Why You Should Use Flickr for Stock Images

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  • Mar 25th, 2024 | By Allison | Category: Freelance Writing, Tools and Reviews

    When I wrote at Bizzia, I did a post about how it isn’t fair to upload pictures to Flickr without understanding your licensing options, and then persecuting others for using your pictures. Basically, I had received a really nasty email from someone who had uploaded his pictures under a creative commons license, but then got mad when I used it without first asking his permission (which is not required under the uploaded license). I got mixed reactions as far as comments go, and one of those comments by “Lulu” was as follows:

    Bottom line, you’re a thief. Try taking your own photos rather than stealing another’s creations.

    That’s a ridiculous statement. It’s like if I went to a yardsale that has a “free” table, took something that was free, and then had the police called on me. Hey, if you didn’t mean to have it on the free table, I’ll give it back, but at the same time, it isn’t my fault you misclassified the item. It doesn’t make me a thief.

    Later, someone identifying him/herself as “Me” left a comment in reply:

    I agree with Lulu. Flickr is a social networking site, not a stock photography site. The default is not set for all rights reserved. This has been a huge issue for Flickr users who join and do not know the intricate settings and defaults behind the scenes.

    When someone steals your articles, which will inevitably happen, and posts them all over the Internet under their own name – or yours to completely ruin your reputation, maybe then you’ll learn how the other side feels. I hope they are just as nasty when you ask them to remove that content.

    Ok, let’s not even talk about the facts that A) I didn’t steal anything, B) I fully attribute every picture I use as the license requires, never claiming them as my own or using them to ruin people’s reputations, and C) I’m not nasty to people who change their minds or have made a licensing mistake and ask me to remove their work.

    I took this picture myself. See, I can take my own...

    Let’s talk about this commenter’s claim that Flickr should be used for social networking, not stock photography. While I respect that opinion, I totally disagree.

    Here’s why you should use Flickr for stock images, as long as you do so correctly, searching under the right licensing options:

    1. Many photographers use Flickr for exposure and actually WANT people to use their images.

    It can be hard to get your work out there for the public eye if you don’t use Flickr or other image uploading websites. They’d like to sell some of their work or even get hired to do photoshoots. So, they upload a few samples under licenses that allow people to use the picture, with attribution, in hopes that the picture will be used by bloggers and website owners. It’s the same reason why some people choose to upload articles for free on article databases. They want people to enjoy what they see and come back (and pay) for more. One of my photographer friends has noted that she’s made a few sales because she uploaded some pictures to Flickr’s Creative Commons.

    2. The default setting ABSOLUTELY is “all rights reserved.”

    I just checked by uploading my own photograph to Flickr. The default setting is “all rights reserved,” which means that your picture doesn’t even show up on Creative Commons searches, UNLESS you change it.

    So don’t tell me that people don’t understand. Sure, there may be mistakes from time to time, but as a photographer, you have the responsibility to understand your licensing options. I checked out the information page that Flickr uses, and it isn’t hard to understand. If you don’t care enough about your images to actually know what rights you’re giving away, then do us all a favor and use the default setting so your rights are reserved.

    3. Networking with photographers is a good thing.

    If you use someone’s image, they’re likely to check your website to see how it was used. They might recommend your sites to others, link back to you on their own site, or, at the very least, become a reader. Maybe the photographer needs a writer and will want to hire you. Maybe the photographer will offer to give you more images in return for attribution. Maybe the photographer will want to buy advertising on your website. Networking makes the freelance world go ’round, people.

    The bottom line is this: Using Flickr images that are licensed to be used by others SHOULD be used. Doing so doesn’t make you a thief, as long as you attribute it properly and never, ever take a photo that hasn’t be licensed for you to use. Flickr might be a social networking site, but it is also a resource for images that you can’t get anywhere else. Use it. Love it.

    And for heaven’s sake, be nice to your fellow freelancers. If you accidentally uploaded a photo under the wrong license or later change your mind, send a polite email asking for removal. If you’re nice, others will be nice to you. Karma, baby.

    A version of this post, written by me, was first published on b5media’s Bizzia website. It is reposted here with permission.

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