Creative Commons: Why is it you can’t force Newspapers or Magazines to use free content?

Newspapers and Magazines complain about quality of UGC and snub their noses at the thought of using something not produced “in-house”. I know that UGC hasn’t been the holy grail some thought it would be. However, with the onslaught of digital cameras and digital photos services, mixed with a Creative Commons License could change the game  Huffington Post or the Alley Insider almost every blogger often use CC. Traditional media like an Entertainment Weekly or a Chicago Tribune seldom if at all.

Omniture reports will show you that content with photographs and videos perform better in general than content without. Some media sites are known to get as much as 60-75% of their traffic from slide shows. Image rank is almost as important if not more important than page rank these days.

As a photographer that makes money off of my photos, I would never consider letting my stuff released under Creative Commons. I’m long past the idea of giving away my photos for a credit. However as a media owner facing declining subscriptions, dwindling FTE’s and evaporating P&L’s, why wouldn’t they be all over the concept of free? Time to set the ego’s aside, the days of taking home wheel barrels of cash have long been forgotten.

Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. We provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof. Creative Commons Search filters allow you to find images that can be reused for commercial reasons or that can be modified (remixed, tweaked, or built upon) with restrictions set by the image’s creator.

The cost of a Getty or AP license always sticks out during budgeting cycles, even on an up economy. What do you have to loose? One downside is there is a often some junk that you may have to wade through. There are some tools out there that make is much easier.

Use Case: Let’s say you’re a reporter writing a story about why Jay Leno needs to be removed from late night television. Maybe you can find an image on the AP but technically you only have a two-week window to use a photo and it will be the same photo everyone else uses. Here is an example of a photo that showed up within the first 10 photos. A hi-res version can be downloaded and the CC says all that is needed is a credit to the orignal photographer.

Tools, Tricks and how to’s: One search trick is to use or These sites use almost exclusively CC photos. Find the subject and look at the photo credit and google the photographer, often the image will link straight thru to the orignal source.

ON YAHOO: To see the filter, go to Yahoo Image Search click options to the right of the search bar. Then click Advance Search. Halfway down the page you will see a box called Creative Commons Licenses.

ON GOOGLE: To enable this feature on google, go to our advanced image search page. Under the “Usage rights” section, you can select the type of license you’d like to search for, such as those marked for reuse or even for commercial reuse with modification. Your results will be restricted to images marked with CC or other licenses. Once you confirm the license of the image and make sure that your use will comply with the terms of the license (such as proper attribution to the image’s owner), you can reuse the image.

Other tools

Next Generation CC tools – What I want, because it’s all about me, right? This is my blog after all

  • The ability to sort results by users that have the most followers, or has the most favorites/bookmarks.
  • Plugin for wordpress, MT, Tumblr, et that looks at the content and suggests popular CC photos. Zemanta has a great tool that even helps with semantic tagging.
  • The ability to ad a “white list” of premium sources. Might be an internal source, a partner site or good sources that have been found. This would allow a better ability to sort through the riff raff. Zemanta has the ability to do this as well.
  • The ability to easily edit or change the metadata/IPTC data in the embedded in the image. Meta data in images is even more important these days with all the image search tools at the amount of traffic that can be thrown off from an image search.
  • An Adobe air version or just some kind of desktop application.

/Justin Makler

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