Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hooray for Flickr and CC

Today is July 4th. I'm a pretty patriotic gal so I changed my facebook profile pic to the American flag. One small problem for me is that I don't have a photo of an American flag to use. To solve my problem I visited Flickr. Flickr is a website that hosts images and video for members. Flickr offers services for free up to a certain amount of digital storage space. Customers willing to pay a fee for more space can store many more photos and videos at the site.

What's fun about Flickr is that the site contains endless images that anyone can use. I've gone to Flickr for images to complete lesson plans, documents such as invitations, letters and creative writing pieces. Images on Flickr are protected by copyright and Creative Commons licensing. If you've not heard of Creative Commons, CC is a non-profit organization that provides licensing alternatives to creators so that works can be shared and built upon easily without infringing on the rights of the creator. For example, if I take a photo of daffodils in my front yard and upload the image to Flickr. I can choose to keep the image private or share it. If I share the image I can decide how someone else may use the image. The choices are

Attribution: Others can use, copy and change the work as long as they cite me as the creator
Share Alike: Others can use and change my work so long as it's under the same license my work is under
Non-Commercial: Others can use and change my work so long as it's not for profit (this is a great one for teachers)
No-Derivative Work: Others can use my work on in its original form only

Considering the above license options and my quest for a flag photo, I navigated to Flickr and signed in (with my yahoo account password as Flickr is associated with I searched for American Flag with an advanced search so that my results were ONLY for images licensed under Creative Commons. On the second page of results, I found a flag photo that I liked taken by crazyemt in 2006. The license link on the bottom right side of the page leads me to a page that states that I am "free to share, copy and distribute" the image so long as that I do not change the image or make money from using it. Ta da! A free photo of a flag for my facebook profile on the Fourth of July that is legal for me to use. Thanks crazyemt – whoever you are!

Flickr and CC are great sources of images for young people to use for school projects and mash-ups. However, adults and educators must understand that Flickr is wide open in the type of content stored there. Because anything and everything can be found on Flickr, I recommend working with a young person to find images either with one on one attention or creating a gallery of photos that a young person can choose from to use in their project.

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