Flickr Plans To Sell Creative Commons Photos And That's Okay...

from the permissionless-culture-is-okay dept

There appear to be a lot of people up in arms over Flickr's announced plans to sell wall art prints of various Creative Commons-licensed images on the site. The uproar is mostly because people who chose a license like Creative Commons' attribution license, and not a "non-commercial" license are not going to see any money from any images that Flickr (owned by Yahoo) sells. And that leads to angry posts like this one arguing that selling the work is "cheesy, desperate and not at all fine with me."

Except... the license that was chosen says that, yes, this is fine with you. This doesn't necessarily mean that Flickr/Yahoo's decision was smart. The way it's being done appears to be upsetting lots of people, and upsetting the core people who make your service work is -- generally speaking -- not smart. But this leads to a bigger issue, one that is highlighted nicely in a post on all of this by Tom Lee, in which he notes that part of open licensing is giving up control so that others can benefit. And this is a key point that is missed by many, unfortunately:
Open licensing is about giving up control so that other people can benefit. That’s all it will cost you: control. Having control feels nice. But you should ask yourself what it really gets you. And you should think about what others might gain if you were able to let go.
Furthermore, he notes that what Flickr is doing here really will benefit lots of folks:
Flickr’s sale of prints does not deprive photographers of their work or money. Users have the same ability to use their work that they always had. The vast majority would never have taken the steps necessary to profit from their work, so print sales do not deprive them of money. When a user really expects to sell prints, they should avoid Creative Commons licensing, which, as I’ve mentioned, is easily done.

Flickr’s sale of prints provides benefits to other people. People who work for and own Flickr make money. The vendors producing and delivering the prints make money. And people who buy prints get to enjoy works of art.
Parker Higgins posted some further thoughts on Twitter that are worth noting as well. Many of the people who are upset about this are angry that Yahoo didn't ask them about this first. But as Higgins notes, that's just bringing back the idea of permission-based culture, rather than recognizing that a big part of the value of Creative Commons (or any other such open license system or public domain) is getting beyond permission culture and recognizing that in giving up control, there are lots of benefits.
Now, one could make a reasonable cultural argument that Yahoo/Flickr should have approached this situation with more caution -- recognizing how some people would likely respond to this, no matter how reasonable or legal it is. If I were in charge of the program at Yahoo, that likely would have been my approach. But, the troubling end result of this is that it may just lead more people to slap a "non-commercial" license on their Creative Commons works, greatly limiting the kinds of benefits that are out there, without providing any real benefit to themselves. In some ways, this gets to the heart of the problems we've noted with Creative Commons in the past -- especially the fact that many incorrectly assume that all CC-licensed material is only for non-commercial use. It's also why we think there's a strong argument that Creative Commons should either drop or totally rebrand the non-commercial offering, so that this branding confusion is dealt with. The anger in this situation is just a rehash of that branding confusion -- and the end result is that it reinforces this idea of "permissions" culture, rather than highlighting the benefits of sharing culture without first needing permission -- even if for commercial reasons.

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  • icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:02am

    I can see reason for people to object despite this.

    I can easily envision a photographer being willing to let other people freely use their work in something which is for commercial purposes, but not to let other people sell their work directly. What (CC) license is such a person supposed to have chosen?

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    • identicon
      Euan, 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:07am

      Re: cc license for non-commercial use

      this one: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/

      Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5)

      You are free to:

      Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format

      Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
      The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

      Under the following terms:

      Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

      NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

      ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

      No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

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      • identicon
        Euan, 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:09am

        Re: Re: cc license for non-commercial use

        Actually I'm clearly wrong.

        But I don't understand what the difference is. If something is used for commercial purposes it is contributing to profit generation. What is the difference between that and directly selling the thing for profit?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:02am

        Re: Re: cc license for non-commercial use

        I'm not really cool with this, Creative Commons Attribution (and while not a real license CC0 also) is the Creative Commons license that is acceptable, however the Creative Commons Sampling Plus license does what your talking about, as does the Open Content License.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:05am

    That is the CC licenses working like the free and open-source licenses, where Red Hat, SUSE, and Cannonical are making, or trying to make, money off of freely licensed work by other people. These all give back by supporting free versions of Linux, and contributing code back to the community.
    What Flickr should do is find some way of giving back to the community, like supporting free photo editing applications, (or if they make a huge amount of money, buying up and making Photoshop open-source).

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    • identicon
      jackn, 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:20am

      Re:

      or, maybe, paying $ for the raw material such as the photos they are selling.

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    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:44am

      Re:

      So offering the world's leading photo sharing site for free isn't giving back to the community?

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      • identicon
        Michael, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:12am

        Re: Re:

        Please stop adding logic into this argument.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        jackn, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:22am

        Re: Re:

        Honestly, I don't think so. seems subjective at best.

        so much for that 'logic.' Logic will be hard for you guys that are afflicted with your internal biases, but keep trying.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 1:34pm

        Re: Re:

        You mean if I simply host a website I can sell other people's art and keep all the money? Kewl. Totally not an exercise in techdouchery.

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        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 2:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes, if they upload the art and then explicitly say "yes, you may use this for your own commercial purposes without having to ask my permission."

          All creative commons is is dictating the terms of use before permission is asked, so that permission does not have to be sought. It's not a way around copyright. It's a way around asking permission and licensing.

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      • icon
        tracyanne (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 3:12pm

        So offering the world's leading photo sharing site for free isn't giving back to the community?

        No. They offer the site in the manner they do because it generates income by other means, as is the case with all Social Network sites.

        The site does not operate for the benefit of the community, it operates for the benefit of it's owners. The income they receive is generated by selling advertising and or data gleaned from the people who use the site for no charge.

        The benefits to the community exist only in so far as they add value to the site's real users, the advertisers and marketers who buy information from the site's owners.

        The people who post photos and interact for free with the site are resources, as are anything they post. The CC-By and CC0 can be traded as is, anything with a non commercial attachment to the CC license is used in other ways that don't violate the letter of the license.

        I think the real issue for most people is they have suddenly realised the site doesn't actually exist for their benefit, but for the benefit of the site owners, and that any benefit they may have assumed existed so that ultimately the site owners could benefit more. They are seeing the trade off (you use this for no monetary fee, we profit from everything you post) in action, and don't like it.

        The hidden cost of such "free" services has been made obnoxiously apparent, in this case.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 8:47am

          Re: So offering the world's leading photo sharing site for free isn't giving back to the community?

          "The site does not operate for the benefit of the community, it operates for the benefit of it's owners."

          Wait a second, are you saying that it's impossible that a for-profit company to have its product or service count as giving back to the community? If so, then I strongly disagree.

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          • icon
            tracyanne (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 1:38pm

            Re: Re: So offering the world's leading photo sharing site for free isn't giving back to the community?

            Actually I do think it's possible that a for profit company or service can give back to the community. Red Hat is one such company. The relationship is symbiotic, the more the community benefits the more Red Hat benefits.

            In the case of services like Flickr I'd say the relationship is more parasitical. There IS a benefit to the community, and people do find it useful, but that small benefit only exists so that those services can gain much, much more.

            The benefit to the community doesn't increased as the gains to the service owner increase.

