Tag Archives: Creative Commons

It’s still theft, even when the City of Saskatoon does it

I was researching something for a future column today and I went looking for a RFP regarding Kinsmen Park.  As I opened the PDF, I was impressed with the photo that made up the front cover of it.

Kinsmen Park & Area Master Plan RFP

  The reason I was impressed with the photograph is that it has been a long time favorite photo…. ever since I took it back in 2003.

The photo of a balloon that the City of Saskatoon "borrowed"

The photo is licenced under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons License.  The last time I checked, a RFP for the City of Saskatoon is a commercial endeavour and there was no attribution.  Some of the other photos used in the RFP were flat out copyrighted.

Now if I had been asked, I would have given the City permission.  I get between 30 and 50 requests to use my photos a year from everyone from the British Columbia government, a band in Japan, the Department of National Defense, to the Government of Canada’s Tourism Commission and I say yes to all of them.   Today I don’t feel so charitable, especially when I when I see that the RFP was actually sponsored and paid for by PotashCorp and apparently subsidized by a stolen image of mine.

Why I Love Creative Commons (and Flickr)

Long time readers of this blog know how much I love Flickr and over the years I have uploaded about 12,000 photos to the site.  Photography is one of those things that I am not that good at but I really enjoy and it is one of the things that Wendy, Mark, and I all enjoy doing together.  Every once in a while I get a call from a media outlet, a band, or a book who would like to use a photo that I had taken to use in their publication.  Since I release under a Creative Commons license, even for a business or commercial use, I generally say yes.  Last week I was contacted by someone at the Canadian Tourism Commission and asked if they could use a picture I had taken of the Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon for a story they were doing.  I said sure and they posted the story today.

The ghost of the Delta Bessborough

A friendly old fellow in a gray fedora roams the banquet level of the Delta Bessborough, a majestic riverside castle in Saskatoon, SK, that this year celebrates its 75th anniversary. The ghost smiles graciously at those he meets—usually after dark. He seems so real that guests don’t always realize he’s an apparition unless they mention him to staff, who will nod wisely and share their own tales of encounters. One theory is that he’s a former employee who died by falling seven stories into the lobby; there’s a crack in the marble floor where he allegedly landed. Ouch.

Not only is it fun to see my photo used, it’s even cooler (or is that spookier?) to find out that the Bessborough is haunted.  Despite being at a lot of banquets over the years down there, I don’t think we have met… yet.

Digital copyright bill is going to lock us all in

Rory McGreal has a good article on the new copyright bill being proposed by the Government of Canada.

For parents who would wish to cut exorbitantly aggressive, anti-religious or sexual content from a video, this option is now closed because of digital locks. Systems operators who suspect inappropriate use of the system such as viewing child pornography will not be allowed to break any locks that the pornographer applies to his content. Nor would the systems supervisor have the right to own the software that would break the lock.

Does anyone doubt that vendors will apply the digital locks or TPMs (Technological Protection Measures)? If they do, the tourist who legally bought a Boondock Saints DVD abroad will no longer be able to play it when he returns home. You can forget about playing your CD music on your MP3 player. And you will be able to only dream of the days when you could time-shift your television shows.

Well, at least we should still be able to back up our work for protection, right? Sorry, this will not be possible if the vendor decides to add a digital lock. If you think you can freely read classical books and view the old movies that are in the public domain, think again. Vendors can lock them up and render them accessible only to paying customers. What if you want to play a DVD on your machine, but don’t use MS Windows? Too bad if the vendor decides to limit your use to Windows because using decryption software to play your legal copy on your computer will be illegal.

If you are a student, teacher or school principal, it is even worse. You must destroy what you paid for within 30 days of the final exam, even if it is a Biology I module that just might be useful when you are studying or teaching Biology II. If you are a researcher, you must make paper copies of all your documents and destroy the digital copies within five days. Libraries too will be severely restricted in their abilities to archive valuable historical documents that are locked. Our cultural heritage will be at risk.

These situations are really possible. If digital lock supporters feel they are unlikely, that’s the point. The bill is omnibus and universal, prohibiting all manner of reasonable activities whether they are likely or far-fetched. So, what would be a balanced and reasonable solution? Certainly creators and publishers have every right to protect their "intellectual property" using locks. On the other hand, the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled heavily in favour of the rights of users to make fair use of the copies that they pay for. So, with digital locks come digital responsibilities. Vendors cannot be allowed to protect their rights by taking away users’ rights.


ccMixter logo I don’t know how many of you use or have even heard of ccMixter but if you are doing any media production at all, it is a great tool.  Today while working on a project for work I was looking for some music and I realized the song was a remix and posted to ccMixter which is a community music remixing site featuring remixes and samples licensed under Creative Commons licenses.  I not only found the music I was looking for but someone else had remixed the original track which sounded even better.

Site Notes

Two things of note.

  1. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License Since I moved from Blogger, I have neglected to update the copyright information on the site.  As stated in the footer, the site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.  Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available here.  It means that you can use my stuff but you can’t copyright any derivative works that make from them.  It’s pretty basic.
  2. Troll The other thing is that over the last couple of weeks, I have rethought my policy on comments.  The site has generated over 10,000 legitimate comments over the years and I appreciate the vast majority of them but some comments have gotten personal.  Here are my thoughts, if I wouldn’t invite you back into my living room after you made some of those comments, I am probably just going to denote your comments as spam and let Akismet take care of them like it has with 60,000+ other comments.  That way I won’t have to see or deal with them in the future.  I pay for the hosting, I write the content, it’s my own personal website and for three different people (out of a couple thousand people), I block their future comments.   If you want to let me know how stupid I am, feel free… on your own blog.

That’s about it.

Where have I seen this photo before the Toronto Star used it tonight?

I was on David Olive’s excellent blog tonight, the Great Recession and I was reading that Saskatchewan was celebrating our entry into Confederation today.  We joined it back in 1905 and have won three Grey Cups in our time as a province.

I was noticing the great looking photo of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building.  You can see it in context here.

Hey look, the Toronto Star used a photo of mine without permission. 

It reminded me a lot I took of the Saskatchewan Legislature building back in 2007 while with Mark and Wendy.  A quick look around on Flickr… ohhh, here it is…  I’ll put a photo paper border on it here… upload it my site… there it is…

The original image of the Saskatchewan Legislature

Same legislative building, same wind, blowing the same flags, same people playing on the same dead grass.  I think it’s fair to say that it is the same image.

Just a second, let me check the copyright on this image.  The good news is that it is Creative Commons.  The bad news is that it has some conditions.

  • Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

  • Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

I missed the attribution and I don’t remember giving anyone permission to use it commercially.

I am probably a little sensitive to this because last week, CBC Saskatchewan also needed to use a photo of mine for a story they were running.  A quick email was all it took to get my permission free of charge and I would do it for any media outlet. I really wish the Toronto Star had extended me the same courtesy that the CBC did.

Update:  The Toronto Star got back to me and I gave them permission.  In hindsight I should have asked it in return for a little less Maple Leaf coverage and a little more coverage for the rest of the NHL but why ask the impossible.