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Monday, April 28, 2008

Creative Commons

Addressing the key concerns of rights and licenses for image usage, an organization has proposed a revolutionary solution all pros should know

creative commons
Figure 4
CC is constantly working to improve its licensing schema. The latest development, the addition of the CC+ license, was made specifically with photographers in mind. The CC+ license enables publishers to pursue commercial rights and additional permissions or services beyond a specified noncommercial CC license. With the CC+ license, a photo publisher can utilize an image as before for noncommercial use, while someone interested in commercial use can easily click through to an appropriate site to pursue a commercial license (Figure 4).

Back to that earlier question: Is CC the right fit for professional photographers? Professor Lessig puts it best when he says, “The first thing photographers have to decide is whether they are okay with people using their photographs in ways the photographer never intended or never thought about. If they are not, they should not be using CC licenses; they should just be marking their photographs with copyright and insisting, ‘You need to get permission from me first.'”

Is CC enough? Whether you're a professional photographer or not, one should realize the answer to this question is an individual choice and hardly black or white. Assigning a CC license to your photographs can provide benefits in the form of exposure and search-engine optimization when links are provided in any resulting attribution. On the other hand, it also can provide headaches if you license some image “All Rights Reserved” and “CC,” as you may have people assume your images are all CC-licensed. One important aspect to consider is that once you license an image as CC, there's no changing this designation, and even if you could, enforcing licenses before and after the change would be difficult, if not impossible, to do.

One thing I recommend is that photographers assess and match their online marketing plan to their comfort level and aversion to risk. The answer to this question will stand out more resoundingly for some than for others. CC certainly has the ability to add value, if aligned to a predetermined marketing strategy.

To learn more about these licenses, visit the Creative Commons website at http://creativecommons.org/about/license. Jim Goldstein is a photographer specializing in landscape, nature and travel photography. His blog and podcasts can be found at JMG-Galleries.com.


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