I like to include a picture with my blog posts. Primarily because it looks nicer than without and helps tell the story. Secondly, because it works better when it gets shared – particularly via facebook (for further reading check out facebook’s Open Graph concept). The vast majority of photos I’ve used have been one of my photos. I’ve got a huge cache of photos – a library of content at my fingerstips.
There are times though when I don’t have an image that goes with the content I’m writing about. An example of this would be the ‘Giz a go on your bike?‘ blog from a few days ago; I wanted a cool picture of either a chopper, a Raleigh or a Nirve. I didn’t have anything that fitted the bill – so I used someone else’s. Legally of course. I used a photograph who’s owner had published it with a Creative Commons licence. In effect, the photographer had made the decision to allow others to use his work, as long as they gave credit.
As an example of work I’ve shared and my thought process behind this action; the above photo was from a series of photos I was very privileged to be able to take – of the inside of Harrogate Magistrate Courts during an open day. The photos, it turned out were in hot demand as there aren’t that many photos of the inside of a modern British court room (normally it’s a strictly no photo policy). I’ve shared them under a Creative Commons licence, specifically an Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic licence. This means that anyone can use it for non commercial purposes, if they say where they got it in their work. These photos have been used in several things – mainly educational websites and printed material, and I’m happy with this. I’m pleased that my work is being used to do some good and educate people about something important. I’ve retained the right that if someone wants to use them commercially, they may have to pay me.
This probably wouldn’t have been possible for me to do a few years ago. Creative Commons has just celebrated the 10th birthday of the release of it’s first licence. Since then over 350 millions works have been licensed under Creative Commons. Organisations like Flickr have done a brilliant job of seamlessly integrating it as an option into their site. YouTube have recently joined in and more and more media agencies are joining the ranks on a monthly basis. Creative Commons have simplified the safe share-ability of content. Before, you needed something akin to a degree in law, or, a staff lawyer to contemplate negotiations to use someone else’s content. Now, it’s a lot easier thanks to Creative Commons, particularly with tools like Compfight.
Compfight taps into Flickr and searches all of it’s content for stuff that’s been tagged with a Creative Commons licence. It’s also got a really neat wordpress plug-in that means something close to a one click solution. If I wanted a picture of a lets say, a bright smiley clown giving a big thumbs up sign to illustrate how happy I was about Creative Commons and compfight.com, I could either go out and shoot one myself, buy one or…
My closing thoughts are that we’re living in a new economy and it isn’t just about aiming for the obvious dollar. It’s also about networking relationships and getting more ‘eyeball’ stats. Another strong metric of this new economy that I’m describing is the Good Karma points factor and the Creative Commons is heavily trading in this currency.