the image with it's location which may invoke privacy concerns. There are also concerns whenever a photo includes identifiable people's faces or car registration numbers.
For data consumers
Note that there is no guarantee whatsoever that you can display this image. In general there is also no way to get info about licensing status of image.
- OpenPoiMap, a map showing features with image tag
- MapComplete, a thematic map that displays image tag, and allows to upload images
- Proposed features/Image – inactive proposal trying to define the image=* key (cancelled votes on talk page). Note that the proposal's definition isn't necessarily consistent with existing uses.
- Talk page of this page and proposal talk page – discuss the unresolved issues and the wording of this page
- If you want to reference an aerial image which was used while mapping the object than you should consider using source_ref=*.
- Photo linking - Create links between OSM features and external pictures
Possible tagging mistakes
- wikimedia_commons=* - links to Wikimedia Commons content, including categories
- mapillary=* - for images available on Mapillary
- flickr=* - for images available on Flickr
- Discussion whether it is OK to link to Wikimedia Commons using image=* and not wikimedia_commons=*