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.
Last week, Flickr announced some major changes to the way its free service will work under new owner SmugMug. It set a 1,000-picture limit for free accounts, replacing the previously offered 1TB of storage. Any accounts that are still over that limit on February 5th, 2019, will have their content deleted until theyre back below that number. This led to a looming question: what happens to Flickrs huge library of Creative Commons photos that are used by countless individuals and organizations around the world? In a blog post today, Flickr has clarified that those freely licensed photos will be safe, even under the new limits. Accounts with more than 1,000 photos or videos that are licensed with Creative Commons wont have that content deleted. That said, Flickr will be blocking future uploads to those accounts on January 8th — just like it will to other accounts that are over the 1,000-picture limit — unless you pay for a Pro account. This rule only applies to photos that were uploaded with a Creative Commons license before the deadline. Users hoping to skirt the upcoming 1,000-photo limit / purge of content coming in February by moving all of their content to an open Creative Commons license is out of luck. Flickr will also begin working with nonprofits to offer free hosting, something that new parent company SmugMug has already been doing. Organizations such as the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), 350.org, and Second Harvest are already using Flickr to share photos of the amazing work they do. And now well be working with them to ensure Pro isnt a cost they need to worry about, it says. The company has also set up a form for nonprofit organizations to apply for free Pro accounts, too. The company also notes that organizations that are part of the Flickr Commons program — like NASA, the National Park Service, the UK National Archives, and The British Library — will be unaffected by the new rules. As part of that program, participating organizations already had Pro accounts (or were given free Pro account from Flickr), so theyll be safe come January.