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... unclear on the concept ...

... so the other day I received an email via flickr, from someone whose photo I'd used in one of my blog posts over at my a malaysian abroad blog...

Firstly, I have to state that because I am being paid to blog there, I am very careful about where I get the images used there. Occasionally I find something at SXC, but usually I find awesome pix at flickr. I always search for images that are available via the Creative Commons license *and* that are allowed to be used in commercial derivations.

So.. the email.... In halting English, this person tried to gently inform me that I should ask for permission before using anyone's image. The email reads as follows:
Its nicer when you ask permission first before put the
photos for your blog...cos everyphotos has its copy
right....I been advice to send this email to advice you, do
ask for permission if you use others photogs for you blog in
the future. if not you will trouble.

For me Im ok, you can take it for your blog. Just have to
be extra care.

Hmmmm.... This was my own gentle response:

Thanks for taking the time to advise me.

However, please take note that those who make their images available via the creative commons license are by default allowing use by others - that's the whole philosophy of creative commons!

From the Creative Commons FAQ:
A Creative Commons license is a signal to you that you can use the work without having to seek out the individual creator or licensor and ask for permission—provided you use the work in the manner permitted by the Creative Commons license.

In the case of your [image], I came across it when doing a search for Creative commons licensed images that allow commercial use. The condition of attribution was fulfilled with linkbacks to both your photo's page in flickr and also to your flickr profile (just like how flickr does it if you use the "blog this" button); the share alike condition was not applicable since I didn't alter/transform the photo.

Perhaps whoever who advised you to email me might need to refresh their memory on what creative commons is all about?


Okay right?

Then came the response:
thats ok for me, first thing in my mind..have to ask
permission first..before you take...haha..althou its set to
creative common.....just my 2cent....will let someone take
your things if he or she never let you know? rite? haha....

I don't know if it's worth it to continue the "conversation" ... because obviously the whole concept of Creative Commons is lost on this person. It ALLOWS people to "take your things"! Permission is granted by default!

If this person is uncomfortable with images being used without permission, then by all means change the copyright info to "all rights reserved"... as far as I know that is the default copyright setting in flickr, so having gone in and changed that to CC indicates understanding of what Creative Commons is all about, and that permission is granted to use the images!

I've always made it a point to inform people whose images I've used on a malaysian abroad about it, as a comment to the photo, with a link to the blog post so they can see and get back to me if something disagrees with them.

So far no negative feedback, until this weird "your use of my photo is okay but in general don't take without asking" admonishment.

So... what do y'all think? Can't have your cake and eat it too, right? I'd appreciate your opinions on this.


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  1. I think he/she understands when you explain but he was just saying it is 'nice' for you to inform him/her. Legally, you did nothing wrong as the setting allows it...

  2. yeah, based on the manglish, i would assume there is some deeper level of misunderstanding re: "legal" vs. "nice" etc.... but the fact that the copyright status default was changed (either by this person or whoever helped them load pics) does indicate the willingness to share images. weird - i wouldn't give it too much extra thought.

    just curious - no concern about that person seeing this post over here?!? and which pic / post generated the conversation?

  3. kruel: thanks for the assurance/confirmation that legally I have done nothing wrong :) I feel I go beyond requirements by informing the photo owner/uploader of the use. And I'm getting tegured for it. I feel very dissatisfied. :p

    kosh: I want to rant without pointing fingers :) This way, even if the person does stumble across this post, it's not like I'm ripping the person a new one :p Then again, perhaps I should be 'nice' and inform?? LMAO!

  4. I use Flickr for all my blog images and have never had this problem. I would probably handle it as you did.

  5. Yeah I think it's a combination of language problems and plain old misunderstanding. I would bet that the confusion is in "attribution" -- the CC license says you just have to give credit. This photographer wants to approve use of the image. I would write back and say that his/her use of the license implies consent to use the photo in the way the license is worded (non-commercial, non-derivative, etc.). I would add that if the person wants to approve use of the photo, that needs to be an "all rights reserved" pic and then if someone wants to use it legally, the photographer can approve that.

    Yeesh. Wasn't CC supposed to make it easier?

  6. I guess a lot of Flickr users are not aware of the CC license. I recently changed mine to "All rights reserved". However, I do allow people to use them for free if they drop me a line informing me and provided they link back to my blog.

    Quite recently I discovered that some guys were using my pics on their websites without informing me and I have to admit I was a bit annoyed. However, too lazy to write to them.

  7. Really everything needed to be mentioned already mentioned! What i wanna say here is i enjoy reading your blog and came to know you thro EC! Cheers!


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