The beginnings of what could/should be an ongoing discussion in the troubling world of licensing photography; via iCommons.org:
by Paul Jacobson · Johannesburg Gauteng (South Africa)
by Garlyn from flickr.com
Brianna linked to a post on Black Star Rising titled "Why Photographers Hate Creative Commons" which raises a number of important issues and highlights a number of misconceptions about CC licenses.
At the risk of repeating much of what I posted the other day on the topic of the mainstream media and copyright, I thought I would repeat much of my comment on the Black Star Rising post here. The fact that these misconceptions are still out there means these are things that we need to discuss further and clarify.
Certainly not everyone will agree with my take on this debate but it does seem to me that the licenses themselves are pretty clear when it comes to what people can and can't legitimately do with them and use CC licensed content for. Because these sorts of misconceptions are shared by creative professionals it is important that we keep this debate alive.
First, an excerpt from Scott Baradell's post on Black Star Rising, "Why Photographers Hate Creative Commons" (20 December 2007):
Last week, Creative Commons turned five years old -- five years of phenomenal growth, thanks in no small part to advocates like the photo-sharing site Flickr.
Now, I don't want to piss on CC's birthday cake just for the fun of it. But it does seem clear that an increasing number of photographers -- not just professionals but high-end hobbyists also -- have become disenchanted with the Creative Commons system.
Why? Depending on who you ask, it's because:
1. It's taking money out of the pockets of working photographers;
2. It's putting money into the coffers of large corporations, whose executives like CC-enabled crowdsourcing even better than Third World child labor;
3. It's supposed to make sharing your work easier, but it often just makes it more confusing -- creating the kind of misunderstandings that lead to lawsuits.
Since the first two complaints are related, let's address them together. Creative Commons is a system that enables you to renounce some or all of your copyright protections -- in the name of sharing. This raises a question that doesn't get enough serious consideration: Who actually benefits from this?
Theoretically, we all do, since I can stick your Flickr photo on my blog and link back to you, and maybe this will cause more people to visit your Web site, and -- who knows -- maybe if you're a professional photographer, you'll get a paying gig or two out of it.
The fact is, though, that a Creative Commons license isn't necessary for this kind of sharing to happen. People are going to grab your photos anyway for their noncommercial use, because that's the common law of the Web today -- where "fair use" is interpreted very broadly. And if you really, really want to encourage people, you can put a note on your Web site explicitly giving people permission to use your photos, under whatever conditions you set forth. How hard is that? Why do you need a CC badge to say it? [read full post]
Thanks for your post on this topic. If anything your post highlights a number of misconceptions about Creative Commons licenses. CC licenses are licenses that operate within the framework of copyright and which were formulated by Creative Commons, a non-profit organisation. They are tools that have been made available for free for people who are looking for ways to make their content more readily available in ways that copyright doesn't permit in the absence of a license. There are 6 pretty flexible options which range from relatively restricted uses that prohibit commercial use and any adaptations of the original work (all CC licenses require attribution so there should always be an acknowledgement of the author of the work) to a pretty flexible license which just requires attribution.
The licenses are pretty clearly explained on the Creative Commons site and a properly licensed work should include a link back to the CC site and to an explanation of the license. Although it can be a little complication compared to the Commons Deed version, it is worthwhile reading the legal deeds of the licenses because they detail the terms of the licenses and what you can or can't do.
Like any content license (or even copyright itself), a big challenge is where people ignore the terms of the license or what they can or can't do under copyright and exploit content in ways that basically infringe the terms of the license and copyright. Bear in mind that when you license something using a CC license you are exercising your rights under copyright because you are allowing other people to make use of some of the bundle of rights that make up copyright. Except where you release something into the public domain, you are not giving away your rights to your work when you use a CC license. Rather you are allowing people to do some of the things copyright reserves just for you (for example, making copies, republishing a work, making money from the work and creating adaptations to name a few rights). When someone violates the terms of a license you ought to be able to take action under the terms of the license (which is really a contract between you and the person who uses your work under the license) and for copyright infringement.
I agree that CC licenses are not necessary. There are a number of options available to people who would like to license their content and these options include preparing your own consent/license if you feel up to the task or hiring a lawyer to prepare a custom made license for your work. CC licenses are free licenses that anyone can use and which have been prepared by lawyers. They are updated to cater for new issues or deal with existing issues better (the unported licences are at version 3.0) and do a pretty good job. Like any content license you really should take some time to familiarise yourself with the terms of the license, both as someone looking to use a CC license and as a person looking to use CC licensed work. That being said, CC licenses are easy to implement and free you up to focus on what you love, creating your content.
As professional photographers you may want to check out CC+ which is a supplemental protocol which was announced recently by Creative Commons. CC+ allows you to license your photos under a CC license that, say, permits non-commercial uses of your photos (so people could share your photos with their friends) and then also let people know how they can license your work commercially. By doing this you are creating more of an awareness of your work by letting your fans tell their friends about you and you are also establishing a framework for the commercial exploitation of your work on terms that work for you. [...]