How to attribute a Creative Commons photo from Flickr

Yes, the absolute correct way! I previously asked how you credit a CC photo from Flickr. Since then I’ve been doing my research and here is the results – The correct way to credit a photo.

You need to follow the guidelines set by the license. I’m only going to address attribution. According to Creative Commons you need to:

  1. keep intact any copyright notices for the Work
  2. credit the author, licensor and/or other parties (such as a wiki or journal) in the manner they specify;
  3. include the title of the Work
  4. the URL for the work if applicable
  5. If you are making a derivative word or adaptation, in addition to the above, you need to identify that your work is a derivative work i.e., “This is a Finnish translation of the [original work] by [author].” or “Screenplay based on [original work] by [author].”

My addition/suggestion

  • Let the author know. Leave a comment on the image, send them an email, a Flickrmail whatever.  Flickr doesn’t provide trackbacks, if you don’t tell them you used it they may never know.  People like to know when others are using their works or citing them.  Plus, it’s just nice. :-)

That is a lot to include. So what does a perfect attribution look like? How do you include all that information?

Example 1. If you grab an image from Flickr you can choose the “Blog This” option which will give you the title, the author, and links to both images and user profile. It’s missing the information about the Creative Commons license and a link.


The monkeys are here!

Originally uploaded by Librarian by Day

blog this test

Example 2. You can download the image from Flickr. This one is missing everything, it’s up to you to provide the author, title the work, provide the CC license and links.

The monkeys are here!

Example 3. Lately I’ve been formatting mine  like this. The photo links back to the photo on Flickr and the caption indicates is a CC photo and gives the name of the photographer. I also leave a comment on the photo on Flickr thanking them for using a CC license and letting them know I’ve used it in a blog post with a subtle link to the post.

The monkeys are here!

CC Image courtesy of Librarian by Day on Flickr

I’ve also seen bloggers use a footnote to the post saying Photo Credit: Librarian by Day, with “Librarian by Day” linked to the image or profile. What are we all still missing? The title, the Creative Commons License used and links to the CC and author profile

Example 4. You can use imagecodr.org to create it.  You put in the URL of the photo it automatically does the rest!  The alt text contains the author title and credits Flickr. The image links to Flickr. It adds the CC license image and author adds appropriate links.

My problem with this one is I can’t get both the image and the text to align right in WordPress. WP doesn’t allow  linking in captions.  The information underneath isn’t technically a caption.  Maybe someone with more coding savvy than me can figure it out.

Example 5. A perfect attribution would look like this:

The monkeys are here!

This photo, “The monkeys are here!” is copyright (c) 2009 Librarian by Day and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

Ok that’s a perfect attribution, it’s a bit more work. Does it need to go directly under the photo? I don’t know.

Good enough?

This may be a case where good enough works. I can’t recall ever seeing a Flickr photo with a perfect attribution and the world isn’t falling apart. I’m just not sure if what I consider good enough is what you consider good enough. There is a big difference between the bare minimum and good enough.  To me, my current way, example 2, is good enough.  It includes the name, indicates CC license, links to the original image and I leave a comment on the image letting the author know.

Will you use the perfect attribution? If not what is good enough for you?

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36 comments for “How to attribute a Creative Commons photo from Flickr

  1. amy
    September 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    i have this greasemonkey script installed – http://cogdogblog.com/2009/05/17/flickr-cc-attribution-helper/ – which makes everything that much easier when blogging.

  2. September 30, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Thank you! This is something I have struggled with. I would love a way to truly make it a caption that is attached to the photo and that aligns nicely.

  3. October 2, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Thank you so much for this information! So helpful!

  4. October 5, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    This is great – the best discussion about attributing CC to Flickr I think I’ve seen.

    • October 6, 2009 at 6:41 am

      thank you!

  5. October 6, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Thanks for the post Bobbi – it will help alot!

    • October 6, 2009 at 6:41 am

      you’re welcome!

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  8. October 8, 2009 at 5:49 am

    Great post! Very helpful, thank you. :)

  9. October 18, 2009 at 9:34 am

    a great guide and examples! thank you!

  10. Juan
    November 13, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I just found the ultimate way to attribute licensed works. The autor explains it in his blog.

    The original article is in spanish, i’m just linking the Google translated version:

    http://www.estilocss.com/tutoriales-de-xhtml/como-usar-creative-commons/

  11. November 17, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Great post, thanks. Check out this one too: He perfectly captures the essence of the problem:

    http://daggle.com/flickr-fail-on-creative-commons-attribution-691

  12. Brian Jacquier
    December 24, 2009 at 6:13 am

    Simply want to say your article is brilliant. The clearness in your post is simply striking and i can assume you are an expert on this field. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the admirable work

  13. January 13, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Thanks friend. I'm love this article. Thank you.

  14. Michael
    May 5, 2010 at 11:49 am

    You said:

    “you need to” but I believe the CC license says “it is nice to” include things such as a live hyperlink back to the author etc. It does not make it mandatory.

  15. May 10, 2010 at 10:20 am

    It will be better if the backlink generated was nofollow

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