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Using Creative Commons Search

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/27/2011

You're bound to have seen the Creative Commons icon on Flickr. But, what is it, and why is it important to photographers? Learn more about Creative Commons Search here!

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    What is Creative Commons?

    Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that works with artists to share their work and to increase the amount of items available for free, public use. Creative Commons applications can be seen on sites like Flickr that allow users looking for photographs that can be freely used.

    Being able to freely use a person’s work is important for individuals, students and corporations who need photographs of certain subjects, but can’t take those pictures themselves. They will search through photographs with the Creative Commons to find a photograph that they can use.

    The Creative Commons license does not take away a person’s copyright. It simply goes in conjunction with copyright. Photographers can change their copyright settings any time that they want to.

    The Creative Commons Search Engine allows users to search popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and Flickr to find photographs. Here, users can pick if they want to use the picture for commercial purposes, as a base to build upon, or for both. This should bring up only pictures that have the Creative Commons license, but there are times that pictures that do not have the Creative Commons will come up. If you are in doubt, contact the artist to ensure that you can use the work.

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    Using it to Your Benefit

    Creative Commons gives photographers a way to gain exposure for their work. How, you may ask? Well, when someone uses your work, they have to give you credit for it. For example, writers looking for pictures (or video footage) for their articles or web designers looking for images to fill in empty spaces will search for pictures within the Creative Commons license. If they do use your picture, they will have to give you credit within the caption or source area. So, when someone scrolls over the picture, the name of the photographer will pop up.

    And, this could be very beneficial to photographers, especially if they are trying to make a name for themselves. If someone likes the work, they may search out the artist, and this could lead to a paid gig.

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    Types of Licenses

    With the Creative Commons licensing, photographers can choose the conditions with for which a picture can be used. The Attribution feature allows the user to manipulate, use or copy a photograph as long as the user gives the photographer the credit.

    The Non-Commercial licensing allows users to copy or manipulate your work as long as it’s for non-commercial purposes. If someone does want to use your photographs for commercial purposes, they will have to contact you first.

    The Share Alike licensing allows users to manipulate your work or create works based on your photograph as long these works are distributed under the same licensing as the initial photograph. And, the No Derivative Works means that a person can use the photograph, but that they cannot alter the photograph in any way. If a person does want to change the photograph, they must contact the artist beforehand.

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    How Users Find Your Work

    Once you pick a Creative Commons license for your photograph, it is now searchable on Flickr based on that license. For example, if a person wants to use a photograph for commercial purposes, they can go to Flickr and put in their search terms. They will then have to select the Only Search within Creative Commons-licensed content check box, and then they need to select the checkbox for Find content to use commercially. Only content that matches their search term and Creative Commons license parameters will come up.