Today I was tagged in one of those Facebook things that ask you to make up an album cover based on grabbing a couple random bits of text from wikimedia and wikiquotes, and a random photo from flickr’s Explore page. I immediately wondered about the licensing issues involved, since most of the photos on flickr’s Explore page are set to “(c) all rights reserved”. 

Sure, this is just a fun bit of remixing, and no one is profiting from it, but isn’t this exactly the kind of thing that Creative Commons was invented to support? Why not make use of it? First I looked around on flickr and discovered that they allow you to find random images, interesting images, or CC-licensed images, but they don’t offer a way to use all three of these criteria at once. 

But I’m sure that it’s possible with the flickr API. A quick search led me to this blog post by Eszter Hargittai about this very same issue. She points to this handy tool by Mike Lietz, who used the flickr API to do this very thing – show a random photo from the Explore page that has a CC license. 

With more and more people using flickr as a source for reusable, remixable images, maybe they will start to provide more robust options for exploring and searching CC-licensed content.

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