Friday, April 28, 2006

Canadian Activism Archives

 Today I launched a new web project for collectively building historical archives of, and useful guides for, social justice and environmental activism in Canada. The Canadian Activism Archives are running as an open wiki, so anyone can contribute to the content.

This project has been on my list of ten million things to do ever since I started the Activist Network in 1999. I believe that we (activists) lose too much when we fail to keep and share our histories. It can be deeply empowering to be aware of the incredible successes of activism that has gone before - not to mention the many lessons learned which we only benefit from if we can collectively remember them.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Why I use the Non-Commercial Creative Commons license

[Creative Commons License] I fully support the Creative Commons licensing project as a counter to the represive regime copyright law has become.

I generally go with the Non-Commercial license, though. I believe that people deserve to be paid for their work. The licenses that allow free commercial use of work mean that commercial enterprises don't have to pay for content if they can find free versions of what they're looking for.

I'm particularly worried about the impact this has on the photography profession.

[Zombie Walk photo] A while back, I was contacted by a newspaper (not local) that was interested in running one or more of the photos I took at the Zombie Walk here in Calgary last year. When they found out I was using the Non-Commercial license instead of the free for commercial use one, they lost interest. I don't want my volunteer/hobbiest photography to get commercial publications in the habit of not having to pay for the content they use - thereby potentially putting some people out of work. I also don't want someone to be making money from my work without me getting a fair share.

Over a decade ago, when I was still developing commercial and shareware software, I licensed my "Grant's CGI Framework" for free to those who weren't profiting from what they built with it. I charged a (negotiable) licensing fee to those who were making money from it. That project was "open source" (before the term was coined), but even then I figured I should get a cut if people were profiting from my work.

To me this kind of "fair share" approach is the best. I'm glad that non-profit publications are using my photos freely, but I'm not going to help commercial interests "maximize" their profits at the expense of workers (including myself).

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