I love Flickr. It’s one of the original Web 2.0 poster-children for good reason.
Beyond the API and the tagging and the sharing of images, Flickr has become my go-to resource for awesome pictures.
Everyone knows that images make boring, more interesting. You know, that whole picture is worth a 1,000 word aphorism?
When you install a new O/S, how long before you change the background image and the screensaver?
Do you add images to your blog posts to make them more interesting and underscore your points?
Do you add images to your presentations to spice up the content?
I do all these things, and I know most people do too. Flickr is a goldmine of great pictures, many of which you can use in your presentations and blogs with only attribution.
Most people who blog add images to their posts, and I’ve been asked by some how do you know whether you can use an image or not. By “can” I don’t mean “able to”, but rather “are allowed to” by the licensing terms. The answer is simple and tough all at once.
If you’re like me, your path of least resistance means you don’t want to dissect the terms of a site to determine if you can use its content. Frequently, you won’t even know where an image originates because it just shows up on some random blog.
Back to Flickr. Flickr allows its users to provide their photos with Creative Commons licensing. This allows a photographer’s work to spread virally, and it provides a giant repository of pictures you can use. As an example, the Ubuntu eyecandy I blogged last week uses an image from Flickr shared with a Creative Commons license.
Sure, I know personal use on my desktop doesn’t require a license (technically), but blogging about it and showing the image does (technically).
I’ve been using Flickr’s Creative Commons pictures for a while because: 1) they’re easy to find, and I understand the terms and 2) there are a lot of really gorgeous photos out there. My slides for OpenWorld feature images from Flickr all used under Creative Commons.
So, what is Creative Commons, and how do I find images?
According to Wikipedia:
Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses. These licenses allow creators to easily communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of other creators.
By adding Creative Commons licensing to user photos, Flickr opened up thousands of images by thousands of users to share both on and offline. Sweet.
Finding Creative Commons licensed images isn’t too hard. On any photo page, you’ll find the licensing terms in the right-hand column under the tags. You can also constrain any search on Flickr to include only Creative Commons licensed work.
Navigate to the Search page, then choose Advanced Search and down at the bottom of the page, you’ll find the option: “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”.
When you find a photo, clicking on the “Some rights reserved link” will show what the content owner has licensed. Here are the terms for “lightning at sunset”. Even if an image does not require it, I always attribute via the alternate text and link to the original so the content owner gets some credit.
So, this is why I love Flickr. I don’t share many of my own photos, and I have many family members or friends who use Flickr. So, its main value to me is as a source of beautiful photographs.
Did I miss something or make a mistake? Was this helpful to you?
Let me know in the comments.