23 Things for Research – Things 17 and 18: Exploring images online and Using Creative Commons and other copyright ‘need-to-know’ issues

Things 17 and 18 asked us to explore using social media to share images online. Although not discussed in the 23 Things blog posts for things 17 and 18, I use Facebook to upload my photos so I can share them with friends. This did cause problems when I wanted to share photos with my parents (who are not on Facebook). I would attach the photos to an email but quickly got fed up of exceeding the file limit.

For that reason I went to Flickr, a place where I could upload photos for free and by using my Yahoo! login details to set up a profile. It was really useful, until I reached the limit of photos I could upload for free. And I wasn’t willing to pay for a premium account just so I could share photos with my parents every few months. Having logged in to Flickr for the first time in a long time, I am told that I have used <1% of my 1 Terabyte’s worth of free photo storage, so it looks as though Flickr have increased their limit since I last used the website.

When I used to use Flickr, it was an excellent way for me to upload photos for free and they teamed up with another website so I could edit them, i.e. brightness, contrast, etc. Although I can’t remember who Flickr used for editing when I used to use the facility, I see that they have teamed up with Aviary now.

The thing is, I discovered that you can get a link from Facebook for your photo albums, which allows those who are not on Facebook to see your photos without having to create their own Facebook account. For this reason, I am not sure why I would go back to using Flickr seeing as I can send my parents a URL for my photos, unless I use Flickr as a way to edit my photos.

Below, you can see one of my photos, a beautiful butterfly resting on some equally beautiful flowers, taken at the Blenheim Palace flower show.

1048957_10151420059566455_1157403637_o by law_trainee

1048957_10151420059566455_1157403637_o, a photo by law_trainee on Flickr.

The rights for this photo are automatically set to ‘all rights reserved’, which I am happy with. I had a lot of trouble trying to embed other people’s photos into my blog post. I don’t know whether that was a technical problem and, if so, at which end. Flickr provides a code to embed into your blog but it didn’t seem to work in WordPress. I do not have any reason for creating a Creative Commons license for my photos. I do not photograph professionally and have no intention of taking photos in the hope that a newspaper or advertiser might want to use them. My photos are on Flickr purely as a solution to my struggle of making them accessible to my parents. Of course, I would be pleased if somebody liked one of, or some of, my photos and wished to use them.

Thinking about how sharing photos on social media could help universities/organisations, I am impressed by American universities’ use of instagram to promote their services. I see that they have uploaded photos of events, which would be great for students and staff to look back on and is a good way of archiving what the university has been doing. Unlike Flickr, I cannot see any Creative Commons licenses for the photos that have been uploaded. Some background reading into Instagram’s terms of service shows:

“Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, subject to the Service’s Privacy Policy” (http://instagram.com/legal/terms/ accessed 21/01/2014).

Although, the website that the American universities are using is called Nitrogram, so I don’t know whether there are separate rules concerning ownership of photographs. I will not pretend to understand people’s rights or the terms of use for fear of getting it wrong.


What I conclude from my investigation into sharing photos on social media websites is that, whether for personal or professional use, you should research the various websites available and look at what each website provides in terms of ownership rights. You wouldn’t want to find that someone who copied, reworked, and distributed your photo was well within their rights without you realising.