Flickr Uses CC Zero for their Shapefiles

Fred Benenson, May 22nd, 2009

Flickr Shapefile
Rounding out the week of some exciting CC announcements, we wanted to pass along news of Flickr’s use of our CC Zero waiver for their shapefile dataset.

“What is a shapefile?” you may ask. Its a file containing shapes mathematically generated by the thousands of Flickr geotagged photos of particular neighborhoods, countries, and continents. The data can also be seen as reverse-engineered fuzzy maps created by user generated longitude and latitude coordinates that are then demarcated by Where-On-Earth IDs.

Still confused? Its 549mb of uncompressed XML public domain geo-glory. Aaron from the Flickr Development team explains their rationale for using CC Zero:

  • We want people (developers, researchers and anyone else who wants to play) to find new and interesting ways to use the shapefiles and we recognize that, in many cases, this means having access to the entire dataset.
  • We want people to feel both comfortable and confident using this data in their projects and so we opted for a public domain [waiver] so no one would have to spend their time wondering about the issue of licensing. We also think the work that the Creative Commons crew is doing is valuable and important and so we chose to release the shapefiles under the CC0 waiver as a show of support.
  • We want people to create their own shapefiles and to share them so that other people (including us!) can find interesting ways to use them. We’re pretty sure there’s something to this “shapefile stuff” even if we can’t always put our finger on it so if publishing the dataset will encourage others to do the same then we’re happy to do so.

Thanks to the Flickr team for the show of support! Download the compressed XML shapefile here, or read more about the release here.


Davos World Economic Forum’s Photos Under CC-BY-SA

Fred Benenson, April 30th, 2009

Davos Flickr
There’s great news over at the Davos World Economic Forum blog:

We have just uploaded 300 of our best pictures from the Annual Meeting 2009 in Davos to the World Economic Forum’s Flickr account. Admittedly it took us some time to choose the best pictures from the thousands shot by our official photographers from Swiss-Image. My colleague Dafni Kokkidi spent the past week adding descriptions, tags and geo tags to all the photos. But it was well worth it, because these 300 high-resolution portrait shots are available for anyone to download in all sizes. Best of all, these pictures are licensed under the Creative Commons licence (BY-SA 3.0) meaning you can use them for free on your blog, on your website, in print and even for commercial purposes under the condition that you credit the World Economic Forum. We also uploaded the best pictures from our regional summits such as the recent World Economic Forum on Latin America in Rio.

Many of these photos have already made their way over to Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia, so they’ll probably be making an appearance in your favorite world leader’s article soon. Thanks to Davos for their substantial contribution to the commons!

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Why Did the White House Choose Attribution and not Public Domain?

Fred Benenson, April 29th, 2009

The microblogs have been a-buzz this morning about news of the launch of the official White House Flickr stream featuring photos from Obama’s first 100 days in office. While the photos are licensed under our Attribution license, one could make the very strong argument that they’re actually in the public domain and can be used without attribution (though one would have to be careful and respect the personality rights of the private citizens featured in some of the photos). The photos are likely in the public domain because they are works created by the federal government and not entitled to copyright protection. As you might recall, the’s copyright notice indicates as much.

Why would the White House then choose Attribution for their Flickr stream? Simple, unlike communities like Wikipedia and Thingiverse, Flickr doesn’t allow their photographers to choose Public Domain as an option to release their work to the world. So the Obama team must have picked the next best option: Attribution only.


3 copies left: Joi Ito’s Free Souls

Allison Domicone, April 23rd, 2009

Free Souls Image

A month ago, we announced that Flickr had surpassed 100 million CC licensed photos. In celebration of this milestone, we offered a limited number of Creative Commons CEO Joi Ito’s book, Free Souls, at the $100 donation level and above. There are only three copies left, so now is your chance to support CC and secure a copy of this beautiful limited edition book celebrating a free and open culture of sharing.

Thank you to everyone who has already donated and received the book, and to all of our wonderful supporters who make success stories like the 100 million CC licensed Flickr photos possible!

Update: The last copies of Free Souls are gone! If you’d like to support CC and buy art, Matt Jones’ Get Excited And Make Things prints are still available, or head over to the Support CC site and make a regular donation, with regular (ultracool) CC swag available!

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The Magnes Collection

Fred Benenson, March 25th, 2009

Turkish Dress2The Judah L. Magnes museum is a museum of art and history focused on the Jewish experience located in Berkeley, California. Since late 2007 the museum has been posting their digital assets both on their website and on their Flickr account. On Flickr, all of the high resolution images are licensed under our Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license. The image to the left is of a 19th century Turkish Wedding dress which was a gift from Sara Levi Willis.

