Richard Giles Changes His Olympic Flickr Photos from Creative Commons to All Rights Reserved

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Olympic Volleyball Image by cmaccubbin used via a Creative Commons license.

In a move that is a bit disappointing to me (but understandable), photographer Richard Giles has changed the licensing on all of his photos of the Olympic Games on Flickr from Creative Commons to All Rights Reserved. This was not done because this is how Giles preferred it, it was done because the International Olympic Committee (IOC), after considering Giles’ request that he be allowed to use a Creative Commons non-commercial license on his images, decided that they would not back down and came back insisting on the license for the images.

As I’ve said previously
, this accomplishes nothing for the IOC. The Creative Commons license is irrevocable as I understand it and per Creative Commons, and as such I think that this change offers the IOC no additional protection regarding use of the images. There are still thousands of Creative Commons licensed images (and many more to be uploaded in the future) on Flickr and in other places like wikipedia on the web.

I doubt that the IOC will be sending cease and desist letters to all of these individuals. While they may have effectively removed Giles’ images from Creative Commons searches on Flickr, there still is an extremely large and growing body of work of the Olympic Games available for other publishers to choose from (see the photo above). It will be interesting to see if the IOC decides to play whack-a-mole for the next few years or if they will eventually realize that the games are effectively too large to really be contained the way that they’d like to contain them.

I think this move on their part reflects negatively on the Olympics and the games and has generated negative publicity for the IOC.

Giles has a rundown of the thinking behind his decision to relicense his photos “all rights reserved” here.

I was also disappointed by the tone of the follow up phone call that Giles said he received from the IOC. Especially where Giles says, “In the phone call he suggested that I’d gone off, “half cocked,” and should not have shared the IOC’s letter on Flickr. ”

Personally I think cease and desist letters *ought* to be shared at places like Flickr. They ought to be as public as possible. If an organization wants to challenge freedom on the internet then they needed to be prepared to deal with the PR side of the fallout from that. The IOC very much deserved to receive the lumps that it did over that letter especially. The letter actually stated that images of the Olympic Games “belong” to the IOC. That’s just ridiculous and I’m sure completely unenforceable. Even the license on the back of an Olympic ticket does not require photographers to assign the ownership of their work to the IOC. While it might try and dictate how the images can be used, claiming outright ownership over the images was way over the top on the IOC’s part in my opinion.

Anyways, I hope the IOC reconsiders how they deal with Creative Commons licensed photography in the future and I hope that lawyers at some forward thinking organization like the EFF or Creative Commons might find their way to Giles to convince him to fight this with their help.

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  1. Thomas Cock says:

    Who fucking cares, this blog is a cry for attention, give it up Andrew

  2. James Rhodes says:

    I hate your freedom….

  3. Arthur Dent says:

    Does he still retain the rights to his own work? If so, it’s not too much of a problem. If IOC had asked him to take them down completely, regardless of licensing, would be abusive, but what do you expect from a bunch of Europeans who have no respect for free expression. Right now, anyone who wants to use them will then have to ask him for permission. Yes, the IOC is a bunch of arrogant, blue-blooded dictators, but I also have a problem with people who think they should be able to take my pictures and use them in ways that I may not approve. That is why I refuse to use a Creative Commons license.

  4. Thomas Hawk says:


    You seem to think that you are making some point by trolling my blog. That you are going to somehow vandalize every single post I write with your comments until I simply give up and shut down the blog.

    I will tell you that this will not happen. I’m not going to shut down this blog even if you leave a million comments.

    Given our feud, in hindsight, I wish that I had not engaged you as I had. I regret that. As you know I lost something that was very important to me. A community that I spent hundreds of hours on over the course of the past year or so. In that sense you won.

    You wanted to make a point that an uncensored community ought not and could not exist on Flickr and you were successful in seeing that community destroyed.

    I understand that this is not enough for you however. But I think it would be best for both of us for us to simply part ways at this point.

    You see James, my new community is on FriendFeed. And I’ve blocked you there. So anything you say is essentially invisible to me. I’m not going to suspend your account here because I don’t believe in censorship and unfortunately you’d just make another account anyways.

    But other than this note to tell you that you succeeded in destroying something that was dear to me, you are not going to find me very engaging on this site. I’m simply going to ignore your constant barrage of critical comments. Maybe at some point I’ll even be able to find a WordPress plug in that allows me to ignore comments on my blog like I can at friendfeed.

    Here is what I predict is going to happen though James. You will probably keep vandalizing my blog for a while. Maybe a week, maybe 10 days, who knows, maybe you are super determined and it will be for an entire month.

    But eventually you will tire of this game. Your comments will not get you attention. They won’t be responded to. And then one day you’ll miss a day. A whole entire day will go by without a comment. You’ll come back the next four days straight maybe, but then you’ll miss another day. And another day. And pretty soon a whole week will have gone by without a comment from you. Then a month, and pretty soon this will fade into obscurity for both of us.

    You’ll still hold a grudge of course, because that’s the kind of guy that you are. And if I have a big post every now and again you’ll still probably show up there where there is a larger audience.

    But I will tell you now, even if you commit to vandalizing my comments section for 10 years every day straight I’m not going to delete my blog.

    I want to again say that I’m sorry that you had a bad experience in DMU. I want to say that I’m sorry that you felt offended by comments that members made in that group. And I want to respectfully tell you that I’m sorry I that posted the material about you that I did in the flickr group. It is clear to me now that trying to engage you was a poor tactic. And I should have responded to that original flickrmail that you had sent me months earlier that I had somehow missed. Maybe then this whole thing could have been diffused in the first place.

    So that’s where we are at James. I hope that you can see that continuing to vandalize my blog really will end up nowhere. You can keep ahead if you want, but you’ll likely not hear from me again.

    Good luck wherever your life takes you and I hope that you grow in your pursuit of photography, something that, like me, you seem to have a significant and genuine interest in.

  5. James Rhodes says:

    Andrew I am responding to this, but its lengthy and will take a bit more time, would you prefer I post it here ? or email it to you ? I am hopeful that we can finally begin to take steps forward to de-escalate this situation. Give me a bit more time and I will respond to you in full.

    You are absolutely right that this whole situation could have been defused with a simple note from you or any of the admins for that matter, but mostly you since you were the person who had invited me, and a “hey these are the rules of the club, don’t take anything anyone says seriously. its all part of the game “

  6. Thomas Hawk says:

    Either would be fine James. Take your time. Appreciate the thoughtfulness of your response.

  7. Ryan says:

    Holy laughing stalk batman!