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How to Use Creative Commons Images for Your Podcast

Even in an audio medium like Podcasting, you'll still have a lot of use for images. Show notes, for example, really benefit from a nice image or two. Or you may need a great picture for your coverart, or episode art. But, how do you find these image, and for free?

Flickr is one such place, and thanks to the wonders of Creative Commons licensing, you can use many of them for free.

In this article we're going to look at how to use creative commons images from flickr to promote your podcast.

What is Creative Commons?

Creative commons images come with a special license that allows people to use those pictures free of charge under certain circumstances. There are a range of licensing terms out there, but the big one we're interested in is simply called ‘Attribution'. That means you can use the image in any way you like, as long as you tell the world where you got that image in the first place. Usually you do that just by providing a credit, or a link back to the image source.

Attribution on it's own is sometimes a bit too wide, though, and a lot of image providers put a few more conditions on how you use the image. Let's have a look at the options.

Attribution means:

You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if they give you credit.

Noncommercial means:

You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work – and derivative works based upon it – but for noncommercial purposes only.

No Derivative Works means:

You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

Share Alike means:

You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

The non-commercial license is the most common, I find, that still provides a lot of good quality images. It's understandable really. Who wants to create something, and give it away for free, only for you to make a bunch of money from it?

If you're running a hobby podcast, not making any profit from it, then you can use these non-commercial images. But, in many cases, we want to think about monetisation at some point in the future. If that's even a remote possibility, make sure you're using images that allow commercial use right from the start. No-one wants to have to go through their entire site a year down the line, getting rid of every non-commercial image you've grabbed.

Browse Images from Each License

You can get an idea of the image quality and variety that's available under each license by clicking through to Flickr Creative Commons. Click ‘See More' below any of the license types to browse the catalog.

How to Use Creative Commons Images from Flickr

How to Use Creative Commons Images for Your Podcast

Step 1: Search for a Relevant Image

In the Search Box, shown below, type in the keywords for your search.

How to Use Creative Commons Images from Flickr

Be specific in your searching, thinking about the theme or the topic you're covering. Often with images, you're looking more for a ‘feeling' or an idea, rather than a specific image, so try to image the overall feeling of the image. For example, ‘inspiring' or ‘melancholy'.

Step 2: Select the Relevant License

Once the search results appear, choose the licence that suits your needs. Click the License dropdown, and choose Creative Commons only for a wide search. If you're looking for commercially allowed images, choose the ‘Commercial Use' option.

How to Use Creative Commons Images from Flickr

 

Step 3: Choose Your Image!

Select the picture you want to use by clicking the image.

Step 4: View all Image Sizes

You can download the image by clicking the arrow icon that appears in the right lower portion of the preview. Select “View all sizes” to see all the options available for that image.

How to Use Creative Commons Images from Flickr

Step 5: Take Note of the Attribution

You can now see the sizes that are available in the ‘All Sizes' list. To make sure you've got the right license requirements, hover your pointer over the text: “Some rights reserved”. That'll give you a summary of the license.

On this screen, you can also take note of the image author. It's indicated by the arrow in the screenshot below. Copy that link and you can use that as your credit when publishing.

How to Use Creative Commons Images from Flickr

Step 6: Save the Image

To save the image, first click on the size you require. Then right click the image that loads and select Save image as…

How to Use Creative Commons Images from Flickr

 

Step 7: Attribution

Finally, you need to make sure you comply with the attribution rules, whether that's attribution, noncommercial, no derivative work or share alike (review the definitions at the start of this article).

Here's an example of an ideal attribution:

Polo Ponies by liz west is licensed under CC 2.0

The perfect attribution should include the following, if available:

  • Title: Polo Ponies
  • Author: liz west – linked to the profile page
  • Source: Polo Ponies – linked to original Flickr page
  • License: CC BY 2.0 – linked to license deed

What are you Using Creative Commons Images for?

Are you already using creative commons images for your podcast? If so, what for?

Let us know in the comments below, we'd love to hear!

Discussion:

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Written by:

Colin Gray

Colin has been teaching people how to podcast since 2007. He's worked with Universities, businesses and hobbyists alike. He started The Podcast Host to share his experience and to help as many people as possible get into Podcasting. He runs Podcraft, to spread the art of podcasting, and does the Mountain Bikes Apart podcast whenever he can. Who doesn't like to talk bikes, after all!

March 1st 2016