Elon Musk Says SpaceX Photos Are Now Fully Public Domain

from the thanks-elon dept

In early February, we put out an open letter to Elon Musk, asking him to put SpaceX’s photos into the public domain, noting that it was a shame that those photos would be locked up until long after we were all dead. NASA’s photos are all in the public domain. While I’m extremely excited about the things that private spaceflight can accomplish — it would be unfortunate if part of the deal was that we lost a great source of public domain imagery. Last week, the company started releasing its photos under a Creative Commons license, which was definitely a big step forward. However, we noted that we were still disappointed that it wasn’t a pure public domain dedication, and in fact had a “non-commercial” restriction. So we once again asked if Musk might consider going that one step further to the public domain.

Over the weekend, he did just that:

Extra kudos to Elon Musk for recognizing the issue and making the decision so quickly. Of course, the above is not entirely accurate. For reasons that are beyond me, Flickr does not offer a CC0 Public Domain dedication as an option on photos, so it looks like SpaceX has switched the photos to CC BY 2.0, basically removing the non-commercial restriction, but still requiring attribution. Still, given Musk’s public statement, it seems likely that the company has no intention to enforce even that restriction.

One separate note: I was a bit surprised by the number of comments on our last story that seemed to indicate that it was absolutely crazy of me to dare to suggest that a private company put photographic works into the public domain. This is unfortunate. It is depressing how much the myth that everything needs to be “owned” has become pervasive in society, often due to the false claims made by legacy industries. Freeing up works so that the public can benefit from them has tremendous global benefits, even for the private interests who put those works into the public domain. Elon Musk recognized this with Tesla’s patents, and he appears to be doing the same with SpaceX’s photos as well.

And, yes, freeing these photos likely will come back to benefit SpaceX as well. It will enable others to take those works and build off of them, perhaps doing research or publications that will increase the demand for SpaceX’s services in launching things (and, eventually, people) into space. And those benefits are likely to be much more valuable than whatever SpaceX might have gotten in a “license” deal for a few photos to some commercial source.

It’s astounding to me the short-term, narrow-visioned view of the world some people have, in which they think licensing is the answer to everything, not recognizing just how much innovation and freedom it naturally suppresses.

Oh, and since I can now do this without any worry, here are a couple of great SpaceX photos, that Musk says are in the public domain. Enjoy!

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Comments on “Elon Musk Says SpaceX Photos Are Now Fully Public Domain”

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93 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

My understanding was that Tesla only made their patents public domain because the market for electric cars was so small that the benefit of making it public is more beneficial to them then maintaining the monopoly on their electric car tech.

Public domain wouldn’t be the default or desirable position in a more competitive market.

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Er, it’s the copyright clause, in section 8. Fat finger?

I’m pretty sure it was a rhetorical question pointing out the purpose of patents are, according to the U.S. Constitution, to “promote the progress” not “prevent the competition.”

People love getting hung up on the little details of rules that support whatever it is they like while forgetting the entire point of the rule in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Good, now that the correct section has been identified, perhaps someone will now take the time to define what was intended by the use of the word “progress” in the constitutional provision. Hint: The title to the Copyright Act of 1790 is an excellent place to start for one so inclined.

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I didn’t think “progress” needed to be defined, but since I’m apparently the one to take the time, the object of the Copyright Act of 1790 was the “encouragement of learning.”

It also only lasted 14 years and you had to register your creation with the Copyright Office, and could be renewed for an additional 14 years, but hey, that’s the same as over a hundred years automatically, right? Beyond the lifetime of everyone for which the creation is relevant makes complete sense.

/s

ottermaton (profile) says:

Bawk bawk

Haha! Eat those words antidirt

LOL @ Mike whining about what other people do with their property …

What you call whining others see as constructive criticism.

… property they spent much time, effort, and money to acquire.

Apparently Mr. Musk, the one who actually spent his time, effort, and money also viewed it as constructive because he changed his mind. It is certainly better advice than what he would get from a failed Internet troll (looking at you antidirt).

Keep digging that hole, Mikey.

