Updated on December 10, 2021
Flickr’s announced it’s now allowing users to select public domain licensing for their photos, as part of their existing Creative Commons licenses.
While Flickr’s long been one of the biggest and most enthusiastic photo sharing sites to offer Creative Commons photos, the lack of CC’s public domain option has been one of the more noticeable omissions. One of the first to take advantage of this has been SpaceX, the private spacecraft company, who’s just released various photos under a public domain license. I’m using one as the featured image for this post.
Some have pointed out the downsides of Creative Commons’ public domain option. Nate Hoffelder of the blog Ink, Bits & Pixels notes the way US copyright law’s structured makes it hard to truly release something to the public domain with no strings attached, citing lawsuits that’ve yanked stuff out of it. (Though he didn’t mention it, “It’s a Wonderful Life” being removed from public domain is one famous example.) In spite of possible concerns, I think Creative Commons’ public domain option is still a good thing. Even if one doesn’t want a public domain license or photo, there’s always the next-least-restrictive license available for use, “BY” (attribution to the images’ creator required, but images are otherwise free to use in any way fit).