Why SpaceX photos aren’t public domain (yet)

Sometimes people who license their digital content aren’t really thinking it through. They may have something else on their minds or copyright nuance may not be their thing. I think it behooves us copyright advocates and activists to (at least) politely try to push the envelope towards more open content licensing. Here’s the example I enjoyed from today.


This is interesting especially because Flickr uses Creative Commons licensing, but does not use CC-0 which is an intentional choice. Photos from cultural heritage organizations which are in the Flickr Commons have an additional “no known copyright restriction18comixoption that is only available to specific accounts, not any Flickr user. There are many ways this specific issue can be resolved but just the fact that it’s generally a hurdle that has to be overcome indicates that there is still a good role for copyright reform advocates to play. More supporting links: Original article & SpaceX photos on Flickr.

Update: I made this into a longer Medium post.

Why SpaceX’s photos (maybe) aren’t public domain

Copyright, licensing, the government and you

Walt Crawford has a long piece in the latest Cites & Insights about the Creative Commons Non-Commercial license, responding to some online arguments against them by the Free Content community (Walt’s capitalization creates a useful distinction) including Wikipedia. My approach to the NC designation which I also use on this site, is philosophically much the same as Walt’s. If you’re using my content as a primary method of making money for yourself, please cut me in on it. If you’re not, then go ahead and use what you’d like. Letting me know is always appreciated.

This specific designation on this blog has come into play three times that I can recall.

  1. The New York Times magazine reprinted a text version of my Five Technically Legal Signs for Your Library, only they changed five to three and changed some of the wording and credited the material incorrectly. I wrote them a pointed email outlining this and highlighting the site license, and they allowed me a heavily edited response in the letters section of the next issue.
  2. When a Wikipedia editor wrote an article about me, I was asked if I would offer my “The FBI Has Not Been Here” sign as an illustration. This seemed to be preferable to some dorky picture of me, so I agreed. They needed me to remove the license from that image in order to have it be available on Wikipedia which is a Free Content site — meaning that you can use any image in Wikipedia for any puspose at all. Remember the people who own the content and dictate the terms of the license can negotiate other deals for their own content, the license is just a shortcut for people who want to know “what can I do with this content without even asking?”
  3. When TechSoup asked to reprint an article of mine on safety and security issues for public access PCs that had originally appeared on WebJunction, they asked if I wouldn’t mind putting a CC license on the content so that it could be reprinted by other nonprofits which seemed fine to me. We had a little back and forth about how much editing the reprinted article would go through. The fact that I had licensed the content made it a little easier to have the content presented the way I wanted it to be presented and I’m happy with the result.

This luxury assumes of course that you own the content to begin with, and that you know you own it. As we move into the shiny world of user-created content in the form of blogs, podcasts, collaborative online projects and ephemeral notations (do you own the comments you put on someone else’s blog?) this will get more complicated before it gets simpler. For another copright consideration to sink your teeth into, K. Matthew Danes has put together a long easy-to-read piece on what copying means in a library context including a deep look at Section 108 which governs copying by libraries. Read and learn.

librarians, technologists and free culture

A great LJ post by Ben Ostrowsky about librarians and technology and another long list of things that we should know more about. Special appearance in the comments by Ben’s Mom!

I can invent a barcode generator that prints PDFs for cheap Avery labels, but it’s the users like you who tell school librarians that it’s a great way to save money (especially if you cover your labels with library tape anyway).

I can write an article on anonymous library cards and share it freely with a Creative Commons license, but it’s up to you to share the ideas with others and implement it yourselves….

At the risk of stealing material from Christ, I encourage you to go and do the same. If you don’t have a blog, get one and get comfortable with it. Join a mailing list and ask questions. If you see a question you can answer, do it. It is so not about me. It’s about you.

I’m editor of the week at Ourmedia

I’m guest editing this week over at Ourmedia. It’s a new site where people can upload content to share online for free. Sort of like the Internet Archive — who gives them the storage space — but with an eye towards shared creative content, not just storage and retrieval. I’ve got some quibbles with the interface but it’s in super-alpha so it’s all bug fixes and exploration for now. The sites has some social software features and some good potential. Get yourself an account and upload something.