            This, the selling of CC licensed works, is an example of how the hard work of the community is being used to benefit the service owner. Yes legally the service owner can do this, and yes people did give up their right to control those works, but if the company was actually interested in the community, or even it's community, it would already have in place a means to ensure there are benefits to the wider community. Maybe that means supporting relevant open Source start ups that don't have an immediate benefit to the company (they already support those Open Source projects that do have an immediate benefit), maybe it means something else.

            So far as i can see they mean to profit directly from the CC licensed works.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2014 @ 8:11am

      Re:

      There's absolutely no way Adobe would sell Photoshop. They've converted it to a service as a cash cow. Also all the IP in that code probably bleeds into every CC app.

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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:14am

    The Wanderer has it nailed down. MOST people view the license as "You can use my work, but you can't sell my work" because there is no CC license to cover this limitation.

    This isn't about permission culture. It's not even about control. It's the idea that CC is being abused because it's been limited since the day it rolled out.

    It's also why we think there's a strong argument that Creative Commons should either drop or totally rebrand the non-commercial offering, so that this branding confusion is dealt with.
    Strong argument? This has been a discussion of licenses since day 1, and to this day, not a damn thing has been done to fix the issue.

    This is exactly why I say CC is a joke, and won't work in the long term, because the second a CC license is abused, copyright becomes the default, putting us right back to square one.

    It's amazing how money changes people, especially when they're not the ones making it.

    Oh, and a piece of advice regarding the permission culture: if you want to remove this restriction, the only choice, and I do mean only choice, is to ignore copyright completely.

    Until this is done, always expect the permission culture because CC is, by its very damn nature, a permission culture tool saying "You can use these works..."

    How ridiculous is the irony regarding CC while pretending it's removing the permission culture.

    Talk about stupid logic.

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    • identicon
      Call me Al, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:12am

      Re:

      But surely the point is that by publishing under the right CC license you remove the need to ask for permission to do what is covered by the license... hence avoiding the permission culture issue.

      It is when people wish to do things not covered under that license that they should ask for permission again.

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      • icon
        Violynne (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:06am

        Re: Re:

        Perhaps, but I don't believe this is the best way to address it.

        I'll be frank: as much as I hate copyright and all its crap it brings to the table, I'd rather have this than a world where someone, in a society, feels there's no obligation to even ask for permission in the first place.

        Even if said works had nothing to do with making money, I'd feel extremely pissed if Sony used a song I made to push their products in an ad, because I hate Sony. Same thing with 99.9% of politicians who'd use the song in a campaign, as they promise to erode our Constitutional rights even further.

        It's common courtesy to expect a request. How would people feel if someone walked up, pulled the keys out of their pocket to take their car to get dinner, return both and leave without uttering a single word?

        I'd bet the police would be called before the tail lights disappeared from view.

        So how is not asking for permission to use ones works not the same? No one has ever tackled this, because both sides are so extreme as to be "IT'S MINE! PAY ME!" to "YOU DON'T NEED TO ASK ME EVERY TIME!" (as Nina did in a post on this very site).

        Politeness does a lot better job than laws or blatant disregard to doing whatever the hell someone wants to do.

        Yet, we're suppose to find a way to get out of this type of culture?

        That's just plain stupid.

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        • identicon
          Michael, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:24am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Let's ignore the car analogy because someone was actually deprived of property in that case.

          I actually agree that asking permission in polite and SHOULD be done. Forcing people to ask permission does not make people more polite, it just forces them to ask permission. When it is Sony asking you to use your song to peddle their crappy electronics, the equation makes some sense, but when it is you asking Sony for their song, the entire permission first concept seems to fall apart.

          The permission culture stifles individuals from using content owned by giants but barely slows down the giants from using whatever they want - because they can either pay, go somewhere else, or make you sue them (which is pretty difficult to do when they have lots of money).

          Add to that the current structure that seems to never give anything back to the public domain (and that is what copyright's goal is supposed to be), and you clearly have something broken.

          Today, we have a platform for people to grumble and gripe and reach the entire world. When copyright was first created, that ability did not exist. If someone copied your book and re-printed and sold it, it was REALLY hard to do anything about it. Today, it is possible to shame a company, let people know that something was created by you, and make i clear to everyone when your work has been mis-used.

          I don't know if it would be better or worse to eliminate copyright altogether, but I do know that we are in a much different world today than when it was conceived and because of that, artists may be better off without it.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "It's common courtesy to expect a request. How would people feel if someone walked up, pulled the keys out of their pocket to take their car to get dinner, return both and leave without uttering a single word?"

          Your analogy would work better if your car had a sign on it that says "Please use this car and return it after you're done."

          That's what using one of the CC (or any other) license is. You shouldn't expect a request for the uses that the license authorizes because the license itself is already your permission for that use.

          Personally, I would consider it common courtesy to not make a request of me for something I've already given permission for through the license. I would be annoyed if I got people wasting my time in that way. I would, however, expect people to contact me if they wanted to use the work in a way the license doesn't cover.

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        • icon
          JP Jones (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 5:19pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Even if said works had nothing to do with making money, I'd feel extremely pissed if Sony used a song I made to push their products in an ad, because I hate Sony. Same thing with 99.9% of politicians who'd use the song in a campaign, as they promise to erode our Constitutional rights even further.

          It's common courtesy to expect a request. How would people feel if someone walked up, pulled the keys out of their pocket to take their car to get dinner, return both and leave without uttering a single word?


          I strongly disagree with this. Unlike the car, when you release a creative work, that work is released. You don't get a say in how it's used (at least, not naturally, only via law).

          Let's take your example further. You'd probably feel bad if someone took your art and decided to use it as toilet paper. I mean, you did all that work on it, right? Don't they value it?

          Nope. Why not? Because art has NO intrinsic value. It's (again, from a natural perspective) completely worthless. There may be value in the medium or materials but other than that there is only the value placed on it by others. And as an artist, your art is virtually always going to be valued more by you than anyone else. For many people, your art will have no value at all.

          This is a blow to the ego, sure. And that is what copyright is mainly about...ego and control. From an economic standpoint, however, the value of something is determined by how much consumers are willing to pay, not the price set by the producer. Copyright is the attempt to reverse this principle.

          Guess what? If my buddy tells me a funny joke, and I'm at party later and I decide to tell the same joke, should I ask him permission first? Did he ask permission from the "creator"? Unlikely. It's a joke, it's an idea, and people copy ideas all the time. I may even add my own flair, making it a purple elephant rather than a pink elephant.

          If I go online, and people have posted a bunch of jokes, and I download and use those jokes, have I committed a crime? Have I stolen from the jokers? What if one wants to write a book of jokes...have my party antics removed their ability to get money off the book?

          A joke is exactly the same as a work of Picasso, or Sony Pictures, or whatever. It's an idea given form. And the only value it has is what someone is willing to pay for it.

          This is why copyright is so confusing to people, and why we have so much trouble wrapping our head around it. Not because of the laws; the laws are complicated because the idea conflicts directly with common sense.

          We all understand ego and wanting to control "our" stuff; privacy and property are basic human concepts. We also understand sharing ideas; telling stories, singing together, and passing knowledge and art are the same.

          Art does not need to be "incentivized"; people created art long before the concept of money, and the majority of humans will create some sort of art, however "minor", during the course of their lives. So when free ideas and art are tied down with our concept of property and control, things work fine until that freedom is restricted, and suddenly people get confused.

