TTW Mailbox: Flickr’ing Libraries and the Flickr TOS


Photo illustration of LaGrange Park Public Library’s Flickr profile

Hi Michael, I’m a librarian at a large public library and I’m wondering if you can help me out. I’m trying to convince our staff to dive into the world of Flickr but a question has been brought up about #7 on Flick’s official terms of use.

“Flickr is intended for personal use and is not a generic image hosting service. Professional or corporate uses of Flickr are prohibited.”

I would naturally assume that this is referring to for-profit uses of Flickr, but I’m wondering if you have heard of any official clarification on this from Flickr (specifically libraries opening Flickr accounts). I am also emailing Flickr, but I thought I’d also try you..

Wanting To Flickr

Dear WTF: 🙂

Thanks for writing with such a good question. I wrote to Flickr as well, but you received this reply before I did:

Hello, Thanks for your question. The “commercial use” part of the Community Guidelines refers to using Flickr to sell products or services. Non-profit groups may create Flickr accounts. However, the Community Guidelines and Terms of Service also require that each account is used by one person. For example, it would be a violation to distribute the login and password information to a group of people so they could all upload their photos to one account. For these types of applications, a Flickr group would be a better fit:

So one person per account, eh? Really, this may be how many libraries do it. Photos get funneled to one person and uploaded. However, I have worked with some groups that share the login info and more than one person uploads. What if a family got a Flickr account, can’t they share the login info? A few days later, Heather from Flickr replied with a brief but different take to me:

It’s currently a grey area, but if the library isn’t say selling books via the account, then it would be a reasonable use. We hope to clear up confusion in the somewhat near future with not-for-profit and commercial accounts. Heather

Thanks Heather. Grey is right! But I like the fact that Flickr recognizes that non-profits could benefit from an account as well and has plans to open up that venue.