Why Not Creative Commons?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Bill, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. Bill

    Bill Mu-43 Regular

    176
    Apr 15, 2009
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill (really)
    I just put this on my blog, but thought it might be interesting to see what the forum thinks.

    Those who let amateur photographers take their pictures are incredibly generous. I don’t believe that photographers should repay that generosity by allowing those images to be used to promote a cause or in ways that might make anyone the object of ridicule.


    If all of my photos were of buildings, pets or landscapes, I’d have no problems. But, often enough, I photograph people. Not paid models. Regular people.


    Creative Commons is sensitive to the issues of commercialisation, but appears to be agnostic about causes, politics, religions and ridicule — I’m not.

    I'm familiar with my rights as a photographer. I’m familiar with the rights of others regarding “fair use.” I’m familiar with the laws regarding photography in public places. And, I’ve read the views of some who see CC licensing as a useful tool in the promotion of their work and their art.


    It’s not for me to dictate to others (it's bad enough that I preach), so I'll put this in personal terms: It doesn't appear to me that any of the CC Licenses afford me the control that’s consistent with what I regard as my responsibility.

    Creative Commons provides great solutions for many kinds of works, just not mine.

     
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  2. leonberdi

    leonberdi Mu-43 Regular

    133
    Apr 15, 2011
    Montreal
    Very interesting post. I kinda have an idea of what you see as your responsibility but it is not very clear (at least to me). Could you expand... maybe with some examples?
     
  3. c5karl

    c5karl Mu-43 Regular

    144
    May 31, 2011
    Fairfax, Va., USA
    To me it matters where the photo was taken.

    If I'm taking photos of friends/colleagues/acquaintances at a social gathering, I never post these with Creative Commons license (in fact, I don't post them publicly at all). Even if it's in a public place, I think there is some level of expectation of privacy that the interaction within that group won't be shared more broadly.

    However, if I take photos in a public setting, especially if people are publicly expressing support or opposition for a cause or political point of view, I have no reservations about posting those photos with a Creative Commons license. When people choose to express a point of view in a public way, that's a pretty clear indication there's no expectation of privacy. The whole point of participating in a public event is to publicly voice one's views, not to keep them private.

    If I take a photo at a public event, how am I different from a newspaper or wire service photographer, whose photos potentially will be seen by millions of people? I don't think amateur shooters need to hold themselves to a higher standard than pros do.

    There are situations that fall in between: Taking photos of strangers in a public place when they're just carrying on their daily lives. IANAL, but I think legally there's no expectation of privacy that can be enforced, but I think it's appropriate to be respectful and not deliberately capture people doing something that would reflect badly on that person. Do I really need to take a picture of someone picking his nose? No.

    It is interesting that you post this now. Someone has started a Tumblr blog (DC Metro People) on which he posts iPhone photos taken surreptitiously on the D.C. subway system. One of the local TV stations aired an alarmist story about him (Metrorail Photog: Art or Invasiveness? | NBC Washington). I don't have any problem with what he's doing, and I'd feel perfectly comfortable sharing similar photos.
     
  4. leonberdi

    leonberdi Mu-43 Regular

    133
    Apr 15, 2011
    Montreal
    While I agree for the most part, I think that such a comment minimizes the ethics that are taught in schools of journalism. Whether these ethics are taught well, learned, or are even enforced is an entirely different story. However, by virtue of being an amateur, I do not feel that I have a level of expertise of ethics (in this matter) as I would expect from a journalist. I am not just talking about knowing the law, but about considering ethics from theoretical perspectives.
     
  5. Bill

    Bill Mu-43 Regular

    176
    Apr 15, 2009
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill (really)
    An example

    If I posted a picture of two women standing together, if that image later appeared on a blog (non-commercial) railing against same-sex marriage (implying the two women are partners), as I understand it, under Creative Commons I have no recourse.
     
  6. Bill

    Bill Mu-43 Regular

    176
    Apr 15, 2009
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill (really)
    Amateur photography is not journalism

    Amateur photography is not journalism. I believe that a journalist's photos have public interest elements that justify those images; images that would be simply voyeuristic if taken by an amateur. I don't think it's a question of holding ourselves to a higher standard, but to a different one.
     