          This concept, this idea that "I created it, therefore it's mine and other people can't use it how I don't like" only works for tangible, *limited* things, and only as long as you own it. Ideas don't work that way, and we instinctively know this.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:46pm

          It's common courtesy to expect a request. How would people feel if someone walked up, pulled the keys out of their pocket to take their car to get dinner, return both and leave without uttering a single word?

          Its not the same case with Flickr though. You uploaded your photos to their service. To use your metaphor: You pulled the keys out of your own pocket, put them on their key-holder and left a nice note saying "Use whenever or however you like, just attribute me properly".

          Nobody forced you to upload your pictures and assign a CC license. Shouldn't be surprised when they take you up on your very generous offer.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2014 @ 10:59am

            Re:

            Its not the same case with Flickr though. You uploaded your photos to their service. To use your metaphor: You pulled the keys out of your own pocket, put them on their key-holder and left a nice note saying "Use whenever or however you like, just attribute me properly".

            and now are upset that someone at the parking garage you parked it in is taking you up on that offer...

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    • icon
      Karl (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:30am

      Re:

      The Wanderer has it nailed down. MOST people view the license as "You can use my work, but you can't sell my work" because there is no CC license to cover this limitation.

      Yes, of course there is. In fact, there are many.

      All you have to do is release your works under one of the Non-Commercial licenses (CC-BY-NC, CC-BY-NC-ND, CC BY-NC-SA).

      Problem solved.

      There's even a handy online form that you can use to choose your license:
      https://creativecommons.org/choose/

      This is exactly why I say CC is a joke, and won't work in the long term, because the second a CC license is abused, copyright becomes the default, putting us right back to square one.

      Creative Commons has been around since 2001, and is still going strong, with millions of people using CC licenses.

      Whether thirteen years is "long term" is up to you to decide, but I'd say that it's by no means a "joke."

      And I have no idea what you mean by "copyright becomes the default." Copyright law is the only way that CC licenses can be enforced. Creative Commons licenses don't (and can't) remove copyright protections, so it's already "the default."

      Nobody is claiming otherwise... at least, nobody involved with Creative Commons. (ASCAP, of course, claims that CC is an evil pro-piracy anti-copyright monster, but they're only spreading FUD.)

      Oh, and a piece of advice regarding the permission culture: if you want to remove this restriction, the only choice, and I do mean only choice, is to ignore copyright completely.

      First, that's hardly the only choice.

      Second, that may work for people who are mere consumers, but it won't work for artists who want to share their works, since there's no way to signify to the world that they should "ignore copyright" on those works.

      Third, there is a big difference between getting rid of "permission culture," and getting rid of copyright entirely. Most people here (myself included) are probably copyright minimalists, but few are outright abolitionists.

      Fourth, if you "ignore copyright completely," there's a big likelihood that you're going to get sued. This is especially true if you're using the work commercially.

      Fifth, while we're on the subject of the law, simply ignoring copyright will simply give ammo to rights holders and their lobbyists to create disastrous "enforcement" laws like SOPA. Nobody needs that.

      CC licenses - if used and understood properly - solve most of the "permission culture" problems, without any of the bad results.

      The problem is that few people understand them. This is likely because few people understand copyright law in general - see e.g. those useless "Privacy Notice" posts that are making the rounds on Facebook.

      To its credit, CC is at least trying to change that, with their "Free Culture Approved" badges and whatnot. Still, they can only do so much.

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      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:53pm

        Re: Re:

        I ordinarily agree strongly with your posts and arguments, and you're mostly right in this one as well, but you've got one thing wrong:
        The Wanderer has it nailed down. MOST people view the license as "You can use my work, but you can't sell my work" because there is no CC license to cover this limitation.

        Yes, of course there is. In fact, there are many.

        All you have to do is release your works under one of the Non-Commercial licenses (CC-BY-NC, CC-BY-NC-ND, CC BY-NC-SA).

        Problem solved.
        That does not cover the limitation which was being referred to.

        The CC Non-Commercial licenses allow using the work in a non-commercial context, but disallow selling the work.

        They do not allow using the work in both commercial and non-commercial contexts, but disallow selling the work.

        E.g., someone might reasonably say "I don't mind if you use this picture to illustrate a magazine article, or even as the cover of the magazine - but you can't just take the picture and sell it as a picture.". I.e., requiring some transformative use in order for commercial use to be preemptively authorized - which seems very much in line with the idea of encouraging further creativity, which is (as far as I understand) what the Creative Commons are supposed to be about.


        As far as I'm aware, there is no CC license which permits making that distinction between commercial use and simple sale - but it seems to me that that distinction is one worth making, or at the very least, one which many artists and other creators might want to make.

        If I'm wrong, and there is such a license, I'd be glad to be corrected on that point.

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        • icon
          Karl (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 11:52am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If I'm wrong, and there is such a license, I'd be glad to be corrected on that point.

          You're not wrong, but there is a simple reason there is no such license: it is completely impossible to create one.

          It is simply not possible to define the difference between certain commercial uses of a work, and other commercial uses of a work. Not just legally, but conceptually.

          Let's take your example. You have a license that allows wholesale reproduction in some commercial contexts - the cover of a magazine, the illustration of an article - but does not allow selling the image "as a picture."

          Does this license apply to selling coffee mugs with that image on it? Mouse pads? T-shirts?

          Or, let's say that some company creates a full-page ad for their product, similar in form to a magazine article, and uses the image to illustrate that. Is this allowed by the blanket license?

          The plain fact is that these types of uses are the same. Not just legally, but theoretically - both kinds of uses are wholesale copying of the image, with the intent to profit, but none are simply selling the image "as a picture" (and nothing else).

          It may be possible that some photographer is OK with all of the uses we just talked about, but is not OK with selling a print of the image. But I don't know of any - all are either OK with all of the uses and selling verbatim prints (so use a free-culture CC license), or none of them (so use a NC license). Creating a new license for these mostly-theoretical artists would be a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

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          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 8:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yes, it would allow selling all of those things; those things were made using the picture, they are not the picture itself.

            If indeed there are few if any people who would be OK with those uses but not with selling prints, then that's fine; it just means that I was on the wrong track with my original suggestion.

            But my original suggestion was made as a way to resolve the apparent contradiction between people having chosen a CC license which allows commercial use and still being upset over this. I interpret that as indicating that those people do, in fact, fall into that category which you described as "mostly-theoretical" - and thus, I infer that such a license would be a solution to the problem at hand, and would be what those people thought they were choosing in the first place.

            It's possible that the people who are upset about this either chose the wrong license (i.e., would indeed have preferred to prohibit all commercial use of their images) or are, in fact, just being hypocritical. I simply prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt.

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            • icon
              Karl (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 9:38pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              But my original suggestion was made as a way to resolve the apparent contradiction between people having chosen a CC license which allows commercial use and still being upset over this. I interpret that as indicating that those people do, in fact, fall into that category which you described as "mostly-theoretical"

              I actually don't think they are. I think they would be just as upset if Flickr started selling coffee mugs and mouse pads with their images on them. On the other hand, Flickr isn't doing this, so who knows.

              It's possible that the people who are upset about this either chose the wrong license (i.e., would indeed have preferred to prohibit all commercial use of their images) or are, in fact, just being hypocritical.

