One of the things that shocks people in Dayton Ohio- is my willingness to let my competition come take the Websitetology seminar and learn our “trade secrets” to web optimization. I also share my ideas for making Dayton a better place on my personal website, www.esrati.com all without worrying about people stealing my ideas. In fact, if they steal them, all the better, although I’d like to be rewarded somehow for them. In todays “expert economy” that reward can be as simple as proper attribution, That’s what the Creative Commons license is all about.
My online “friend”- D’Arcy Norman writes an eloquent essay on why he uses the CC license- and it’s well worth reading in it’s entirety- but here is a brief excerpt:
on creative commons licensing – D’Arcy Norman dot net
I donâ€™t publish things online for fame, nor fortune. I started doing this primarily as an outboard, searchable brain. Over time, the network effects kicked in, and Iâ€™ve kept doing it for the additional reasons of sharing thoughts, experiences, and information with the rest of the class. The conversations that take place across the various bits of the social web have become far more important to me than simply publishing content. In order to honour the spirit of the network, attribution for use of content is required – a simple hyperlink – which then teaches Google, Technorati, and the rest of The Machine about the semantic connection between pages (and people).
As always, his insight makes me think about things I may not have thought about in depth- and it’s made me want to share it with you. The CC license isn’t hard to add to your site, and the principle of it is good common sense and a stand for good karma. Both of which are a very good thing these days.
I agree with the premise of creative commons licensing, and I think it applies to the majority of content being placed on the web. But when it comes to photography it can become a bit more tricky. Many professional photographers, who are well established and accomplished in their field, are dead-set against it, as are the professional associations such as PPA and ASMP. Photo community web sites such as Flickr recently tweaked their usage options in way to appease pressure from the pros and associations and still keep the up-and-comers, as well as the basic community spirit of the site, happy.
My personal philosophy is more like yours and that of D’Arcy – put it out there to share but at least get some kind of credit for it, whether it be a credit listing or return link. One of the top pros in the fine art nature photography field, David Middleton, gave me some great advice a few years ago regarding posting photographic work on the web. “People are going to lift your images off your site no matter what you do, so you might as well let them advertise for you,” which means simply embedded copyright symbols on the images that list the photographer’s web site versus just his or her name. Look closely at the copyrights in all the images I post on calmphotos and jimcrotty.com.
Now if they happen to obtain a high-res version by other means than actually purchasing licensing and/or obtaining permission from the photographer (altering, selling, making prints, etc.) then I would definitely argue, as well as enforce my rights, that by no means does such an action of theft fall within realm of creative commons (God I hate sounding like a you-know-what).
I agree with your approach and I respect the courage and honesty to share, but it’s more of a fine line that I walk as a professional photographer.
The fact that you, David, are a rarity in the Dayton business community (particularly as it applies to ad and creative agencies) could have to do with a few other factors that are unique to both Dayton and the vast majority of the older baby boomers who now reign supreme amongst the local country club power circles. It’s all about hording information, back room deals and generally being just uptight and white out in the suburbs. And of course, never, ever put anything “out on the web.” There’s a certain local snobbery about that I believe is rooted in fear, ignorance and insecurity. It humors me that they’ve turned out to be just as worse (if not more so) than their parent’s generation which they abhorred just 30 to 40 short years ago.