Yesterday Royce Bair, the founder of The Stock Solution photo agency, started a discussion about "Promoting stock photography via Creative Commons?" at the Stockphoto.net discussion group, asking the community
All in all, Creative Commons has a nice idea, but do you think it is really useful for the professional stock photographer who wants to promote his/her images?
The answers he received ...
"a thoroughly stupid and lousy idea ... I prefer that I get paid in hard cash"; Bob Croxford/Atmosphere.co.uk
"Creative Commons is an outgrowth of the Open Source movement ... I'm not sure that CC licenses would have much use for stock photographers who live and die by their royalty sales ... hell, it isn't even relevant to anyone in the stock photo business"; Ken Barber
"Creative Commons is a dangerous organisation run by academics with funding from government sources whose aim is to undermine the copyright of photographers"; Steve Lovegrove
... did not indicate an overwhelming desire to work with a Creative Commons license.
In a related matter, Alessandro Mininno recently wrote the interesting paper "Museums are prisons? Public domain reproductions in the cage of ownership rights" for a master degree in intellectual property law (Law School of the University of Torino).
Corel was selling as royalty free images on a CD-ROM a hundred of reproductions of paintings, owned by the plaintiff Bridgeman. Corel asserted that they bought the reproduction elsewhere, but Bridgeman claimed to be the only one entitled to a reproduction of their owning.
Copyright on the plaintiff's transparencies was refused, as the judge argued the lack of originality. Even if the requirement of originality are really low, the Court found that the transparencies were only slavish copies of the original works, and therefore they were not protected.
Bridgeman Art Library, the plaintiff, claimed copyright in their photocolor collection, having a large number of high-quality reproduction of public domain artworks.
The judge dismissed the Bridgeman' s copyright infringement claim
on two alternative grounds: colour transparencies of paintings which are in the public domain were not original, and therefore not subject of valid copyright and, in any case, copyright were not infringed. Interestingly enough, the court applied two different laws: UK law to determine originality and US law to decide upon infringement ... the court noted, however, that it would have reached the same results under United States law.
Alessandro Mininno discusses also the impact for the big guys:
Obviously, the case is not binding in the UK, where Bridgeman still claims copyright over his slides and digital reproductions. Moreover the sentence, probably the most important in this field, does not seem to have changed the behaviour of cultural institutions and imagebrokers like Getty Images and Microsoft’s Corbis: the latter, in particular, is claiming the copyright on the digital reproductions, trying to create a new privative on the binary images.
Being the two major players located in the US, it is really difficult to understand how, after the Bridgeman case, they can still claim ownership over digital reproduction that should, a fortiori, be considered as slavish copies.
An interesting piece of about 20 pages, well worth the reading. You can download the paper here (Thesis Copyright @ University of Torino).