I guess Mr. Musk went and filled that hole back up. Question is, who do you think is gonna come along and rescue you from the hole you dig yourself every time you comment?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bawk bawk: LOL @ Mike whining about what other people do with their property ...

What antidirt states IS the central problem. Masnick and pirates try to GRAB what clearly isn’t their. — Just leave other people’s property alone, and the whole problem of copyright disappears! It’s an equally valid and entirely legal solution. — Of course, pirates want the content without paying, so they make up schemes and excuses. But since there is a real distinction between “mine” and “yours”, Masnick just cannot ever actually win the argument (except on his own site, against straw-men).

Also, I note that ottermaton doesn’t object to the phrase “their property”. That’s because the subject is not discussable in any other terms, which is the self-evident basis and cause of copyright.

I note Masnick and other writers keep putting their names on by-lines — god knows WHY they want credit for re-writing what was already trite hash — but if were consistent with their own stated views (especially since not new ideas of their own…), they’re not due even attribution. I suggest Techdirt proceed on that basis and prove the worth of the idea.

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Bawk bawk: LOL @ Mike whining about what other people do with their property ...

Masnick and pirates try to GRAB what clearly isn’t their.

Clearly false. Where do you see anyone try to “grab” any of the photos in question? No encouragement to do so, no links to where they can be downloaded. NOTHING.

Total bullshit.

That’s because the subject is not discussable in any other terms, which is the self-evident basis and cause of copyright.

Clearly you have zero clues. Try reading the Constitution sometime, which SPELLS OUT “the self-evident basis and cause of copyright.” Article I, Section 8, Clause 8:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

Take note of the parts I’ve bolded. There’s your “basis and cause” (promoting progress) and that it is an “exclusive right”, not property which (for one thing) is permanent and not under a “limited time.”

Also, I note that ottermaton doesn’t object to the phrase “their property”.

That’s because it’s so absurd I didn’t think I needed to. I think what I’ve written above pretty much crushes the whole fictitious property idea.

Try again sometime when you can do so without lies and after you get some idea what copyright is actually about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Bawk bawk: LOL @ Mike whining about what other people do with their property ...

Your notions of what constitute “property” are so quaint that it is easy to overlook just how far they are divorced from reality. Property is a social construct, and to view it solely through the lens of economic theory is to set yourself up for failure in mastering what it actually is under our nation of laws.

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Bawk bawk: LOL @ Mike whining about what other people do with their property ...

Wow. You (attempt to) defend property rights as being a “social construct” (which is by definition imaginary) yet accuse me of being “divorced from reality.” That’s some amazing cognitive dissonance you’ve got going on there.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Bawk bawk: LOL @ Mike whining about what other people do with their property ...

Wow. You (attempt to) defend property rights as being a “social construct” (which is by definition imaginary) yet accuse me of being “divorced from reality.” That’s some amazing cognitive dissonance you’ve got going on there.

With props to Douglas Adams, I believe we could turn this into some sort of improbability drive to power Mr. Musk’s rockets in the future. If only cognitive dissonance could be harnessed for power, A/C and his ilk could save us from climate change and power our ships to the other planets and out of the solar system.

Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

Re: Re: Bawk bawk: LOL @ Mike whining about what other people do with their property ...

Just leave other people’s property alone, and the whole problem of copyright disappears!
Because no one will ever accidentally infringe on copyright.
Of course, pirates want the content without paying, so they make up schemes and excuses.
https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150119/17054729755/australia-ratings-board-bans-hotline-miami-2-developers-tell-australians-to-just-pirate-it.shtml

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Bawk bawk: LOL @ Mike whining about what other people do with their property ...

I.P.

You know, Imaginary Property

That’s property that someone made up, like the man in the yellow hat’s house. That was his property and the specific descriptions of that property are covered under copyright.

Other than that, I haven’t a clue…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Bawk bawk: LOL @ Mike whining about what other people do with their property ...

Just leave other people’s property alone, and the whole problem of copyright disappears!

