Guard your creative property closely


Aria Frangos

Students who use online forums to share their art and photography have to stay alert to the uses and distribution of their creative property in order to stay aware and in control.

Aria Frangos, Scot Scoop Editor

In the words of musician Taylor Swift, “art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”

Yahoo does not appear to agree, since on Nov. 20 the company announced intentions to sell wall art prints of photos on their site Flickr that are under Creative Commons licenses without giving any of the profit to the respective photographers.

The Creative Commons license of selected photos are of the “commercial attribution” variety, which means that Yahoo’s use of the photos for profit are perfectly legal. However, many photographers are still outraged by their decision to keep all the profit for photos under these licenses, while simultaneously giving a 51 percent cut of the profit to photographers who Yahoo had to request direct permission to use their photos in wall prints.

“I think that Yahoo’s actions are almost a form of legal thievery,” said junior Sirena Vasquez, who posts her own artwork online and is experienced in the distribution and sale of her art. “They didn’t create the art, so they have no right to profit off of it even if the license technically allows it.”

Competing photo-sharing sites like 500px and DeviantArt have criticized Yahoo’s decision as violating user intent, even if it is legal, and disrespecting the artists’ distribution of their work.

DeviantArt has over 50 million photos with the same Creative Commons licenses, and the site allows them to take revenue from sale of posters of their art.

DeviantArt user and junior Cyan Chang said, “I think if [Yahoo] uses your art and keeps all the profit, that is not fair at all. The artists should get half or even more of the profit. Yahoo is wrong to manipulate its users’ photos and licenses like that.”

There is no way to keep the Creative Commons license specified to be “free to use or share, even commercially” as some photographers want their art to be, without allowing Yahoo to use their photos in their wall print plans and being left out of the profit if Yahoo wishes to do so. Users must either change their license specifications to disallow free commercial usage or simply deal with Yahoo’s use of their photos.

Co-founder of Flickr Stewart Butterfield said, “It’s hard to imagine that the revenue from selling the prints will cover the cost of lost goodwill.”

Unhappy users who don’t want to change their license can change to another photo-sharing site, but that can prove to be a burden in the cases of those who already have thousands of photos loaded on Flickr.

Students who use such forums as Flickr and DeviantArt to share their art are affected by decisions such as these by the sites’ officials. This change in policy significantly affects the distribution and control of artists on Flickr, which is something all artists are affected by in the bigger picture.

“This is an ongoing struggle in the art world,” said Vasquez. “How much credit should the distributor of an artist’s work get?”