PhotoDropper: Creative Commons Made Easy

If you like to use images in your blogs but don’t have the time to create your own, Creative Commons has likely been a huge help to you. The fact that there are thousands of artists willing to share their millions of photos, paintings and drawings with you and your site, for free, is an overwhelming thought.

But using Creative Commons is not a simple task. You have to first find the work you want to use, resize it so that it fits in your blog and then provide proper attribution, something that is rarely done correctly.

By the time all of this is done, many prefer to use the stock.xchng or similar sites to avoid these issues. However, a new WordPress plugin, Photo Dropper, seeks to make life easier for those wanting to use Creative Commons images. The plugin automates the entire process of using a CC-licensed image, including the scaling and attribution.

The process is so simple that it is even easier than using WordPress’ built-in media uploader and takes only a few seconds to complete. It could easily be the best thing to happen to image-hungry bloggers and to CC-loving artists in a very long time.

How it Works

The first step is using Photo Dropper is to install the WordPress plugin. This is a process that every WordPress user should be familiar with, save those using a free WordPress.com account, but directions are also provided on the Photo Dropper site if needed.

Once the plugin is installed and activated, you first have to edit the options for the plugin. The options themselves are very straightforward, consisting of only five things, setting the number of images displayed, selecting whether to only search for ones available for commercial use, sorting by “most interesting” and adding HTML code before and after the insert.

Once you’ve set your options, the interface appears on your write screen below your editor.

As shown above, it allows you to search for a keyword you are interested in, such as “pirate” in this case.You hit search and it pulls up a thumbnail gallery of applicable images.

Below each image is a series of options. The first pops the image out full size in a new window, making it easier to view. The other letters represent “small”, “medium” and “large” and generate the code to insert the image into your post.

For example, if you click “Medium” on one of the images, you get a new image in your post that looks like this:


Creative Commons License photo credit: Brittany G

As you can see, the image is sized correctly for the blog and contains the attribution directly below the image, rather than at the footer of the post. The attribution is formatted well and is compliant with both Flickr and Creative Commons requirements.

All totaled, Photo Dropper makes it possible, with just two clicks of the mouse, to put in legal free images into any of your blog posts or pages. All by working with the well-documented Flickr API.

Why this is Great

The beauty behind this service goes well beyond just bloggers obtaining free images for their site. Rather, this also helps content creators, specifically photographers that post their work on Flickr and license it under a Creative Commons License.

As I’ve talked about before, one of the biggest issues with Creative Commons is that the license is very rarely followed to the letter. This plugin, however, ensures that the photo is attributed correctly and in the proper manner, including links back to the creator and the image itself, all of which are search-engine friendly.

By making it easy for bloggers to do not just the right thing, but also the legal one, the plugin encourages the behavior and will cause more bloggers to follow the letter of the license. This, in turn, should result in more bloggers taking advantage of CC-licensed images and in more links and recognition for CC artists.

Limitations

Though the plugin, overall, is a great tool, it has its share of limitations as well.

  1. Only Supports Flickr: Though Flickr is a great repository of CC-licensed artwork, it is not the only one on the Web. Though Flickr was a great choice to start with, it would be nice to see other sites added in the future.
  2. Limited Control: Outside of adding HTML before and after the image, you have very little control over how it displays. This can make it difficult to fit into your site without some effort.
  3. Difficult Searching: The search feature is great if you find what you’re looking for almost immediately. Otherwise, going through a large number of images can be a pain. You practically are forced to change the number of thumbnails before use and more advanced search tools would make a big difference.
  4. WordPress-Only: Currently Photo Dropper exists only as a WordPress plugin, meaning those that use other platforms, or even WordPress.com, are not able to take advantage of it. Plugins for other platforms as well as a Web-based version that generates the code for easy copy/paste for those who can’t use plugins would also be a huge help.
  5. Slowness: This is an issue with Flickr, not Photo Dropper, but sometimes search can be very sluggish. The Flickr API is not very quick and, when combined with the searching issues, can make for a long search time.

However, the negative aspects, for the most part, are significantly outweighed by the positive aspects. Since the plugin is free, it makes sense to install it and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, simply deactivate the plugin and move on; if it does, you may have easy access to a large number of images that are free for you to license.

Conclusions

I try to cover legal alternatives because the more that are available and the easier they are to use, the fewer excuses that plagiarists and scrapers have. Every legal alternative is another weapon against content theft and a way for people to support and help content creators.

Personally, I am very excited about this service. Though it has flaws, it solves at least two of the major problems with Creative Commons, namely the issues with providing proper attribution and formatting, and it makes great headway into solving the issue of finding good work to use.