It most certainly would, as nobody would ever tell other people stories to entertain them. Every creator that ever was takes from the culture around them, and the more popular they are, the more they have borrowed from their contemporary culture.

lars626 says:

Me and We

It is always amazing how so many people are focused on the “Me, Mine, I Own It” mode.

The “We, Us, Set It Free” mode is always more productive in the long run. Not as efficient usually to do, but with a more robust and durable outcome.

Sort of like America; when we keep the greedy under control, we are all better of.

Jason says:

One separate note: I was a bit surprised by the number of comments on our last story that seemed to indicate that it was absolutely crazy of me to dare suggest that a private company put photographic works into the public domain. This is unfortunate. It is depressing how much the myth that everything needs to be “owned” has become pervasive in society, often due to the false claims made by legacy industries.

No more unfortunate in my mind than the myth that everything “needs” to be public domain.

For the record, I think it’s fantastic that these images are now public domain. I just don’t think they necessarily had to be. If any other company took pictures of its product testing—a car company, a shipyard, a machine shop—should they be obligated to release all of those pictures? It would be great if they did, of course, but I just don’t think that they should have to.

Maybe in this case there wasn’t ever any corporate reason to keep to a fully non-public release; perhaps it was just one of those things where the legal team checked the default boxes and didn’t think about it. It’s fine to call them on that, and evidently there really wasn’t any good reason because otherwise there probably would have been more resistance to changing them in the end. But they should still be allowed to make that choice if that’s what they want.

For my part, I don’t understand what is so onerous about providing attribution to the source of a photograph you’re planning to use. If I didn’t or couldn’t take the picture myself, it seems like the minimum courtesy to at least credit the person who did. If that means I have a short term, narrow vision of the world, then so be it.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: everything "needs" to be public domain

For the record, I think it’s fantastic that these images are now public domain. I just don’t think they necessarily had to be. If any other company took pictures of its product testing—a car company, a shipyard, a machine shop—should they be obligated to release all of those pictures?

This seems to be the main point of contention and confusion.

I don’t think anyone is saying they should be obligated to release any (let alone all) of those pictures.

But many people are saying that if they choose to release a picture, then it’s unreasonable that – after releasing it to the public – they still have an absolute chattel property right over it.

Because information is not like physical goods – it can be copied costlessly without depriving the original owner of anything.

For my part, I don’t understand what is so onerous about providing attribution to the source of a photograph you’re planning to use. If I didn’t or couldn’t take the picture myself, it seems like the minimum courtesy to at least credit the person who did.

I mostly agree with you here – I think it is indeed a minimum courtesy to credit the source. But I think a strong social convention is enough. I don’t think there should be a right to sue for damages over it.

[Kudos to Mr. Musk. You are one of my heros.]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Digital versus Physical goods.

Because information is not like physical goods – it can be copied costlessly without depriving the original owner of anything.

Actually, Masnick says digital and physical are the same. Someone raised the point explicitly in comments. Masnick won’t say that they’re not:
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110621/16071614792/misconceptions-free-abound-why-do-brains-stop-zero.shtml

But the far bigger and key distinction is that when “information” is copied, it strips opportunity of getting money for doing so from the ones who worked to put each bit of that “information” into the given order. That’s neither fair or deserved for either consumer or producer. That’s why reproduction is inherently illegal.

That “sharing” digital data doesn’t cost anyone anything is a central lie of Masnick and pirates. It does. Here’s proof. Even Masnick couldn’t pokes holes in this:
Study: Megaupload closure boosted Hollywood sales 10%
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/08/megaupload_piracy_study/

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Digital versus Physical goods.

…when “information” is copied, it strips opportunity of getting money for doing so from the ones who worked to put each bit of that “information into the given order.

Too bad that the “opportunity of getting money” is just a side effect of copyright, not the purpose. Try reading the Copyright Clause of the Constitution sometime.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Digital versus Physical goods.

Have you even bothered to read The Federalist Papers and court decisions that lay waste to the absurd argument advanced by amateurs that copyright law subordinates the rights of authors to the public at large? If you had you certainly would not have crafted your last sentence as you did.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Digital versus Physical goods.

