Free up your flickr images – relicense everything as Creative Commons

It’s nice to see your work used by other people – to illustrate a blog post, as part of a presentation, or maybe even printed out and hung on a wall. Yet a lot of people lock folk out from

using their work by restricting usage when by slapping a restrictive copyright notices on it. This often happens on Flickr, where users have set their default license level to be the highest level of control. 

Creative Commons allows you to control the use of your images in a much finer way. Want people to use your work for anything and everything? Or maybe to only use your work non-commercially? To use as is, or to make new work out of? Creative-Commons has a license for all of things, and you can pick and choose your own set of options. I tend to go for “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic” which means “do what you like with this, but if you want to make money out of it we need to talk”.

Why use CC licensing

There are loads of reasons, here are a few:
  1. You have no intention of making money from your stuff, but you’re more than happy for people to use it. Full copyright is daft in this scenario.
  2. You want your work to get out there as far as possible. CC makes it easier for your work to spread. People like me actually seek out CC licensed stuff that they can use on blogs etc.
  3. You’re a pro, and want to give some stuff away as part of your marketing approach. Some of your images might not look marketable, but might still be very good. You can always do the “non-commercial” license and have a conversation about money if someone finds the image and wants it. And anyway, the real money is probably in being commissioned.
  4. Ideology: you believe in free culture ideas and an open, free, Internet. Copyright doesn’t fit your ideals, so don’t use it.

How to fix your licensing in flickr

If you already use Flickr but have locked down your licensing, you can use the batch tools to fix it.

Published by

Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research:

  • Antonio

    I’m usually unconvinced by arguments for using CC licenses but these ones made more sense to me.What I find odd is that even if you don’t CC license your work the HTML/blog this button on Flickr is still present. Also, as Flickr doesn’t provide trackbacks there’s no way of even know if your image is being used anywhere, regardless of license.

  • Jon Hickman

    Wow, I hadn’t realised that, because I’m only ever really looking at CC images and all mine are licensed that way. Thanks Antonio. And yes, it’s always nice to know that stuff has been used, though trackbacks wouldn’t account for it being downloaded and used elsewhere.

  • Antonio

    “wouldn’t account for it being downloaded and used elsewhere.”You mean dead-tree format? :-PUnless I want people to see all the detail I usually resize my images to 500px, which would be a lil’ bit blurry if printed at 300dpiI don’t think I’ve been a victim of print piracy (yet) but I’ve come across blog posts from people from years back that have stolen my images