I remember the day. I was in Venice Beach, California with some friends. We were walking along the canal, and I swiped my friend’s new Nikon DSLR and snapped a shot of a boat on the water. When we got home I looked at it over and thought how this picture was something that could be sold, something that I wanted to protect.
So it sat on my hard drive for years. I’d show it off every once in a while, but it stayed hidden. Later I took more pictures, some from Death Valley, others just from vacation. All the while hiding them away.
Then the Art 365 project started and I began posting pictures on my Flickr more often. At this point I had been making (or attempting to make) art for a while. I had been unsuccessfully submitting stories and poems to get published, taking pictures, making drawings and hiding and hoarding my works away to prevent someone “stealing” it.
As I posted more pictures and drawings on Flickr I began to think more and more about content and copyright. Specifically I thought about me as the Internet / content user rather than the creator. I had thought a bit at this point on copyright itself, and how I thought things should be with other creators: art, music and movies.
So I asked myself, self, what are you getting out of this all rights reserved thing anyway? The answer for my Flickr was “not a whole lot”. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that worse case was someone wanted to use something they saw but did not because of that impending c in the corner.
Not that I believed that had happened yet… But still. I decided I should align my art with the way I thought that others should have theirs.
At first I picked the CC BY-NC license. Use my stuff, but not to make money. Then I thought more and changed it to just CC BY. Use my stuff, anyway you want, just credit me for it.
I am not giving up my copyright on my work. Far from it. Creative commons uses the copyright laws to allow for this license. These drawings, pictures, are still mine. But now I have given them an open license. Now if someone is making an album cover for their band, or wants to make a website with desert pictures, or just wants to use a picture of a cherry tree on a flyer they made, they can, without worrying about a lawyer.
And what would I get out of that situation? Recognition, viewership, however you want to phrase it. What I get is my pictures, my drawings, out there in the world, seen.
More importantly, my perspective on my art had changed. No longer was I content with hiding this stuff on my hard drive just on this promise, this hope, that someone would pay me for it. I made it to be seen, read, and heard. There is no promise that someone will pay for any of it. But there is a promise that hidden on my hard drive, no one will know it exists.
And my writing? I’ll talk about that in another post, but my thoughts are coming along the same way.