Photographers have hit out at Flickr after the image sharing website began selling images that are available for use under a Creative Commons license, for profit.

Flickr owner Yahoo last week made more than 50 million images, including those licensed under Creative Commons, available to buy as ‘museum-quality’ prints to hang on a wall.

According to the Wall Street Journal, among those upset by Flickr’s move to sell prints for up to $49 each is US-based amateur photographer Liz West, who reportedly told the newspaper: ‘It ticked me off that somebody else is selling them when I was giving them away.’

Creative Commons is defined ‘a non-profit that offers an alternative to full copyright’, according to

The Wall Street Journal said it contacted 14 photographers who have Creative Commons-licensed work on Flickr. Six replied saying they objected to Flickr profiting from their photos.

Nelson Lourenço, a professional photographer from Portugal, told the paper that ‘selling my work and [Yahoo] getting the full money out of it came as a surprise’.

Lourenço said he expected his photos to appear in articles and other work that could be seen by the public.

Defending the move, Flickr vice-president Bernardo Hernandez told Amateur Photographer: ‘The commercial Creative Commons licenses (CC BY and CC BY-SA) are designed for the exact use case that we’re enacting through our Wall Art product.

‘Members who license under the Creative Commons commercial licenses are embracing this free license ethos and encouraging use of their copyright, whether commercially or otherwise.’

Hernandez pointed out that photographers can ‘easily change to a non-commercial Creative Commons license or withdraw from the Creative Commons license at any time’.

As well as Creative Commons images, Flickr has also made available images by photographers who are part of the Flickr Marketplace, an invitation-only programme where contributors receive 51% of net sales revenue from a wall art photo.

Hernandez added that Flickr ‘believes it’s possible to build a healthy and profitable marketplace for photography with the ownership of intellectual property as a core tenant of that marketplace’.

Click HERE to read the Wall Street Journal report

Do you have a view – is it fair? If you have an opinion, comment here or visit the Amateur Photographer forum.

  • John Chilver

    Closed my account anybody know of a similar site with better standards and ensures payment if photos sell?

  • I’m glad I only upload low-resolution images to Flickr – you won’t be getting those as “museum quality” prints!

  • Paul David Drabble

    All they need to do is Opt Out of the Flickr Creative Commons SIMPLES!
    Go to “Your Account” find “What license will your content have” press Edit and set it to
    “All rights reserved ©”
    you are so outraged leave Flickr. But I will bet 1GBP to 1lb horse S***
    Photographers wont do either. Like frogs in pan of water all the
    muppets will sit there while the heat is turned up and they are boiled

  • Alan Chun – Pro Tog

    The day Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said there was no such thing as a professional photographer these days I pulled all of my images off Flickr. This comes as no surprise to me at all. Just another example of a greedy corporation getting something for nothing and making 100% profit from somebody else’s work!