Skip to content

Tech Talk Tuesday: Copyright, Flickr and Photography

It’s really great when you’re a blogger to include photos in your posts. I don’t do it, because I take crummy pictures, my mom takes great pictures, and she posts one almost every day at iPhone Gran. Check it out, you’ll like it.

Here’s the issue with photography. It’s simple to go to google or flickr and search for an image. What comes next is actual work, and I tend to avoid it.

Let’s say I go to Flickr and search for roses. I might come across this:

Photos of roses @mitchsurp

Courtesy of @mitchsurp

If you take a look there’s a watermark across the bottom indicating that it’s a stolen picture.

Much like the music industry has to fight piracy, writers and photographers do too. My work is my own. That it’s here on a blog is, in fact, a little silly, but it is work nonetheless. You may not have it unless you pay me.

If you are looking for a photo to add to your blog post, flickr is a wonderful resource. All you need to do is be sure that it’s copyright free. Let me show you how.

Go to Once there you’ll see this screen:
Next click on advanced search and then fill out the forms as indicated below:

I’m going to save you a lot of time and headaches with this one. Only search for photos with a Creative Commons license.

Once you find a photo you like, the page will look like this:

Now all you need to do is click on the little logo there, and you’ll be taken to a page that will give you a snippet of code that looks like this:

<div xmlns:cc=”” about=””><a rel=”cc:attributionURL” href=””></a> / <a rel=”license” href=””>CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</a></div>

When you insert that code into your html it look like this

Or you can simply ask permission from the photographer and then credit them with something like this:
Thanks so much to Mitch Surprenant, check out his great blog at
When do you need permission to use a photograph? When you didn’t take it. If a photograph is on the web and it’s not yours, you really need to ask permission. Most often the answer is “yes with attribution” Just a little note will do, let folks know who the photographer was and how they can be found.
What about really big websites? They used my picture but they didn’t ask permission. The same rules apply to everyone. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is written in fairly plain language. Ask them to pay you for your work, or to take the photo down. I’ve had that happen with two large websites, one moved quickly and apologetically, another wasn’t very fast. They all know better, and no matter if it’s good or bad, everyone needs to ask permission.

5 thoughts on “Tech Talk Tuesday: Copyright, Flickr and Photography”

  1. This is good information, thanks! I always try to link back to the source, but this Flickr tutorial will make it much easier! How do you know though, if someone has used your photos? (Most everything on my blog is my own work.)

  2. Great post – something bloggers really need to read.

    One question – can you point me to a good resource on using pictures in academic presentations? I have on occasion asked flickr members before including a photo in my class presentation (Powerpoint) or in a conference presentation (again, Powerpoint). But sometimes they don’t reply in time, or it’s really too late (yeah, I know). I always use photo credits & my Powerpoints are not turned in… but I don’t really know the right thing to do. I think everything I’ve used so far without explicit permission is Creative Commons-licensed.

    Recently I wrote a paper & needed pictures of a certain natural phenomenon to show my professor (otherwise, he never would have understood what I was discussing, as he isn’t a scientist, and he’s too old to think of googling the phenomenon). So I did turn in a pdf with pictures of the phenomenon and cited each picture with the date retrieved. Certainly this was acceptable as far as academic citation is concerned, but was it acceptable for the people who posted the pictures (as I copied & pasted them)? I honestly don’t know. One of those situations in which I was running too late to ask permission. Cessation of procrastination is definitely my #1 New Year’s Resolution.

  3. Great post.

    @AK As a pro photographer… Technically if you’re using a photo for academic purposes that does not give one a blanket “OK” to use a photo. I’ve had several of my photos ripped off and I care more when it’s blatantly used for a commercial venture, or even if a PRO blogger is using it to make them be an expert. There is even a cloudy line on “what is OK for CC photos” For example if there is ad-words on a sidebar does that mean that CC photos are helping promote a commercial cause?

    As a commercial photographer “CC” licenses are bad for our industry although I do understand the reason behind the concept. There is just too much undefined. If people can’t even understand “© All Rights reserved”… then how are they to understand all the different restrictions of CC?

    Personally I’ve allowed my flickr photos to be used many times by bloggers where I know it’s a non commercial editorial use. One’s blog has a high google page rank many times photographers will be more than happy to let you use a photo for some nice link love to their main site.

    If you have any questions or want to use any of my photos let me know.

    @acmephoto on twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *