Having developed a photo downloader for Flickr has been a challenge, from the technical and legal point of view.
Technically, I have learned how to handle web requests, REST, and those technologies from a Desktop application. That’s nice, but anyway, I could have learned it with some other application development. No news here.
From the legal point of view, it was more challenging.
I have never had to deal with legal issues. There were Flickr issues, and user issues.
In the Flickr side, I have been asked to change the name of the application, because it had the Flickr word on it. They even blocked my Key so I had to solve the problem, then change the Key to a new one. I named it Portable Flicka, instead of Portable Flickr.
In the other side, the users of Flickr that knew of a software being able to download their original photos went mad. At least, some of them. We could enter here into a long talk about what is legal, what is not. That’s an other story.
But since I respect their opinions, I suspended the download link for my app, I removed it from Source Forge, and have developed a version that respect the configuration you have in Flickr, about licensing, and downloading permissions.
The original purpose of the application was to allow downloading of my personal photos, so that if I lost my computer’s hard disk, I could download them. Also, I wanted to download my friend photos. Sometimes we go to a party, or a meeting, and we want to share them. The easiest for us was to upload to Flickr, and then, with Portable Flicka, download the sets.
Downloading options in Flickr
Nowadays, Flickr has several configurations about what can be downloaded, and what “should” and “should not” be downloaded.
In your profile, you can change the download setting for your whole photo stream, you can get there through this url: http://www.flickr.com/account/prefs/downloads/?from=privacy
As of today, 13-03-2010, this page says:
This is a global setting. It applies to your whole photo stream, except items you have licensed with Creative Commons, (because doing that means you’re OK with people using it).
Also, you see this:
When people are looking at the main display page for one of your photos or a video (e.g.), they will see a button labeled “all sizes” underneath the title. From there, they can download any of the different sizes available, including the original file, unless you choose to prevent it.
Preventing people from downloading something also means that a transparent image will be positioned over the image on the main photo page, which is intended to discourage* people from right-clicking to save, or dragging the image on to their desktop.
If people are unable to access a photo or video of yours — for example if you’ve marked it as private — they won’t be allowed to download the original either.
Don’t forget to make sure that you have all the necessary rights and you won’t be infringing on any third parties with any content that you license on Flickr. As per our Community Guidelines, accounts are intended for members to share content that they themselves have created. You can check current Creative Commons Flickr Users’s photos here.
People with free accounts aren’t able to offer their original files for download. (You currently have a free account, would you like to upgrade?)
Who can download your stuff?
* By “discourage” we do mean simply “discourage”. Please understand that if a photo can be viewed in a web browser, it can be downloaded. The transparent image overlaid on the photo will not keep your images safe from theft, and is intended only as a slight hindrance to downloading.
So, from that page, you can change your downloading settings. As a Portable Flicka user, if you want to be able to download others photos, you may also have to give back, and configure this setting accordingly.
Licensing options in Flickr
On the other side, you have the licensing configuration. I am not a person that works with images and photos. I’m not a professional photographer, and I don’t make money of my photos, neither I care much about others making money of my photos, although I have sold some of them, because they wanted to pay me! I will not stop them .
Anyway, in my case, I have set up the licensing of my account to one of the Creative Commons Licenses. You should check the different options from their page.
The other option, and the default one, is to have your photos protected with an “All rights reserved” license. If you have this license set up for your photos, you are saying: I reserve the rights to allow or disallow the use of this photos. That means, they have to contact me to ask for permission.
Now, how do you change your licensing options? Follow this URL! : http://www.flickr.com/account/prefs/license/?from=privacy
In this page, you see:
When you upload something via the Flickr website, it will inherit the default license type you set here.
You should only license photos you own the copyright on.
Also, you get this information:
Select a default license
Don’t forget to make sure that you have all the necessary rights and you won’t be infringing on any third parties with any content that you license on Flickr. As per our Community Guidelines, accounts are intended for members to share content that they themselves have created.
What the hey?
You can choose to use a Creative Commons license to allow more liberal use and sharing of your photos or video while still maintaining reasonable copyright protection.
This option will apply to all public photos you upload from this point on (you can also batch-select a license for all previously uploaded photos and alter your setting on a photo-by-photo basis, if you’d like).
Which license is right for you?
The Creative Commons website provides a wizard for you to choose the license most appropriate to your needs. You can check that before you make your decision here.
For more information, you might like to read:
- A list of all 6 licenses and their explanations,
- The Creative Commons FAQ, or
- Information specifically for photographers & illustrators.
Why is this useful?
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative work available for others to build upon and share. Current copyright laws are generally extremely restrictive. Creative Commons has done the hard legal figuring to enable you to simply and easily express your preferences with respect to what people can do with your work. We wholeheartedly support and endorse their work.
As you can see, there are plenty of options, but the main one is have it “All rights reserved” or one of the 6 CC licenses.
But remember, as the page says, this configuration takes place for all your NEW photos. You can change the licenses of your previous photos, following this batch licenisng change page: http://www.flickr.com/account/prefs/license/batch/
How this all affects Portable Flicka?
Being respectful of the users, and also, by Flickr request, I changed the way Portable Flicka works.
- You can download all your photos, no matter if you have All rights reserved, and no download.
- You can download others photos that have the Can download setting AND that are not All rights reserved.
Pretty straight forward. Of course, many of you will complain about “hey, I want to download this persons photos but I can’t” and also you may see that those photos, All right reserved ones, does not appear in the photo list. This is by design. It will NOT show you All right reserved photos.
Having said all this, in the very near future (may be, today?) I will activate again the download link to a beta version that has this rules.
And if you want some one’s photo, you can, of course, forward them this page, so that they can change their licensing. Most of the people don’t care about others downloading their photos. Hey, anyway, you are publishing them on Internet!