Flickr Creates New License for White House Photos
Official White House photos are now officially in the public domain,
thanks to a licensing change made quietly over the weekend by the Obama
administration and the photo-sharing site Flickr.
The White House began posting striking photos of President Barack Obama
from its official photographer Pete Souza to the Web 2.0 site in early
May. The White House chose to license them using the ultra-liberal
Creative Commons Attribution license that lets people reuse, reprint and
remix the photos just as long as they credit the original photographers.
But as Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other
online commenters noted, that license won't work — even for Obama's
official photographer — because government works can't be copyright.
Someone must have been listening, because sometime over the weekend, the
licenses changed, and now the photos are labeled "United States Government
Work" and link to an explanation on copyright.gov. The White House,
however, continues to use the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license for
all third-party content published on the www.whitehouse.gov site.
The change marks a first for Flickr, which to date has not had a license
for government works, other than a "No Known Copyright Restriction"
license that is used on photos from its Commons project, which includes
photos from some of the world's greatest museums and libraries. Those
photos include ones from the Library of Congress, for instance, that never
were copyright since they were made or paid for by the federal government.