Flickr Commons: Frequently Asked Questions

What would you like to know?

As we work on nurturing and growing Flickr Commons, we’ve been speaking with a lot of people. Here are some of the questions people have asked us. Have another question? Contact us at

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I work for a cultural heritage institution that would like to be a part of The Commons. How do we do that?

Please let us know you’re interested by registering here. It helps a lot if you give us some background about your institution, and direct us to any online photo collections you already have. The main requirements for membership are

1. Recognized cultural memory organizations, not individual collectors.
2. Primarily sharing “born photographs” with No Known Copyright Restrictions (what is this?).
3. Adherence to the Flickr Commons Collection Development Policy.

We’re primarily interested in organizations and teams that want to engage with the Flickr community, create a lasting online photographic archive, and be a part of this enduring project.

How much does it cost to join Flickr Commons?

Nothing! You get a free Pro account, and that’s sponsored by the Flickr company. Thanks,!

What’s so good about being in Flickr Commons?

Flickr Commons members get all the features of the Flickr platform and a free Flickr Pro membership which gives them unlimited full-resolution uploads, detailed stats on viewership over time, premium tech support, and a suite of uploading tools.

You’ll be in an international community of over 100 cultural heritage organizations which is stewarded by the Flickr Foundation, being part of a vast cultural archive of almost two million photographs which have had over 4 billion views since 2008.

Our organization would like to join Flickr Commons. We have some photographs and some digital files that are not photographs. Is this okay?

Yes. It is important, however, to make sure that things which are not photographs (ephemera, maps, diagrams) are accurately categorized on the Flickr platform. We only ask that organizations mostly share items that are “born photographs.” Correct categorization allows people to use’s Advanced Search to include or exclude (or specifically search for) items that are not photographs. Read more in our Collection Development Policy. Read how to correctly categorize images.

Where can I see a list of all the organizations in Flickr Commons?

There is an updated list of the 100+ Flickr Commons members along with links to their Flickr photos on this page. We’ve also built a great tool for browsing the content and the statistics and the conversations of Flickr Commons through the Commons Explorer. Take a tour of this cool tool.

What does “no known copyright restrictions” (NKCR) mean?

This rights statement is one that is available to the institutions participating in The Commons, at the account level. It is a requirement for participation in the program that institutions may rightly claim “no known copyright restrictions” on the content they share. More information about this special assertion.

Participating institutions may have various reasons for determining that “no known copyright restrictions” exist, such as:

  • The copyright is in the public domain because it has expired;
  • The copyright was injected into the public domain for other reasons, such as failure to adhere to required formalities or conditions;
  • The institution owns the copyright but is not interested in exercising control; or
  • The institution has legal rights sufficient to authorize others to use the work without restrictions.

We ask that organizations in Flickr Commons create their own statement about their collections on their “about” page or on their own website. A set of links to these statements can be found on this page.

I’m a Flickr user, how can I get involved?

We’ve already seen fantastic contributions from the Flickr membership which can be seen through our Commons Explorer’s conversation tab. Your tags and conversations about the content in The Commons have been wonderful!

The best way to get involved is to add a tag or two to the photos you see, and if you happen to know anything else about the subject, by all means add a comment. There is a public Flickr group for interacting with Commons content which you are warmly invited to participate in.

Please also feel free to share and reuse Flickr Commons content, it’s for everyone to share and enjoy.

Our organization doesn’t want to be in the Commons anymore. How do we delete our account?

We would be happy to discuss ways to make it possible for your institution to stay in the Commons.

We do understand, however, that it is possible that individual images or entire collections may need to be removed for collection weeding, storage issues, or copyright dispute. These decisions happen in consultation with the Flickr Commons membership and, if required, the Flickr Foundation Board.

There are a few different ways to either detach an institution from its photographs or remove photos or an institution from the Commons. We currently have a draft Offboarding Procedure in draft form which outlines the different options that we can discuss with you.

What are some simple tips for building community around our pictures?

We have a few examples of Flickr Commons members who have maintained and built a community around their photos. A few things that they do.

  • Post regularly, even if it’s just a few photos.
  • Use Albums and Galleries to identify similar images so if someone finds one picture they like, they can find other ones.
  • Engage with other users in comments (a little humor doesn’t hurt), and be willing to update or add metadata to pictures if new information is identified.

You can see some examples of Flickr Commons photos with active conversations in the Conversations tab of the Commons Explorer.

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