What, like authors who come back from the dead after 69 years to sue someone for copyright infringement?

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120904/01275120261/why-does-copyright-last-70-years-after-death-licenses-expire-death.shtml

If he’s an ‘amateur’, does that mean you’re a copyright lawyer?

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Digital versus Physical goods.

Have you even bothered to read The Federalist Papers

Do you mean this one tiny bit where they refer to copyright? The ONLY place it’s mentioned in the Federalist Papers:

The utility of this power will scarcely be questioned. The copyright of authors has been solemnly adjudged, in Great Britain, to be a right of common law. The right to useful inventions seems with equal reason to belong to the inventors. The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals. The States cannot separately make effectual provisions for either of the cases, and most of them have anticipated the decision of this point, by laws passed at the instance of Congress.

Funny, they are talking about rights, NOT property. They’re talking about the public good.

No idea what you’re talking about.

court decisions that lay waste to the absurd argument advanced by amateurs that copyright law subordinates the rights of authors to the public at large

Maybe something like this 1975 Supreme Court decision:

The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an author’s creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good.
Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken, 422 U.S. 151, 156 (1975)

Looky there. The discussion is about the public good being the ultimate aim.

I don’t know what other possible lower court decisions you think you’re talking about, but I’m pretty sure the Supreme Court is laying waste to their absurd arguments.

It looks like it’s you who needs to read (and comprehend) the Federalist papers and court decisions.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Digital versus Physical goods.

If you want to have fun with the ‘Copyright is property’ people, just follow the logic of that argument. If copyright is, or should be, treated just like other forms of ‘property’, then clearly it needs to be taxed as such.

If your ‘property’ is so very valuable, then you’d better start paying taxes on it, and hefty ones at that given how much companies claim it’s worth.

Tell them that if they want copyright treated as property then it’s going to be treated like property, and you’re likely to see more backsliding than you’d find in an instructional video on moonwalking.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Digital versus Physical goods.

I am not Mike Masnick, so I don’t have to agree with him.

when “information” is copied, it strips opportunity of getting money for doing so

We disagree here.

As I’ve said elsewhere, copyright was a reasonable way to get creators paid in earlier times, when copying was expensive.

Now that copying is essentially free, we need new ways to get creators paid. There are lots of other ways. The challenge is to find the best ones and setup institutions to implement them.

Defending the broken status quo is not helpful.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Digital versus Physical goods.

Now that copying is essentially free, we need new ways to get creators paid. There are lots of other ways. The challenge is to find the best ones and setup institutions to implement them

By institutions do you mean institutions like Kickstarter and Patreon, or services like bandcamp and Youtube, which are already being built; or do you mean new forms of publishers, who take control of works for their own profits?
All the creative arts are changing, and the balance is shifting towards models where the creator forms a more direct relationship with their fans and supporters. The changeover will be painful for the traditional publishers, and the creators who rely on them, mainly because the alternatives can function with mush smaller fan bases, so long as the role of middlemen is kept to a minimum, and the creators look to try and make a reasonable living, rather than a vast fortune.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Digital versus Physical goods.

By institutions do you mean institutions like Kickstarter and Patreon, or services like bandcamp and Youtube, which are already being built; or do you mean new forms of publishers, who take control of works for their own profits?

All of the above, and much more.

Personally, I like the idea of “patronage”, where fans directly fund their favored artists. And subscription models. And automated donate-per-use models.

Let a thousand flowers bloom. Then let natural selection do its work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Digital versus Physical goods.

I guess the point is that we don’t need anymore laws to figure it out. People are figuring it out just fine without government. In fact the laws were never really needed for artists to figure it out. They were mostly originally pushed by middlemen that wanted to use them to exploit artists and that’s who they are still mostly being pushed by.

