Creative Commons


This poster by Piotrek Chuchla helps visually explain the different Creative Commons licenses that a person or business can freely attach to their work or product. It is hosted on Behance, an online portfolio site that itself uses Creative Commons licenses. And offers them to all Behance users. This poster is free to download, copy and remix under the CC-BY 2.0 license. Which means it is open for unlimited mixing, sharing, and commercial use as long as credit is given.

At its best, the most outstanding thing Creative Commons does is makes us think. It frees everyone engaged in creativity to collaborate and engage if they so chose  without the funk of stealing hanging around. If I want to use this artist’s poster to illustrate the Creative Commons license in my work I can, they want me to, that’s why they made it. I feel good about that. Before Creative Commons I still might have stuck it in my own work but I would have not known or cared what the creator thought. I would have stayed dumb to the concept of copyright.  And would have negated a whole discussion in myself about the value of this persons work. However, that is the nature of todays web culture, I can right-click, or drag and drop any image into my own work, it’s up to my honesty to attribute it to someone who actually made it. And it’s their burden to find me and sue me for using it if they don’t want it shared.  Creative Commons helps make the intent of the artist as far as reproduction and dissemination more clear.

But! What if they don’t want me to use it? What about commercial or unintended use, the creative commons license seems a bit vague here. There are concerns out there that corporations are taking advantage of work that has been permanently labeled under the Creative Commons license. Here is a bit from a photographer who has objections.

“The real issue is commercial use — and this is where we get to who really benefits, at least over the long-term. Before Creative Commons, a corporation or ad agency that wanted to use your photo would have to contact you or your photo agency for permission to use it. You could negotiate a price based on the particular use, making sure you got a fair deal.

Through CC, hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of photographers have thrown this right away forever. (Remember, CC says that once you choose a license for your work, it’s irrevocable.) Photographers are generally doing this with good intentions or for idealistic reasons. But the end result is that you are building a system enabling commercial buyers to use your images without paying for them.”  -

The subjects in a piece seem to have it good under a Creative Commons license, as the license requires a model release. And privacy and publicity laws remain intact. Which doesn’t help the Lugosi family but does help future families of celebrities if these licenses become the norm. Ironically the same photographers who are lamenting over the Creative Commons license and its possible negative effects on themselves don’t want to have to submit a model release. Huh? Photographers, like Chefs, always seem a bit arrogant, don’t they?

When it comes to Sheri Levine I have to say I’m a bit bourgeois. She might have benefited and the Estate of Walker Evens also from the Creative Commons license if she had not then sold her photographs, to none other than the Estate of Walker Evens, in order to keep them from disseminating further.  I don’t know if I believe her motivations where altruistic and based on open sharing, if that was the case she would have given her work away free. She did not. I think photography is an art form and a form of work and has the right to be protected. I don’t think Sheri Levine had the right to take a photo of a photo and make financial gain from it. She calls herself an appropriation artist. I don’t agree. I do however think Michael Manidberg is. His site is brilliant. And because copyright laws already protect his work he could only benefit from a Creative Commons License by making it even more clear its purpose of dissemination.

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