Free Use Photos, Part 2 (The Plot Thickens)

Last week my colleague, Lori, called me for 2 reasons. First, she’d read my post about creating Free Use Photos and was intrigued by the idea. Second, in the process of looking into “Free Use” a bit more, she’d found a group who aim to do just the opposite by making flickr images exclusive,  basically inaccessible legally without obtaining specific (paid) rights.    [While searching just now, I see that one of the group’s administrators has changed the very formal and hard-edge statement that was listed last week which was essentially language that spoke of image-poachers and keeping images from free use. The statement now is more about offering “useful information for photographers…”].

Lori put forth the challenge to expand my one “Free Use Photos” set into a flickr group. Yes! Within a few hours the Free Use Group was set up, and has grown in the past couple of days to  have over 30 members and 4 administrators.

You can be a part of the Free Use Movement, too, and join the Free Use Group.

Part 2, Scene 2

This morning I received a call from the FBI. I’m not making this up. It was a follow-up from the photo-taking-spree I conducted during Computers in Libraries in DC.  I explained (again) why one would want to take photos of signs and buildings and such to use in presentations and on blogs. I explained about “Creative Commons” that I had just presented at the conference earlier that morning with Helene Blowers and that I’d posted the images on flickr in a set called “Free Use Photos.” When the interviewer asked me what this flickr thing was and how was it spelled, I resisted the urge to say “well, it’s sort of like The Google.” This “interview” went on for about 10+ minutes. How does one answer questions like “how many pictures did you take of that building?” Which one is “that building?” “Why would you take a picture of a water outlet?” Well, it was interesting and perhaps useful to someone who wants to portray the idea of “letting go of resources.” I have a better question(s): Why did I have to have this conversation in the first place, and does this gentleman have to call every tourist in D.C. who snaps a shot of their reflection in a window or a fire hydrant or an interesting doorway?

I’ll say it again: the “0” in 2.0 should not have to be a hoop (as in “jump through this hoop before you have access”).





  1. Pingback: Free use Photos
  2. That’s amazing that they stopped you in the first place, but a follow up phone call too?? I’ve often wondered if I might get in trouble for taking photos in airports and on the streets and such. Maybe it’s a gender/age thing that I’ve never been stopped. Older librarian lady = dismissable and non-theatening. 🙂 In any case, sounds like you took the opportunity to educate the FBI guy about the 2.0 world. Keep on clicking those pics!

  3. It’s rather dismaying to find out that an FBI agent (or staff member at least), charged with interviewing a photography related incident, would not know about flickr. That’s like a traffic cop wanting to know more about these “SUV” things he’s heard tell of!

    It’s not just dismaying… it’s rather scary. And probably dangerous. You have an individual, probably representative of a larger subset, from a group that wields a great deal of power in the US. If a group of people have the responsibility of protecting and policing a public as they go about their daily lives, shouldn’t they know about some of the major things that may be in those daily lives?

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