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