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For many years, Wired.com the online, and separate version of Wired Magazine has been using photography from their new Flickr feed under a Creative Commons (CC) license. If you’re unaware, Creative Commons was born ten years ago as a newfangled way to handle what some people consider as the archaic system of copyright. As an editorial outlet, Wired.com was well within the purview of CC to use the images, but over time, they took some heat for taking but not giving.
But that was then and this now.
Today, Wired.com announced that all its staff photos would be available under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-NC) in their Flickr feed. This means that you can use any of their images as long as you attribute the usage and don’t use it for commercial purposes.
We spoke to Wired.com’s Director of Photography, James Merithew, and asked him what prompted the action and what he thought this meant for professional photographers.
“We have taken this step to officially give back to the greater photographic community that has so generously shared with us over the years. As a long time photographer and photo editor I was apprehensive about this move knowing the struggles of professional photographers, but our desire to be a positive influence on the changing landscape outweighs those concern.”
“We plan on continuing to find ways to pay professional photographers and supporting photography. We just think it is time to share with those who have shared with us.”
We should re-emphasize that the affected photos are only the ones taken by his staff. Contributors are still paid their standard day rates, and still maintain full copyright of their images.
So is this progress or another nail in the coffin? Given that the photographers who are taking the photos are compensated with salaries and benefits, and they don’t hold the copyright in the first place (as is typical of a staff position), it’s hard to see where this is a bad deal for them. But is this another example of free content that is decimating the industry? Perhaps, but images like these are already freely available (ok, maybe not *as* nice). Getting the attribution and the backlink provides, at the very least, a form of Internet compensation.
In essence, the whole mechanism isn’t so dissimilar from pulling images from the White House photo feed.
What do you think?