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Attributing Creative Commons Pictures in your PowerPoint Slides

Learn how to attribute Creative Commons pictures in your PowerPoint slides.


Millions of pictures are available online within the Creative Commons license – many of these pictures can be found on Flickr – and typically, most Creative Commons licensed content on Flickr can be searched within three useable categories:

  • Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content: This restricts your search to all pictures placed within the Creative Commons license.
  • Find content to use commercially: This further restricts your search to only bring up results that include pictures permitted to be used commercially.
  • Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon: This again restricts your search results to pictures that you can edit -- such as crop, work in an image editor like Photoshop, or even using the picture edit options in PowerPoint.

You can therefore decide which of these license options work for you, which pictures are available within any of these license options – and then download the picture. That’s when you need to think about another important aspect of the Creative Commons license – and that is attribution.

So what exactly should the attribution contain? And where on your slide should you place the attribution?

First let us decide what exactly the attribution statement should contain – we will base our example attribution statement on content from Flickr, but attribution of picture content anywhere else should work the same way. Make sure you have the following prerequisites handy to create your attribution statement:

  1. Picture URL (on Flickr or another site)
  2. Picture Name
  3. Name of the photographer (or owner of the picture)
  4. Creative Commons license under which you are using the picture, and a URL for that license on the Creative Commons site

Let us determine where you will get all the information needed to fulfill these prerequisites:

  1. The first prerequisites is very easy to determine – look at this picture I found on Flickr within the Creative Commons license, as shown in Figure 1, below.

    Picture page on Flickr
    Figure 1: Picture page on Flickr

    The URL of the picture is mentioned in the web browser’s address bar, highlighted in red within Figure 1.

  2. The name is also very easy to locate – in the example shown in Figure 1, this is mentioned on the bottom left of the picture, as highlighted in green.

  3. For the other 2 prerequisites, you will need to scroll down the page shown in Figure 1 so that you can see more details (see Figure 2, below).

    More information about the picture
    Figure 2: More information about the picture

    The third piece of information you need is the name of the Flickr member or photographer who uploaded the content – you can find this right below the picture, as shown highlighted in red in Figure 2, above.

    Note: Just because someone uploaded a picture, this does not translate to he or she being the legal owner of the picture. Stolen pictures can also be uploaded to Flickr – but there are ways to determine if any picture is original or not – this is explained in our Is this Picture on Flickr an Original tutorial.

  4. The fourth piece of information you need can also be found in the same screen as shown in Figure 2, above. Scroll down to the line that reads “Some rights reserved”, highlighted in green in Figure 2. When you hover your cursor on this line, you will see the URL it leads to in your browser’s status bar, as shown highlighted in blue in Figure 2. You can also click the link to open the page associated with the URL and then copy that URL.

Now that you have the information pertaining to all the four prerequisites, you can create your attribution statement using this format:

Picture: <Picture Name> / <Photographer Name> / Creative Commons

All the information mentioned above can be put in a single text box – hyperlink the URLs for the Picture Name and Creative Commons license info, as shown in Figure 3, below.

Add an attribution to Creative Commons licensed pictures
Figure 3: Add an attribution to Creative Commons licensed pictures

Place this text box below the picture on your slide – this does not have to use the largest text point size as long as the text is readable – also make sure that your text color contrasts with the background color of your slide.

While this is a great way to add attribution for pictures you use in slides, this will not work for Creative Commons pictures you use as a slide background or even as the background of a PowerPoint template. In that case, add a text box on the first slide of your presentation or template with the same attributes.

Finally, send a message to the Flickr member whose picture you have used -- this is easy and you can do so by clicking on the profile avatar of the Flickr member -- this brings up a menu that you see in Figure 4 -- choose the Send FlickrMail option, highlighted in red within Figure 4.

Send a message after you add attribution
Figure 4: Send a message after you add attribution

Also offer to send a sample of the finished work to the person if this is feasible.

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