Creative Commons Expert

The thing about posting things on the web is that you’re publishing to a world-wide audience of everyone you know, and everyone you don’t know, and if you happen to include in your slides a photo of someone, there’s a chance that someone who knows that person will see it, and they will probably mention it to that person…


nickhacks alerted me that he saw one of my photos… I asked if the presentation he saw it in was available online somewhere, as I wanted to see it as well.


He gave me a link, which wasn’t the actual presentation, but gave me enough info to find presentations by the speaker…


And there it is. Slide 108. A photo I created, and published on Flickr with a Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike License. It’s a pretty liberal license. It allows people to copy, share, and adapt the work, but it does require that you attribute the work to the creator… you know, give credit to the person who created it. It’s really simple. I even have a nice explanation on my Flickr profile page. So for instance, if you used my photo in a presentation, you might list the attribution part on a “credits” page at the end. This is pretty common in presentations nowadays…


Skip to the end of this specific presentation and the last page presents credits. The only attribution I could find was a blanket “all from whom I borrowed material” which was a little disappointing. But even more disappointing is that right there, on the last slide, on the bottom, is a Creative Commons logo, which licenses the slides under the “Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike” license… the very same license my photo was released under.

Did this person provide attribution when using my photo? Not that I could find. Is the photo being used for commercial purposes? Determining Noncommercial use is the most frustrating part of Creative Commons licensing. The presentation the photo is used in is not being sold, and is freely available (under the same license, even!) but does this presentation highlight the presenter as an “expert” in their field (even though it claims not to) which in turn may result in the furthering of this person’s career? Is that “commercial” use in any way? Probably not, but without a lawyer, I’m never quite sure about this… Sadly, it’s probably something only the courts could decide. (At least the Share Alike requirement was met.)

So now the question is… What do I do?

5 replies on “Creative Commons Expert”

I think you’ve done all you can. You might have written him directly with your request, but you called him out, and that’s all that you really can do.

The question is how much does the lack of attribution bother you? Enough to put a watermark on your images? Or, do you, like I do, accept that when you publish your work on the internet, Creative Commons or otherwise, you stand a reasonable chance of someone appropriating it, and let it go.

Rudyard Kipling said it best in his poem “If”

“If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;”

Fact is, you’re notorious enough that it got back to you, and that’s a really cool thing!

Perhaps you could accept my mea culpa for putting all of the CC attributions in the PPT / Keynote and not properly exposing them in the PDF that is required by the various conference organizers.

Or feel free to publicly humiliate me – that would be good too.

I’m sorry you feel slighted – that certainly wasn’t my intent. Please let me know what you’d like me to do – you’ve got my email.


Myrcurial, I certainly didn’t intend to publicly humiliate you, and was only trying to bring attention to this issue, and issue I’ve dealt with numerous times with my work. (I didn’t use your name in my writing, and only linked to your presentation on SlideShare.)

This sort of thing happens every day, and once again it has happened to me, and once again I felt like pointing it out.

I know it may be a lot of work to track down where images come from, but it can also be a lot of work to create those images, and giving credit where credit is due is all that is asked, and I guess I don’t think that it’s too much to ask for.

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