  7. c5karl

    c5karl Mu-43 Regular

    144
    May 31, 2011
    Fairfax, Va., USA
    I'm afraid I disagree. This reminds me too much of the now very tired argument about whether or not bloggers are "real" journalists.

    I make my living in the news business, so may be I should be more protective of my profession, but I don't see a title on a business card conferring any special rights.

    I'd be interested in your thoughts on the DC Metro People blog (linked above). Do you see his blog as violating the rights of any of his subjects?
     
  8. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    The OP combined two different issues into one post.

    1) Creative Commons Licensing and Policy

    I've quickly skimmed Creative Commons license(s) and license policy. I don't get it, maybe I missed something ... I don't see how CC is offering anything more than what an individual can already do. Granted, the CC is pre-packaged and convient, but under the "all rights reserved" any photographer can add identical or similar language.

    2) Photography Ethics

    I did not see any ethical policy in CC regulating what their licensing would or would not cover.

    I do a lot of "Street Photography". I shoot people in public places without asking permission, or being granted permission. I am quite aware of the "expectation of privacy" and respect that element of US law. I am against any law which limits or abridges the US 1st Amendment. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, I rather live in a country with a free press and no government, than a country with a government and no free press.

    We cannot distinguish or separate basic freedom-of-expression by class of people. In a democracy, either we are all free or none of us are free. In the US we all enjoy a basic level of freedom of expression equally, journalists receive a privilege/right beyond the basic and essential law allowing them additional access and protections while in the performance of their job (the public's right to know). These rights have been granted because all of us cannot be everywhere at the same time. Much of a journalist's privilege is based upon a common sense and pragmatic approach for crowd control and to create a pooling of information and distribution. (Can you imagine the impact the "public" would have if they (we) were all allowed into the White House for the next Presidential speech?

    Now to the ethical question ... I think it boils down to this:

    Is there a world-wide ethical standard which should be adopted and imposed upon photographers to control and limit their images captured in public?

    The answer is no. Too many different cultures and institutions with widely differing opinions to make that possible.

    Is it fair and right to photograph a person in public which shows them in a bad light (so to speak).

    Yes. Largely due to infringement of the 1st Amendment, or better said by not infringing on the 1st Amendment, by keeping the public arena wide open for freedom of expression, the enforcement and understanding of what is legal is easy with less opportunity for interpretation by security personal and the courts.

    Ben Franklin said the the best defense is innocence. That thought applies here as well. If you don't want to be caught picking your nose ... then don't pick your nose. While this may seem flippant, it actually is a fundamental element of personal ethics. If you don't want to be perceived as a pedophile, then don't photograph young girls in skirts on swings. If you desired to be viewed as a person of their word ... then you have better do your damned-est to keep your word and promises.

    The basic creed of journalism is accuracy and objectivity. If you photograph in the streets make sure your photos reflect an accurate recording of that place, time and person. If you allow the image to be used for anything other than your personal use, make sure that usage reflects the accuracy of the original image ... or its usage is so benign that no harm is done.

    As an example, I won't shoot homeless. At one time I had a few in my on-line galleries. I removed them when it dawned at me that I was only showing one side of the homeless. That until I could show images that reflected a deeper understanding of their situation my images only contained a certain shock value and nothing more.

    Gary

    PS- My remarks are of a general nature, one can always find exceptions to generalities.
    G
     
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  9. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    I'll say this much. Legalities aside, I understand why some folks are leery about having their picture taken. These days, a snapshot can be shown to half the world and a casual mishap can make you the object of laughter on 6 continents. Let's be honest: the situation has changed from 30 years ago.
     
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  10. leonberdi

    leonberdi Mu-43 Regular

    133
    Apr 15, 2011
    Montreal
    +1
     
  11. Bill

    Bill Mu-43 Regular

    176
    Apr 15, 2009
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill (really)
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font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} ********> <![endif]--> Gary,

    I’m very impressed by your post, particularly your decsion not to photgraph the homeless. I think we are pretty much on the same page.

