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Media Manager

Contributing Images and Other Media to the Tree of Life

The Tree of Life Project invites contributions of high quality images, animations, movies, sounds, etc. to add to our growing library of biodiversity media. We now accept media files in a number of different formats:

In order to be able to upload materials to the ToL database, you first need to register as a ToL Media Contributor. (If you are a ToL Scientific Contributor or Treehouse Contributor, you're already signed up for media contributions.) Once you are registered, you can access our media contribution tools via the Media Contributors Log-In page.

What kinds of media is the Tree of Life looking for?

Any high quality image, movie, or sound of an identified organism (plant, animal, fungus or micro-organism), its body parts, or its environment (habitat) will be an asset to the Tree of Life collection. Organisms do not have to be identified to species or genus, but the more information you can provide about the featured organism, the more valuable your media contribution will be to ToL visitors and content creators. The organism (body part, habitat, etc.) should be clearly visible/audible and recognizable, and in visual media, it should occupy most of the image/movie frame. Please do not submit images or movies that are blurry, grainy, or distorted. Any media files that do not meet our content or quality standards may be removed from the database without notice.

Images submitted to the ToL should be in GIF, JPEG, or PNG format. The ideal size for master images is around 800 pixels in one dimension (see an example here). If you upload relatively large master images, the ToL publishing system can autogenerate downscaled versions for use on ToL pages. In addition, a full-sized view of the master image and associated image data is linked to the scaled image or thumbnail. If you want to upload a large master file but do not want to make the original available for public access, you have the option of limiting the maximum displayed size of your image in the Image Versions section the Edit Image Data form.

The best upload format for movies is MP4, because it gives you good movie quality with relatively small file sizes. When you upload a movie, we will convert it into Flash. We have chosen a Flash player as the default for ToL movies because it works in most people's browsers. We also provide a link to download the movie in its original format. This is a service to people with slow connection speeds. Often the original file is also of higher quality than the Flash version, so if a visitor has the required software installed, they may prefer to watch the original. You may upload media files up to 25 megabytes in size. Most sound and movie files under two minutes will fit this requirement if you use a compression format such as MP4. If you would like to contribute a larger file, contact for assistance.

Please note that you can only submit media files if one of the following conditions is met:

You are the copyright owner of the media file.
As a general rule, the creator of a media file owns the copyright and has the exclusive right of distribution. You don't have to register your work with an agency in order to have it protected by copyright law. At least within the U.S., all "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression" are automatically covered upon their fixation. However, the copyright privileges of the creator may be limited if the material in question was created as a 'work made for hire', or if the copyright has previously been relinquished to a publisher or to the public domain.
The copyright owner has authorized you to sumbit his or her media file(s) to the ToL Project.
We recommend that you keep written authorization on file, just in case somebody questions your submission.

Please do not submit materials copied without permission from other people's websites or scanned from textbooks or magazines. It's illegal to copy and distribute materials in this way, and we will remove them as soon as we become aware of a copyright infringement. If you find materials on the web that are released under a creative commons license, you can upload them to the ToL database without asking permission. Please provide proper attribution to the copyright owner and include a link to the page where you found the original file in the Reference/Source section of the Media Data form. Also be sure to select the proper license as specified by the copyright owner.

What information do I need to supply along with my media?

Supporting information (metadata) about your images and other media will ensure that these materials are used to greatest advantage by ToL visitors and authors looking for illustrations. When you upload a media file to the ToL database, you need to provide the following required information:

  1. The name of the copyright owner (default assumption: the contributor is the copyright owner)
  2. The use permitted by the copyright owner (see ToL Use of Contributions)

We also request that you attach each of your contributions to a relevant group or groups in the Tree of Life. Your contribution will show up in the media collections linked to each branch and leaf of the ToL only if they are attached to a group or one of its descendants. There's a page with instructions on how to figure out the appropriate group(s) of attachment for your contribution. In addition, the Edit Data forms offer many optional fields that allow you to provide additional information about the media file and about featured specimen(s). To get an overview of the different fields, have a look at this preview: Edit Image Data Preview. Note that you are not expected to fill out all the fields in these forms. Different fields will be relevant for different media files.

By providing as much information as possible about each image, sound or movie, you can make sure that people looking for a given kind of resource will be able to locate your contribution. For example, you may have a picture of the head of a juvenile coral snake that was taken in Big Bend National Park, Texas. If you provide all this information in your submission, people interested in a variety of different themes may find their way to your image, e.g.:

While providing information about your media can sometimes be quite laborious, detailed metadata will greatly increase the value of your contribution, and they will make it much more likely that your materials will be used by other ToL content creators on their ToL pages.

How is the Tree of Life project going to use submitted media?

Contributors keep the copyright for any images or other media submitted to the Tree of Life database, and a copyright notice is printed alongside all materials displayed on the ToL web site. Upon submitting a file, contributors grant the ToL non-exclusive rights of use. The specific use of your media file will depend on the licensing options you select. For detailed information about the available options, please see Tree of Life Use of Contributions.

Once you have uploaded your media files to the ToL media library, ToL scientific and treehouse contributors can use these materials to illustrate their contributions*. For example, your images may be used as title illustrations, or they may be featured in a text section or manually created image gallery. Also, media files are accessible through the ToL Media Search, and media attached to groups of organisms are displayed in the autogenerated image collections that are linked to each branch and leaf page on the Tree of Life web site. By default, the newest files are always shown first in these collections.

*Note: restricted images are available for use on ToL pages only after consultation with the copyright owner.

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