Recently, the museum has been blogging at their opensource blog, but you can also check out all of their collections on their Flickr account here. As more and more cultural institutions come online, it is important to recognize those that understand the value in sharing their assets, so congratulations to The Magnes for taking the lead!

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Analysis of 100M CC-Licensed Images on Flickr

Michelle Thorne, March 25th, 2009

Since last weekend we’ve been celebrating the number of CC-licensed photos on Flickr, which now has reached over 100 million — the largest pool of CC images to date. We’ve received some great feedback from the community, including the following analysis from Christian (metawelle):

On July 29, 2004 Flickr announced that anyone who wanted to release their Flickr photos under a Creative Commons license could do so. Within the first year 10 million photos were published with the help of CC’s six different licenses. Now in the fifth year since the initial collaboration between the Canadian photohosting service and the non-profit organization Creative Commons, there are currently over 100 million photos in Flickr’s massive database. And the photos are not just to look at; you can also download, print, and distribute the photos legally and free of charge. Plus, a large portion of the photos explicitly allow derivative works, and a surprisingly larger percent allow for commercial use.

100 million CC-licensed photos on Flickr — reason enough to take a closer look at the figures.

100,043,383 free images on Flickr

Today there are 100,043,383 free images on the Flickr servers. 33% of them are equipped with the most restrictive CC License, BY-NC-ND. That means that over 32 million photos are available to download, display publicly, and distribute, as long as the author is attributed and no changes are made to the original image. The second most frequent license is BY-NC-SA. It allows derivative works for non-commercial purposes as long as those resulting works are made available under the same license. 29%, or 29 million images, can be used in this manner.

Restrictive licenses are more popular

Thus it would seem that the bulk of photos are licensed rather restrictively. That basically means authors rarely tend to release their works with creative and commercial freedoms. 76% of all photos bar commercial use. At the same time, it means that 24%, or 24 million photos, do allow for commercial use with minimal restrictions. For example, over 12 millions photos are completely free to use, as long as the author of the image is attributed.

If you take the time to click through Flickr’s gigantic image pool, you’ll notice that it doesn’t just host snapshots. Among these 12 million photos you’ll find numerous professional photographs. Aside from commercial freedom in these works, creative freedom is most important for a functioning digital culture. Approximately 63 million of all available image files allow for derivative works; in other words, they can be used for photo montages, collages, films, animations, or similar projects, without having to ask permission or clarify rights (although naturally we must distinguish between commercial and non-commercial uses).

Monthly growth rate

Also very surprising is the growth rate of the number of CC-licensed photos. The monthly growth rate sunk from an initial 13% (April 2006) to about 4% (November 2008), at which point growth more or less stabilized.  Presently, the pool of free images is increasing about 4% in comparison with the previous month. That means that the absolute number of monthly gain in photos is rising. It is also important to mention that here you can interpret this as a gain in freedom.  Increasingly, there are more licensed images bringing high creative and commercial freedoms. In other words: consistently more authors are equipping their photos with more freedoms. Thereby they are more frequently granting the public derivative or commercial use of their photos. However it should be noted that this development is very slow.

CC Content bei Flickr von 04/2006 - 11/2008 (Bild: CC BY-SA
Absolute number of CC-licensed photos on Flickr, from April 1, 2006 – November 1, 2008 (Click the graphic to enlarge.)

Altogether the range of freely available photos is enormous. The 100 million works on Flickr make up the majority of CC-licensed content worldwide, and the consequences of such a pool are not to be underestimated. Especially for schools, who should be promoting creativity, such a massive image archive offers many advantages. Freely available images can be used for example, in presentations, educational websites, or other digital projects.

But this archive also offers big advantages in commercial fields. A positive example is Spreeblick Verlag KG, a German publisher that uses gratis and commercially available images in a Flickrpool on their blog. It surprises me that more publishers and editors don’t take advantage of this enormous offering. Probably knowledge about Creative Commons is still not distributed widely enough in the minds of the online editors — let alone the print world.


Translated from Christian‘s “100 Millionen freie Bilder bei Flickr“, available under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 License. This translation is available under the same license.

We’ve been collecting Flickr licensing stastics on our wiki for some time now, and we are very happy that members of our community such as Christian have taken such proactive steps to analyze our data. Anyone else out there should feel free to do the same!


