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Why Photographers Shouldn’t Hate Creative Commons

Posted By Jim Pickerell On June 29, 2010 @ 8:20 am In Legal Matters | 5 Comments

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Most professional photographers are adamantly opposed to Creative Commons licenses [2], which encourage free uses of images. But in at least one important way, I think Creative Commons is a good thing for image sellers.

With widespread use, Creative Commons is establishing in the minds of users the very important copyright law principle that “All Rights [are] Reserved” by the creator or copyright holder of any work, and that it is left to the creator to specify who has what rights to make what uses of the work and at what cost.

Creative Commons defines six levels [3] that grant limited free uses to content found on the Web. All but one of the six Creative Commons licenses involve some type of restriction, and even the last requires credit be given.

Educating the “Right Click and Save” Crowd

How does this help image sellers?

There is widespread misunderstanding as to what rights people have to use anything found on the Web, including images. Because Creative Commons images are perceived as being “free,” the standard is broadly accepted and promoted by the Internet community.

But Creative Commons does more than promote the idea of giving away content. It also promotes the notion of reserving rights, as well as that anyone who wishes to use an image they did not create must obtain some type of license for its use.

The fact that there are six different variations of a Creative Commons license also establishes that the allowed free use is based entirely on the nature of the use — some uses are allowed, while others are not.

Those who charge fees for uses of their images are a very small segment of the Internet community. As such, this group has always had a difficult time getting their message of “compensation for use” accepted by the community at large.

With Creative Commons, a much larger and more diverse community is saying: “Yes, you can use my images for free, for certain specified uses, but there are limits, and I must be compensated at least by credit.”

This makes it far more difficult for the “right click and save” crowd to argue that they know nothing about usage rights. As more creators recognize that it is wise to put some limits on how their images can be used without their knowledge, more and more people will become aware of what is expected whenever they want to use an image they find online.

Five Licensing Options

Creative Commons helps photographers by teaching people that when they think about using images, they need a license of some kind, and that there are a whole range of available options.

As of today, licensing options include:

  • Creative Commons. The allowable rights are specified in six license types, and the user is required to pay nothing as long as the use is within the specified parameters.
  • Microstock. A lower-priced offshoot of traditional royalty-free, microstock sites base fees on file size. Virtually unlimited use is allowed, but the rights granted vary slightly from one distributor to the next.
  • Subscription. The customer is allowed to download a specified number of images from a site, over a specified period of time, for a fixed fee.
  • Traditional Royalty-Free. Fees, which vary among different distributors, are based on file size delivered and, once the fee is paid, virtually unlimited use is allowed. Microstock licenses are usually slightly more restrictive.
  • Rights-Managed. Fees are based on the specific uses made of images. Discounts are usually available for customers that make volume purchases.
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5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Why Photographers Shouldn’t Hate Creative Commons"

#1 Comment By Jonathan Worth On June 29, 2010 @ 9:58 am

Great post Jim, CC Licensing has helped/empowered me for sure.

First and foremost the language used to describe what I'm signing up to, is in simple human English rather than arcane lawyer speak.

I currently use a license that's in keeping with what I'd aways thought reasonable at http:/jonathanworth.com . Use my images on your fan-site or as a screensaver, just attribute (AT) them to me, don't use them commercially (NC) and don't make derivative versions (ND).

That last point I'm now thinking I'll change as I kind of want kids to mash up my stuff when I photograph their heros (so long as I'm linked, attributed and they're using the same license or Sharing Alike [SA]).

jw

#2 Comment By Paul Melcher On June 29, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

Jim,

What you are saying here is that the pro industry has failed to come up with a proper license language and thus the CC had to jump in.

problem is : the pro never had to find a language to license images for free. It's not their business.

Now, you say, freeloaders are easily going from free to paying thanks to the CC ?

Do you have numbers to back what you are saying ?

Have you figured out how links are going to pay your bills ?

because CC is not teaching people there is limits to a free license, they are teaching people that images are free and you don't even have to ask.

Have you really investigated who is behind CC and what their motivations are ?

#3 Comment By Donald E Giannatti On June 30, 2010 @ 1:21 am

"With widespread use, Creative Commons is establishing in the minds of users the very important copyright law principle that “All Rights [are] Reserved” by the creator or copyright holder of any work, and that it is left to the creator to specify who has what rights to make what uses of the work and at what cost."

What information, statistics, or studies have you seen that would back up this claim? It is the basis for your article, but I cannot find any information on a study, or research that would show this to be an accepted conclusion.

It sounds plausible, to a point. I would have to first assume, or at least accept that people 'want' to be educated in relationship to rights of artists. I am really having some problems with that conclusion.

"Those who charge fees for uses of their images are a very small segment of the Internet community. As such, this group has always had a difficult time getting their message of “compensation for use” accepted by the community at large."

Well, that may be true, but it certainly doesn't mean that we let the 'I want it for free so give it to me and shut up" crowd. Like this guy... who seems to be a prominent person...
[4]

I would love to think that feeling good about this CC thing would make a difference, but I do not think it will work out that well for those who create images. And digging a little into who is behind it, and why... well.

Good luck and all. I just want to own my own stuff. Kinda old fashioned about that.

#4 Comment By Matthew Dutile On June 30, 2010 @ 2:10 am

"Educating the “Right Click and Save” Crowd"

IMO you're putting far too much faith in the general Internet community to not only WANT to be educated, but to find the resources to actually be educated. It's rarely something that happens passively. Furthermore, I think the general acumen of the vast majority of Internet users is synonymous with anything BUT education heh. Five minutes on YouTube kinda proves that.

But don't consider me a crotchety person stuck in my ways on this, because I'm not. I'm young and open to finding plenty of ways to sharing as much as I can of myself, but CC is not the right way to do it. Just one guys opinion.

#5 Comment By Craig M On August 10, 2010 @ 10:28 am

You should spend some time over at Burns Auto Parts Jim.


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[2] adamantly opposed to Creative Commons licenses: http://rising.blackstar.com/why-photographers-hate-creative-commons.html

[3] Creative Commons defines six levels: http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses/meet-the-licenses

[4] : http://filmutopia.posterous.com/movie-blog-copyright-and-ip-are-deader-than-e

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