I’ve always been a strong advocate for Creative Commons as an alternative to Copyright- a license that is AUTOMATICALLY APPLIED without your permission to your works in the absence of any explicitly contrary license.
For many years all the photos I’ve taken on this website I have licensed as [CC] Creative Commons with conditions of attribution or non-commercial use. This means that others are allowed to use my photos as long as they aren’t making money from them and include my name to indicate the original author.
But the internet is a funny thing you know. Some kind, respectful people use my photos and my name for their websites, and I find them on search engines and am genuinely grateful. The vast majority of my images however end up hot-linked from MySpace and Friendster, Stumble Upon, forums, etc. This uses my bandwidth and they are never credited to me. Other photobloggers will know what I’m talking about if they’ve ever checked their referrer logs.
For these people, I sometimes changed the image they were hot-linking to. Suddenly their myspace would turn into a pornographic image involving a german shepherd which I found amusing, but apart from being as rude as the person lifting my images, it was probably legally ambiguous. One day I found a US police department was using one of my images, but it too was promptly removed when the PD’s homepage began serving dog pornography.
So anyway, back to Creative Commons. There was one time through sheer co-incidence I discovered one of my images was being used commercially by a large gadget manufacturer. It was evident from their product information pages that a photo of mine was being used on a major products packaging. I called them and told them about the Creative Commons license and how I specified non-commercial use. In this instance they were in a bind, caught red handed. They were nice enough to open their wallets and pay me for it’s use. I was nice enough not to overcharge them.
I’ve come to realize however, that although I think I’m a decent photographer which the gear and the knowledge to take nearly professional photos I don’t do it for monetary gain. I’m a web developer and an IT worker. I think its great that Creative Commons has allowed a massive amount of cultural material an opportunity for fair use and reuse, especially when google and FlickR and other online media and search databases throw their support behind indexing the media. But I think that a lot of work currently indexes as “non commercial” creative commons has limited commercial value and their authors should consider public domain as a real viable alternative to creative commons and copyright.
Also, I don’t really care anymore if some company, individual, web designer, musician, artist or police department want to use my photos. What’s more, I encourage others to do the same. I’m no Ansel Adams, so why pretend I am by throwing a non-commercial license on my work? I don’t know how to make money of my photos.. why would I? I would be hugely surprised if anyone made any substantial money of any of my photos and if they somehow contributed to someone else success I would be happy to have made a contribution to culture that might not otherwise have happened with my old Creative Commons licensing.