Flickr is a cross platform photo and video sharing site. Their focus is on making original content secure and accessible. Their goals are to make it easy for users to upload original content and to then have control over that content. They are one of the few sites that allow creators to maintain rights over their uploads by easily selecting the rights they prefer to retain. Their secondary focus is to make organizing content and metadata collaborative.
Collections are sorted into albums, though other users can organize an institution’s collections based on their preferences. Flickr shows the metadata from the camera taking each photo or video, if chosen by the user. The other metadata allowed is tagging. Though, organizations like the Toronto Public Library choose to include their own metadata in the descriptions of the photos. Tagging is done both by the content creator and the community engaging with the work.
Terms and Conditions
Flickr’s official stance is that the creator owns images and videos once uploaded and shared. Any photos removed from a creator’s site are subsequently removed from other areas of Flickr. They have an easily accessed complaint department for any copyright infringements. https://www.flickr.com/services/api/tos/
The main distinguishing characteristic between Flickr and other platforms is how it handles copyright management.
First and foremost, Flickr makes the following clear under their copyright guidelines: ”Flickr accounts are intended for members to share original photos and video that they themselves have created.” Moreover, Flickr consistently reiterates their wish that members do not upload photos that are not their own, and specifies that the upload of non-original content is restricted to the “galleries” and “favorites” options.
Flickr’s copyright information also specifies the proper conduct for dealing with a possible infringement issue by directly contacting the user and if unsuccessful, contacting Yahoo who remains an important factor in the battle against Flickr infringement as one must have a Yahoo account to create an account with the site.
A copyright challenge that Flickr does pose for institutions is perhaps an unconsciously cavalier approach to the monetary value of images uploaded to the site. For instance, Flickr found themselves in a particularly controversial situation when it became clear that their newly developed “Flickr Wall Art” option was allowing for the purchase of high quality photo-prints of site images, the proceeds of which went directly to Flickr and not to the creators. While not strictly illegal, this remains a highly questionable decision on the part of site, and opens up considerations of copyright ethics for collections institutions.
Flickr does offer wonderful access opportunities for collections institutions. For instance, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York leans heavily on Flicker member involvement, and encourages the addition of exhibition/collection images to their official Flickr page. https://www.flickr.com/groups/themuseumofmodernart/ Furthermore, MOMA structures their Flickr presence to be predominantly crowdsourced, and tends to not post images from any “authorized” or in-house source.
Moreover, Flickr also provides libraries with a unique advantage to share collection information. The Toronto Public Library (TPL) is a good counterpoint to MOMA, as they also utilize Flickr to showcase their collection, yet they upload all of their own images instead of leaving the responsibility to library patrons or Flickr users. https://www.flickr.com/photos/43021516@N06/
It is unclear if MOMA is using Flickr to create a digital image collection in the strictest sense as they only utilize content from other users. However, the TPL is definitely using Flickr to create a digital image collection as they are responsible for uploading the images themselves, and are providing access to their special collections material in an all-encompassing way.
Creative Commons is utilized by collections institutions for creative attribution and assurance that all creators are treated fairly (and as specified) for their contributions on Flickr. There are varying levels of CC access and reproduction rights available on every image uploaded to the site, which are specified in the following link: https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/
The copyright challenges for Flickr are essentially, “not every image on [Flickr] is copyright free,” therefore, users must use Creative Commons licenses to dictate the use of their images. This is left up to Flickr members and is their responsibility to specify how their images are to be accessed (or not accessed). Both MOMA and TPL utilize the structure of Creative Commons on Flickr to ensure that the appropriate access of their digital material is left to the individual parties uploading it, or the institute itself.
“About Flickr,” Flickr, accessed February 12, 2017, https://www.flickr.com/about/
Bill Rosenblatt, “Yahoo’s Flickr Angers Professional Photographers with Photo Printing Service,” Forbes, December 10, 2014, accessed February 12, 2017, http://www.forbes.com/sites/billrosenblatt/2014/12/10/yahoos-flickr-photo-sharing-site-angers-professional-photographers-with-photo-printing-service/#770877eb5aeb
“Copyright Issues with Flickr,” Michigan State University, 1, accessed February 12, 2017, https://msu.edu/course/tc/243/flickrRules.pdf
“Flickr Community guidelines,” Flickr, accessed February 12, 2017, https://www.flickr.com/help/guidelines
Lahle Wolfe, “Can I Use Images From Flickr, Facebook, or Creative Commons On My Own Website?: Why Search Engines and Social Networks Confuse People About Copyright Laws,” The Balance, September 8, 2016, accessed February 12, 2017, https://www.thebalance.com/copyright-image-social-media-3514935
“Terms and Conditions,” Flickr, accessed February 12, 2017, https://www.flickr.com/services/api/tos/