Flickr will spare both the Flickr Commons and Creative Commons photos from deletion, the now SmugMug-owned company announced today. However, its new storage limitations on free accounts may impact its use as a home for photos with a Creative Commons license in the future. When the company unveiled its big revamp last week, one of the immediate concerns among users was what the changes meant for the Creative Commons photos hosted on Flickr. Under its new management, Flickr decided to stop offering free users a terabyte of storage, and instead will begin charging users who want to host more than 1,000 photos on its site. Users with more than 1,000 photos either had to choose to upgrade to a Pro account to retain those photos on the site or see them deleted. Ryan Merkley, CEO at Creative Commons, expressed some concern last week over what this meant for the millions of CC images hosted on Flickr. Would they be gone, too? Flickr today says the answer is no. It vows not to delete either its own Flickr Commons archive or any photos uploaded with a Creative Commons license before November 1, 2018. The Flickr Commons is a resource consisting of photos from institutions that want to share their digital collections with the world, such as NASA, the National Parks Service, the UK National Archives and The British Library, for example. These organizations were either already Pro account holders or have now received a free Pro account from Flickr, the company says. If any of these photos disappear from Flickr, it will be because the organization itself chose to delete them. Meanwhile, any photos (or videos) licensed before November 1 will also remain, even if the photographer has more than 1,000 under their account. But users who want to continue to upload photos — Creative Commons or otherwise — past the 1,000 mark going forward will have to upgrade to a Pro account. Flickr is also carving out an exception for nonprofits — aka 501(c)(3) charitable organizations — to offer them free storage, like SmugMug does. Its already working with the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), 350.org and Second Harvest, on this front. Freely licensed photos are deeply important to us. After SmugMug acquired Flickr, one of the first meetings we had was with Ryan Merkley, the CEO of Creative Commons. We want to keep that partnership alive and strong, and we are actively working on how to grow it for the future, wrote SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill in a blog post. However, the move to limit free storage on any uploads, including CC photos, could impact Flickrs use as a home to this sort of content in the future. Its possible that some photographers will opt for another service like 500pxs $3.99/month tier with unlimited uploads, instead of Flickrs $5.99/month Pro plan. Or perhaps theyll publish photos in public albums on Google Photos, under one of its affordable TB plans or on newcomer Unsplashs website, where theyre licensed under its own free-to-use license type. Or maybe theyll just host photos on their own sites instead. Merkley, however, promises to focus on continuing to grow the Commons and finding solutions. Well be working with Flickr to look for ways to continue growing and archiving the commons, Merkley said. When Flickr users apply CC licenses to their works, they are inviting everyone to use their works freely and with very few restrictions. Thats an incredible gift to the world, and that generosity should be acknowledged and preserved into perpetuity for everyone to enjoy, he said.
Flickr Commons images are safe as well. Last week, Flickr announced that it would be changing its free tier, allowing users to store just 1,000 photos and videos rather than providing them with 1TB of free storage as it had in the past. Those wanting unlimited storage would need to upgrade to its Pro plan. However, the company said those sticking with the free tier would need to reduce their stored photos and videos down to the 1,000 limit by February 5th, after which Flickr would begin deleting items until their account was down to 1,000. Now, the company is clarifying what this means for Flickr Commons and Creative Commons users. Flickr Commons hosts photos from institutions and government agencies like The Smithsonian and NASA, and their content often includes historical images whose copyrights have expired or images that are in the public domain. Flickr says those organizations either already had Pro accounts or have now been given a free Pro account. Therefore, their photos and videos are safe and won't be deleted by Flickr. The company also won't be deleting content with Creative Commons licenses. Flickr explains that the Creative Commons organization has helped individual photographers and groups license their work for use by others, and photos and videos uploaded under a Creative Commons license before November 1st, 2018 won't be deleted even if users are over their 1,000 limit. However, while content won't be deleted, those users won't be able to upload more content after January 8th, 2019 until they dip below the 1,000 limit or upgrade to a Pro account. Additionally, nonprofit organizations can fill out a form to request a free Pro account. Flickr will notify those that apply of their status by January 8th.