    I don’t think, however, the question is whether there’s a world-wide ethical standard. (You’re right to say that there never will be.) My point is more narrow: Whatever your ethical standard might be, you can’t defend it with a CC license.

    On the photo site where I put some of my pictures I say:
    To those who appear in my photos: Thank you for your generosity in letting me take your pictures. I won't use, sell or give away any image that identifies you with the purpose of selling a product, promoting a cause or subjecting you to ridicule.
    I see CC working for all kinds of things. I think it’s a great initiative. It just doesn’t work for me.
     
  12. Bill

    Bill Mu-43 Regular

    176
    Apr 15, 2009
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill (really)
    I didn't look at every picuture on the site, but none of what I saw bothered me.

    What worries me is that under a CC license, for example, somone might use one the photos of a rider sleeping on the subway and put it with an article elsewhere about drug-affected young people.

    As I see it, the photographer has no voice in that subsequent use of his or her work. That concerns me.
     
  13. Rick Waldroup

    Rick Waldroup Mu-43 Veteran

    420
    May 28, 2009
    Texas
    Gary is pretty much dead on in his assessment. I, too, shoot mostly street photography. I hardly ever title my photos, and if I do, it is because the title is very evident in the shot. I usually just put the location and date when the the photo was shot. Sometimes, my photos are just untitled. The reason I do not title most of my shots is because I do not want, in any way, to interject my personal feelings into the photo because I am simply documenting what I see on the streets. Nothing more, nothing less.
     
  14. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Bill, your statement of "... On the photo site where I put some of my pictures I say:
    To those who appear in my photos: Thank you for your generosity in letting me take your pictures. I won't use, sell or give away any image that identifies you with the purpose of selling a product, promoting a cause or subjecting you to ridicule.", is pretty much law here in the United States. As there are international conventions regarding copyright, I imagine that the "law" is pretty similar elsewhere. (Except maybe France.) The "ridicule" part is a gray area subject to interpretation and circumstance.

    In the States one cannot use an image for commercial enterprises ... which is advertising, promotion, endorsements, et cetera without the approval from the identifiable subject(s) in the image. One typically uses a model release to be granted use of a person image/likeness for a commercial purpose(s).

    CC is not a model release. CC appears to be an abridged or a narrowing of copyright regulations to accomodate and grant specific usage of images to others on the internet.

    I have the below language on my photo site:

    "Welcome to my photo site. I hope your viewing enjoyment is equal to my photo taking enjoyment.

    All Images Copyright © Gary Ayala.
    All Rights Reserved.
    Any unauthorized use is prohibited.

    Email: garyayala@hotmail.com


    Now the negative stuff.
    None of these images are for sale. I will gladly share an image pro-bono, but only if the image is not used commercially, for profit, or if the image or its subject(s) is used in a negative/abusive fashion. Feel free to contact me garyayala@hotmail.com.

    Unless I have expressly given my consent, downloading from this site is strictly forbidden.

    Thanks for Looking,
    Gary"


    In summary, while you are displaying good will, you are stating a position which has already been established by law. Sorta like going for a drivers license and telling the Department of Motor Vehicle representative that you make it a point to stop at all the red lights. In the US you will be creamed in civil court for using a persons likeness, without their consent, for a commercial enterprise.

    Remember that you can shoot and publish any person who is in public or in the public-eye, without restriction, as long as that photo is used for editorial purposes (news). (The 'expectation of privacy' clause notwithstanding.) Furthermore, in the US, the ability to photograph people in public is not restricted by age.

    Gary
     
  15. Bill

    Bill Mu-43 Regular

    176
    Apr 15, 2009
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill (really)
    Gary,

    I knew we would get there. I love your advice.

    My entire point is that if you used any of the Creative Common licenses, (except for the commercial restrictions) you would lose that control.

    Why not Creative Commons? That's why.
     
  16. Rick Waldroup

    Rick Waldroup Mu-43 Veteran

    420
    May 28, 2009
    Texas
    I like that language, Gary. I may add something similar to my site. Thanks.