One of the major issues facing the public these days is misunderstanding of copyright. For example a perfect example is people saying someone stole a copyrighted name. Names of items, books, movies or handmade goods cannot be copyrighted. If you have an item in your shop named “Fancy Fury Hat” I also can name an item “Fancy Fury Hat”.
One of the big areas of confusion is copyright for images. For photographers this is a big deal because the image is what they are trying to sell. That is why a photographer will put up the lowest quality image they can get away with and then slap a watermark on it. For me the photograph is the vessel for which I am trying to sell my item so I have a different incentive. I want my photo not to have a watermark and to be the highest quality in order to help sell the product.
The moment I post a photo on the Internet I lose control. Yes’ legally I have a copyright interest in the photograph, but I did not register it and it is just too easy to take photos posted on the web. There is also the issue of fair use. If I post the photo and someone pulls it to another blog either for praise or ridicule that falls within fair use. As the original owner of the photo you will have a very hard time getting that photo removed unless you planning to put a lot of time and money behind the effort.
I have an idea for a partial solution. There are many people on Etsy, or other handmade good sites, for whom the photos are not what we are selling. For us allowing people to share our photos, and letting them know it is ok without contacting us, would be ideal. The way this could be done is to allow users to apply a creative commons license to the photo when we upload it. The license could be set to share, and give credit but not make money.
Why this would be good
Now why would this good? The first thing is if someone wants to use a photo they clearly see if the user allows it or not. Photograph rights and permission has been an issue with this blog. A few times I have used someone else’s photos, told them and provided a link back to their shop and all I got was grief. It reached the point where I don’t use people’s photos as examples unless I know the person. This policy has resulted in promoting fewer artists on the blog.
In addition it would give Etsy better credit with the Web 2.0 world. Flicker and YouTube now give creative commons options when you upload. Lastly users could search for creative commons only photos in order to find good images of work for blogs, textbooks and other publications. Or to support people who believe in the creative commons
How you can do it
Setting up the system would be rather simple. First, when someone uploads an image to Etsy the creator could add check box that would apply a creative commons license to the image. The choice must be opt in because making creative commons the default would go against the idea of creative commons.
The other option would be if Etsy could give an option for creative commons images in the settings. If I wanted to make all the images in my profile creative commons I could to do so with just a click. Then that way I would not have to worry about it in the future. Maybe even put a little logo next to profiles saying they support creative commons as a way promote it.
I admit a reoccurring problem on Etsy is that people steal other people’s ideas. There have even been sellers buying some items and reselling them on Etsy with the original photos for twice the price. I can understand why people would not want to choose creative commons because of this practice.
At the same time allowing people to select creative commons would help protect people who don’t want it for their images. It sends a clear message “don’t use my photos” or “sure go ahead and use my photos.” Allowing bloggers, reviewers, and other casual users of photos to know what the deal is.
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