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Flickr promises it won’t delete Creative Commons photos when it limits free storage

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),, 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.

Flickr says free account limit won’t impact Creative Commons images uploaded before November 1

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.