I was at Acropolis getting some fried something when I saw a catchy magazine on the counter. I looked again and my photo was on the cover of the magazine (Colombo Monthly). I thought this was odd but then they’d credited me on the bottom with a link to my Flick page, in perfect accordance with the Creative Commons license I attached to all my photos. Which made me quite happy. I’ve seen my photos in almost every paper and even a government textbook, uncredited, but it is nice that a new generation of publishers is starting to get the Creative Commons system.
I am not especially attached to my photos and I’m not hurt if someone neglects to credit me. I still don’t think my photography is that much more than standing in front of stuff so I don’t feel overly proud. I personally don’t get all the photobloggers who preface their blogs with PHOTOS ARE COPYRIGHTED ANY VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSTITUTED. You know who you are. Is that really the first thing people need to know about your photos? It’s like walking into an exhibition subtitled ‘Don’t shit on the floor.’
People are going to ‘steal’ anyway. The best you can hope for is that they steal with dignity.
Copyright is outdated for a number of reasons, but mostly because young people don’t have the same perception of it anymore. The Internet has seen an explosion in supply and only a moderate burp of demand so the value of any individual photo is less. I know photographers that do make a living by photo, but that is almost based on the relationship (with Reuters or Time or whatever) and not on the photo per se.
Plus, with digital, people are simply taking more photos. It’s not like someone is sitting waiting for these things to come over the Telex or Codex or whatever they used in those days. There is a crapflood of photos and some of them should simply be let go. Not every one is a turkey. Some are just pigeons.
For young photographers especially, exposure is good and getting republished or blogged about with credit is a great result. That can lead to the boring commissioned work which actually pays photographers.
For day to day stuff, however, I’m all in favor of letting it go. If it’s yours it’ll come back to you and if it doesn’t who cares. Personally I think many photographers and writers have lost sight of the actual purpose of their craft which is not to make money. It’s to be seen and read. For that a Creative Commons license is a good thing, as it lets people use your stuff with civility.