              I wouldn't say "hypocritical." I'd say that the vast majority are simply ignorant of the ins and outs of copyright law, which is not particularly uncommon.

              The two articles that Techdirt linked to, seem to suggest that the photographers are fine with any business except Flickr itself using the images in a commercial context. (So presumably they would be OK with someone selling coffee mugs with their photos on Etsy, but not Flickr itself selling coffee mugs with their photos.) That, to me, is incredibly hypocritical. Frankly, I don't understand that reasoning at all.

              But honestly, I don't think this is particularly widespread; most photographers would get upset at the Etsy mug just as much as the Flickr mug, and the artists in the linked articles are outliers.

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              • icon
                The Wanderer (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 8:50pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I'd agree that taking that position would be incredibly hypocritical. I can understand the perspective which might lead one to do it a bit, I think - but only in the most subjective of terms, and not as something I could actually support or (in the near-obsolete sense) apologize for.

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            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 10:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "It's possible that the people who are upset about this either chose the wrong license (i.e., would indeed have preferred to prohibit all commercial use of their images) or are, in fact, just being hypocritical"

              I wouldn't go so far as to call it "hypocritical", although I do think it leans in that direction. I suspect that the people who are upset aren't upset because of how their work is being used as much as by who is using their work.

              That means that their objection is misguided -- their problem results from not actually understanding what the license they chose meant. If they wanted to be able to pick and choose who got that kind of usage rights, they should be issuing licenses on an individual basis.

              By definition, it's impossible to have a "one size fits all" license that also allows you to pick and choose who qualifies for it.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2014 @ 1:49pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Anyone is free to write their own license or to modify an existing license as they see fit and to release the works under their own modified license.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2014 @ 1:56pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  And the only people complaining about CC are the ones who aren't competent enough to do one of the above to their own satisfaction and if they aren't competent enough to write or modify a license to their own satisfaction then they shouldn't reasonably expect anyone else to be able to do it for them because they are a better authority over what kind of license will be satisfactory to them than anyone else. And if they aren't competent enough to craft their own license then they probably aren't competent enough to be taken that seriously either.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:15am

    I have spoken to a number people who dislike the limitations of Creative Commons licenses. Several of them agreed with the desire for a license that differentiates between commercial use by large entities such as Flickr and amateurs. They don't have a problem with an amateur using their work in a commercial work because they support other artists, but they disagree with large corporations making money off of amateurs without compensation. And there is no license that sets that out in its terms, and it would be too difficult to have to stipulate that otherwise with legal force. If you don't use a license that indicates that you are okay with commercial use, amateur artists will completely ignore the work. But that opens the door for larger players to just use your work wholesale without compensation. How can you support the little guy without being exploited by the big guy?

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:26am

      Re:

      "Several of them agreed with the desire for a license that differentiates between commercial use by large entities such as Flickr and amateurs."

      If I were of this mindset, I'd do a dual-licensing thing. A noncommercial CC license for most cases, and encourage people to contact me to obtain a non-CC license for commercial use. That way, I could pick and choose who gets to use the work for commercial purposes.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:07am

        Re: Re:

        That's why the idea of an amateur commercial license was discussed. An artist searching for works they can use commercially might never find your work if you can't categorically say it's free for commercial use because searching a site for usable works by license wouldn't have dual licensed works in those results or if it did, it would nullify the benefit of having easy to understand licensing codes. I don't think there's a good solution for this issue unfortunately.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't think an 'artist' would be searching for artwork to use commericially or otherwise. An artist would create the art. See how that works?

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          • icon
            jupiterkansas (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'm an artist and I'm constantly searching for stuff to use as a basis for something. Not everything has to be created from scratch.

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          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Lots of artists use existing art as one of their raw materials to create new art.

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            • identicon
              jackn, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:47am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              sounds like you guys are more of composers, which has an element of art.

              Man, Im going to become an artist like you guys. I just search for the shit and sell it? man, thats a lot easier. Thanks god for CC or PD, or whatever its called.

              More $,More $,More $,

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              • identicon
                Michael, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:27am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                So what kind of art do you do that has not built at all on the works of others?

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:30am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                You're either ignorant of the diversity of methods for creating art or you're intentionally being disingenuous.

                You could create a comic book by writing the dialogue and story and drawing the images. But what if you aren't a good letterer and you just download someone else's stylistic font to use. Are you not really an artist even though most of the work is yours and you just used someone else's font for a small part of it?

                You could take someone else's crappy Goodwill painting and paint difficult-to-render images on top of it, like fantasy creatures or spaceships. It takes skill and creativity to do this well, and yet you're using someone else's work as a base. If you don't consider this person to be an artist, then you have a very narrow definition of an artist.

                What do you do for a living by the way? I'm not going to guess that it's a creative, artistic position that you work in.

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                • identicon
                  Michael, 2 Dec 2014 @ 11:25am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You could create a comic book by writing the dialogue and story and drawing the images

                  Not really. First, the concept of the comic book was someone else's idea. Next, all those pesky "public domain" letters and words that make up the English language are going to get in the way. Also, heaven forbid you learned to draw by, you know, looking at someone else's drawings...

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 1:30pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    You're arguing with the specific example but the details don't matter. We don't have to list every possible scenario to argue that not every artwork will be created in a vacuum without the inclusion of some aspect of another work by another person.

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              • icon
                John Fenderson (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:35am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "I just search for the shit and sell it?"

                Only if you ignore the "create new art" part of what I said. By your reasoning, all art is noncreative:

                Painters just search for paint and sell it.
                Authors just sell ink & paper.
                Musician just sell vibrating air.

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                • identicon
                  jackn, 2 Dec 2014 @ 10:09am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  and by your reasoning,

                  Painters sell other people's paintings
                  Authors sell other people's books
                  Musician sell other people's songs

                  and of course, I am ' intentionally being disingenuous.'

                  but in the case of flicker, they are
                  Selling other peoples photos.

                  I know corps can be people, but can corps be artists? I guess so, they do sell other peoples photos.

                  Please remember, I am ' intentionally being (a little) disingenuous.' I am not really attacking your art or artistic ability, at least not personally. well, except for that one poster lower in the thread.

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                  • icon
                    John Fenderson (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 10:17am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "and by your reasoning,"

                    If you think that's where my reasoning leads, then I have done a pitifully bad job of explaining my point -- since it leads nowhere remotely close to that.


                    "but in the case of flicker, they are
                    Selling other peoples photos."

                    Correct. I wasn't saying that flicker was making art or acting as an artist, I was addressing a different point entirely: that art can be made by using existing art as a raw material.

                    Flicker is simply reselling art -- as the original artists gave them permission to do through the license.

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                    • identicon
                      Pragmatic, 3 Dec 2014 @ 5:04am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Ah, but I'm not sure that's what "commercial use" was interpreted to be; it'd never have occurred to me to think of it like that.

                      Using it in a blog post, etc., is one thing, that's not actually selling it even if it helps to bring in ad revenue. Actually reselling it is a different thing.

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                      • icon
                        John Fenderson (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 8:49am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        What else would "commercial use" mean? It means to use the work to further commercial activity. Flickr is doing exactly that.

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        • identicon
          David, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "You may redistribute my works unless you are effective at it, for some fuzzy measure of effectiveness".

