No more Creative Commons license?

3 minute read

February 20, 2014, 12:00 AM

As of today, The Schumin Web is no longer offered under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.  The site will now be offered under the traditional “all rights reserved” model, i.e. explicit written permission is required for most downstream usages.  I am doing this for one purpose: to make money.  I went to the Creative Commons model back in November 2005 in order to give my work more exposure through downstream uses, and apparently it’s worked.  I now have a portfolio of over 250 downstream usages, both online and in print.  I now have plenty of exposure.  People know who I am, and know about my work, based on multiple usages from a few high-profile entities.  Therefore, I believe that I have reached the point where I can monetize my photography work and bring in a few extra bucks.  The idea is that if you work for some vague notion of “exposure”, that is all you are ever going to get, and it’s very easy to be taken advantage of that way.  As I field more and more licensing requests from companies, it is clear that there is monetary value in what I produce.

Because of this, there are a few changes in the way that things will operate as far as image licensing goes, as I attempt to reconcile the old Creative Commons license with the new all-rights-reserved model.  First of all, please note: as of today, no new downstream usages of any Schumin Web content are allowed under any form of Creative Commons license.  Please see the new Content Licensing page for information about new downstream usages of Schumin Web content.  All existing downstream content usages that were made using the old Creative Commons license are grandfathered.  Thus, for example, if you used a picture under the Creative Commons license last year, nothing affects that past usage.  However, if you want to use another image today, you need to receive explicit written permission to use that image, even if the image was originally published during the period when the Creative Commons license was in effect.

Looking back at eight years of operations under the Creative Commons model, I have come to the conclusion that, while the whole idea of Creative Commons is certainly noble, it’s a pain in the butt on the management side of things.  I would find usages of my content that didn’t follow the Attribution-ShareAlike requirements, and when I contacted the offenders, they would claim that they didn’t think that the item was copyrighted and that they didn’t have to do anything beyond just using it.  And then explaining that they were, in fact, allowed to use the image but only if certain requirements were met sailed right over the heads of too many people.  This Journal entry discusses some of the problems that I’ve had with it.  Plus Creative Commons put me at a disadvantage when managing image rights, because it was a blanket permission to use it for anything.  That was all well and good when things weren’t moving, but with quite a few commercial usages of my work now, including a book cover, my view has changed.  Basically, if you are going to profit off of my work, I want a piece of that pie.  I’m not giving it away anymore.

Right now, I’m doing my own rights management in-house.  However, I am looking to partner with a company to handle the rights management for me, and am currently researching companies that provide this service.  If anyone has recommendations for stock photography companies to partner with, please leave a comment below, because feedback from actual users is worth far more than a whole stack of company literature.

[Note: The licensing policy announced here was superseded by a new licensing policy on October 1, 2019.]