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Ways to attribute Flickr Creative Commons photos

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Updated on December 10, 2021

Creative Commons photos are quite useful for websites and bloggers, but do require attribution for their creators to be included. This includes the photos offered on services such as Flickr. The Creative Commons wiki recommends photo attribution includes the following information:

  • Title of the photo
  • Author of the photo
  • Source of the photo, preferably as a link to the original image
  • License chosen

All of the following should include links to the original information when appropriate. The specific Creative Commons license used should also be indicated.

Ideally, the attribution should resemble this, using this post’s featured image as an example:

Seattle by Ian Sane is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The photo, author information, and Creative Commons license are all linked. The photo’s title is also written.

An adequate and simplified attribution version can also look like this:

Photo by Ian Sane / CC BY

This version doesn’t list the title, but the photo itself is still linked, along with the Creative Commons license.

An incorrect attribution is the following:

Photo: Creative Commons

There’s no title or author listed, no links to the original photo source (or anywhere else), and the correct license isn’t listed (“Creative Commons” is an organization).

Taking the time to create even the simplified attribution above can get tiresome, however. Flickr unfortunately is little help, as it doesn’t offer an attribution feature for its Creative Commons photos. Fortunately, some plugins and tools have been created by third parties to make attribution of Flickr photos easier.

One such plugin is Flickr CC Attribution Helper, a web browser bookmarklet using JavaScript. (An older plugin for Chrome has been discontinued due to changes in Flickr’s site.) Just go to the site, select your preference options (though leaving the defaults will be fine), and drag the blue button up to your browser’s toolbar. When accessing a Flickr Creative Commons photo, click on the browser toolbar button, and the Helper will generate a popup window showing HTML and text attribution information. Both can be copied and pasted into your page or post; for the HTML version, in WordPress, access the “text” tab (instead of the default visual tab) in your editor, and paste it there.

Flickr CC attribution helper

Using this tool, here’s what the results look like.


flickr photo shared by Ian Sane under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license


flickr photo by Ian Sane https://flickr.com/photos/31246066@N04/3555445395 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

While the default versions above will work fine, I prefer a bit more customization. You can edit the resulting text in both versions, as well as delete the picture from the HTML version outright. The latter is helpful if you just want the HTML attribution for things such as WordPress featured images (which doesn’t display captions), want a featured image bigger than the 1024px maximum size the plugin offers, or to host the image on your own server instead of on Flickr’s.

A few other attribution tools I looked at:

  • ImageCodr (imagecodr.org). A simple to use site that’ll create attribution information by pasting the Flickr photo’s URL into a box. Two criticisms: It inserts an invisible link to its own website in the resulting attribution information (though it’s easy to delete), and it throws up an error message for Flickr’s public domain licensed items.
  • ImageInject (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-inject/). ImageInject’s a useful WordPress plugin. It allows users to search Flickr Creative Commons and Pixabay photos, and add them directly to WordPress’ media library. Attribution options can also be added or customized. It could use an option for renaming photos, as well as an option to download featured images bigger than 1024px. On top of that, it could also use a better name, one that doesn’t bring to mind some sort of malware or scripting attack. (Its old name “WP Inject” wasn’t much better.) Those criticisms aside, this plugin offers a convenient way to search for and add Creative Commons images. For those wanting a one-stop solution for image searching and attribution, this plugin’s a good answer.

Another option might be to use a Creative Commons photo service that does include attribution with its images. Wikimedia Commons, the media archive for Wikipedia and related sites, includes such attribution:

BBC TV Centre.jpg
BBC TV Centre” by Panhard – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons.

(Updated 10/5/16)

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