          That kind of condition basically means that you do not actually want to significantly contribute to the Creative Commons since the gates come down the moment the distribution of your work starts making a difference.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "That's why the idea of an amateur commercial license was discussed"

          What is "amateur commercial use?" It's a contradiction in terms. By definition, if something is being used commercially -- no matter how small the scale -- then it isn't "amateur".

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 10:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            That's a semantic debate. I'm using amateur to describe the work of someone who doesn't (or maybe couldn't feasibly) make a primary or large income in the creation of their art.

            I consider myself an amateur artist since I have a day job only marginally related to creating artistic works for hire, but in my spare time as a hobby, I do freelance graphic design projects and sell my work on stock photo sites and print-on-demand sites for a pitifully small amount of income that doesn't cover my Starbucks habit for a month.

            Professional vs. amateur isn't necessarily commercial vs. non-commercial in current times, especially with amateur-friendly commercial services available from print-on-demand sites, Etsy, DeviantArt, etc.

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            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 10:59am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "I'm using amateur to describe the work of someone who doesn't (or maybe couldn't feasibly) make a primary or large income in the creation of their art."

              So, 99% of all commercial fine artists, then?

              "Professional vs. amateur isn't necessarily commercial vs. non-commercial in current times"

              Ok, but if this is the case, then I'll modify my question: what is an "amateur" and what is a "professional"? This is a serious question, because the definitions up to this point have been "amateur" means "doesn't get paid for it" and "professional" means "gets paid for it."

              I can't for the life of me come up with a different distinction that makes any sense. Before the "pro-am" days, there was an implication that "amateur" meant "unskilled or low quality" and "professional" meant "skilled or high quality" -- but that implication has been blown out of the water for quite a while now.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 11:14am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I go with the classical definition of amature which is

                "a lover, an admirer,"

                pro or not, you can be an amature.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 11:18am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I don't have any statistics to discuss what percentage of artists that definition would refer to.

                The fact that you're able to ask these questions reflects the point I was trying to make, that there isn't an easy way to distinguish what some artists feel should be the distinction between uses.

                You can think of it as a sort of artistic communism. From each according to his ability to each according to his need.

                Example:

                An amateur DJ uses images or a font to design a cover for an album that he puts up for sale on a website for $1-5 so he can fund his future efforts and hopefully one day quit his day job and be as famous as Skrillex or Deadmau5.

                I'm fine with this use if he's using my images or font (it has to be font since typefaces don't qualify for copyright protection in the US). I'd just want a small form of unobtrusive attribution somewhere, though even that isn't a sticking point for me.

                But if an ad agency working for Starbucks wants to make use of images or a font that I created, they can afford to pay me for the use of them because they're large corporations, so I'd want payment for that.

                That's the difference that I'm trying to articulate is difficult to easily put in the form of a license. That's the dilemma. It's the urge to help other struggling artists vs. the fear of having your work used for free by people who are able to pay you for it otherwise.

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                • icon
                  John Fenderson (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 11:56am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "The fact that you're able to ask these questions reflects the point I was trying to make, that there isn't an easy way to distinguish what some artists feel should be the distinction between uses."

                  Exactly so, which is why there can't be a "one size fits all" license. Artists who want to make a case-by-case determination should issue licenses on a case-by-case basis. They certainly should not be using a blanket license that allows everyone to use the work commercially if they don't actually want everyone to have the right to use the work commercially.

                  While I understand that there are artists who are upset with what Flickr is doing here, in the end they should be upset with themselves for choosing a license that they didn't actually understand.

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    • identicon
      Scote, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:26am

      Good luck with that.

      "I have spoken to a number people who dislike the limitations of Creative Commons licenses. Several of them agreed with the desire for a license that differentiates between commercial use by large entities such as Flickr and amateurs. "


      Good luck with that. There is already ambiguity of the legal difference between commercial and non-commercial. For a volunteer group that is run as "not-for profit", but charges for lessons without using the "suggested donation" rigamarole, is it commercial or non-commercial. There are also sorts of legal issues. But for commercial and big commercial? That's a legal quagmire that would likely be impossible to quantify into a general license, and certainly the small commercial entity, the "artist" or whomever, would be fool to rely on the license because they would be open to a lawsuit as soon as the copyright owner decides they are "too commercial" or whatnot.

      So, not really a realistic idea.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 11:43am

      Re:

      "Several of them agreed with the desire for a license that differentiates between commercial use by large entities such as Flickr and amateurs."

      Trying to make such a distinction is an impossible task, and trying to do so would only enrich the lawyers. Also, what would happen when an amateur becomes successful, can they still sell earlier works made under such a license?
      The existing NC license is problematic enough, as defining what is and is not commercial is difficult. For instance do adds on a site make the site commercial?

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    • icon
      blademan9999 (profile), 2 Apr 2015 @ 2:49am

      Re:

      Ideally a CC-BY-SA would work for most purposes.
      Big corporations are going to be far more reluctant to license works they make under a CC-BY-SA license then amateur artists. So the share alike part is going to be more of a barrier to businesses.

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  • identicon
    David, 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:22am

    Well, Duh.

    If you want to commercialize your works yourself (or control such distribution), choose a distribution license only allowing noncommercial use and attribution so that people wanting to distribute commercially will have to contact you.

    If you want the distribution of your works to be governed by the best redistributors, choose a free license allowing commercial distribution and prohibiting additional restrictions.

    For someone distributing hundreds of thousands of images, calling back for any image will almost certainly be too cumbersome: pick a non-commercial license or more restricted, and you'll be on your own regarding the distribution of your works.

    You cannot leave distribution of your work to the pros while labelling it "noncommercial" since the pros need to reclaim their costs and more, and that makes "non-commercial" non-eligible.

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  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 7:47am

    Hooray to Flickr for making use of the voluntary public domain.

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  • identicon
    anne mullett, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:10am

    personal photography

    No one is going to take my work and sell it, simple as that.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:11am

      Re: personal photography

      don't worry, no one would want to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 10:35am

        Re: Re: personal photography

        I figured Anne was lamenting. I do. All my stuff is under creative commons with attribution. I'd have no problem at all with Flicker selling one of my photos, but they aren't going to because no one would buy it (and I don't use Flickr).

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    • identicon
      Call me Al, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:29am

      Re: personal photography

      Which is why you have the option of ticking a box to say which kind of license you are publishing under. It is pretty simple.

      If you say that others can do what they want with it then you are saying they can sell it. If you don't want them to be able to sell it then use a different license.

      For the record I'll now be double checking what I used on my own Flickr.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2014 @ 10:50am

      Re: personal photography

      then don't voluntarily offer your work under the CC license. simple as that.

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  • identicon
    DigitalFlack, 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:23am

    Attribution

    Nearly 200 of my pictures have been used from Flickr, websites, magazines, travel guides, mobile apps, even a lumber company's calendar.

    As long as my name, i.e. attribution, is on the mug, screen saver or print..... thank you, I'll take the fame. My buddies who want money get offered $50 for the cover of a bird magazine or $100 for a building picture to be used by a real estate company - and those come around once every 3-4 years, because most designers seem to like free.

