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Friday, April 24, 2015

My pictures perspective

So much of my perspective has shifted so rapidly thanks to the web, and pictures are a huge area where that has happened. And thanks to the web I've even been able to share my own, and to me there's a major promotional benefit to photographs.

And there is a great sharing aspect to your pictures as well.

There can also be a monetary benefit, where this post expresses my perspective, which is my personal opinion, on all of the above.

Promotional use in my opinion is when you use work, or reference to it, in a way that brings positive attention to someone's efforts. Like you may post a picture, with the permission of the photographer, simply to share a beautiful work with others, and NOT to make money.

The rough rule of thumb I think would work for anyone wondering if they're using a photograph of mine, as I won't try to talk for anyone else, properly is that they shouldn't be making any money directly from that use without licensing. That part is NOT complicated.

If you're making money from someone else's work without license to do so, then you're stealing. It's very, very simple. And I think "license" here is just a fancy way to say have contractual permission. Contracts are such a fascinating area, I tend to stay away from talking about them directly.

Like if you put someone else's photograph on a t-shirt, and sell it. That's stealing if you're not licensed to do so, or the work hasn't been released to the public domain.

Notice work can be released to the public domain, which then gives you license to use it, even though there can be additional rules there. But for example Creative Commons is where others have worked out the legalese.

So the web has given us all kinds of great things where it's not to me really complicated about how it can all work well.

Sunny San Francisco


One issue I think can be when someone has something other people want which he doesn't license, because reality is some people may take it and figure out a way to make money from it. It's still stealing. However, if you're showing something other people want enough to pay for things made with it, and don't yourself give an opportunity for them to pay, then that can open the door to piracy, in my opinion.

Thankfully it looks to me like it's getting easier to at least offer the opportunity to license, as the web continues to mature.

So many things are in flux with the web. However as the foundations continue to be laid, decent people can feel better about their use of content, and content providers who do have content people wish to buy in some way, as there are LOTS of ways--not sure I do, but no biggie--can do well.

With photographs in particular then, I'll summarize here, by noting you can share photographs for no monetary reason, which is the purest form, and that sharing can actually have promotional value, or you might figure out some way to make money from a photograph, which if it's not yours requires licensing, or it's stealing.

With my photographs I feel like I'm learning, and am just glad when people like them. And I love photography, now more than ever. And am still most excited about the opportunity to see so many more great photographs than I ever did before the web.


James Harris
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