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TechDirt: Flickr Plans To Sell Creative Commons Photos And That’s Okay ...

The vast majority would never have taken the steps necessary to profit from their work, so print sales do not deprive them of money. When a user really expects to sell prints, they should avoid Creative Commons licensing ...” When CC was first set up, old-fashioned copyright was portrayed as a barrier to collaboration. There was much peer pressure to adopt it, to allow others to riff off your stuff. I don’t think anyone except die-hard photogs recognized how broad the license really was.  If you don’t want others to profit monetarily from your work ... go with traditional copyright. [Note: see comment thread for explanation of this correction.] Those of you with kids, your children’s images could end up in some really strange places.

Flickr, it should be an ‘opt-in.’  Not ‘you licensed CC - we’re selling your stuff and you get no benefits.’

12/02/14 • 09:49 AM • ArtsCorrectionsLawPhotography • (7) Comments


You are wrong - you can use a CC License and still not allow others to commercially profit off of it. For example, I use a CC “Attribution - Share Alike - NonCommercial” license for many of my images on Flickr. Even if people use my work non-commercially, they can’t legally sell it OR change the licensing terms of their version afterwards.

The default license on Flickr is “All Rights Reserved;” how idiotic do you have to be to change it to a fully open license and then be ‘shocked’ to discover that people are profiting off of your work?

I definitely agree with you though that this was a bad decision on Flickr’s part. ‘Opt-in’ would have been a much less controversial option, but users who changed their license to allow commercial use in some sense already have done so. But I understand why a lot of people feel betrayed, I’m sure it felt like Flickr pulled the rug out from under them. The real icing on the cake is having Yahoo offering to pay 51% of the revenues to other photographers on Flickr while the CC licensed people get nothing in return…

Posted by Patrick on 12/02/14 at 12:35 PM

In the way I phrased it, perhaps I am wrong. I’m going to modify my post accordingly with a note to read this comment thread. I still feel safer with a traditional copyright.

“Idiotic” ... As a web designer, I’m still schooling clients that they can’t just take and reuse CC images on their websites without attribution (at the very least).  I frequently point clients to the CC site for more information, their eyes cross and they say “just tell me what I can and can’t do.”  Whereas, when they see a copyright symbol, they stop short immediately. That’s worth something. Ask around; many people think CC means ‘free’.

The CC site needs simple explanatory case studies. Flickr should have some too, because they make users click outside their own site to get information on CC. 

People don’t read fine print, especially when determined to ‘be social!’

Posted by Garret P Vreeland on 12/02/14 at 01:29 PM

I was being a bit mean using ‘idiotic’ but they did make a decision to change from the default licensing. The fact that many people do think that CC means ‘free’ should make them pause even more and consider carefully what they are doing more carefully.

As a fellow web designer, I’ve been there many times as well. I really hate how clients (and others) default to willful ignorance about these sorts of things, even when you take the time to explain it to them as simply as possible.

You’re fortunate that your clients are concerned about copyright; I can’t tell you how many times some of mine have just wanted to ignore ANY sorts of rights put onto an image on the internet. (Hello stolen images from stock agencies!) Many people truly believe that everything is fair game on the web…

The CC site does have a ‘human readable’ version of their licenses, for what it is worth: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Posted by Patrick on 12/02/14 at 02:28 PM

Well - they have to SEE a copyright symbol someplace.  Nothing else will do.

Otherwise, if it’s on Google Images, “it’s fair game”.

[Ay-yay-yay-yay ... *smacks forehead* ... ]

Posted by Garret P Vreeland on 12/02/14 at 02:31 PM

I really do believe it is the designer’s responsibility to instruct clients on this. I always ask about image/graphic ownership. *Always.*

Posted by Garret P Vreeland on 12/02/14 at 02:32 PM

Oh yeah! They usually start coming around when you mention the possibility of lawsuits from those they are stealing from… We’re definitely on the same page there.

Posted by Patrick on 12/02/14 at 03:01 PM

Just a note - I don’t mind disagreements at all.  And I appreciate knowing when I’m wrong.

Posted by Garret P Vreeland on 12/02/14 at 03:22 PM


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