Most likely, if you watch this site, you’ll see a couple of Photo Dropper images in various articles as time goes on. Though I favor my own screenshots to illustrate the articles I write, in cases where that is not appropriate, I may use Photo Dropper to add images in as fitting.

All in all, Photo Dropper is a great tool that I look forward to using as needed. It may not make regular appearances on the site, but I do have a feeling you will see it again…

19 Responses to PhotoDropper: Creative Commons Made Easy

  1. Spamboy says:

    That’s a pretty cool plugin. Based on the conversations at WordCamp, where it was suggested to improve search engine visibility by including at least one image in each post, the results from this plugin’s searches could be quite useful.

  2. Spamboy says:

    That’s a pretty cool plugin. Based on the conversations at WordCamp, where it was suggested to improve search engine visibility by including at least one image in each post, the results from this plugin’s searches could be quite useful.

  3. We’ve been using this plugin for a little while now and I absolutely love it. The “sort by most interesting” option does seem to increase the chances of getting a good image quickly.

  4. Spamboy: It is a neat plugin and definitely something I'm looking forward to using. I try to include at least four "visual elements" in each post. Those include images, lists, tables, blockquotes, anything other than just gray text. So to keep that up, I need all of the help I can get!

    Sue: Thanks for the tip on how to use it! Much appreciated! I'll be sure to tick that in just a second and see if it helps.

  5. Spamboy: It is a neat plugin and definitely something I'm looking forward to using. I try to include at least four "visual elements" in each post. Those include images, lists, tables, blockquotes, anything other than just gray text. So to keep that up, I need all of the help I can get!Sue: Thanks for the tip on how to use it! Much appreciated! I'll be sure to tick that in just a second and see if it helps.

  6. Spamboy: It is a neat plugin and definitely something I'm looking forward to using. I try to include at least four "visual elements" in each post. Those include images, lists, tables, blockquotes, anything other than just gray text. So to keep that up, I need all of the help I can get!Sue: Thanks for the tip on how to use it! Much appreciated! I'll be sure to tick that in just a second and see if it helps.

  7. [...] Today has info about PhotoDropper – a WordPress Plugin that makes it easy to use photos in the Creative [...]

  8. [...] and find this article useful, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed. Thank you for visiting!Earlier this week, I reported on a new WordPress plugin that made it easier than ever to insert Creative Commons [...]

  9. [...] There is little doubt that Flickr’s API is a very powerful tool. It allows third parties to build services and tools that access Flickr and use the images there in new and exciting ways. It is behind many of my personal favorite tools, including Photodropper. [...]

  10. [...] auf der sicheren Seite. Wer dennoch auf die Creative Commons Lizenz setzen will, ist mit dem Plugin Photo Dropper sehr gut beraten. Die freien Bilder werden direkt auf der Fotoplattform Flickr gesucht und in dem [...]

  11. [...] Some people asked what I thought of this year’s Mardi Gras, unfortunately though, I don’t have a lot to say about it. I was sick the entire week before and most of the weekend before too. My revelry was limited to a bit on Sunday and Monday evening and most of the day Tuesday. I wasn’t able to go to any of my favorite parades, save Krewe Du Vieux early in the season, and it really feels like I missed most of this year and I don’t even have any pictures to share (be thankful for Photodropper). [...]

  12. [...] if anyone wishes to consider an alternative. I highly recommend PhotoDropper for WordPress for those who use that platform. For those who don’t, CC-licensed images are probably still a [...]

  13. [...] In: WordPress plugins 2 Aug 2009 Go to Source [...]

  14. [...] By Jonathan Bailey • Mar 29th, 2010 • Category: Articles, ProductsPreviously on this site I’ve talked about using PhotoDropper to make importing and attribution of Creative Commons-licensed Flickr images easier.However, [...]

  15. [...] it into your site.As a big supporter of CC-licensed content and tools to make using it easier, including Photodropper and the Flickr/CC bookmarklet, I was interested to give the tool a try to see what I thought.What I [...]

  16. [...] seen reference to a similar tool, PhotoDropper, which works as a WordPress plugin, but I haven’t tried that [...]

  17. Hi Jonathan, 
     
    Lucinda at Photodropper here. I just wanted to come by and thank you for your post about our plugin. We’ve got a new version out we thought you and your readers may enjoy. Tons of new features! Check it out and let me know what you think.
     
    Thanks, 
    Lucinda

  18. […] community admins and their staff stay safe. Patrick, as part of the article, used PhotoDropper (previous coverage) to find and embed a Creative Commons-Licensed image of a combination […]

  19. […] Considering there are free stock photos at sites like Morguefile and StockXchng and tools such as PhotoDropper to make adding Creative Commons-Licensed photos into your work easier, there’s little benefit […]

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