Flickr is NOT a Free Stock Photography Website

Something has web guru Molly Holzschlag up in a roar as she recently posted a little tiff she’s having with Virgin Mobile over their latest campaign on her website. There are a couple of things wrong with this campaign, in my opinion…

  1. First, the Virgin Mobile campaign is called “Are You With Us or What?” Can someone please explain to me what the hell that means? How does that correspond to anything relating to Virgin Mobile? Is the company trying to start the revolution?
  2. Second (and perhaps the most important) is that Virgin Mobile went onto Flickr and used people’s photos as part of their campaign.

Flickr is NOT a free stock photography site, people…and believe me, this is pretty much a similar rant as Molly and as an avid photographer (not a professional, mind you, but an enthusiast), I would be rather peeved if someone went onto my Flickr site and used my photos without my permission (which is what happened to Molly).

Okay, Virgin Mobile didn’t just steal from Molly. The company went onto Flickr and took MORE photos, but this time listed the URL where the photos came from, but when it came to this particular photo, credit was missing.

Our excellent graphic designer here at WCTC sent the Marketing department a great e-mail about copyright information…and here’s just a refresher on what to adhere to when looking for images:

When you upload an image to your Flickr account, you are given the choice to restrict rights or to apply one of the six types of Creative Commons licenses to your work.

If you’d like to use someone else’s photo on Flickr you must ask the creator permission if it says “all rights reserved” under the photo. There is always something written under the photo, so if you don’t see any text regarding copyright, back out to the thumbnail view. Even if the photo is for public consumption, you may have to ask permission before you use/alter a work depending on which type of license is attached. When in doubt…ask permission…

If you are looking for images you can safely download from Flickr be sure to check the “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed” photos box in the advanced search:

Image above: Screenshot from

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