Creative Commons licensing tested

I recently had the (mis)fortune of putting Creative Commons licensing to the test.

Back in January 2010 (when I was still living in Durban), I had the privilege of being able to tour King Shaka International Airport, around three months before it opened.  Obviously, photos were taken, which I later uploaded to Flickr.  As I wanted to use them elsewhere (Wikipedia being one such use), I licensed the material under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license; the human readable summary being that one is free to share and remix the work, under the conditions that the work is properly attributed and any derived works are distributed under the same or similar license.

Last week, I stumbled across an article on the DefenceWeb website that (at the time!) used one of my images — which would have been fine (since CC BY-SA 2.0 permits commercial use), only they didn’t credit me for the image.  Since, in my view, the attribution clause was not meant, I saw this as a breach of the license.

A quick WHOIS on the domain got me an e-mail address to try, so I mailed it, informing the recipient that I owned the image, that the copyright had been breached, and why.  Within 24 hours, the DefenceWeb editor (Leon Engelbrecht) had mailed me back, profusely apologising and mentioning that they had replaced the image — which, to me, was a perfectly satisfactory resolution (though, I would have been satisfied with just being credited).

Some points to take from this exercise:

  • Creative Commons is taken seriously.  If you license work under it, know your rights.
  • While DefenceWeb made a mistake with their use of my image, I was extremely impressed with the speedy way in which they resolved the issue.

The whole process was definitely more sane then suing for more than the GDP of the entire planet…