Just today I saw someone that’s really good at skateboarding. He’s a professional and has been doing it for 22 years. He shoots videos, puts them on the Internet, everyone shares his videos, he gets people to sponsor him and he founded his own clothing brand that fans buy. He self promotes. From my understanding he is very well off. He figured it out. He figured out how to use his skateboarding talents to make money from fans. It works for him. He said something to the extent of he you get out of your business what you put in. Others can figure it out as well. While I’m not really into skateboarding and I don’t know much about it, from what I understand many other professional skateboarders have figured it out as well and are very well off.

The problem is that middlemen don’t want anyone to be able to go independent. They want to do anything possible to force people to go through them in order to make it so that they make the lions share of the profits. That’s the intent of IP laws. That’s the intent of those that push for them the hardest.

That’s not to say that I’m against having IP laws altogether. Just that the primary reason they exist are selfish in nature and the people pushing for them the most, the people that lobbied for them the most when these laws began, push for them for the wrong reasons. They don’t care about the artists, they don’t care about the public, they only care about exploiting both. and while the founding fathers of the U.S. may have intended them for the right reasons (listening to the lobbyists that wanted them for the wrong reasons), with the intent of strongly limiting their nature, current politicians only care about back door dealings and corruption. No sane politician acting in the public interest would be in favor of expanding or extending IP laws or strengthening their enforcement without first fixing them in the right direction (reducing copy protection lengths, correcting the punishment structure so that those that falsely claim infringement are punished more than those that infringe, etc…). Our politicians aren’t insane or stupid, they’re outright corrupt.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Digital versus Physical goods.

While I like your response, you totally missed the point:

we need new ways to get creators paid

Umm…HELL NO WE DON’T!

Creators need to figure out a new way to get paid (and look, many have!). Why would it be our responsibility to figure out a business model for them?

Now, as a society, it might be nice to have a good way to stimulate creativity, but little things like the wheel, making a fire, building ships, the works of Shakespear, etc. all seemed to happen just fine without some kind of societal “welfare” for creators.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Digital versus Physical goods.

Basically I have listed services which a creator can use to solve the problem that they cannot solve as an individual. Creators need services just like everybody else to do the jobs that they cannot do for themselves, like using mechanics to service the car, and shops to supply you with food and other goods. These services also provide a place for people to go to to look for content, pay money to creators, or find people that are worth them giving some patronage to.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Digital versus Physical goods.

Why would it be our responsibility to figure out a business model for them?

To stop all the whining about piracy and the oppressive laws that follow. They’re winning at the moment; the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and all that.

By providing them with other avenues to gain revenue, we remove their excuses and leave them with less room to maneuver when it comes to extending copyright terms.

RD says:

Re: Re: Re: Digital versus Physical goods.

“…when “information” is copied, it strips opportunity of getting money for doing so from the ones who worked to put each bit of that “information into the given order.”

First of all, no it doesn’t. There are plenty of examples of file sharing leading to sales, but you are paid to ignore that, so…

Also, too fucking bad. A guarantee of income or profit is not what the copyright clause says. Read it again, and again, and again until you actually understand it. The supreme court itself has denied your “sweat of the brow” reasoning as well. There is no entitlement to profit from creative works, only opportunity. You still have to a) make something people will pay you money for and b) convince them to do so. You can look to iTunes and Netflix as an example of one way to make this work. You would know this if you weren’t a failure yourself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Digital versus Physical goods.

“That “sharing” digital data doesn’t cost anyone anything is a central lie of Masnick and pirates. It does. Here’s proof.”

Who cares if those assholes made more money after Megaupload was shut down. They’re big time thieving bastards and deserve every cent they lose.

How about we shift the spotlight over to the MPAA (which is run by those poor multibillion dollar hollywood studios) and see what they’re doing to ‘destroy’ actual peoples lives:

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/this-film-is-not-yet-rated/

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Digital versus Physical goods.

Masnick says digital and physical are the same

Where? If you’re going to point to a four-year-old thread with 159 comments that appears to mostly be you (oh sorry, I mean “someone”) going on extensive repetitive rants, it’d help if you pointed us to the exact comment in which you believe Mike claims this.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Digital versus Physical goods.

