If you use flickr to host your photographs you need to check what licences are set on your images, and you need to do it now. Yahoo, the owners of Flickr is about to start selling canvas prints of any images which whose licences are set to “Creative Commons” – and they are going to pocket all the money from those sales. Now that is exactly what the “Creative Commons” licences (well some of them anyhow) permit. And a lot of people who set the licence to “Creative Commons” don’t have any problems with this. Quite a lot of other including myself do have problems with this.
Here are just a few of the problems:
- There are a lot of photographers who selected Creative Commons as a way of saying to other flickr uses that they can use their images – it is done in a spirit of sharing not for big multinationals to make money from direct sales of their work. Photographers in this category are faced with a stark choice either let Yahoo make money out of their work or prevent anyone from using their images.
- Do you know what your default licence is set to? If you like me joined flickr many years ago (8 years in my case) You may not have understand “Creative Commons” at the time you signed up. Some photographers have selected it as their default licence without understanding the implications. Other may have selected it long ago and forgotten about it.
- Do you work with models? Have you supplied them with any of you images? Have they posted them on Flickr? Some models do. What licence have they set?
While Yahoo/Flickr are not doing anything illegal, it does go against the spirit of what Creative Commons is all about. Creative Commons is all about sharing, grass roots producers helping other grass roots producers. It’s not about making money for multinational companies. And frankly what Yahoo is doing “leaves a bad taste”. Interestingly even my namesake Stewart Butterfield (no relation btw) who set up flickr has said it is “a little shortsighted … It’s hard to imagine the revenue from selling the prints will cover the cost of lost goodwill”.
So what should you do about this? Firstly check the default licence you have set on flickr. This is easy to do.
- Click on your avatar in the top right of any flickr page and click settings.
- Click on the “Privacy & Permissions” tab
- scroll down until you find “What license will your content have” this will show you the default licence that is applied to images as you upload them.
- If you want to protect yourself completely set this to “All rights reserved”
To change the licences on all your existing images you will need to use the batch organiser. To do this:
- Click on “You” the top of the menu bar at the top of the flickr page
- Select “Organize” – This will take you to the Batch Organiser
- At the bottom of the screen ensure the dropdown box says “All your content” then click “select all” just below it.
- When all your images highlighted with a red/pink border drag them into the main part of the screen
- From the white menu bar at the top of the screen select “permissions” and click on “change licensing”
- Select “None (All rights reserved)” from the pop-up menu
- Click “Change Licence” – this will set the licence to all your current images.
If you need to change the licence on an individual image you can do so by using the dropdown box under the images when you view your image.