    JF

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  • icon
    Don DeBold (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:56am

    I'm an amateur photographer who publishes most of my photos on Flickr using the Creative Commons attribution license. I have no problem with people using my photos for commercial endeavors, and Flickr is well within their rights to sell similarly licenses photos for a profit. However, I didn't expect that Flickr, as the service provider, was going to do this. They should have, at least as a courtesy, informed the community that they were planning to make this change and sought feedback.

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  • identicon
    Lord Binky, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:25am

    Flickr IS taking away from users.

    I don't think it's REALLY about the copy protection, but that the users feel they got taken advantage of and I believe for good reason, even if some haven't put their finger on why it feels so wrong. There are a few things that stand out to me.

    1)For some this is effectively a bait & switch on the users. This feature is something that would have been a weighing factor in someone's original decision to use the platform. Flickr is leveraging a user's investment into the service against them if they no longer like how Flickr operates.

    2)It puts it's the users that are it's lifeblood at a disadvantage by using the platform. This is a major change to monetization for the service, it's not a feature that's for the user providing content. Yahoo would have actually been fine if it kept this monetization effort separate from Flickr, even if it used Flickr as a backend. Of course they know how important a few extra clicks are for users, most people do too. This being a part of Flickr itself, and not a separate un-integrated website that is equally distant (and troublesome) from the viewing user's perspective. The difference this makes is a huge hurdle that undercuts efforts for any of the content providing users that do or POSSIBLY want to make use of a competing print service. If a Flickr content providing user wants to compete with Flickr's print service, they need to keep THEIR user traffic away from Flickr. Instilling that into the any of your users is not good for long term health.

    3) Yeah, lots of people will never try to sell their work, but would like it to be shared. Still, even if it's just a little day-dream, a large number of people like the possibility of making money from their work. This move crushes that little dream. If it appeared on a third party website selling prints of their work, many would be EXCITED for such a thing especially if they were give credit to the content. This feature makes that less likely, and it's unfortunate that the users won't even know if their work is popular. The feature changes the feel of the service for contributing users and pits the service as competition to it's user (one that makes use of their investment into the service against them), even if they aren't trying to compete yet.

    This kind of move drives users away to something that is free and offers them a fair playing field for the future, even if it is an unlikely path.

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    • identicon
      Scote, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:57am

      Re: Flickr IS taking away from users.

      "1)For some this is effectively a bait & switch on the users. This feature is something that would have been a weighing factor in someone's original decision to use the platform. Flickr is leveraging a user's investment into the service against them if they no longer like how Flickr operates. "


      While viscerally I'd like to agree with you the fact is that Flickr can do this with *any* CC BU licensed photos, whether they were uploaded to Flickr or not. So while it does seem cheezy of Flickr to do this, *anybody* can do this, right now, with the Flickr photos that are licensed that way, so Flickr isn't really using the user's "investment" against them. Rather, the user volunteers, grants permission forever, in advance, to let others use their copyrighted work under the terms of the CC license they select.

      If you don't want a commercial entity using your work, don't use the CC BY or Share and Share alike licenses.

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      • icon
        MrTroy (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 8:05pm

        Re: Re: Flickr IS taking away from users.

        This is my take on it too. I'm curious how much backlash there would have been if somebody else trawled Flickr for popular photos with an attribution license and offered high quality prints of those photos for sale?

        How about if Yahoo created a new company separate from Flickr to sell the prints? Would it be fine until people realised that the same company owned both the online service and the print service? That doesn't make sense to me.

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  • identicon
    CJ, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:33am

    Simple Solution

    Organize > Select All > Change licensing > [switch to a non commercial license]


    I chose to make my stuff by-sa with the intent that a few people here and there would be able to use my images on their website that generates ad revenue and thus generate traffic back to my site. But, people who see my work hanging on a wall in someone's house won't be able to click a link and eventually make their way back to my site. It would be great to make even a small percentage on my images that Flickr sells but they're choosing to cut me out completely. So, I'm choosing to cut them out completely.

    Besides, I can always grant rights on an individual basis.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:45am

      Re: Simple Solution

      Just a quick note, but you cannot change the license for anybody who has already made a copy of your photographs, those copies remain under the license in use at the time of the copy. Therefore "It was CC-SA when I copied it" or "I got it from another site showing it as CC-SA" are a valid defenses for image use, where that was the originally license on that image.

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  • identicon
    David, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:40am

    Just because they can...

    doesn't mean they should. What they SHOULD do is sell the art, and give a little bit of the proceeds to the Flickr users, like starting with discounts off their subscription to maybe even giving them Amazon gift credits.

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  • identicon
    Christenson, 2 Dec 2014 @ 9:49am

    Free Software Licenses

    I believe that the case the CC license doesn't cover is one that is well covered in some software licenses:
    1) You may not charge for the work itself, but
    2) You may charge for work you do in support of it, including reasonable reproduction fees (here -- it costs a little money to make those posters, and you shouldn't have a problem with flikr making money that way),
    3) Provided you attribute the work and in any offer to sell services in conjunction with the work, you provide a means to locate the originator and the original.

    The flip side of that is that I think some might want a little note from those using the work telling how it was used, while others don't want to be bothered with such traffic. I'd be pleased as punch to find out one of my pics was popular, until I got buried under thousands of e-mails a month about it because I had truly become famous!

    How hard is that to put these cultural expectations in enforceable legalese??

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 2 Dec 2014 @ 11:03am

      Re: Free Software Licenses

      "The flip side of that is that I think some might want a little note from those using the work telling how it was used"

      In the early days of software (before the term "freeware" was a thing), this was a common requirement and enforced by the license. I.e., you paid for the license by notifying the publisher how you're using the work.

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  • identicon
    jackn, 2 Dec 2014 @ 10:13am

    How hard is that to put these cultural expectations in enforceable legalese??

    it's imposible.

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  • identicon
    Colm Barry, 3 Dec 2014 @ 2:32am

    Misunderstanding the true effects of "piracy"

    Yes, maybe the way they announced it wasn't so smart. However, the "... so print sales do not deprive them of money ..." cuts both ways - the software and film or music industries always wail about "piracy". Of course this is not about "commons" but copyright, but they should also acknowledge that a lot of "illegal" software users actually would never have had the money to buy their stuff so they could hardly have "lost" such revenue - but they gain a vast user base, prejudiced in their favor, that will pay fees once they can afford them or rather persuade employers etc. to buy the stuff they once "test drove" for "free". The Internet and digital media have changed many customs and paradigms and whenever one complains one should first check "if and where (!) it really hurts".

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  • identicon
    Pragmatic, 3 Dec 2014 @ 4:52am

    Jeffrey Zeldman's argument is that he pays for his account so he's effectively being double-dipped. Whether you agree with him or not I think he's got a point.

    As for those who suggest that Flickr should give back in some way, I agree. It's one thing to let any old Joe use a CC photo in a blog post, it's another to print it off and sell it as a branded product.

    People really ought to be more informed about this so they can make a choice about whether or not they want to let anyone do anything at all with the work they have produced even if it means that the user makes money while the creator does not. I know you don't like permission culture but think about it; this could lead to collaborations in which creators make profit-sharing deals with the likes of Flickr and everybody wins.

    We've all got to pay the bills.

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 6:24am

      Re:

      Jeffrey Zeldman's argument is that he pays for his account so he's effectively being double-dipped. Whether you agree with him or not I think he's got a point.

