Throughout January, The Social Path is running daily tips on how to improve your social life — online, at least. Click here to learn more.If you've done much blogging, you probably love Flickr photos that use Creative Commons licensing. These are just about the only photos you can use in a blog post without fear of committing copyright infringement, as long as you honor the photographer's guidelines for attribution and usage.
But I'm guessing that even if you've used Creative Commons photos, you haven't actually created any. Because Flickr wisely defaults most photos to "all rights reserved," only a small percentage (3%, by my math) of Flickr's photos can be shared and used freely.
Today, I'm challenging you to take 10 of your best rights-reserved photos on Flickr and switch them to Creative Commons licensing. It takes just a few minutes, and you'll be helping contribute much-needed art options for other social media users around the world.
First off, you'll need a basic understanding of Creative Commons licensing. There are several options, depending on how tightly you want to restrict usage of your work:
• Attribution: This standard limitation requires that you be credited for your work, however it's used or repurposed.
• Share Alike: Allows your work to be repurposed into "derivative" works. For example, your original photo could be cropped or otherwise edited in Photoshop.
• No Derivatives: The opposite of Share Alike, this restriction requires that your work be used only in its original form.
• Noncommercial: Signifies that your work cannot be used for commercial purposes. The definition of "commercial" is notoriously vague, but common sense says that if you're making money directly by using the artwork, that's a commercial use.
On Flickr, you can pick and choose these guidelines however you want. Unless you have strong opinions, I'd go with "Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike." That's about as generous as you can get with photo sharing, so you might as well go for it.
Switching the license on your photos is a snap. For an individual shot, just look at the bottom right of the photo page on Flickr. You'll see info about your licensing and privacy settings. If it's set to "All Rights Reserved," just click "(edit)" and change it to the Creative Commons license of your choice.
To switch an entire set of photos, click "Batch operations" at the top of your Flickr set page. This will take you to the editing window shown at the top of this post. Select "Batch edit," then "Change licensing."
While I advise keeping your Flickr uploads defaulted to All Rights Reserved, I hope today's challenge inspires you to think about sharing your less-personal images with the world. Who knows? You might find your snapshot on the front page of your favorite blog someday — with your name in the credit, of course.
Here's a gallery showing a few of the photos I switched up to Creative Commons:
Estimated time needed: 30 minutes.
Benefits: Contributing to the global pool of shared information.