Beth Kanter's photo of Marc Canter
in flickr - please read comments for attribution
That's a photo I took of Marc Canter at the first Blogher Conference in July, 2005 I put it in flickr with an "All Rights Reserved" license which is the flickr default. Back then, I was totally ignorant of creative commons licensing versus all rights reserved. I had never changed it.
I found myself at the sfgate site and this story about Marc Canter. The photo looked familiar and I realized, Oh My God, it's mine! Before I could happy dance around my computer desk, I realized that they didn't ask me for permission. Yes, they did give me a photo credit. But the link was broken.
This certainly was not an appropriate use of the "All Rights Reserved" license. People can't just take your photos without asking or paying.
The irony was that I had recently had switched my default flickr photo license to the Creative Commons "by" license to make it easier for people to incorporate my photos (with proper attribution and not have to ask). In recent email back and forth with Alan Levine about this topic, he made the funny remark about the fear of "some big old mean commercial scavenger getting rich off my photos." So, stumbling upon my photo in a commerical site like the sfgate is a weird twist of fate.
Like Alan, from the time I maintained my first web site (the old Arts Wire SpiderSchool), I’ve always set my content free. Like Alan, I do believe it comes back to you.
So I am considering, pondering, swaying that the most free, is the simple BY Attribution license, and until someone strongly can compel me backward, have switched this on my blog and my flickr collections.
It’s simple, direct, and says, “use it, just give me credit and/or a link.” Okay, so when X-Mart grabs my photo of Alien Faces in Juniper Berries and makes a gazillion dollars on some new product ad, I might be sorry when all I get is a credit. Because what is more likely to happen, and more fruitful are examples where some German rock band uses my photo of Death Valley on their CD.
All of this assumes a lot– that people really bother to look at the licenses or even understand it. For as long as it has been “out there”, I continually see at conference workshops rather blank expressions when I ask about turning to CC repositories to find media, and incredulous surprise when they see what is there… free for the using.
So… let free be really free, wildly and openly free. Free it forward. Not Free With a Confusing Asterisk, but Free, Period.
And, just when I've decided to embrace the creative commons "by" license versus the non-commercial use one - this happens. The funny thing is that they ignored the "All rights reserved." And, if they had asked me for permission (my photos have appeared in other commercial publications - but they asked me and they included a working link), I would have gladly granted permission. Heck, that a lot of exposure beyond flickr ...
I still believe in setting it free - I rather have the exposure with a working link. So, ahem, Sfgate.com please fix the link.
So I complained in flickr, my blog and left a comment on the Tech Chronicles Blog. (I also asked this guy who I met in Second Life for advice) The link got fixed, but no apology! A journalist stopped by flickr and directed me to a writer and editor over at the SF Chronicle. I contacted them via flickr and the photo was removed with an apology!
I've now become more convinced than ever about the power of the "by" license and had just turned my default to it. So, as I explained to the editor in an apology accepted email, this was teachable moment for me:
Thank you for the apology ... I appreciate it! I actually wasn't trying
to be mean spirited or troublesome. I was actually flattered that you
thought the photo was worthy of including the article! I didn't expect
However, it was placed on flickr with "all rights reserved" which in
addition to proper attribution - permission needs to be gotten before
using, especially for a commercial site! (And, if asked, I would have
gladly granted it!)
I put that photo under that license because that was the default
licensing available in flickr. At the time, I was pretty darn clueless
about creative commons licensing and the why it is important. Now, I've
been an ardent supporter of creative commons licensing and have changed
my default licensing from to "BY" and use "BY-NC" when appropriate
because, in the end, I want to set my content free!
I guess I could have simply changed gone back to my 2005 photo and
changed the license to a "BY" photo, but I'm also trying help educate
other people in the social change/nonprofit field about benefit of cc
licensing and this was teachable moment for me.
Lessons learned is that if you use a photo (1) attribute any BY photo;
(2) use any BY-NC or all rights reserved photo only with permission.
Thank you again