Even Masnick couldn’t pokes holes in this:
Study: Megaupload closure boosted Hollywood sales 10%
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/08/megaupload_piracy_study/

Lol. Mike didn’t need to poke holes in that study – the Register itself did so. From the article:

The research comes from the Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics (IDEA),[…] but it’s worth noting that IDEA itself was created last year with funds provided by the MPAA.

Also, that study is based on “three anonymous major motion picture studios[…]individually providing data
to support this research”. That’s “three anonymous major motion picture studios” with tons of motivation to provide skewed data to show that taking down MegaUpload actually did something.

Do you have a study with some actual verifiable data?

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But… everything is public domain unless society, via its intellectual property laws, says otherwise.

So it’s not a question of whether everything “needs” to be public domain — everything IS, by default. It’s a question of when and why anything “needs” to be granted an exception to that natural fact, and taken out of the public domain.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:

Indeed… hence the “myth” part of the sentence.

The thread took off in another direction, and I didn’t feel like throwing any more fuel on the fire, but all I was trying to say was that I believe both extremes—“everything must be owned” vs “everything must be completely unrestricted”—equally go too far, just not in the same way.

In both in this article and the previous one mentioned, the gist seems to be that it’s unreasonable for SpaceX to have placed any restrictions on the use of the images they were publishing. I pointed out that it didn’t seem so terrible that a private company would want to limit the ability of other private companies (including, perhaps, competitors) from directly benefiting from their images.

Now, even the commercial-use restrictions have been removed. But the way I read it (“…it looks like SpaceX has switched the photos to CC BY 2.0, basically removing the non-commercial restriction, but still requiring attribution. Still, given Musk’s public statement, it seems likely that the company has no intention to enforce even that restriction.”, as well as some of the comments) it sounds like even asking to be acknowledged as the author/photographer/source for the images was considered unreasonable… that “anyone can use these images however they want, but please mention where they came from” is too restrictive. It’s that sentiment that I have a problem with.

Maybe the author was just trying to draw attention to the lack of the “pure public domain” option on Flickr, which is a perfectly valid criticism. If I’m completely misreading that then I apologize, but it sure sounds like Flickr isn’t seen as the problem here.

From where I’m sitting, the argument seems to be that the only “acceptable” option is full, complete, and absolutely unrestricted without caveats of any kind, even as simple as asking for credit. I don’t believe that’s right; it’s too absolute, just as much so as the mistaken assumption that everything must be “owned”.

But I think a strong social convention is enough. I don’t think there should be a right to sue for damages over it.

I don’t think suing for damages is the right solution, but I don’t think a social convention is enough, either. If it were, we could do away with a lot of other common-sense-seeming rules. (“No Parking” signs in front of fire stations, for example.)

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There’s a big difference between asking for credit and demanding credit on pain of various possible punishments (under current law, up to and including bankruptcy-inducing lawsuits).

You seem to be implying there might be lesser penalties for failure to credit (as in a fine for parking at the fire station). I’ll agree a more modest punishment is better.

Better yet would be no punishment at all if credit is provided upon request.

Reasonable people can differ re exactly where to draw the line between what is a social convention, what merits a small fine (after a warning), etc.

I hope you’ll agree that wherever that line should be, it ought to be very, very far from where it is now.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I hope you’ll agree that wherever that line should be, it ought to be very, very far from where it is now.

I absolutely agree.

In a perfect world, none of these kinds of rules/regulations/laws would be necessary at all. The extent that they’re necessary—and the severity of the results—should be directly proportional to the magnitude of whoever is being a jerk and abusing the situation. Nothing at all like the way things stand today.

Launching a million lawyers at a web site for “misusing” a photograph or video clip is a travesty. But on the flip side, if I say “here’s some pictures I took, use them for whatever but give me credit for taking them” and someone blatantly ignores that request, I think there should be some recourse other than just shouting “stop that!” at the internet, and the size of that recourse should match the jerkitude of the situation. (Entirely different for a blog that posts an update to include the credit, as in your example, compared to, say, someone who publishes a travel guide using stacks of uncredited photography.)

