The ethics of CCL and Flickr
February 12, 2007 3:29 PM   Subscribe

I need to know if I'm doing something wrong by displaying a derivative digital art piece.

Someone thumbnailed a photo from flickr, and it immediately inspired an art idea. So I tracked down the photographer at their filckr account and check the license on the photo. It was listed as Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0, meaning I could use it for derivative works, as long as I gave attribution and the resulting piece was kept noncommercial.

I really should have just used the photo, linked back to the original and be done with it. But I know sometimes people license their photos not really believing anyone will actually use them. So I e-mailed the photographer to make sure I had permission. Meanwhile, I created my own digital art work using the photo and finished it.

The photographer wrote back that they would love if I used the photo. However, they had just entered it into a contest with a rule that the photo couldn't be unpublished, and they were concerned by my taking and then displaying work using this photo, that they would be disqualified - would I be willing to wait until the contest end. I agreed and even sent them a copy of the finished piece, which we e-mailed back and forth about for a day or two.

Fast forward a month and I haven't heard anything back from the photographer. I send a polite e-mail explaining who I was again and that after a month I wanted to check in on how the contest was coming. I hear nothing back. I contact them again, this time through the Flickr messaging. Still no word, though the photographer has uploaded two batches of photos since I sent it, meaning their account is still active.

I double checked and the photo in question is still up and still listed under the exact same Creative Commons License.

Would it be illegal for me to go ahead and display my derivative digital art, even if I followed the license it is being publicly displayed under on Flickr currently?
posted by FunkyHelix to Human Relations (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like it would be perfectly legal, given the license used. Whether or not your use of the photo would invalidate its entry in that contest would probably depend on the final destination for your work.

I guess it's really up to you to decide if you feel comfortable with the idea of possibly going against the photographer's wishes, but since some time as passed, it probably wouldn't be any big deal.

Tough call, given the communication breakdown.
posted by bigtex at 4:10 PM on February 12, 2007

I don't understand "couldn't be unpublished". I can't see what you'd be doing by displaying your derivative work that hasn't already been done by the photographer uploading the original to Flickr. And since the photographer has made it clear that they'd love you to use their work, and you've made a best-effort attempt to contact them and find out about this contest, and had no response, and have your own life to be getting on with, my instinct is "publish and be damned!"

IANAL, IANAA, IANAP, IAMSRIG (merely some random Internet guy).
posted by flabdablet at 4:36 PM on February 12, 2007

Dude has it on flickr, it's already published and therefore probably disqualifiable from the contest anyway. Follow the letter of the license given on the flickr page and you'll be fine, I say.
posted by polyglot at 4:36 PM on February 12, 2007

Response by poster: Okay, thanks guys.

If you're interested, I went ahead and posted my work.
posted by FunkyHelix at 5:43 PM on February 12, 2007

Regarding CC ethics: I know the source didn't say ShareAlike, but it is pretty lame that you created a derivative work of two separate photographs and don't yourself allow derivatives.

(But I'm a rabid SharerAlike).
posted by xueexueg at 7:33 AM on February 14, 2007

Response by poster: Boo hoo.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:49 PM on February 14, 2007

OK, you're damned.

posted by flabdablet at 9:24 PM on February 14, 2007

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