How Not To Get Sued When Using Flickr

Flickr is a wonderful place to find images to illustrate blog posts but we need to be mindful of a few rules that can keep us from getting sued for improper photo usage.

National Library NZ / Flickr

Herbert George Ponting and a telephoto apparatus in Antarctica, January 1912

All Flickr images have an accompanying license. You can find the image license by scrolling down the right hand side of the Flickr page. We cannot use images that have an “all rights reserved” license unless we have permission from the photographer. The images that we can lawfully use without fear of getting sued are images designated BY or BY/NC.

Flickr also has a variety of collections that are free use including The Commons and US Government Works.

Creative Commons (FAQ)

What Creative Commons photos can we use? 

  • Photos with an “Attribution” license — symbolized as “BY”
  • Photos with an “Attribution-Non-Commerical” license — symbolized as “BY/NC”
Why can we only use these two licenses?
These are images that the photographer has said anyone can use, in a non-commercial manner, as long as we credit them exactly.
What can we NOT use?
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives – “BY/NC/ND”
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike – “BY/NC/SA”
  • Attribution-ShareAlike – “BY/SA”
How can I easily find the right kind of photos?
An easy way to find photos is to search the specific Flickr categories directly.
How can I tell the license type?
Click or hover on the “Some Rights Reserved” link associated with the photo. It should tell you the license type.
What if I really need to use a photo with a different Creative Commons license? 
You can contact the photographer directly and ask permission to use it.
If you ever have any questions about photo usage feel free to contact me: blettenberger@npr.org

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