I’m not going to pretend there’s one perfect solution that would work for everybody. A calmer, middle ground is all I’m talking about.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“…all I was trying to say was that I believe both extremes—“everything must be owned” vs “everything must be completely unrestricted”—equally go too far, just not in the same way.”

Claiming that “everything must be completely unrestricted” would indeed be going to far, if anyone was making that claim. This is a complete strawman.

The fact is, as Leigh mentioned, humanity’s default position for millenia has been that everything created was what we now call public domain, and only very recently in our history did we decide to place restrictions on that. The real argument is about the extent of those restrictions, and there’s a very strong feeling that copyright laws have gone too far and now act in opposition to the reasons they were introduced in the first place.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That’s just it – most things created in this world do not need copyright protection nor do the creators want copyright protection, but it is the default for everything – like this comment for example. What’s more, there’s is absolutely no market for most things that are created and therefore no good reason to give most thing copyright protection.

It hard to respect a law that’s so at odds with its purpose, which is to provide a market incentive for those few things which might serve a market.

Anonymous Coward says:

At least displaying a “CC BY 2.0” copyright status (even if fully public domain) seems a step up from Techdirt’s site, which does not appear to indicate copyright status (or lack thereof) of any kind, perhaps leading many people to incorrectly assume that Techdirt might be copyrighted — which is not an unwise assumption, considering the potentially high cost of guessing wrong on copyright matters.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re:

At least displaying a “CC BY 2.0” copyright status (even if fully public domain) seems a step up from Techdirt’s site, which does not appear to indicate copyright status (or lack thereof) of any kind

It used to, but your right, I cannot find it any more. Mike has said a number of times in various articles (most recently: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150123/15564629797/why-we-still-cant-really-put-anything-public-domain-why-that-needs-to-change.shtml), that everything on Techdirt is considered to be public domain, but I cannot find it listed anywhere.

Unfortunately, when Congress decided to lock everything up in 1976, it forced those of us that don’t want to lock anything up to specifically state that our stuff was in the public domain (or CC0.) I really wish Congress would fix this and once again we’d not have to specifically say that our work is public domain unless we actually wanted to protect it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As I understand it, he leaves out the copyright status markers because he feels that it furthers the idea that everything must be owned, and any use must require permission. ‘I do not agree wit the system as it is, so to avoid providing legitimacy for it I will not involve myself with it’ basically.

Whenever it’s come up though, he or one of the others always make it clear that everything on TD can be shared or copied as much as people wish to.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

As I understand it, he leaves out the copyright status markers because he feels that it furthers the idea that everything must be owned, and any use must require permission. ‘I do not agree wit the system as it is, so to avoid providing legitimacy for it I will not involve myself with it’ basically.

That’s basically it. I find it a shame that people need to especially signal that a work is in the public domain. So yes, I have said over and over that our work is in the public domain and people are free to use it as such…

Anonymous Coward says:

If Elon Musk is so smart and generous, why this kerfuffle? Just put 'em on Dropbox!

Obviously Musk wanted favorable publicity and fluffed it. Some expert.

And why on Flicker? It’d take only ten minutes to ZIP the files and upload to Dropbox while writing a press release.

One separate note: I was a bit surprised by the number of comments on our last story that seemed to indicate that it was absolutely crazy of me to dare suggest that a private company put photographic works into the public domain.

Okay, tell me the (vague) value of the images to sell versus (the even vaguer) value of the publicity. Musk calculates the latter is larger. Simple as that. PR stunt.

Again, Masnick, you simply fail to understand non-subtle distinctions and imagine your own straw-men, kinda similar you think, to bat down. — NO ONE* ever says that everything must be locked up! Whoever wants to make their work public domain is welcome to!

BUT that doesn’t mean others who value their work must just give it away, let alone that anyone else has a right to “share” away that created value. A $100 million dollar movie is NOT comparable to a few images that were incidental along the way. Expensive NEW content is far higher in value, while everyone has already seen images from space, and for “free” due to the tens of billions wasted on NASA.

