Unsplash images are no longer in the public domain(creativecommons.org)

over 6 years ago from Christopher Skillicorn, Designer

  • Luke ChesserLuke Chesser, over 6 years ago

    You're absolutely right that public domain != the Unsplash License.

    But Unsplash was never made explicitly to be the public domain. What we wanted to do when we created Unsplash was create a resource for the real needs that the community has: finding beautiful, free high resolution photos that they can use. That doesn't require the photos to be in the public domain to accomplish. We chose CC0 at the time as the easiest way to accomplish our goal.

    CC0 and public domain have a lot of real-world flaws that our community has experienced over the past 5 years. These are real issues brought up by our contributors that under CC0 we've had no way to address until now.

    There are literally tens of thousands of sites reselling the photos contributed by Unsplash photographers. We've had thousands of amazing contributors stop sharing specifically because of this reason.

    Similarly, there are hundreds of sites recreating accounts or redistributing the photos on behalf of photographers. For the photographers they now have accounts that they can't access across hundreds of sites, many which display donation buttons, creating donations that the photographers never see. Imagine if when you wrote on Medium, hundreds of sites popped up and created accounts under your name and you had no way to stop or claim the accounts.

    That's a sad result because some of the most amazing photos have been lost because of this. Contributors who believed in the mission of sharing beautiful free photos for the reasons that we all love and use Unsplash have stopped contributing because of a side-effect of CC0 that has no benefit towards the mission of creating a community of beautiful free photos.

    What you need to understand at the end of the day is that Unsplash was never created to be a place for public domain photos. Flickr has existed long before Unsplash and makes that very easy. What Unsplash was created to do was make amazing high resolution photos available and easy to use for the real use cases that the creative community has. The Unsplash License changes nothing about that and our community has had an overwhelmingly positive response to the change.

    4 points