User:Tom Morris/Why are my Flickr pictures on Commons?

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You may be reading this because I have uploaded your photos from Flickr to Wikimedia Commons.

Legally, this is possible because of the Creative Commons license you used on them: pictures from Flickr can be reused on Commons under the Attribution and Attribution-ShareAlike licenses. You can support building Wikimedia Commons by releasing more images and media (and anything else you can think of) under the Attribution or Attribution-ShareAlike licenses! Commons does not reuse images that have Non-Commercial or No Derivatives licenses because they are not free in the sense that other people can reuse them without restrictions. If you have questions about the legal status of images on Commons, please see Commons:Licensing.

Practically, the reason we store images on Commons is that they can be reused very easily for other Wikimedia projects. Commons images are used heavily on Wikipedia to illustrate articles, but are also used by Wikibooks, Wikiversity, Wikinews and Wikispecies. Other free content projects often use Commons as their repository for getting media, and there is a plugin for MediaWiki that lets wikis that are not run by the Wikimedia Foundation reuse images from Commons without storing them.

But there is a slightly deeper reason why I copy images to Commons. That is because of historical preservation: Commons is run by the Wikimedia Foundation, who say that their mission is to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally" and to "empower a global volunteer community to collect and develop the world's knowledge and to make it available to everyone for free, for any purpose".

Unlike Yahoo! or Google or other technology or social media companies, the Wikimedia Foundation is in the unique position of being able to keep servers and content solely for the purpose of social good, in much the same way that public broadcasters like the BBC (in Britain), ABC (in Australia), CBC (in Canada) and NPR/PBS (in the USA) can. Compare this to GeoCities, Vox, Furl, Jumpcut, AOL Hometown, Pownce and countless other websites that have been closed because they were no longer commercially viable. Countless hours of human creativity have been lost due to short-sighted (although sometimes financially necessary) commercial decisions. If they could do it to GeoCities, they can just as well do it to Flickr.

While Wikimedia Commons is not a backup for your photos–it only copies stuff that is freely licensed and is of value to the educational mission of Wikimedia and Wikipedia–if Flickr were to go down, it would be nice if Commons had a copy of a large chunk of it. Please, please, keep good copies of your own stuff: find tools that backup your own data from the sites and services you use, and choose wisely which sites you support with your attention, money, inbound links and most importantly your data; encourage the owners of the sites you use to think in terms of centuries rather than the frantic now-ism of Web 2.0.

On behalf of the Commons community, thank you for releasing your photos under a Creative Commons license allowing reuse. Keep an eye out for it on Wikipedia!

If you have any questions about Commons, please check the Welcome page, the FAQ or ask on the Help desk. Alternatively, if you have my e-mail address, feel free to send me an e-mail or just post on my talk page. —Tom Morris (talk) 14:00, 22 March 2011 (UTC)