Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Creative Commons

The World's Ugliest Trophy
I'm going to step (briefly) away from writing about gaming this week. Just for one week - I won't do another game-free post until at least April.

Also worth mentioning before I get any further: I am not a lawyer. I am actually about to start meeting with one about an unrelated matter, but that doesn't make me an attorney any more than standing near the ocean would make me a fish.

So, then, to my rant:

See that image? The one of the extremely hideous trophy I won at a Blood Bowl tournament a few years ago?

Like nearly all the images I post to my Flickr account, it's posted under a specific Creative Commons license.

This license allows other people to use my images, provided they attribute the work to me and include information on the license under which the image is available.  It's also not available for commercial use.

Creative Commons doesn't void my copyright or make the image fair game to all comers - you need to follow the (fairly simple) rules of the license to be able to use my images.  The image is not magically public domain unless I specifically release it to the public domain. If I see you using my image outside the terms of the license, I can go after you for damages.

BoardGameGeek is not the only game-related website I browse. I do read a variety of sites, keeping an eye on what's going on in the boardgaming and role-playing communities. There are even sites I browse where I have not even set up an account.

One of these sites is Fortress: Ameritrash. I'm not active there, both because I'm not big on Ameritrash-style games and because they tend to take a confrontational attitude towards non-AT gamers.

Imagine my shock when I saw my trophy photo (the same one I posted above) on their site! It was on this page, in fact. Unfortunately, they provided no attribution and did not make the license clear. Because of this, I used the 'contact us' link and requested three things:
  1. A link to the CC license.
  2. Attribution.
  3. In lieu of damages (for using the image without permission) or a licensing fee, a $50 donation to Child's Play, which is a lot less than most image licensing fees.
I gave them one week to comply with the first two, and one month to comply with the third. Or, alternatively, they could remove the image from their site and I would pursue no further.

To their credit, I received a response the next day, informing me that the image was to be removed from the site. To their further credit, it has been. Not only that, but the individual who posted the image admitted his mistake - something that is far too uncommon these days.

I will admit - I'm a bit disappointed.  I would have liked to have seen them step up and give $50 to charity. As it is, I'm going to pony up the $50 in a week or two (when I can afford it). Someone has to, right?

What's the lesson here?  Google Image Search doesn't tell you what right you have to use a photo that they find. Click through. Do your homework. Someone who is a lot less forgiving than me may find you. And linking back to your source is polite, too.

In an unrelated note, I will be at SCARAB this weekend. It'll be their first convention, so I don't expect it to be very big.

Next week, depending on how much time I have, I'll be either discussing one of the games I mentioned last week (I had a request for Tikal II) or talking about how SCARAB went. I also have a couple of RPG posts in the pipeline.  Stay tuned - and thank you for reading.


  1. One of the options in Google's advanced image search is to filter by usage license, which I find helpful in looking for pictures to use in my own blog.

  2. I was not aware of that! Thank you.