This is something which has been bothering me for a while now and finding a bunch more of my photos being used improperly online this weekend pushed me to write this. I license almost all of my photos under a CC license (attribution-noncommercial-no derivative works 2.0 specifically) and I have been finding that virtually _no one_ follows what I believe to be the intent of that license. As a quick briefing, the license can be found here:
The areas which are most in question are the attribution and the non-commercial parts. I’ve come to accept my colleagues’ and peers’ opinions that non-commercial simply means they can’t sell my work. Personally, I think this should also mean you can’t put my photo on a page you are making money off of (aka advertising) either without my permission (which in most, but not all cases I would give automatically upon being asked), but apparently I am fairly alone in that belief. I guess it’s something I will just have to agree to disagree with.
On the other hand, attribution, is a bit of a different story. If you pay close attention and look, you will see some of my photos are used all over the Internet, from giants like Wired Magazine and CNET to mere annoyances to many like the Silicon Valley tabloid “Valleywag”. More often than not, I don’t even get a link back to the original photo, let alone a mention like “photo by: Jeremy Johnstone”. Now in the case of my Taylor Swift photos (from when she performed on campus), I could care less really since the majority of people who use those photos are teenage kids who don’t know any better (and besides, I took the photos to share them). It’s a whole different story when it comes to professional journalists and bloggers, who should know better, especially when they use my photos in negative posts about Yahoo! or it’s various employees. While I am not sure I would want my name next to something negative about Yahoo!, I also don’t want my photos being used without at least getting credit for the effort I put in.
For the record, the two forms of attribution which I approve of are:
1.) My name near the photo or specified at the end of the post/page in which it is used. Something along the lines of “photo by: Jeremy Johnstone”. If the photo is of something related to Yahoo!, then adding something like “(Yahoo!)” to the end of my name indicating my employer, is ideal but not required. The photo should also link back to the Flickr page if at all possible. If you are an over achiever and want to get on my good side, then make my name clickable and link back to my blog or to my main Flickr page (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremyjohnstone).
2.) If you simply want to do the bare minimum and nothing else, then just make the photo link back to the Flickr page for that photo. If for some reason that is not possible, somewhere on your page where the photo is used, indicate the original source of the photo. I really don’t feel this meets what I would call attribution, but I am willing to compromise and say it does since it seems to be commonly accepted as such.
Some say that I should be happy that people want to use my photos and I am getting free publicity (when they actually link back to me that is), but it becomes a whole different situation when you are getting flak about photos you took being used in manners not intended (like one I took of a leader of a foreign country a while back). I brought this up on an internal photography mailing list at work a couple weeks ago and opinions were all over the map. So, is this something photographers around the world have just come to accept as a fact of life, or is this something we should unite and fight against? I’d love to hear your opinions (especially if you are a photographer too, amateur or professional), so please share!
Update (12/10/2007 3:24pm PST): It would appear that I am not alone on the non-commercial part either. Here’s a post by Denise Howell talking about one of the annoying offenders, Valleywag: http://blogs.zdnet.com/Howell/?p=154. Interesting to see others finding them doing it a lot too.
Update (12/16/2007 1:54am PST): It seems this topic is heating up in other circles. Check out more about the drama in the following links:
While I don’t completely agree with Lane’s heavy handed approach, I can also completely understand where she is coming from and realize sometimes you just really have to take a stand.