Commons:Flickr files

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Shortcuts: COM:F • COM:FF • COM:FLICKR Flickr allows free hosting of imagery under a variety of licenses, some free and some non-free. Flickr allows its users to select the license of their choice and to change it at any time, but it is easy to verify that a photograph was freely licensed in the past as Flickr now shows license history as of October 25, 2022.

Flickr image info License License tag
Some rights reserved Attribution {{Cc-by-2.0}}
Some rights reserved Attribution-ShareAlike {{Cc-by-sa-2.0}}
Public domain Public Domain Dedication (CC0) {{Cc-zero}}
United States government work US government work {{PD-USGov}}, Category:PD-USGov license tags
No known copyright restrictions Unclear {{Flickr-no known copyright restrictions}}
Preferably add a tag like {{PD-old-70}} or {{PD-US-expired}}
No rights reserved Public Domain {{PD-author}} or {{PD-copyright holder}}
(retired by Creative Commons)
Public domain Public Domain Mark (PDM) {{PD-old-70}}, {{PD-US-expired}}, USGov, etc. when labeling existing public domain works
{{PDMark-owner}} when Flickr uploader is clearly the copyright holder, and not yourself
{{Cc-zero}} when Flickr uploader is clearly yourself, better to also do convert on Flickr
All rights reserved None NOT OK
Some rights reserved Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs NOT OK
Some rights reserved Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike NOT OK
Some rights reserved Attribution-NonCommercial NOT OK
Some rights reserved Attribution-NoDerivs NOT OK

License review


See also: Commons:License review. Commons uses a review process for verifying the copyright status of images uploaded from Flickr, which allows for the verification of freely licensed images by a bot or trusted user (admins and community approved users), as well as the identification of images where the Commons license is different. This method cannot tell if the image was ever freely available.

Questionable Flickr images


Some Flickr users may upload images they don't have the rights to and then incorrectly license those images as free. When Commons users with Flickr accounts do this in an attempt to upload non-free photos to Commons, this is known as "Flickr washing". Commons:Questionable Flickr images lists Flickr users and discussions where we have concluded that certain images marked as freely licensed on Flickr are too questionably licensed for Wikimedia Commons.


  • Images should be tagged with {{Flickrreview}} for review by FlickreviewR 2 or an administrator.
  • Images verified as freely available should be considered free, even if the license on Flickr changes.
  • Images which are no longer freely available at time of review should be marked as possibly unfree pending a decision on what to do with them on Commons talk:Flickr files.

One problem when checking licenses of images coming from Flickr is some users provide the static link to the image on Flickr, instead of the description page showing the license. That makes the verification very difficult because you have to search Flickr images hoping you'll find the good tag that will lead you to the good image.

For reviewers, here is an easy way to find the description page from a static link: Extract the image ID from the static URL and append it to For instance, the description page of is available at

Alternatively, use Flinfo and just input the static URL. Flinfo knows how to deal with a wide variety of Flickr URLs. (By the way: it can also retrieve information about images from other repositories, such as Picasa or panoramio.)

Other useful resources are the description of the file (not posts, but the resources themselves) naming scheme, and the API test tool.



Public Domain Mark


The Public Domain Mark (PDM) is a tool made by Creative Commons to mark works that are already known to be part of the public domain, but it does not specify why those works are in the public domain. Some photographers mark their own photographs with the PDM, believing that they are releasing their work into the public domain. After multiple discussions,[1] the consensus on Commons is that while Public Domain Mark is not intended to be used as a license, it is reasonable to conclude that when an author applies PDM to their own work, they are declaring their work to be in the public domain.

PDM is frequently used on Flickr for works which are ineligible for copyright or where the copyright has expired. For example:

Such works can be uploaded, but you must figure out first what license applies! If you need help, ask on the copyright village pump.

The Commons on Flickr


The Commons on Flickr hosts a number of files from various institutions that state that they have "No known copyright restrictions".

What this means for Wikimedia Commons is unclear, and be aware that some institutions (such as the Smithsonian Institution's Terms of Use) flatly contradict “No known copyright restrictions”, asserting copyright and “No commercial use”. One must thus be cautious about uploading such images to Wikimedia Commons.

