[cc-licenses] Share-Alike with images

rob at robmyers.org rob at robmyers.org
Mon Feb 5 04:49:12 EST 2007

Quoting Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org>:

> I think the license is currently ambiguous about such uses. However, I
> think it would be clearly in line with the copyleft philosophy to
> demand free licensing of the combined whole in such a case (not in the
> case of mere aggregation within e.g. a collection of photos where
> there's no semantic relationship between them). In my discussions with
> photographers, I've found that many use NC licenses because they worry
> about commercial exploitation of their works. If we could clarify
> copyleft in the context of images, many of these fears could be
> alleviated.

I think that as long as you don't do anything to the image, you can use 
it as an
illustration for your proprietary article for example. This often surprises
people, but it makes sense from the point of view of how copyright works
(IANAL). The combination is collective/aggregate, not derivative. A magazine
article doesn't become a derivative work of a photograph because it is
illustrated with it. ShareAlike is triggered by derivation, not 
collection, and
in fact this is the same for the GPL.

But from the point of view of people's expectations and the ethical 
coherency of
Free Culture this is ridiculous. Forget the legal implementation of 
copyleft in
the GPL (which comes after the fact of what copyleft is for ethically). People
just don't expect to see their BY-SA photographs "linked" to proprietary
articles any more than they expect to see their GPL-ed libraries linked to

This is not a problem with copyleft per se, it is simply an 
implementation issue
of the license. But it is a major driver for NC. Lessig's recent talk for
example takes this as a serious argument against using ShareAlike for
photographs when in fact it is a far more serious argument for modifying
ShareAlike to meet the expectations of its users.

This would be stronger than copyleft in Free Software, but then CINS 
(Culture Is
Not Software). ;-)

- Rob.

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