      That's irrelevant. Whether he paid for his account doesn't affect the terms under which he licensed his photos. It's certainly fine to be upset with Flickr about it, stop using the service, whatever he wants to do, but he should not argue that Flickr is screwing him over, because he explicitly told Flickr and everyone else in the world that it is OK to do this with his photos.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 7:53am

        Re: Re:

        No - he explicitly told Flickr (and everyone else) that it's okay to make commercial use of his photos.

        Selling something is not the same as using it.


        This whole flap is, fundamentally, a disagreement about what "commercial" vs. "non-commercial" in the CC licenses means. I haven't read any of them recently enough to see if those terms are explicitly defined anywhere, and if so on which side of the disagreement those definitions would fall; however, the interpretation which says that "commercial use" does not cover simple sale-without-modification does seem like a reasonable one, and one which many people might have intended in choosing a license without the NC element.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 10:19am

          Re: Re: Re:

          however, the interpretation which says that "commercial use" does not cover simple sale-without-modification does seem like a reasonable one

          How is that not commercial use?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 10:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "the interpretation which says that "commercial use" does not cover simple sale-without-modification does seem like a reasonable one"

          It doesn't seem reasonable to me. "Commercial use" is an obviously broad term, and clearly means "use in furtherance of commercial activity". What seems obvious to me is that the term would include simple resale of the work.

          Perhaps the real issue is that people either don't read these licenses before selecting one, or that they don't understand that contracts (licenses are a kind of contract) mean what the words in them say, not what the people using them would prefer that they say.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 10:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Perhaps the real issue is that people either don't read these licenses before selecting one, or that they don't understand that contracts (licenses are a kind of contract) mean what the words in them say, not what the people using them would prefer that they say.

            I think both of those happen a lot, and then it's often followed up by blaming somebody else.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 8:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It doesn't seem reasonable to me. "Commercial use" is an obviously broad term, and clearly means "use in furtherance of commercial activity". What seems obvious to me is that the term would include simple resale of the work.
            Resale is certainly commercial, yes; that's not in dispute.

            What I disagree with is the idea that resale qualifies as use. Someone who simply sells something is not thereby using that thing.

            Incorporating it into something, or modifying it in some way, would be forms of use; there might be others I'm not thinking of off the top of my head.

            But simply selling it on, untouched, is not a form of use.

            And if it's not a form of use, then it cannot be "use in furtherance of commercial activity".

            I've glanced at a couple of the CC licences now (CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-NC-SA), and at that glance, it doesn't look like "use" is defined anywhere in the license text - although, in the Non-Commercial license, "Non-Commercial" is. Actually, the word "commercial" does not appear at all in CC-BY-SA as far as I can see...

            Perhaps the real issue is that people either don't read these licenses before selecting one, or that they don't understand that contracts (licenses are a kind of contract) mean what the words in them say, not what the people using them would prefer that they say.
            I think this is mostly correct, yes. While I disagree about the meaning of the term "use" as relates to sales, it doesn't look like that term is actually used in any relevant sense in the CC-BY-SA license text, and the up-front definition of what that license grants permission to do does seem to clearly allow what Flickr is doing - clearly enough that anyone who actually read the license could have understood that it would mean that.

            Of course, many people probably did read only the "license deed" overview-and-summary page when selecting a license, rather than read the "legal code" legalese itself. (Isn't that the entire purpose of that overview-and-summary form - to let people understand the license without having to read the full legalese license text?) So they may well not have been exposed to that clear statement in the first place.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 9:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Incorporating it into something, or modifying it in some way, would be forms of use; there might be others I'm not thinking of off the top of my head.

              How about printing it and framing it?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                The Wanderer (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 5:59am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Depending on the framing, that might be enough to qualify. If you're selling the framed print specifically, and possibly also if the framing (and/or the printing medium, et cetera) isn't just an unremarkable off-the-shelf thing (however subjective that might be) but is something that you're actually doing yourself - creative work, in whatever sense - then that might be a leg to stand on in this regard; what you're selling in that case isn't the picture, it's the frame and the work of framing the picture, and the picture is relevant only as the backdrop and reason-to-care-about-this for the frame.

                If Flickr had presented this as "We're selling beautiful, museum-quality frames for pictures we host, and we'll even do museum-quality prints to match the frames!", with the focus on the frames rather than on the pictures, then this might be a reasonable angle to take - although it would probably also have attracted a lot less potential purchaser interest. As far as I can see, however, that's not what they did; their original article on this (or at least its current version, I don't know if they've edited it) presents the pictures front-and-center, refers to the frames only briefly near the bottom in the section which mentions prices, and does not seem to show any of the frames at all.

                Now, I'll acknowledge that this is starting to seem a bit arbitrary and hairsplitting; that's almost inevitable when dealing with the edge cases, which is where controversy is going to arise anyway. I do, however, think that the underlying concept is both valuable (or at least worthwhile) and sound.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 6:18am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Now, I'll acknowledge that this is starting to seem a bit arbitrary and hairsplitting; that's almost inevitable when dealing with the edge cases, which is where controversy is going to arise anyway. I do, however, think that the underlying concept is both valuable (or at least worthwhile) and sound.

                  Personally I think the whole theory that printing and selling a photo isn't a use is way off base. But IANAL and I don't know that this is going to go to court to get decided.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  MrTroy (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 5:45pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  If Flickr had presented this as "We're selling beautiful, museum-quality frames for pictures we host, and we'll even do museum-quality prints to match the frames!", with the focus on the frames rather than on the pictures, then this might be a reasonable angle to take

                  Yeah, that worked really well for Aereo with all that focus on the antennas.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 10:49am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "What I disagree with is the idea that resale qualifies as use. Someone who simply sells something is not thereby using that thing."

              Wow. I would never have imagined this distinction in a million years. Now that you've said it, it still makes no sense to me. Someone who simply resells something is certainly using that work by any reasonable definition of the word "use" that I can think of.

              "Of course, many people probably did read only the "license deed" overview-and-summary page when selecting a license, rather than read the "legal code" legalese itself. "

              I suspect that this is 100% correct. I think it's a reasonable speculation that very nearly nobody actually read and tried to understand the license itself. This points to a wider problem with the (understandable) trend of providing summaries of the license -- summaries are necessarily imprecise and let people fill in the blanks with what they think should be in there. Then they'll mistakenly believe they understand the license. But you can't understand a license that you didn't read, whether you have a summary or not.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                The Wanderer (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 8:45pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Then I suspect we're using fundamentally different concepts of the definition of "use". I've looked at a dictionary definition (in pursuit of a candidate "reasonable definition" for further discussion), and I see it as fitting the interpretation I've used, but I'm pretty sure you'd look at the same definition and see it as ruling that interpretation out. (For reference, it was the one from gcide.)

                From my perspective, having once acquired something, you can use it and keep it, or use it and sell it, or sell it without using it, or return it unused (which is actually required - albeit obliquely, by requiring "unopened packaging" - by many stores' return policies for at least some types of product), or any similar combination - but selling it, per se, does not and cannot constitute using it.

