While going through my Google Reader items, I ran across a comment from Sarah McGowan on one of my photos on flickr. She used it in the article “Dignity: Women in Mumbai Avoid Harrassment on the ‘Ladies Special’ Commuter Train“. I was baffled and joyous to see my picture there.

It was a very nice gesture of Sarah to let me know about the photo’s use and not just attribute it in the article as would have been enough. She also sent a flickr message earlier asking if she could use the photo. Unfortunately, I only saw that one when I logged in a few minutes ago. Note to self: I have to find a way to get these messages delivered to my computer because then I will not oversee them.

I had received a couple of comments on flickr earlier, but this one made me think about the power of this photo sharing site and Creative Commons licenses.

Thousands of people use flickr to upload their photos. You can find all sorts of pictures there. Many even reach the quality of awesome photography. However, finding the right pictures can be quite cumbersome. If pictures are tagged, it is easier to find them, but of course only when you hit the right tags.

Once you’ve come up with results that seem promising, it still takes time to look at them all and moving from one results’ page to the other. That’s where cooliris comes in handy. That is a browser extension not just for Firefox with which you can look at pictures as if they were hanging on a wall. You can zoom in and out. In the latest version you also see the photo’s description. When you click on an image to be taken to its page on flickr, Google, Photobucket or other photo sharing sites, but don’t want to stay there and return to your wall of pictures, you have the opportunity to do so. I craved for this feature since the first days of PicLens, the former name of this extension, and it has finally arrived. 🙂

But what does that have to do with Creative Commons? Creative Commons (CC) is a licensing system that allows you to keep your copyright, but gives other people the right to use your work under the conditions you put forward. It’s a way away from “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved”. With the vast amount of creative work online and the ease of re-using this work, the CC licenses are great to legitimize the use of works without getting into legal trouble.

The internet makes it easy to copy and paste and not think much about intellectual property because: who will see what you took among the billions of pages or when you make a printout without asking for permission? When I adhere to the CC conditions of a work, I live without guilt. Providing my stuff under CC as well is my way of giving back to the community and providing others with opportunities to use my work. I don’t just want to take and benefit, but share and give if I am able to do so.

Now, when you combine flickr and CC, you get a great amount of pictures that you have available for searching, finding and then using for projects without having to either pay for them, shooting the pictures yourself (which is not always possible) or going without a visual input.

CC BY-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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