Flickr Announces the Ability to Choose Public Domain and Creative Commons 0 License Designations

Flickr announced on Monday, that it’s adding the ability for users to choose Public Domain and Creative Commons 0 (CC0) license designations. The new designations allow users to relinquish all forms of copyright on images. The move is in response to requests from its community and recognizing it has become an important repository of U.S. Government works and historical content.

We’ve been proud to support Creative Commons licenses since 2004, and we’ve become an important repository of U.S. Government works and historic images from galleries, libraries, archives, and museums around the world (check out The Flickr Commons for examples).

But we’ve heard from our community that we’re missing two important designations: Public Domain and Creative Commons 0 (CC0). Many members of our community want to be able to upload images that are no longer protected by copyright and correctly tag them as being in the Public Domain, or they want to release their copyright entirely under CC0.

SpaceX is the first Flickr account to change its image designation to CC0. License designations are on the right, underneath the date the image was taken.

Image Designation
Image Designation

There’s a distinct difference between Public Domain and CC0 images with CC0 being the least restrictive of the two.

  • CC0 images are available without restriction as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance, and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.
  • Images marked as Public Domain may not be free of known copyright restrictions in all jurisdictions. Persons may also have other rights related to the work, such as a patent, or trademark.

Flickr will continue to mark newly uploaded images as All Rights Reserved by default, but you can change the default for all or individual photos by visiting the Privacy and Permissions tab within your account settings.

Although Flickr has made it easy to add images to the Public Domain, locating them is difficult. Flickr only provides four different search filters:

  • Any License
  • Creative Commons Only
  •   Commercial use allowed
  •   Modifications allowed
Lack of Search Filters
Lack of Search Filters

Since CC0 is mixed in the other Creative Commons license types, it’s difficult to search only for images with the CC0 and Public Domain designations. Until Flickr adds specific license filters to its search box, users will likely spend more time searching for images instead of using them.

Despite not being able to easily find them, enabling users to waive all copyright protection on photographs should increase the amount of freely available images to use. This is a huge win and in the future, could make Flickr the largest source of Public Domain images on the web.


One response to “Flickr Announces the Ability to Choose Public Domain and Creative Commons 0 License Designations”

  1. This is a great improvement. Just last week we were waffling on whether or not to formally recommend Flickr along with other CC0 sources (Pixabay, Unsplash, etc.) to our clients and ultimately decided against it due to the lack of PD or CC0. I sincerely hope Flickr continues forward in this direction and fully embraces the CC0 community (starting with simplified search options).


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