A Look at Nearly Two Decades of Creative Commons Licenses on Flickr

The Creative Commons licenses were added to Flickr in 2004, two years after the nonprofit Creative Commons released its first set of copyright licenses. As of September 2021, nearly two decades after their introduction, Flickr has the honor of being home to more than 500 million Creative Commons licensed works, making Flickr one of the largest repositories of openly licensed works online. Today, as part of the year-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Creative Commons, we’ve compiled some data related to how Flickr members use Creative Commons licenses.

What’s the most commonly used CC license on Flickr?

The most frequently used type of Creative Commons license on Flickr (by number of photos) is the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license (CC BY-NC-SA). This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.

What are some of the most popular accounts sharing Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr?
Hint: If you like space exploration, you’re going to love this list. These Flickr members have grown their following through the photos that they share.

NASA Goddard: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is home to some of the most amazing images, visualizations and videos NASA has to offer.

Iceberg in North Star Bay, Greenland

Project Apollo Archive: A collection of more than 15,000 un-processed, high-resolution images from the Apollo Missions.

Official SpaceX Photos: The pioneering company founded by Elon Musk has a Flickr account where they share some amazing CC-licensed photos of their launches, as well as product views and behind the scenes images.


NASA HQ Photo: Official NASA photographs covering NASA Headquarters, launches, expeditions, activities and events.

Biodiversity Heritage Library: Currently on hiatus due to staffing changes, the Biodiversity Heritage Library continues to inspire discovery offering free access to a huge collection of biodiversity knowledge.


NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center: Another collection of CC-licensed NASA photos, taken by photographers around NASA!

European Space Agency: The Flickr channel where the European Space Agency (ESA) shares images of the Earth, the Solar System, the Universe, their spacecraft, astronauts and other space events!

Looking for some members of the Flickr community who regularly share their work under CC?
Take a look at the accounts of Koen Jacobs, Trey Ratcliff, Wayne S. Grazio, Christian Kortum, norsez Oh, Christopher Michel, or Anja Pietsch. If you’re a member of the Second Life community, visit Strawberry Singh’s profile.

What about the most popular Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr?
Here’s the top 5! by number of faves:

A Boat at Poda by norsez Oh

A Boat at Poda

Sand & Wind by Jonathan Kos-Read

Sand & Wind

Never Give Up by Wilson Lam

Never Give Up

Hello humans! by Christopher Michel

Hello humans!  From photographer Christopher Michel.

Where the Sky is Torn Asunder by Trey Ratcliff


And the most popular by category?
Browse through the galleries below to find some popular CC-licensed content by topic.

Popular landscapes
Popular animal portraits

Blue eyes

Popular portraits

Eyes of India

Popular architectural shots

In the air

Celebrating 20 Years of Creative Commons

How would you like to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Creative Commons? Here’s how you can support and be part of this community: