Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Joys of Creative Commons Licensing

Ms PurlPower asked me how you get decent images into your blog posts. Allow me to share my method.
ylang ylang method
First of all, a brief introduction to Creative Commons.

What is Creative Commons?

This is genius. It is a not-for-profit way of protecting your copyright. You choose which of six licenses applies to you and then mark your work in some way to show the license applies to it. Your work can be a photo, video, document, tutorial, pattern, song etc. Now to some, six licenses may sound confusing but this is not the lie of "tax doesn't need to be taxing". This is actually a simple process. The six licenses are explained here (scroll down) so let's take two examples to show how they work.

If you choose the most basic license, this is "Attribution". This means that when someone comes across something with this license they can use it in any way they want to as long as they identify you as the original is credited to you. So if you were to knit something from a Rowan pattern and take a killer picture of it, Rowan could come across it and use the photo in their publicity materials without asking permission or paying you a bean as long as they put your name on it. You still own the copyright in this and all other cases and you do have moral and a few other rights, explained online in more detail.

If you want more protection you might choose the "Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs" license. This means that as well as attributing the work to you, they can't use it for commercial purposes (so Rowan couldn't use it for marketing) and they have to use it as is - they can't edit or change it in any way.

Still confused? CC have created a little tool to help you choose a license (should you wish to license your work through Flickr or somewhere else for usage).

CC and Flickr

Now once works (photos, in this case) are licensed you can start using them. I source all my images from Flickr and I store all of mine there too (and yes, mine are all CC licensed). If you go to Flickr's Advanced Search tool and scroll all the way down you'll see this:
Tick the box relevant to you and your search will only bring up images you can use. Alternatively search within content with a specific license. To do this open up Flickr, go to 'Explore' and choose 'Creative Commons' (or just click here). Click on "see more" next to the license your heart desires and search in there.

Using an Image

Let's say you want to advertise my Charm Square Swap. You could just write about it but a picture is worth a thousand tweets so find the image on Flickr. Hint - it's here. Above the image and on the left click on 'share'. You'll get this.
You want the "Grab the HTML" section. Choose the size you want the image to appear on your blog from the drop down below the code and the code automatically updates (I usually use 500px wide). Now copy the code and go to your blog post. This bit is only about Blogger but I assume it is the same for Wordpress and others.

Personally I stay in 'compose' mode (the one it takes you to automatically) and paste the code wherever I want the image to go. Just like this:
Then, because I'm like that, I select all the code and centre it using the menu option above the text box, next to the numbered bullets icon. I don;t do anything else. That's it. So now, as soon as someone clicks on the image it takes them to the page on Flickr where the original is, from where the owner can be contacted and any information they wanted related to the image (such as camera type, location etc) can be found. You can do this to use any appropriately licensed image on your website or in print (as long as the print version has the attribution printed visibly somewhere).

Telling How an Image on Flickr is Licensed

You may have already found an image and want to check how you can use it. Easy enough. Take this image for example:
Square and Hexagon Ice
Click on the image above to get to the Flickr page. On the right towards the bottom of the page you'll see "Owner Settings" and the details of the license. Now compare that with this photo. This one says "All rights reserved" under the owner settings heading. That means that if you use it without the explicit permission of the creator you are potentially in a pile of poo. Best case scenario you get a polite email telling you to take the image off your blog pronto. Worst case and it all gets legal and expensive.

If you are a charity a lot of people will be ok with attribution-only as long as you are clear about how it will be used, but you MUST get written permission to use an image which isn't currently licensed. Can't get permission? There are two hundred million images on Flickr with some form of CC license. Just choose a different one.

Leave a comment if you have any questions!

1 comment:


Sorry it's taken me a while to thank you on here for this post but THANK YOU! I have been struggling to understand the whole CC thing on Flickr for a while and didn't want to piss anyone off by doing it wrong. This has made it a whole heap clearer and I've now given my new photos a CC license so others will be able to use them.

Cheer dude!

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