...as if on cue, I received a letter from Schmap saying that they are planning to use one of my photographs in their (allegedly non-commercial but obviously ad-revenue-driven) travel guides.
Not particularly surprising to me, the photo was not marked with a Creative Commons tag, but rather as "© All Rights Reserved." Maybe they don't realize that I habitually send CDs of thumbnails to the Copyright Office to actually register my pix?
As a followup to the earlier post on skepticism about "Creative Commons," it's been sadly amusing to watch the recent flaps declaring flickr (a) as censors but (b) not censorious enough. What seems common to both situations is a failure of common sense, a failure rendered raw with typically abrasive flourish by EPUK's "Sqweegee" in his article on the Schmap smokeup:
Flickr is a mashup of hobbyists who merely want to share snaps of kittens and sunsets and rather a lot of more serious photographers who covertly dream of dumping the day job and becoming pros someday. For now, all are content to share for free, but the expectation is that enough exposure and recognition should eventually lead to fees, fame and stardom if you are good enough.
This is of course romantic rubbish : there really are no clear demarcation lines between pros and amateurs anymore except an insistence on being paid that is being rendered untenable by oversupply. "Pro" means "makes a living." Every aspirant pro who gives away their work "for exposure" undercuts their own future by demonstrating to clients that they need not pay for work they consider good enough to use. So they never will.
Now we all know: that Creative Commons licenses are not meant to cause harm, or so their proponents remind us. They are meant as a shining pathway to an ideal Republic of pure creativity and form based on freedom and love where everyone with a laptop and a wifi connect can be their very own personalized Philosopher King. And get rich.
No, the concept can't be flawed, it makes perfect sense to create copyrights where there's no control over the copying rights. Instead, there must be some conspiracy, some very bad people who have been using it without having their hearts pre-aligned according to our approved rules. So no, let's not look at the fundamentally pig-dumb notions of Creative Commons: let's make a right turn and find a new set of different problems that won't make us look bad.
Is the potential for corruption in government and enterprise a deep one, and one that causes plenty of real problems for people every day? Yes. And it's one that I too care deeply about. But... what? This will get fixed by the wiki/CC crowd? It's their very ignorance (or deliberate glossing-over) of the ability of people to be guided by their own self-interest (particularly in this case, the self-interest of people who realize that it's cheaper to steal images and ideas than it is to create them) that has made Creative Commons such a social disaster. And now the same people claim that they're out to somehow fix the general problem of corruption?
Just give them ten years before requiring any further statements. Yeah, that's the idea. Should land all the CC culprits right into tenured retirement without having to have any further pesky demands for a "pre-baked" "revolution."
As the Schmap folks wrote in response to outrage at their broad appropriation of images and further use of them as a means for advertising Schmap's products right back at and through the hoodwinked flickrites: "We'll do our best to stay the right side of the line throughout all this."
Which line is that? I suspect the bottom one.