Flickr Users, Beware!
Flickr.com, an extremely popular photo hosting and sharing site used by myself and approximately 87 million other people, recently began offering a service for users to print wall art from any image with specific Creative Commons licenses. The problem is that, according to an article by Paul Monckton on Forbes.com, they are not forking over any of the profit.
A license can be applied to uploaded images to allow users to specify the level of freedom that others have with their photos. Some Creative Commons licenses allow others to use images, build upon them, and share them, all for either commercial or personal use. It is important that each user understand licenses, how to set them, and what they each mean. By default, uploaded images are set to All Rights Reserved, which is a license that fully protects your image and does not give anyone the freedom to use it in any way without your permission.
Some want their images to go as far as possible no matter what, and others want to keep a tight rein on their own parade. Wherever you fall, know that any image with a Creative Commons license that includes commercial use is now available for Flickr to sell physical prints of, without the user receiving any profit. For me, this meant that I went over and changed some of my images to Attribution-Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons. It is an extremely simply process, but I only did it for some of my images that I want to keep a more tight hold on.
Follow the steps below to change your image licenses.
You will need to chose a license that is for NonCommercial use. This will remove your images from being eligible for sale by Flickr. It will also limit how others can use your images, so weigh the pros and cons. For the vast majority of my images though, I did not change a thing. Most of the time I think it is more valuable for my image to be used than sit alone, untouched and unknown, even if that means I lose a few dollars.
While some are taking up arms over Flickr's move, I believe this is no reason to stop using Flickr's service. Although I don't agree that selling photographers prints without paying them is right, I still love their completely free terabyte of storage. For the photographic community, there aren't many services out there that compete with this. I do wish there was a way for them to give the photographer a portion of the proceeds from the sale, and hopefully that will come soon.
Whether professional or not, for photographers this all brings up a very interesting question of what rights a photographer has with their images. With digital imaging and the ease with which people are now able to create photographs, it is temping to treat images as cheap things, things that don't take a lot of hard work, time, and education to create. But for working professionals in particular, this is far from the case. Photography, for all it's new and more accessible gear, is still a long, hard road of learning and practice.
The internet makes it incredibly easy to steal images, but the danger is still relatively limited and usually would not stop me from posting my work online. Better to have it stolen than not seen, but even still, it is good to take some precautions.
Thanks for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Go to Monckton's article on the Forbes website for more information on Flickr's new walk art service.