where have my creative commons photos been used?

where have my creative commons photos been used?

The majority of photos I upload online are uploaded to my Flickr account. I now have over 8,500 photos there and all of them have a commercial creative commons licence, meaning they can be used by pretty much anyone. Technically under that licence attribution is required but i really don’t care about attribution, i find it fascinating seeing how and where people use my images but of course it’s nice to get credit for them too…

Flickr Inbox

This is a glimpse in to the kind of messages i get through Flickr from people who stumble upon my work and would like to re-use it in some way… you’d have thought people would just want to republish stuff on their websites but no… I’ve had people ask me can they use my photos in wedding invitations, documentaries, books, magazines, even a small movie….

flickr messages


I read several tech blogs on an almost daily basis and every now and then I’ll be reading an article with an image attached to it that looks familiar. It usually takes me a few seconds to cop on that it’s actually my image. Generally all of these websites will also credit me by name and link to my Flickr profile. Technically they have to. Most will download the image & upload it on to their own server. Some will crop it slightly to suit. So it’s really difficult to estimate how many people have actually seen my photos but my Flickr stats tell me my photos have been viewed over half a million times. Given the fact most of the really big tech sites host most of their images, Flickr can’t measure those stats so you could safely multiply that 0.5m view count by double or even triple figures…

Below is a list of sites that my photos have been used on at least once. In many cases several of these sites have used more than one of my photos in different articles:

CC Photo Usage

A few examples as ‘proof’ i’m not just making it all up:

CC images

CC images

CC images

How do i find out where my stuff is being used?

Flickr stats are rubbish. Flickr itself is pretty rubbish these days. The one thing it has in its favour is that it’s cheaper than the rest (unlimited uploads & sizes for $25/year), plus it makes it easy to add licences and search for creative commons photos, so it’s still used heavily by content creators. I’m hoping Yahoo will inject a bit of life back in to it soon.

I actually use Google to find out where my images are being used. I simply Google my name and filter searches to within the last 24 hours or last 7 days, last month etc… most of the time I’ll be credited by my full name. Occasionally, people will ask permission before they use my images, just to triple check they’re allowed to – licences can be confusing and intimidating for a lot of people and i feel actually put many people off from using or editing content that’s already out there.

If it’s not online, it won’t exist in the future.

Managing photos and archiving them is still a real problem. Chances are in 20 years time, you’ll have lost most of the photos you took today. That’s because you do a poor job at managing photos, plus you only store them in one location. You probably don’t upload them online or you do, you upload a select few to Facebook. You buy a new computer and all of a sudden you forget what folders your old photos were in and before you know it you’ve accidentally erased some photos you don’t have backups for… When i say ‘you’, i include ‘me’ in that. I’m pretty sure the majority of photos i take never make it online and over time, gradually get lost or dumped in to random folders that i delete at a later date.

Uploading photos to Flickr or Facebook or Google+ is a good idea. It acts as backup tool with the added benefit of being able to share photos with other people quickly. Of course there are privacy concerns, but the convenience is worth the risk. In my case, Flickr serves as a backup tool and i’m more than happy to see my work being used on those sites above…

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