Celebrate 100 Million CC Photos on Flickr with Joi Ito’s Free Souls

Fred Benenson, March 23rd, 2009

Free Souls Image

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been keeping a close eye on the number of CC licensed photos of Flickr. Our calculations now show that Flickr has surpassed 100 million CC licensed photos sometime during the day on Saturday, March 21st, 2009. As of Monday, we’re calculating the total number of CC licensed photos at 100,191,085.*

These photos have been used in hundreds of thousands of Wikipedia articles, blog posts, and even mainstream press pieces; all examples of new works that might not otherwise been created without our standardized public licenses. Flickr’s integration of CC licenses was one of the first and best; not only do they allow users to specify licenses per-photo, but they offer an incredible CC discovery page which breaks down searches for CC licensed materials by license. This means that you can look for all the photos of New York City licensed under Attribution and sorted by interestingness, to give an example.

As part of our celebration of Flickr passing this historic milestone, we are offering a dozen copies of Creative Commons CEO Joi Ito’s Free Souls book at our $100 donation level. Naturally, all of Joi’s photos are not only licensed under our most permissive Attribution license, but they’re also available on Flickr for download. By donating to Creative Commons today you can support the work that we do and receive one of the 1,024 copies of Joi’s limited edition book.

*We are linking to CSV files generated per-day based a simple scrape of Flickr’s CC portal. To generate the total number of licensed photos, we SUM()‘d the 2nd column of the CSV file. March 21st yielded approximately 99 million and March 22nd yielded over 100 million, hence our estimate that 100 million was passed sometime during the day on Saturday.


CC Q&A and the joy of being reused

Mike Linksvayer, February 8th, 2009

We mentioned late last year that Jeremy Keith’s CC BY licensed photo was used in the film Iron Man. While that was particularly notable, Jeremy is a prolific user of CC licenses for his photos and other materials, garnering many reuses. A graphic design student asked him a series of 15 questions about CC. He blogged the answers, which are well worth reading. Here’s the lead in:

I’ve found that releasing my Flickr pictures under a Creative Commons licence has been very rewarding. My pictures have been used in all sorts of places and most people are kind enough to drop me a line and let me know when they use one of my photos. Say, for example, that the site More Than Living wanted to illustrate the article entitled What is a manbag? with a very fetching picture of Richard.

Go read the rest.

Uwe Hermann (who we’ve mentioned in the past as a curator of CC licensed music) also just posted about reuse of his photos:

Sugar / Uwe Hermann / CC BY-SA

Even with my humble, and not really widely-known little photoblog, you can already see the Creative Commons license’s effects on media sharing and remixing/reusing kick in. Quite a number of my photos have already been used by other people for various different purposes (blogs posts, articles, even album covers), including some of the “bigger” sites such as the Wall Street Journal Blog or Cult of Mac

Read Uwe’s whole post.

Even some of my mediocre photos have been reused, and I admit to getting a small kick out of it.

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Brooklyn Museum Licenses Works Under CC

Cameron Parkins, December 17th, 2008

Egypt: Looking out to Sea, Port Said | The Commons: Brooklyn Museum Collection

Our new affinity for micro-blogging has been a huge success so far, allowing us to engage with those in the CC community in a more personal and exciting manner. One of the biggest rewards is that we are finding out about a bevy of cool projects using CC that would have otherwise slipped under our radar.

This tweet by The Brooklyn Museum got our particular interest – everything they hold the copyright to is released under a CC BY-NC-ND license, allowing for free sharing of their content. This should come as no surprise considering their contribution to Flickr: The Commons (joined today by the New York Public Library) and their new “socially networked museum membership”, 1st fans, but is an inspiring choice nonetheless.

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Iron Man and the Right Not to Be Attributed

Fred Benenson, December 2nd, 2008

When Jeremy Keith, a web developer living and working in England took a photo of at Cape Canaveral and posted it to Flickr under our Attribution license (which seems to be the flavor of the month around here), he had no idea it was eventually going to end up in the blockbuster feature film Iron Man.

After explaining the terms of the CC license to a studio representative interested in using the photo in the film, Jeremy was told that it would costs at least $1500 to be attributed in the credits. So the studio offered the next best thing in lieu of being attributed properly: cash. But Jeremy turned the money down and just signed the license release anyway.

Besides being another example of Hollywood utilizing CC licensed material, this story offers insight into why we developed the CC+ protocol. CC+ is designed to help creators negotiate rights outside the scope of the license. For a lot of cases, this turns out to be our NonCommercial provision — that is, musicians offer their music to their fans under NC and use CC+ to point commercial users to a 3rd party rights broker (like Magnatune) that handles commercial rights negotiation on behalf of the artist. But here we can see another right being negotiated, that of attribution, which shows just how flexible CC licenses are.

Remember, when you’re the creator and owner of a copyrighted work, you have ultimate say over who does what with your work; CC licenses merely help you negotiate the thicket of what that “what” is.

Thanks go to Jeremy for writing up such an important example of CC licensed works being used in the wild.


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