How to Copy Pictures From Flickr

By Naomi Bolton

A wealth of beautiful photos are available to view on Flickr, but this does not mean that they are available to copy for your own use. Some photographers make use of the Creative Commons license to make their work available to others, but it is still important to distinguish what type of use they allow. Other photographers prefer to only showcase their work and do not allow you to download the images. Circumventing any of the means used by Flickr to protect images from being downloaded is a copyright violation. If the pictures that you want to copy are not listed under a Creative Commons license, contact the photographer directly and ask permission.

Use The Flickr Download Function

Flickr photos without copyright restrictions or with a Creative Commons license can be downloaded straight from your browser. If you found the picture through a search, click the thumbnail to display the full image. Click the "Download" button, resembling a down arrow, and then select the size of the image you want to download. For the best results, select "Original," as this provides you with the best picture quality. If quality is not your primary concern, you can select a smaller picture size to save bandwidth while downloading. If only the "View All Sizes" option is displayed when you click the download button, the owner has disabled any downloads. You don't have to be a member of Flickr to make use of the download function.

Familiarize Yourself With The License Options

Just because an image is available for download on Flickr does not mean you are free to use it as you please. The owner of the picture specifies the license when uploading, and it is displayed below the image, indicated by an icon that makes it easy to quickly see how and where use of the picture is allowed. The Flickr Creative Commons page (link in Resources) features an explanation of each license type along with a brief description.

Select The Right Download Resolution

The Flickr download function enables you to choose between a square, small, medium, and large version of the picture as well as the original size. The resolution is displayed next to the size category for easy comparison. Click the "View all sizes" link on the download list to view the full list of download options available. Select the image resolution that matches your requirements to avoid wasting time and bandwidth. For example, if you want to use the picture as a forum avatar, the "Square" option is much more suitable than the "Large" one. On the other hand, if the picture download is intended as your desktop background, selecting a resolution close to or larger than your desktop resolution will ensure that it doesn't appear stretched or pixilated.

Contact The Uploader Through FlickrMail

If the owner of the photo has not provided a Creative Commons license for his work, you might still obtain his permission by contacting him directly through Flickr's integrated messaging system. You need to be a member of the service to make use of the messaging system, but registration is free. Click the owner's username displayed below the photo that you want to copy, to open his photostream. Click the triple dot button and select "Send FlickrMail" to compose your message. Flickr recommends that you explain who you are and why you want to copy the picture when asking for permission. The photographer can then reply to your message and either grant permission or decline your request.