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Changes in the area of photo licensing…

October 1, 2019, 12:00 AM

I have a few changes to announce in the area of photo licensing.  First and foremost, Schumin Web Photo Licensing, my in-house photo licensing site, is no more.  I had been running that site for about three years, and while it did a respectable amount of business, I felt that it didn’t justify the amount of resources that it consumed, and it also didn’t justify the amount of time spent to maintain it.  There was also always a bit of an uncomfortable interaction with Pixsy.  The idea was that there was a very real possibility that someone could use my licensing site in an attempt to circumvent a Pixsy case for an unauthorized use of an image, and that could be a sticky situation to get straightened out.  Yes, I had policies stating that use of the licensing site to circumvent Pixsy was not permitted, and that any licenses purchased in an attempt to circumvent Pixsy’s process would be cancelled, but good luck trying to prove that.  All it really did was make the site look prickly to potential users by having to put that in the fine print, even though its inclusion was necessary.  So in the end, the site is gone.

Otherwise, my philosophy for photo licensing is changing based on experience.  Licensing on the front end didn’t do as well as I might have hoped, but pursuing Creative Commons violations has been quite lucrative over the last few years.  I like to say that Pixsy furnished the house when I moved to Montgomery Village back in 2017.  Thus my stance on licensing has evolved from a traditional licensing model towards just letting people use the material under a free license that requires attribution, i.e. Creative Commons, and then aggressively policing compliance through Pixsy and DMCA takedown notices.  In other words, follow the rules, and it’s free.  Don’t follow the rules, and it’s going to cost you.

The Content Licensing page has also been revised to jive with this new stance on licensing.  It now again explicitly states that anything published prior to February 20, 2014 is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.  This was always the case due to the way that Creative Commons works in practice, but after February 2014, it was not stated explicitly.  Additionally, it directs users to my Flickr page to find Creative Commons content posted after February 20, 2014.  Explicitly listing every Creative Commons image on Schumin Web would require going through more than five years’ worth of material to mark stuff, and I can think of a hundred other things that I would rather do besides that.  So Flickr it is, especially since that site has very powerful Creative Commons search tools.

I admit that the new licensing policy for images published February 20, 2014 and later is best characterized as “clear as mud”, but by using Flickr as my platform for Creative Commons licensing, it helps to better control what images get released into the wild under free licenses and what remains all-rights-reserved.  One example of where that control is useful comes from a downstream usage of my 2011 “Funny Faces” photo set.  I got an email from my father one day asking if I knew about an advertisement for an anti-virus program that displayed on the site where he checks his email.  That advertisement used a photo that I took of myself holding up a laptop to advertise the software.  I thanked Dad for the heads-up, and then, since it didn’t follow the licensing terms, went over to Pixsy and got compensated for the usage.  Therefore, I can now say, “My face!  My valuable face!” much like Luke Perry did on The Simpsons, because apparently, my face has some marketing value to it.  But in any case, had I been more selective about what went out to Creative Commons back then, I imagine that the “Funny Faces” photo set wouldn’t have been included, because it’s more personal in nature, rather than something that particularly needed to be released into the wild under a free license.  In other words, I didn’t necessarily want to be the unwitting spokesman for an anti-virus program, though I didn’t mind getting compensated for that use.

So that’s the new lay of the land.  If you have any questions, as always, let me know.