2012.02.26

Copyright and left

13.24.25 - Mark

I create content. I write content, I shoot video, I take photos, I program. I'm not the only one who does this, in some way in some shape, everyone creates something copyrightable. But from there, there's an interesting dichotomy to the content that we create. Society loves the partial Steward Brand quote "Information wants to be free" but sometimes we forget the whole quote:

On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other

Yes our information wants to be free, quotes true or false are passed around the internet, videos and music is passed from friend to friend, be it the high tech P2P networks to the sneaker net use of analog cassette taps and xerox copies. But that information is valuable. Hense organizations like RIAA and MPAA passing out lawsuits like Halloween candy and pushes for insane legislation.

As a content creator I'm aware of both sides. I have work I pass out for free, while it is valuable to me, it's a marginal amount, citations are nice, but sometimes a "Hey can I use this" is enough of a nod. Some content I don't even obfuscate or try to lock down. However, I also create work so valuable that dollars are involved. I've sold photos to be printed on tshirts, licences for use in promotional materials, and some sold as art.

Living in these two worlds - free and valuable, I'm aware of potential copyright violations. I've seen my photos used in newspapers credited to someone else, and I've run into situations where my work was used without permission in borderline commercial purposes. Last night however I ran across a youtube video on reusing wooden pallets. As I watched it I knew plenty of photos were being used without citations, without any credit to the projects being documented or the people behind the work. Some were common, some new to me, but right at 2 minutes, I saw one of my own photos from my Pallet wood coffee table.

Now that image both on my blog, and on my flickr account is under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license so I'm fine with it being used. The video is not commercial, but I'm not sure what I feel about the attribution. My ego isn't really craving the credit. It would like it of course, but it's not critical. Intellectually however, I think it is required. With dozens of photos collected from all over the interwebs, there are countless numbers of projects that people may want to explore further (and in the case of this video, we're talking over 600,000 people), and without credits that's a difficult task.

I honestly haven't decided how I'm going to approach the issue but it's an odd case I haven't had to deal with before.

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