License your photos thoughtfully

What’s the big deal with Flickr making commercial use of creative commons licensed photos that were licensed for commercial use? What did people think they were doing when they licensed their photos?

I have a bunch of photos licensed with the attribution license, and a few have been used many times. Here’s my most popular:

Foreign Currency and Coins

That image has been used thousands of time, mostly on financial websites, but also lots of other places, including printed publications. This is just what I had in mind when I licensed it. (Click through and read the comments—a few of the people who used it posted to thank me.)

When I first started writing posts at Wise Bread, I tried to take most of my own pictures. I did that for a couple of reasons. One was so I could get the picture I wanted; at least as important was so that my photos would be unique. (So many financial sites used the same few stock photo sources, so readers pretty quickly started seeing the same images over and over.)

When I didn’t think I could create an image of my own, my go-to source for alternatives was creative commons licensed photos on Flickr.

Before I started using creative commons licensed photos myself, I’d put a creative commons license on some of my images, but was inclined to use a more restrictive license, including non-commercial. After all, I figured, if someone was making money off it, didn’t I deserve a cut?

But for use on Wise Bread, since I was making money, I figured that I shouldn’t use images marked non-commercial. And I was surprised and pleased at just how many people shared their images without that restriction.

I was so grateful, I started licensing most of my photos with an “attribution” license, meaning that I was allowing commercial use—just like the use I was making of other people’s images. (Some photos I didn’t license—mostly those with pictures of people. Properly speaking, a creative commons license is silent on the issue of a model release, but most people don’t think about it when they use an image, and I didn’t want to be in the position of enabling that behavior.)

My point here is simply that I knew what I was doing—and I would certainly hope that everyone else who used a creative commons license did as well. If you license a photo for use with an attribution license, you are explicitly permitting commercial use. It seems bizarre to complain about it when it happens. What did you expect?

Because I think it’s a somewhat nicer photo, I thought I’d also share my second most-used creative commons licensed photo on Flickr:

Piggy Bank Awaits the Spring

Believe me, I didn’t choose the license without thinking about it. Anyone may use my creative commons licensed photos, in accordance with the terms of the license.

That includes Flickr, and Yahoo. Duh.

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