My photos are mostly CC-BY

I wasn’t huge fan of the Creative Commons until shortly after I started writing for Wise Bread.

For illustrating Wise Bread posts I liked to take my own photos, but for some things I wanted an image that I couldn’t easily take myself. For those things I used Flickr’s powerful search facility and deep pool of licensed photos.

Because I was using photos for a commercial purpose (to illustrate articles posted to a personal finance site that was heavily monetized so they could pay their writers), I avoided photos that were not licensed for commercial use. And because I and the site were retaining rights to the posts, I avoided photos with a “share alike” license.

I quickly came to love the fact that there was this vast library of images generously donated by their creators, and quickly felt that I owed it to them, and the world in general, to share my images on the same terms.

After the new owners of Flickr broke everything that was great about the site, I started hosting my photos myself at images.philipbrewer.net, using an open-source tool called Lychee. And shortly after I started using it, Lychee added the facility to mark photos as creative commons licensed.

Nearly all of my photos are licensed CC-BY, which allows anyone to use, remix, and share those photos, provided they provide attribution to me. (Ideally mention my name and link back to my blog, to my images site, or to the photo itself—whatever makes most sense for your use of the image.)

Licensed CC-BY.

I mention all this primarily to let people know that those photos are available for use, because finding creative commons licensed images is no longer so easy as just searching at Flickr. Creative Commons has a search facility, but it doesn’t point at the wider web, just at certain “partner platforms.”

Licensed CC-BY.

Still, if you see one of my photos and want to use it, know that it’s probably licensed with a CC-BY license. (The main exception is photos of family members, which I don’t license. Properly speaking all the license does is grant a license to the copyright for that photo. Any model release needs to be negotiated separately with whoever appears in the photo. But I figure that’s a nuance that many image users just skip over, so to avoid issues with people using photos of me or my family inappropriately, I just don’t license them.)

This photo does NOT have a creative commons license.

If a photo is not licensed (and it’s not of me or a family member), that’s probably just an oversight on my part. Let me know and I can almost certainly fix the licensing almost immediately.

Licensed CC-BY.

I would be delighted if people would start using my photos on my images site the way they used to use my photos of Flickr.

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.

Photography

Since I started writing for Wise Bread (because each post I do there needs a picture), I’ve taken a greater interest in my own photography, and in the creative commons.

I’m taking my own photography more seriously, simply because it matters more. More people see my pictures—and a really good picture can bring traffic to a post.

I’m taking the creative commons more seriously, because it’s provided me with a number of cool pictures for posts where I didn’t have a picture of my own to use.

[Updated 2019-08-19 to add: I’m now hosting my photos myself at images.philipbrewer.net.]