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Flickr Default Privacy Settings

In the fall of 2011 I upgraded from my free Flickr account to the Pro version – for unlimited photo upload space – and that's when all hell broke loose.

Unbeknownst to me, the default privacy setting for a Pro account is:

That's right, if you don't know this is the default setting – as I didn't – then anyone on the web can not only download your images; s/he can download a variety of sizes, including the original image file uploaded. Wow.

You might wonder how I came to find out that was the default setting in Flickr...well, long story short I was contacted by an aerialist from Mötley Crüe.

See, we'd gone to Las Vegas to watch two performances of Mötley during their residency in February and I'd taken a bunch of Crüe photos with my point-and-shoot camera. Anyway, after I posted the images on Flickr, I was contacted by one of the aerialists who'd seen my Flickr set and wanted to know if she could use a couple of the images for her online portfolio. By the time I received said message, she'd already gone ahead and downloaded the photos she wanted and was using them on

("How?" You might ask. Listen up: I'm a search marketer; I know how to find stuff.)

Concerned as to how she'd downloaded my images (they were obviously not screenshots), I frantically checked settings in Flickr and lo and behold, found that anyone could have – and obviously did – download any of my photography. Because, after all, that was the default privacy setting:

Obviously I had NO idea that was the privacy setting default upon upgrade to a Pro Flickr account, and I changed that setting right then and there. But of course by then the damage was already done.

Turns out that not only did the innocent aerialist steal my photos; the website on which she posted them went ahead and used one of my images, too. That's right: stole one of my photos and is using it on their home page. I'm still working on trying to get the offender ( to take MY photo – used without my permission – off their website...or, hell, even to acknowledge they received ANY of my correspondence to that end.

I didn't think I needed to watermark my Flickr photos because, well, I'd had a free account for so long and access to the original images wasn't an option. I never thought to look at the privacy settings when I upgraded – and how would I have ever guessed, in a MILLION years, that the DEFAULT privacy setting would be
"Who should be able to access your original image files and other sizes without deterrents?"
ANYONE (Recommended).

Shame on you, Flickr. And, thanks a LOT. Is it "your" fault that someone stole my photography and is using it without my permission?

Technically – no. But, if I'd have been aware of your privacy "policy" for a Pro account, I'd have known to lock down the ability of the average Joe to download – and illegally use – my photography. I'd also have started watermarking my work a lot earlier than I did.

The fault still lies with I'm still kinda peeved at Flickr.