See: {{Flickr-no known copyright restrictions}} and mail on commons-l, with discussion by George Oates, Flickr employee heading The Commons, expressing some reservations (The Commons on Flickr announcement).

Searching Flickr


A great way of finding images on Flickr that can be uploaded to Commons is by using their search tools. You can start on a simple search (limited to freely licensed images), then enter a query.

Or, on the Advanced Search screen, select the "Any license" option and then choose "Commercial use & mods allowed" from the menu so that the setting reads "Commercial use & mods allowed" instead of the "Any license" default. You can also search by specific licenses, such as by-2.0 or by-sa-2.0.

Magnus' FlickrFree tool shows the last 500 free-license images uploaded to Flickr and lets you easily import them to Commons.

Also the {{Flickr free}} template lets you search for images under either license.

Changing licenses

Even of those images with Creative Commons licenses (a small minority), only about 20 % have a Commons-compatible license (brown and yellow sectors, see image).

If a file on Flickr is not licensed under CC-BY (Attribution) or CC-BY-SA (Attribution and Share Alike) or CC0 (Public Domain Dedication) or marked with the Public Domain Mark, it is usually not allowed on Commons. However, because a copyright holder can change the license of their work, asking them to release their image under a Commons-compatible license is a possibility. Such requests are best made by sending a mail to the Flickr user from within the Flickr website. You will need a Flickr account to do this. For more help, see Commons:Flickr files/Appeal for license change.

It is possible that the license of a CC-BY(-SA) or CC0 or PDM image may be changed on Flickr after it has been uploaded to Commons and verified. Flickr users are allowed to change the licenses of their works. It is important to note, though, that once a work has been made available under a given license, the copyright holder cannot legally change or revoke the license on copies of that work. Thus, an image originally licensed as CC-BY and uploaded to Commons under that license (and verified), but later changed on Flickr to All Rights Reserved, may remain on Commons under the CC-BY license. Such a situation is undesirable, of course, and politely asking the Flickr user to reconsider may be a good idea. In the meantime, you may tag the file with {{Flickr-change-of-license}} to indicate the license disparity.

If a Flickr user changes their work's license to a freer version (e.g. CC-BY-SA to CC-BY), the copy on Commons may be updated to use this new license. Simply remove the existing Flickr review template and request a new review with {{Flickrreview}}. As above, however, if the Flickr user changes the license to a less-free version (e.g. CC-BY to CC-BY-SA), Commons is not required to match this as the freer license is not revocable.

Uploading images

Shortcut: Use Magnus' upload tool (described below)



When you're uploading images from Flickr, please:

  • Upload the largest version of the image, and
  • Use the Flinfo tool for providing an already filled out version of Template:Information for a picture at Flickr. Input the image ID, or the full URL of a Flickr image. Flinfo can also handle static Flickr URLs.
  • It would be polite and collegial to leave a comment on the image's Flickr page stating that it was uploaded to Commons. If the user has disabled commenting, consider sending them a message via FlickrMail instead.
  • If an image is only available at a low resolution, the user may have original-resolution photos on their local disk, so in addition to uploading a low-resolution version, contact them to ask if they can send you higher-resolution photos.



Easy to use:

Less easy:

  • Commons upload form: Upload work from Flickr (requires downloading the image to your computer and then uploading it); Flominator's Flinfo assists
  • Odie5533's F2ComButton uses a greasemonkey script to aid in uploading. One option fills out most of the upload form for you, another option aids in using Magnus' tool above.


A video uploaded from Flickr. Flickr has many short videos like this.

See also: Commons:Video.

Flickr now allows video files to be uploaded. However, these cannot currently be transferred easily like photos can. To get an uploadable copy of the video you can either download it or ask the uploader to provide you with a copy (e. g., by email). To download them, use the Flickr api explorer. Enter the id of the video (the number in the url). In the result look for "Site MP4" and download the url in the "source" field. Because these files are in MP4 format which is not accepted on Commons, they must first be converted before upload is possible (see Help:Converting video for options).

Videos can be uploaded from the Upload work from Flickr page.

Alternatively, toollabs:video2commons can be used to automate much of the transferring process.

See also