Flickr Won’t Delete Creative Commons Photos Over New 1,000 Free Limit

Flickr announced a controversial decision this month to limit free accounts to 1,000 photos and delete extra existing photos of users who are already over the limit. Many people immediately wondered whether countless Creative Commons photos would be trashed. Today, Flickr reassured the photo community by promising that CC photos aren’t going anywhere.

In its move to downgrade free users and upgrade pro users, Flickr (and its new parent company SmugMug) stated on November 1st that free members will have until January 8th, 2019, to download photos beyond the 1,000 photo limit. Starting February 5th, 2019, Flickr will begin deleting photos over the limit starting from oldest to newest.

“Many users are concerned such a limit on free account capacity might cause millions of CC images to be deleted from the Commons,” wrote Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley after the Flickr announcement. “A lot of people have reached out to us directly and asked what we can do. I’m confident that together we can find solutions, if we assume goodwill and bring our collective creativity to the problem.

“Creative Commons is working closely with Flickr and its parent company SmugMug to find ways to protect and preserve the Commons, and ultimately help it grow and thrive […] No one wants to see works from the Commons deleted, and we’ll be the first ones to step forward to help if that ever were to happen.”

No solutions will be needed, as Creative Commons photos aren’t earmarked for deletion. SmugMug co-founder and CEO Don MacAskill announced in a blog post today that photos that were licensed under a Creative Commons license will be spared, as are photos in the Flickr Commons that were uploaded by institutions.

Both existing Creative Commons photos and Flickr Commons photos will be preserved in the change.

“Photos that were Creative Commons licensed before our announcement are […] safe,” MacAskill writes. “We won’t be deleting anything that was uploaded with a CC license before November 1, 2018. Even if you had more than 1,000 photos or videos with a CC license. However, if you do have more than 1,000 photos or videos uploaded, you’ll be unable to upload additional photos after January 8, 2019, unless you upgrade to a Pro account.”

Flickr will also be offering free Pro accounts to 501(c)(3) organization and international charities to “ensure Pro isn’t a cost they need to worry about.”

“Whatever changes come in the years going forward, the importance of these photos will always matter to us,” MacAskill says. “We not only want to preserve the photos we have, we want to keep partnering with organizations such as libraries, museums, and government agencies to contribute to The Flickr Commons as well.

“And we will continue to work hard to keep these photos safe and available for the world to view and enjoy.”