                I could point to the distinction between a "bookstore" and a "used-book store", which would make no sense if selling a book constituted using that book - but I suspect that that would be legitimately dismissed as semantic twaddle. I don't have a better way of trying to convey why I draw that distinction offhand, though.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 5 Dec 2014 @ 6:15am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I've looked at a dictionary definition (in pursuit of a candidate "reasonable definition" for further discussion), and I see it as fitting the interpretation I've used, but I'm pretty sure you'd look at the same definition and see it as ruling that interpretation out.

                  Keep in mind that what's important is the legal interpretation of the word, not the common definition. They're not always the same.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    The Wanderer (profile), 5 Dec 2014 @ 7:34am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    True, but that could be spun in either direction on this, so it doesn't really help figure out (or decide) which interpretation is more likely to be correct - or more likely to hold up in court, for that matter.

                    I was hoping that there would be a definition of "use" in one of the CC licenses, which is why I went to look at the actual license texts in the first place, but I didn't find any. If there's a definition of that term (in or for anything like this context) elsewhere in the law, or even a standard definition that's used in legal discussions but isn't formally codified by statute or the like, I'd be interested to know about it.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2014 @ 10:43am

    in some ways I feel like this is the first true large scale 'test' of the CC license. Not really from the sense of its legal standing, but in the sense of what it actually means to use CC-by.

    This is a test of those who offered their works up under creative commons. Will you stick by your license now that someone is actually using it?

    I am, and will continue to post more under CC-by.

    I wonder, were their similarities when companies tried to monetize Linux? I have to think there was.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 11:33am

      Re:

      "were their similarities when companies tried to monetize Linux?"

      No, but there are a couple of differences that may account for it. First, Linux is licensed under the GPL, not CC, and while both licensing sets seek to do similar things, they really are entirely different beasts. Also, the issues around the GPL (particularly in connection to commercial use) have been the subject of massive debate from before the GPL was in widespread use. So, in a sense, the "controversy" was pretty much settled before anybody really tried to monetize anything.

      Nowadays, when newcomers to the GPL complain about the allowable commercial activity with the license, the typical response is the eminently logical "don't use it if you don't like it." There are many, many alternatives including writing your own license.

      Also, interestingly, the complaints about the commercial use allowed by the GPL tend to come down on the other side of things: it tends to be from people or companies who want to use GPL'd code in their own commercial projects, but chafe at the restrictions they must adhere to in order to do that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2014 @ 12:38pm

        Re: Re:

        well, that's because unlike the GPL, the CC licenses have a full spread. GPL is more like CC-by-sa, which CC-by is more similar to MIT or BSD (I know, not perfect matches, but similar)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 10:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The "GPL" includes a spread of licenses as well (lesser GPL, etc.) Not as broad of a range as CC, of course, but then the GPL is intended for a much narrower application than the CC.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    aglynn (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 5:22pm

    Idea of Property

    For over two millennia the idea of 'real' has intrinsically meant 'property'. To be 'real' something had to have spatial extension, durability, etc. This no longer works, not just for so-called 'intellectual property' but for the technological itself.

    The problem is that we have different determinations of what is being sold. For flickr et al, they are selling a print and a frame, what it happens to be a print of is irrelevant, since it makes no difference to them what they put on the print. To the originator of the image, they're selling a copy of the image. To the buyer, it's a mixture of both.

    As paper with a picture on it and a frame it fits into the old idea of real, something that can be owned. As an interminably reproducible image it doesn't. You could look at an e-book in a similar way - I don't buy an e-book, I purchase a right to have it available on whatever device I want to read it on. The device is, like the printed image, a mixture of property in the old sense and not, since although it's tangible property, a simple software change in the distribution system can render it worthless.

    Technological things, whether digital images, e-books or iPhones are not 'real' property in the old sense. Laws and licenses based on an outdated notion of what a 'thing' is only lead to more confusion. Trying to stuff it into the old category by calling it 'intellectual property' (or 'virtual' for that matter) also adds to the confusion.

    The problem is that what 'matters', to both producer and consumer, is precisely what is non-material in the sense of a physical, locatable object. Materiality itself in quantum mechanics doesn't mean 'physical', it means mattering-to in the sense of relevant, important, or in the way we use material in the legal sense, as what is material to a case versus what is not relevant.

    When we value something, we put a price on it, 'value added' in business calculates how much of what matters, is valuable, in a given product was contributed at various stages - conception, production, distribution etc. Until we learn to define a thing by what in it matters, what is of value, we can't properly assess where the value in a thing was added, thus we can neither price it properly nor distribute the proceeds fairly.

    In this situation the distributor is claiming 100% of the value of the thing. From their perspective that makes sense, but people purchasing prints don't want 'any' print, they want a specific image. Thus the image 'matters' and is a significant part of the value of the thing. No, it doesn't cost the originator anything that more copies are made, nor does it 'cost' film companies if their films are interminably duplicated and distributed digitally at a cost of at most pennies per film. However if they are not compensated films won't get made.

    The creative commons license, rather than having the two, should have only the non-commercial license - if nobody is making money off something, there's no question marks. The commercialization of technological 'things' needs to be rethought, since none of the modes in which we've tried to account for technology has worked, and it hasn't worked because we haven't bothered to properly think about what a technological thing IS in the first place, and how it can have value, and thus be valued and priced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 3 Dec 2014 @ 9:20pm

      Re: Idea of Property

      In this situation the distributor is claiming 100% of the value of the thing.

      Value and price are not the same thing. When an artist releases a work for free, do you think he's claiming it has no value?

      No, it doesn't cost the originator anything that more copies are made, nor does it 'cost' film companies if their films are interminably duplicated and distributed digitally at a cost of at most pennies per film. However if they are not compensated films won't get made.

      Fortunately they're still raking it in.

      The creative commons license, rather than having the two, should have only the non-commercial license - if nobody is making money off something, there's no question marks.

      People want to use the license that allows commercial use. I can tell because they do it. Therefore, if CC didn't offer such a license, someone else would, and then the situation would be even more confusing, not less.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    gerald yamin, 4 Dec 2014 @ 5:59pm

    copyrights law

    flicker has no right to see your photos under the copyrights law. you can sue them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris, 18 Dec 2014 @ 2:02pm

    Not fine at all

    Well, I never really bothered reading the creative commons on flickr until I've heard Yahoo was selling the print. That's not fine to me… If a dude like my picture and want to use it as wallpaper's desktop or print it, it's alright, but that one of top internet company in the US decides to make money on my back, that's not fine. They use a loophole. Even Youtube shares income from advertising with the owners of the videos if they agree to add an ad but here, it's just revolting…

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 18 Dec 2014 @ 5:51pm

      Re: Not fine at all

      They use a loophole.

      How is it a loophole to do something the license explicitly says anybody is free to do?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      MrTroy (profile), 18 Dec 2014 @ 7:29pm

      Re: Not fine at all

      You didn't read a contract that you entered into, but you expect the other party to conform to your wishes that you didn't specify, then get upset when the other party takes what you said at face value rather than reading your mind?

      That's pretty obnoxious, dude.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    rajveer, 8 Mar 2015 @ 11:10pm

    awesome

    Hi, thanks for sharing your ideas. Yours are unique and am sure will make me a more knowledgeable person. There are wonderful blogs on sites such www.gicree.com, www.zopgraphics.com, and www.beafreelanceblogger.com. Yours makes it to the topmost list! Keep blogging.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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