231 Erwin Road

My experiences as a Northern transplant down in Chapel Hill, NC, 2005. And now my experiences back up in NYC.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Make a Spash and the problem with Flickr

I was originally gonna post about 'making a splash.' I'm currently reading 'The Tipping Point' and he talks about stickyness factors. Today I walked by that big black cube @ Astor Place also known as 'Alamo.'
Photo credit to webseitz.

I gave it a good spin, and it caught the attention of most folks that had no Idea it was spinnable. It cause a few ppl to stop and others to open their mouths. After 10-20 seconds, I watched from a block away and noticed another person came to spin it as it slowed down, after that spin, it came to a stop. There was something viral in this. I wanted to talk more about it, but I'll have to come back to the viral topic in another post.

So I'm changing the topic of this post for one reason, the commons. I searched flickr for a photo of that cube so I could put it on my website. I wanted to respect the author who took the photo, so I looked for a photo that had a Creative Commons license. Somebody that wouldn't mind if I used there photo for non-commercial use as long as I gave them credit. There was the problem, there was no way for me to filter the search on that attribute. How could I find a photo to reuse in a pool of photos if I can't filter out by CC licenses?

So I opted for the 'unethical' route and had to 'steal' the photo to display it on my blog. But that's wasn't my intent, my intent was to use somebody a photo for the purpose of a visual display. If anything, that's good for the photographer, I can give them credit and create a link to their work so that more people can see their photos. But Flickr doesn't make that easy. Because the default 'all rights reserved' license won't allow me to embed a photo in my blog and create a link to the author. So I'm forced to create a 'copy' of it on my Flickr account.

Then I ran into another problem, how do I quickly and easily copy a flickr photo into my flickr account? Let's say the author is cool with it. Flickr should allow you to copy it into your account, so that if the author takes the photo down, you still have access to it. The reason I bring this up is for this photo.
Photo credit to Brianvan

I think it's an amazing photo, the color is beautiful. I'm even a little out of focus, just like real life. However, 'all rights are reserved' on this photo as well, so I stole it (I'm in the photo, shouldn't I have some right to display it as well?) Again there was no way for me to embed this pic into my blog. Brianvan has a website, 485i.com, go check out his work. I don't know him personal, he snapped that photo at a party.

But the problem exists on how to copy that photo into my blog? Flickr restricts it from being linkable, so I'm forced to copy it to my flickr account so I can display it in my blog.
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  • At 12/17/2005 6:20 PM, Blogger Brian Van said…

    I can somewhat answer the question of "How do I use a copyrighted photo without stealing?" First, why the copyright is there:

    I blanket copyright everything because, in the end, I want to know what's going on with my work. My copyright protection in law dictates that I have total legal control over when, where, and how my work is used. There are all kinds of abuses and unfair usage scenarios out there that I can't responsibly ignore. And, even when photos are used in ways that I like, I request common courtesy for such usage.

    The way to get around the copyright: ask permission. If a copyright holder grants you permission to use the photo as requested, you're free to do what you asked to do.

    I'm a reasonable person, and I typically don't have a problem with people using my photos in their blogs as long as my name is on it and it points back to me somehow. That's usually all that I ask (and you did that here). Many photographers who strictly enforce their copyright still allow for reasonable personal uses without hassle or charge - and some indicate on their websites what's typically allowed, what isn't, and how you would go about asking.

    It's a hassle, but a small inconvenience on your end to ensure you're doing what's right - and a necessary protection on my end to make sure only good things happen with my photos.

    I'll note that you definitely stole this photo, and I only found out because I saw you listed in the referrer link log from my website. (BUSTED!) I'm not upset in the least - I'm actually flattered that it was used for this example. You definitely have my permission to keep this photo on your blog - so it's not stolen anymore.

  • At 12/18/2005 6:36 PM, Blogger Roonie said…

    Hot photo.

  • At 12/19/2005 9:11 AM, Blogger Vincent said…

    Great comment Brian V., well articulated.

    I look at Flickr as this large community content sharing space, and I just wished they enabled a few more features to allow for a work to be 'copied' as a reference to the original work.

    For instance, I can quote another blog very easily by just copying some text and making a reference to the original post. I wish I could do that with photos (maybe a low res copy of the photo?)

    I like that fact that you put 485i.com directly onto your photos. Watermarking would be a nice feature to opt into on flickr. I like the fact that you do it outside the bounds of the photo and not across the background.


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