I can't sing the praises of Creative commons and licensing generally loud enough. I remember reading in Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig ages ago his solution to the problem of works which may still want to be copyrighted going into the public domain. Make the author pay 1 dollar to keep the copyright of that works a live for another 14 years. It seemed very reasonable, because generally if that piece of work is earning you money its maybe earning you much more that 1 dollar. Of the major entertainment business's rejected this as it was too costly and burnesome on them. I say whatever! and of course its not to burnensome to track down users using sometimes highly questionable or even illegal methods and sue them out of their hard earned money.
But what I found interesting was Lawrence ultimately had a plan to deal with the problem of not knowing who the author was, through this proposal.
Once you know who the author/editor/copyright owner is and you can contact them without going through crazy methods things like this happen. From James Cridland.
Until a few months ago, when the Ministry of Sound contacted me about the photo. Could they use it for the cover of a new album? Sure. We agreed terms, I waited a few months… and there it is, in the niftily-produced photo montage above.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been published. Photographs I’ve taken have been used (at least, cleared for use) in the Russian edition of Time magazine; in a few books, some of which haven’t come out yet; in some postcards in Switzerland (oddly); in a video montage used by a comany to flog stuff; and apparently this one has also been used for a San Miguel promotion (the agency promised to send me lots of beer as payment, but I guess they never used it in the end).
What’s interesting is how excited I am about my photograph being produced in a way that the public will see it. And then I reflected that my photographs are everywhere, thanks to the magic of Creative Commons.
Its not just James either, my friend Sheila got her creative commons licenced photos of nigera falls turned into a paperweight which is sold on site. Even I've had my photos used in many places for a price or gift. Recently I was asked if a couple of my videos on blip.tv could be used for a DVD documentary on the ARG the lost ring. So I pointed out that the liceince I had applied already let them to commercially reporoduce the content but they must attribute me for the works.
Its great stuff and actually works as it should do. Imagine a world where stuff was actually licenced (even all rights reserved) and you could contact the copyright owner to ask questions about reuse and copying. Its not impossible, we can make it happen.
Don't use services which don't allow you to apply a licence and always embed a licence into media. Its that simple really.