Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A wish for PhotoContests to use Creative Commons

I noticed Catherine Hall‘s invite on Google+ for a TWIT Photo contest and investigated because TWIT is a web savvy group but I was discouraged by the same old same old detail in the conditions of entry.

Once upon a time I entered a lot of on-line photo contest, they are fun and a good way to get recognition but I no longer do so because I now always read the terms and conditions of entry. They normally have been written by lawyers (or cut and pasted from rules written by lawyers) and have terms like “irrevocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide perpetual” when all they really want is the right to publish the winning and running up photos. Unfortunately that click that you accept the competition conditions is assumed to mean you have in theory have given away your normal common law copyright rights to those mentioned in the conditions I’m not a lawyer but such “agreements” may not be all that enforceable “worldwide” (specifically outside the USA) and are really only there for the USA-centric litigious fantasyland of sue or be sued. It is my observation that having lawyers and agents involved with the threat of litigation just suck the creative side dry rather than feeding and encouraging it. I don’t want to play in that space.

I for one want photo competitions to just use the creative commons guidelines. They are really ideal for what I understand the competition organizer’s want, which to be able to reproduce the photos without expressed permission of the photographer (this is the basic Attribution 3.0 license. CC BY, and the author is granting the right to share and adapt the work. The 3.0 is just the current version of the creative commons licenses. This does allows for commercial use of the work (because it is not excluded, in the same way it is usually not mention in the legalistic competition rules) Commercial use might including the photo in a book which is for sale. It is this right to potential commercial use that creative types should worry about.  Fortunately there is a nice creative common solution, the Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 license CC BY-NC. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms. In other words you are sharing your work buy not for other to make money from. Any completion organizer should still be happy with this.

So I would be happy to click acceptance on a competition that just requires those entering must license their entry Attribution-NonCommercial, CC BY-NC. End of conditions.

Other photographers might be happy to enter competition with a requirement for Create Commons Attribution, CC BY. Which I think is all the TWIT team really intended after all.

Flickr and Picasa Web Album are examples of two web services that understand this need to include the creative common licensing in their web based display of any photo or art work and including the ability to have default settings. If you look at any single photo in either of these services you will see the little CC logo, or failing that a convention copyright (all rights reserved logo). The intention in Google+ is not as clear in that creative commons isn’t found in the help forum and sharing images bring you to discussion of public versus sharing with your circles. In theory because Google+ images are also in picasa web album they get a default license (which is for me at least is a full copy right). I can change that in picasa web album for specific photos or albums but anyone looking at the image(s) on Google+ will not see these CC license logos. I think this is an important small step for Google+ to fix right now

The big advantage of creative commons for content creators is they are don’t affect the author’s moral rights to the intellectual property and that the author could also grant waivers or stricter conditions to others wanting to use the same image.

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