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 rose from its deathbed last week with a bunch of welcome announcements, such as removing the need for a Yahoo account to log in and giving premium accounts unlimited storage. It wasnt all peaches and cream, however. The photo-hosting platform, which was acquired by SmugMug from Oath (formerly Yahoo) back in April, also revealed it would no longer offer the 1-terabyte limit for free accounts. Moving forward, those on the free plan will have a 1,000-photo and video limit instead. Digging into the nuts and bolts of the change, Flickr said users will have until January 8, 2019 to upgrade to Pro or manually remove content to meet the 1,000-file limit. There will then be a one-month grace period, after which Flickr will actively delete photos and videos — going from the oldest to the newest, based on when they were uploaded. This news also stoked fears that Flickrs vast arsenal of Creative Commons (CC) photos would be impacted by the automatic cull. Many users are concerned such a limit on free account capacity might cause millions of CC images to be deleted from the Commons, Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley noted in a blog post at the time. A lot of people have reached out to us directly and asked what we can do. Im confident that together we can find solutions, if we assume goodwill and bring our collective creativity to the problem. To that effect, Flickr today issued a statement confirming both good news and bad news. One of the main reasons we were very interested in buying Flickr was to preserve all those historical photos for the public good, said SmugMug founder and CEO Ben MacAskill. Understandably, everybodys a little worried about losing this treasure of photos. Creative Commons, for the uninitiated, is a U.S. nonprofit that provides a range of standardized copyright licenses to help creatives set out the conditions under which their work can be used by the public, usually with minimal restrictions. Many photographers allow their photos to be used via Flickr under various CC licenses, assuming the photographers terms are followed. In the future, however, any photographer who uploads CC photos to Flickr will have to adhere to the 1,000-file limit or upgrade to a $50/year Pro account. Flickr: Creative CommonsHowever, Flickr is making an exception for historical photos — it will not delete any CC images that were uploaded prior to the day it made the announcement, which was November 1, 2018. Its worth noting here that Flickr also offers a separate service called Flickr Commons, which is a little bit like Creative Commons, except it was built for the myriad institutions that have actively sought to make their digital collections available to everyone, such as NASA, the British Library, and the National Parks Service, among others. All these organizations already have Pro accounts, according to Flickr, either by paying for them or because Flickr provides them with a Pro account free of charge. In short, they all now have unlimited storage as a result of these recent changes, so nothing will be deleted there. Additionally, Flickr said it will come to separate arrangements with charity organizations that are already using its platform, such as UNICEF and Second Harvest, to ensure they arent affected by the latest changes. Well be working with them to ensure Pro isnt a cost they need to worry about, a Flickr spokesperson said in a statement.