Keeping #blogjune pretty – Finding and attributing Creative Commons Images

flickr photo shared by alicejamieson under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license
Awesome blog posts communicate on many different levels. You may have noticed that I am a huge fan of infographics for capturing a lot of information in an appealing way. The saying ‘a picture says a thousand words’ is so true. In any blog post, an image that commands attention, that conveys additional information, sets the tone or lightens up a heavy topic is always worthwhile. However, although we have access to literally millions of images on Google, we don’t own or have permission to just randomly reproduce them. Although many people are under the misconception that if it is on the internet, it’s free to use, these images are actually owned by their creators, and all rights are reserved unless otherwise stated. While many people are thrilled for you to reproduce their images, it is best to assume they are copyright unless you know otherwise.

So how do you know if the owner of an image is ok with you reproducing it on your blog? The best indication is if they have labelled the image with a Creative Commons licence or offered it to the Public Domain. I have blogged about Creative Commons before, and have even created a wiki to explain Copyright and Creative Commons and I will no doubt  continue to write in these areas, but for this post, I am going to focus on an awesome tool that makes it really easy to correctly attribute Creative Commons images found on Flickr, a huge repository of beautiful photos, shared by the crowd.

When attributing any work, it is best practice to include the following information:

  • Credit the creator
  • Title of the work
  • URL where work is hosted
  • Type of licence & link to licence terms
  • Keep intact any copyright notice

A good reference looks like this:

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

Note the hyperlinks leading to the original image, and to the licence terms. In this case, the licence is “BY” – attribution only – so I can reproduce this image freely, edit it and even use it for commercial purposes, as long as I attribute it appropriately. Pretty cool huh?

Attributing images can be a drag, with all the hyperlinking, copying and pasting etc. Fortunately, the amazing Alan Levine, who blogs at CogDogBlog has created a tool for Flickr, which loads not only the reference, but also an embed code for any Creative Commons licenced image shared on Flickr. You can get the button for your bookmarks toolbar by simply dragging and dropping. He has used Github to create a bookmarklet, and it is really easy to use. Simply go to his page  click on the Bookmarklet button and drag it up to your bookmark toolbar.

This is what I mean:

attribution helper
Screen capture taken by author


Searching for Creative Commons images on Flickr requires some knowledge of how you intend to use the work. Before you can choose the correct licence, you must be familiar with how you wish to use the work and whether or not the use is for commercial purposes. Fortunately, Flickr makes it easy to choose the licence you need, from a simple drop down menu:

Screen capture taken by author

Once you select your picture, double check the licence by scrolling down to see the licence information. Also remember the onus is on you to make sure the image is licenced correctly. Obviously you can’t know what the owner intended, however if an image is *obviously* copyrighted (e.g. from a well known movie or book) then perhaps rethink its use, even if the person who has uploaded it has marked it as Creative Commons.

licence by
flickr photo shared by aveldina under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Now, when you go to any page on Flickr which has a Creative Commons Licenced image on it, click on the bookmarklet button in your bookmarks toolbar, and a window will pop up with all of the attribution information you need! It looks just like this:

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

Screen capture created by author. Annotations added for clarity.
Screen capture created by author. Annotations added for clarity.

Pretty cool? I think so. This little tool has saved me tonnes of time putting together PowerPoints, blog posts, assignments – it just makes everything so simple, and once you have installed the bookmarklet, the most time consuming part is finding the right photo!

So to celebrate, here’s a few of my recent favourites. See ya tomorrow!

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

flickr photo shared by tttaaaooo under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license

flickr photo shared by mommamia under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

12 thoughts on “Keeping #blogjune pretty – Finding and attributing Creative Commons Images”

  1. Thanks for writing about the flickr cc attribution helper; I really created it for me but am so happy to see other people use it.

    By the way my preferred tool to search flickr Creative Commons images is – just set the option for cc listened at the site will remember that option.

    I have some hopes to extend the functionality to other photo sites like Pixabay, MediaWiki Commons and more.

    1. Always my pleasure to share this tool, I get so much use out of it! I will definitely check out compfight – sounds awesome. Will stay tuned for the new functionality; besides flickr, Pixabay is my go-to, so that would be awesome, and I always find the Mediawiki attribution tool a bit of malarky to manage, so this would also be a winner :). Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog!

  2. ImageCodr ( is another great tool for embedding Flickr images with attribution and CC licence info. Just paste in the photo URL and it generates the code for you. I especially like that above the code is a clear explanation of the CC licence conditions for that particular image.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing! I’ll definitely check that out, always on the hunt for tools that make life easier :). Cheers!

  3. Very useful info, thank you !! I am filing this away for future reference. It’s only Day 4 of #blogjune and my brain is overflowing with useful new stuff : )

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