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Flickr promises it won’t delete Creative Commons photos when it limits free storage

Flickr promises it won’t delete Creative Commons photos when it limits free storage


Accounts over the limit won’t be able to upload new pictures, though

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Last week, Flickr announced some major changes to the way its free service will work under new owner SmugMug. It set a 1,000-picture limit for free accounts, replacing the previously offered 1TB of storage. Any accounts that are still over that limit on February 5th, 2019, will have their content deleted until they’re back below that number.

This led to a looming question: what happens to Flickr’s huge library of Creative Commons photos that are used by countless individuals and organizations around the world?

Flickr has clarified that freely licensed Creative Commons photos will be safe under the new limits

In a blog post today, Flickr has clarified that those freely licensed photos will be safe, even under the new limits. Accounts with more than 1,000 photos or videos that are licensed with Creative Commons won’t have that content deleted. That said, Flickr will be blocking future uploads to those accounts on January 8th — just like it will to other accounts that are over the 1,000-picture limit — unless you pay for a Pro account.

This rule only applies to photos that were uploaded with a Creative Commons license before the deadline. Users hoping to skirt the upcoming 1,000-photo limit / purge of content coming in February by moving all of their content to an open Creative Commons license is out of luck.

Flickr will also begin working with nonprofits to offer free hosting, something that new parent company SmugMug has already been doing. “Organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),, and Second Harvest are already using Flickr to share photos of the amazing work they do. And now we’ll be working with them to ensure Pro isn’t a cost they need to worry about,” it says. The company has also set up a form for nonprofit organizations to apply for free Pro accounts, too.

The company also notes that organizations that are part of the Flickr Commons program — like NASA, the National Park Service, the UK National Archives, and The British Library — will be unaffected by the new rules. As part of that program, participating organizations already had Pro accounts (or were given free Pro account from Flickr), so they’ll be safe come January.