* Hedge against weenie-ing on an absolute: No, I don’t care if you can find an instance of someone somewhere who holds that. It’s still true.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: If Elon Musk is so smart and generous, why this kerfuffle? Just put 'em on Dropbox!

Hey Blue, are you ready to admit that people downvote your comments based on your piss-poor debate style, incorrect facts, fuzzy logic, ill-conceived notions and your inability to parse an opposing argument as opposed to just your moniker? Just wondering.

RD says:

Re: Re: If Elon Musk is so smart and generous, why this kerfuffle? Just put 'em on Dropbox!

Just auto-report his comments and ignore. After all, if he can take on a name that is opposed to the entire site right off the top, regardless of the actual articles being put forth, then he doesn’t deserve the courtesy of having his views read either.

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: If Elon Musk is so smart and generous, why this kerfuffle? Just put 'em on Dropbox!

NO ONE* ever says that everything must be locked up! Whoever wants to make their work public domain is welcome to!

* Hedge against weenie-ing on an absolute: No, I don’t care if you can find an instance of someone somewhere who holds that.

You didn’t need to put that hedge in because it really is impossible to find ONE instance of “someone somewhere who holds [that everything must be locked up]”

You can’t find a single one because it is that way for EVERYONE.

You should familiarize yourself with Section 408 of the Copyright Law of the United States of America where it states

…registration is not a condition of copyright protection.

In other words, everything (regarding copyright) is already locked up automatically.

It seems to be that the weenie is the one staring at you in the mirror.

Zonker says:

Re: If Elon Musk is so smart and generous, why this kerfuffle? Just put 'em on Dropbox!

The 1989 amendment to the 1976 Copyright Act implementing the Berne Convention in the US is rather explicit that all creative works must be locked up under automatic copyright. No legal mechanism for allowing creators to release their works into the public domain is provided under the current law. That is why Creative Commons licenses exist in the first place.

NO ONE* has such poor reasoning skills that they would sabotage their own claims by stating an absolute, then hedging that if you can find one instance where that absolute fails their debunked claim must still be true.

* Hedge against “weenie-ing” on an absolute: No, I don’t care if the comment I am replying to debunks my absolute. That means it’s been proven false.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, what is up with your
insistance on putting the photos in the public domain. That might
kill their desire to create new
exciting photos of their space exploits.

Maybe you should consider an
alternative? Maybe
something along the lines of a small royalty;
nothing to high, just enough to keep them
interested in producing more photos. Who
could argue with that? That would be in
keeping with a free market, would it not?

Colin says:

Re: Re:

That mightkill their desire to create new exciting photos of their space exploits.

It also might not.

WHOA MIND BLOWN WITH COMPLETELY RANDOM HYPOTHETICALS!

Plus, they’re already going to put the pictures in the public domain and have given no indication that they’re going to stop taking photos, so your “point” is kind of really fucking stupid.

RD says:

Auto-report from now on

From now on, any critical post that starts off using just Mike’s last name, wielding it like doing so wins them the argument by itself, are auto-reported and skipped. Enjoy your obscurity. Oh, you say that is disrespectful and closed-minded? Now you know how the rest of us feel reading your drivel.

antidirt (profile) says:

So he declares them to be in the public domain on Twitter, but then he labels them “some rights reserved” on Flickr? That’s copyfraud, Mike!

It’s hilarious how quickly you declare these works to be in the public domain, despite the mixed messages from Musk. Of course, when it suits you, you complain about how difficult it is to put something in the public domain. Which is it?

You and Musk sure do make it seem harder than it has to be. Just put “public domain, no rights reserved” on each of your posts and done. It’s really that easy. Why don’t you do that?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Although I disagree with the accusations of many here who have accused recent trolls of being a new incarnation of the infamous out_of_the_blue (that one was far more incoherent than any recent maximalist), I’ve come to a similar conclusion about you: you’re a fake.

When any of the maximalists reach a point of spewing such idiocy that it is no longer believable that they are that incoherent, I have to conclude that they are, in fact, a minimalist trying to make the maximalists look like psychotic idiots. You’ve been exposed.

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