Flickr kills sale of Creative Commons prints, issues refunds

Flickr has abruptly ended a service that allowed people to buy canvas or wood prints based on pictures that appeared in its Creative Commons gallery, the photo sharing site announced on Thursday.

The decision comes just weeks after [company]Yahoo[/company], which owns Flickr, first launched its so-called Wall Art service as a way for customers to purchase physical copies of its millions of images that can be used for free online.

The service immediately ran into controversy after some photographers complained that Yahoo was earning up to $49 for each print, but was not sharing any of the money with those who had posted the photos in the first place.

Even though the Flickr Wall Art service only offered images for which the owner had granted a Creative Commons license for commercial use, some complained that they believed the terms of the license only extended to online use — and not to physical prints as well. Some withdrew their works from Flickr altogether.

Other photographers, however, had no objection to what Yahoo was doing since, under the terms of the relevant Flickr license, they had marked the images as available for commercial use. (Under the the flexible Creative Commons licensing system, an artist can grant certain rights to the public but withhold others).

Flickr explained the situation this way in a blog post: “[while] some expressed their excitement about the new photography marketplace and the value it would bring, many felt that including Creative Commons-licensed work in this service wasn’t within the spirit of the Commons and our sharing community.”

The company also said it is sorry that “we let some of you down,” and that it would issue refunds to those who have placed orders for a Creative Commons print.

The good news is that Yahoo doesn’t appear to be giving up on the project altogether, but says it will “come back with programs that align better with our community values” — presumably, this might include a licensing system in which Flickr users can explicitly agree to let physical copies be sold.

In the meantime, the company added, people can continue to use Flickr Marketplace, which lets users buy prints of their own images, or from certain licensed artists.

Wellcome Trust launches longform science site under a Creative Commons license

The UK-based Wellcome Trust, the world’s second-largest funder of medical research behind the Gates Foundation, has launched a free online magazine called Mosaic that is dedicated to longform science writing. The site will be run by former Times science editor Mark Henderson — who was involved with a monthly science magazine published by the Times called Eureka, which was shut down in 2012 — and will publish a new 3,000-word piece on a scientific topic every Tuesday. In an unusual twist, the content will be free for anyone to use under a Creative Commons license, provided they include attribution.

Why YouTube Adopting Creative Commons Is a Big Deal

Mashup artists, your life just got easier. YouTube is now making it possible remix existing videos right within its online video editor. The site is also adopting Creative Commons licensing, immediately making more than 10,000 Creative Commons-licensed videos available for reuse. Both steps have wide-ranging implications.

Broadcaster Releases Movie via BitTorrent As It Airs On TV

How about this for day-and-date: The Dutch documentary California Dreaming will be available legally, for free, via BitTorrent today while it airs on TV. The movie is released by VODO.net and licensed under a Creative Commons license that even allows viewers and downloaders to remix it.

Vimeo Adds Creative Commons Licensing

Online video site Vimeo has teamed up with Creative Commons to allow its users to easily add licensing and define usage rights for videos they upload. With Creative Commons licenses, Vimeo users can allow others to use, perform, distribute or make derivative videos from their originals.