The image was Creative Commons, now licensed through Getty, wah?
August 12, 2010 11:43 AM   Subscribe

What happens when a Flickr image is changed from a Creative Commons license to being licensed through Getty?

I previously marked a bunch of CC-licensed images on Flickr as favorites. I now see that many of them have been changed from CC to "All rights reserved" with Getty handling the image's licensing.

I was under the impression that CC licensing could not be revoked. Am I reading that correctly?

Also, if the license change affects future usage of the images, what impact does the license change have on previously published images?

For what it's worth, I'm including the photographs in a non-commercial presentation and providing full credit as stipulated by the original CC license.
posted by foggy out there now to Law & Government (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
CC cannot be revoked, but like the FAQ says, you can stop distributing it at any time. That's what they are doing. You should be good.

If they released it under public domain, however, they would not have any special rights as creator to distribute it differently from anyone else who downloaded that image. That's why a lot of people do CC instead of public domain.

I am not a copyright lawyer, just someone who did some reading about the public domain and creative commons, so I could be wrong.
posted by wayland at 11:52 AM on August 12, 2010


CC cannot be revoked, but if you had only marked it as a favorite, and not used it yourself, or downloaded a copy, or anything like that, then you hadn't licensed it yet, and CC does not apply. That's not revoking CC because you hadn't taken advantage of the opportunity to make a copy under CC. Think of the CC license, from your perspective, as "beginning" at the point when you make a copy of it. If you never got to that point, then it was never licensed to you in the first place, so it's not revoking the license if the copyright owner chooses not to offer it to you under CC at a later time.

However, CC also requires that the copyright holder offer to anyone who gets a copy from someone who made a legitimate copy under CC, the same license. That's a bit confusing, so here's some possible scenarios:

1. A offers a photo under CC
2. B downloads a copy
3. A ceases to offer the photo under CC and offers it under a Getty license
B may continue to use the photo under CC.

1. A offers a photo under CC
2. B sees the photo and thinks it looks nice. Doesn't make a copy.
3. A ceases to offer the photo under CC and offers it under a Getty license
If B wants to make and use a copy now, he must comply with the Getty license.

1. A offers a photo under CC
2. B downloads a copy
3. A ceases to offer the photo under CC and offers it under a Getty license
4. C, who has not previously made a copy, wants to get the photo directly from A
C must comply with the Getty license

1. A offers a photo under CC
2. B downloads a copy
3. A ceases to offer the photo under CC and offers it under a Getty license
4. C, who has not previously made a copy, gets a copy of the photo from B
C can use the photo under the CC license.

1. A offers a photo under CC
2. No one else ever makes a copy while it's under CC
3. A ceases to offer the photo under CC and offers it under a Getty license
Anyone who wants to use it must comply with the Getty license.

IANAL, but I do work with IP issues and licenses to some extent.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:51 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


P.S. Here's the cc-by 3.0 license; sections 7b and 8a seem the most relevant. (I assume the other CC variants use similar language, but I haven't checked.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:55 PM on August 12, 2010


short version of my answer: If you had made copies (e.g., onto your hard drive) while they were still marked as CC, you can use them under CC forever and ever, regardless of the license change. If not, you probably can't, unless you can find someone else who did and get a copy from them.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:06 PM on August 12, 2010


Also, if the license change affects future usage of the images, what impact does the license change have on previously published images?

Theoretically no impact, but it does make proving that these previous publications used the images in an authorised way more difficult. The following scenario is, I think, feasible:

1. A offers image on Flickr as CC
2. B publishes image
3. A changes image license on Flickr to All Rights Reserved
4. A accuses B of copyright violation
5. B is unable to prove that the image had been licensed as CC
6. $$$
posted by mattn at 1:13 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have seen various people recommend, and I suspect it's probably a good idea, that you physically print out and perhaps even have notarized the Flickr pages of photos that you plan to use commercially under a CC license. This wouldn't be very hard to do and might at least give you something to show for yourself if it ever came up. I doubt very much it's an airtight defense from a legal perspective, but it strikes me as being better than nothing at all.

It strikes me as good courtesy to let the photographer know if you're going to use their work, even if you don't need to by the license it's under; many people (myself included) like to keep track on where their work has been used for CV/portfolio purposes.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:27 PM on September 15, 2010


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