Leonard Gagnon's daughters knitting from John Collier, Jr.
(used with permission)
This photograph is part of The American Image: The Photographs of John Collier Jr. online exhibit developed by the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico and Ideum. If you click through to the license, it says "all rights reserved." So, I thought I'd use a screen capture of the photo inside flickr instead, but wasn't sure whether I could.
I picked up the phone and got a hold of Jim Spadaccini, founder of Ideum, whose blog post I discovered via a discussion thread on flickr and museums on the museum technology list. Jim laughed and told me that the photo was in the public domain so I could blog it anyway I wanted and that he was going to change the default license. Here's the description of how they used flickr for the exhibition.
In designing and developing The American Image: The Photographs of John Collier Jr. website with The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology we’ve found ourselves spending a lot of time in Flickr. The Collection of photographs found on the site are pulled in from Flickr using a Flash-base mashup. The Shooting ScriptColonizing Social Spaces, looked more broadly at the benefits and drawbacks of museums utilzing social networking sites. In this post, I’m going to look exclusively at Flickr and our experience with the American Image site. activity works in similar way: pulling out John Collier Jr’s images as well as those of other Flickr members. An earlier post, Colonizing Social Spaces, looked more broadly at the benefits and drawbacks of museums utilzing social networking sites. In this post, I’m going to look exclusively at Flickr and our experience with the American Image site.
Jim told me that initially more people had viewed the photos in flickr versus the exhibition web site. He also mentioned that the commenting on the photos was fascinating and that they even got an email from someone who knew the Gagnon's family that the name was not correct! We chatted about some patterns of Web2.0 adoption that we've both observed, but I'll save that for another post.
This discovery emerged from a question the Museum list about using flickr in a museum context. It started with a question:
I am looking into ways to share images with colleagues within my institution, as well as deliver images in various resolution / formats with scholars, publishers, etc. elsewhere in the world. I realize that ultimately we need to set up something via our website, or some type of ftp. In the meantime I am looking at Yahoo's flickr. Do you have experience with it, or can you think of any particular reason why not to use this? In a way it looks to me like a very good temporary solution, but it might be too good to be true.
Some responders suggested ways that one could "lock down" the photos -- that is make them only viewable to friends and family so that others couldn't view them. In this way, photos could be shared internally without worries.
Other responders noted the value of sharing museum photos via flickr. Nina Simon from the Museums and Web2.0 shared her blog post about "Why Museums Should Use Flickr At Work" Mike Rippy, from the Indianpolis Museum of Art, pointed to a flickr group that staff and visitors use to share photos of the grounds. Bruce Wyman from the Denver Art Museum shared this:
Okay, since we're talking about Flickr, here's a link to a protoype that we did recently.In the final version, the application pulls images from flickr.com that are tagged "denver+art+museum" and screened for certain licensing types. These images form a visual cascade with periodic images randomly coming to the foreground and an attribution appearing beneath the image. Interspersed with the random playback are additional content images (in this instance displaying a graph of the results of a quiz taken at an event a few fridays ago) which can either be static or dynamically created -- web pages, text feeds, video overlays, etc. In the final installation, which will be projected in a different location, we'll also have a small panel of text that describes the experience and that the images are coming from flickr.com. If people want to participate, all they'll need to do is start uploading their images to the site. At the event a few weeks ago where we were running the prototype, we were unknowingly using someone's images that was at the event. He saw them, was blown away, and loved it.
This brings full circle to the Nonprofits and Flickr Affinity Group and question that was posted by the thoughtful Heather Gardner-Madras:
My question here though is about the legal and other ramifications of using a photo found on Flickr. Where the photographer is unknown but willing to give permission but may no longer have access to the subject to obtain a model release. Not so much “can I use photos I take at events for my organization” but “can I use found Flickr photos on my projects legally and ethically with the photographer, but not necessarily the model’s permission”? The issue gets even stickier with photos of adorable children, of course.
The use of conference photos is an interesting problem, but I think it would be separate from my original inquiry – or maybe not? My understanding is that as long as there is no expectation of privacy (public event =public view) then there is not much legal standing for the people in the photos to complain.
However, I am sure the nonprofits I work with wouldn’t want to offend anyone or cause themselves any headaches trying to prove that to an angry parent whose child shows up on a site about AIDS for example. If the photographer has informed the organization that there is no model release it is their responsibility to justify usage. What should be their guidelines on this?
My other question was whether use as part of the imagery on a non-profit web site constitutes editorial or advertising usage. Not many nonprofits feel that they fit into the commercial category but in this instance they might be considered so instead of educational – even though they exist to say educate the public about an issue. Anyone wrangled with these types of definitions before?
I think natural photos of real people often speak to the issues and engage people far more than posed stock photography ever could. And most groups don’t have professional photographers available so quality photos by amateurs on Flickr seem like a wonderful solution. There are some great photos out there in Flickrland and I would love to use them as long as its on the up and up – oh, the whole social media access to new resources is double edged for sure. Are they just off limits or does anyone have non campaign or organization member experiences to share?
I shot this question around to a few folks and posted on the Museum list, but have not gotten any answers. Does anyone have an opinion?
I'd be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to tell you again that the Nonprofits and Flickr Affinity Group is meeting at NTC on April 4th at 1-3 pm. Come join us!