Libre Software People's Front

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Finding free cultural works on flickr

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I used to be one of these persons that daily spend a lot of time browsing photos on flickr and tried to learn tricks from the best photographers. Soon I started to upload photos licensed under CC by-nc and to be honest I didn’t think this photos would be less free than the software I use (libre/free software). It was around a year later I joined flickr when talking with a friend about contributing with photos to libre software projects he told me the license I was using was not compatible with projects like wikipedia, why? because it enters in conflict with one of the freedoms included in the free licences definition about redistribution. If you included a photo with the non-commercial clause in its license in wikipedia it wouldn’t be possible to sell DVD copies of it and it couldn’t contain advertisements. Basically if you want to create a free cultural work using Creative Commons you have to license your photo under the CC Attribution license of the Attribution-Sharealike license. First one is similar to the MIT or BSD used in software, the second one is copyleft.

So, this cloudy night I wondered how many free cultural works are hosted in flickr and I obtained some approximated numbers:

  • According to there are more than 5 billion photos in flickr
  • According to the search engine less than 167 millions are using a CC license

So far we can say that 3,3 out of 100 photos are using Creative Commons licenses. Let’s dive it a bit more:

Flickr CC Licenses

So .. around 1 out of 100 photos stored in flickr is a free cultural work and 2 out of 100 use a CC license that is not considered free. I wonder how many people does not know yet how important that free contribution would be.


Written by sanacl

November 9, 2010 at 11:43 pm

One Response

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  1. Hi,

    My name is Emma and I came across your blog post on finding free cultural works on flickr whilst searching for people online who I thought might be interested in completing my survey on image tagging in Flickr.

    The survey is part of a funded PhD project at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. For more information please look at:

    The survey should take 5 minutes to complete and please be assured that all responses will be anonymised.

    All completed surveys will be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win 1 of 5, Kindle e-book readers. There is also a further bonus prize of an Apple iPad.

    The closing date for the survey is Friday 10th December 2010, and winners will be picked at random and notified via their Flickrmail accounts by the 13th of December 2010.

    Even if you don’t want to complete the survey (or maybe you don’t actually use Flickr), please feel free to pass it on to anyone else who you think might be interested as we are hoping to get as many Flickr users as possible to give their input,

    Thanks for your time,
    Emma Angus

    (University of Wolverhampton, UK)

    Emma Angus

    November 11, 2010 at 1:46 pm

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