Are you too funky for copyright law?

28 01 2009

Recently I went to a presentation by some international PR-types. Their PowerPoint was liberally punctuated with pictures attributed to Flickr users.

This is what funky Web 2.0 people do: they search Flickr for an image released under a Creative Commons licence. This gives them a double jolt: they get free pictures to jazz up their slides; and they put their webcred on their sleeves. Look-it ,I get the whole Web 2.0 sharing –but-respecting culture. Using this cool new Creative Commons thing, I outwit the Man and his repressive anti-creative laws. Look at the crowd sourcing the solution. So long as I tip my hat to the photographer, I’m on the right side of the law.

Probably not.

Many (most?) Flickr users who licence their content using Creative Commons choose the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence. To comply with this licence, the Funky Bunch needs to meet the three requirements neatly spelled out in the name: attribute (tick), allow others to use the image on the same terms (sure thing), and use it only for non-commercial purposes. Uh oh. You’re a professional PR person giving a presentation highlighting your services to a room full of paying potential customers. You just out-funked yourself.

Creative Commons is a wonderful thing but it still gives the licensor (the photographer, in the case of Flickr) rights. It is not the same as copyright-free.

The photo in this post <dusting off webcred on sleeve> is by Andy Piper, who provides it under the CC Attribution-No Derivative Works licence.




4 responses

29 01 2009
Dane Glerum

Pretty interesting case. Especially when you consider that it’s a professional PR company. Sure you get the whole – ‘lets me nice to each other and share our intellectual property’ vibe of web-2.whatever but I doubt the PR firm views it as more than a source of free photos.

Did the PR company share their slides after the event?

12 02 2009
BBC falls into Creative Commons “trap” « Inside the Box

[…] month I wrote about people using Flickr images under Creative Commons licences because it’s the cool Web 2.0 […]

23 09 2009
refined geek » Blog Archive » Basic concepts of Copyright you should know

[…] rant was written by my good friend Steven Lewis over at his blog on this very same topic, and he probably said it much better than […]

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