Misunderstanding Creative Commons

Over on Flickr, I see countless examples of people giving their snap shots an ‘All Rights Reserved’ licence, as if they are part of the Getty or Magnum elite.

I’m a fan of Creative Commons, the fantastic project that provides ready-made licences, with increasing degrees of freedom, that you can bestow on any content you create.

One thing I find amusing and irritating in turn is the inappropriate use of these licences. Over on Flickr, I see countless examples of people giving their snap shots an ‘All Rights Reserved’ licence, as if they are part of the Getty or Magnum elite.

There are thousands of examples of this, so I hate to pick on anyone.  But the latest example I have come across just happens to be the Flickr group for The Last Tuesday Society, a bizarre yet highly successful events company based in London.  Now, I’ve been to a couple of events that they have put on, and they are great fun.  Sexy, risqué, warped, funny.  They upload literally hundreds of snap-shots for each event they run, but Mr Victor Wynd uses a simple domestic camera with a built in flash, so, to be frank, they’re not all that impressive.  And yet bizarrely, there’s no way I can reproduce this photo, or that photo, or even this photo, because they are All Rights Reserved.

And that’s just silly.  The people taking and uploading the photos is in the business of promoting events, and so it would be in their interests for their images to be seen by as many people as possible.  Especially photos like this, which would, I’ll wager, sell a fair few dozen tickets if they appeared on a large news website or even in the Metro, or londonpaper, or London Lite.

And its not just companies that are guilty of this particular misunderstanding.  At the risk of alienating certain friends of mine, I do wonder why the images for mkultra, strangerpixel and rossfadam are not given a more liberal licence.  Doing so would surely bring their work to a wider audience, and may even increase the rate at which their images are used for editorial or illustrative purposes.  As we saw with the case of MC Yogi last year, providing some work for free (however high the quality) can lead to greater exposure, and paid for contracts, a short way down the line.

Amusingly, a more liberal approach has worked for me.  I recently found that one of my photographs has been included on the popular Schmapp website.  It is actually a rather average image, poorly lit and unimaginatively framed.  And its inclusion is also unlikely to make me any money.  However, it does mean an increased exposure for my Flickr stream, and also fulfils a particular purpose for the community.  A net gain all round?

The Botanical Gardens in Sheffield, September 2008
The Botanical Gardens in Sheffield, September 2008

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