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downloading from a stranger's Flickr gallery - is this NYT piece right?

Bill Fouche , Jun 24, 2009; 09:32 p.m.

A recent piece in the Times's "Gadgetwise" blog recommends that readers looking for photos to hang on their walls search Flickr for appealing candidates, download them (presumably without permission), print them, and frame them for the purpose of decorating one's own home. The article suggests that this doesn't violate copyright law, because it's "personal use" and he's not charging admission to guests in his home, etc. Surely this is incorrect. Anyone know?


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Bill Fouche , Jun 24, 2009; 09:57 p.m.

I should have added: Here is the link to the Times piece in question:


Jon Rennie , Jun 24, 2009; 10:12 p.m.

It all depends on the rights each photo is claiming. So he is right, but his article is misleading as everything on flicker has the same copyright.
For instance, you are allowed to copy or remix something under the creative commons license "some rights reserved" just not allowed to call it your own. In this instance, sure you can print it (a copy).

Katherine Michael , Jun 24, 2009; 11:20 p.m.

Jon is correct about the different licenses, but the flippant tone in that article about the copyright issues really irritated me. (Grrrrrr, I feel my inner pit bull emerging) It is my understanding that if the photo is marked as fully copyrighted, ie. not a Creative Commons license, then the usual copyright law applies.
One thing that some people posting on Flickr may or may not realize is that just marking it as fully copyrighted doesn't mean that it is protected from full size downloads. You have to change that setting seperately. Of course if someone wants the photo bad enough they will take it. That's why I watermark everything now with my name and url.

Chris Autio , Jun 25, 2009; 12:05 a.m.

This is the digital age, and yes, 3.5 billion photos are floating out there to be perused, viewed, seen and maybe even LOOKED at, shocked by, enthused by millions. This is the digital age: 99.9% of people don't even have the patience to take the time to print and frame it. Why would they? The next day is replete with new images on their screen or TV. I would be tickled if someone downloaded a digital image of mine, printed it and framed it. Those who begin calling it their own, selling it, mass producing it... well, Karma will catch up to 'em. Because it will just cost you a headache and a lawyer to look into it.

winoo mgmg , Jun 25, 2009; 12:56 a.m.

So Flickr can't be used as your personal usage.

Ben Niehoff , Jun 25, 2009; 01:07 a.m.

This sort of attitude is why I watermark every single image on Flickr, delete old images from Flickr regularly, and never upload anything that is more than 1024 pixels on a side (and to be totally safe, I should probably reduce that to 800). I created some simple Photoshop actions that save a copy of my images with reduced size and watermark, to make this easy and painless.

I don't watermark things I upload to Photo.net, because this site is supposed to be focused on improving the photography, and the watermark gets in the way...However, I have had images stolen from Photo.net, so again, I have no intention of keeping more than a few on here at a time.

Carol Commins , Jun 25, 2009; 06:19 a.m.

I have had pictures taken from flickr, even with a low resolution they would end up mostly on foreign websites so I don't post on that site anymore.

John Ashby , Jun 25, 2009; 09:02 a.m.

Even 800x600 will make a decent 4x6 print. It's why the megapixel race in cheap point and shoots is so silly. Billboards are typically printed at 9 dpi, so that 800x600 image will give you a decents sized area on a billboard too.

Watermarks sound good but can by cropped out easily unless they're so invasive they ruin the image.

Mark Harris , Jun 25, 2009; 12:10 p.m.

The Times author got beat up pretty good in the comments on that article. I'll bet she won't stop though.

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