Maybe you missed the kerfuffle. As kerfuffles should be missed. Unsplash dropped their use of CC0 on all those gorgeous photos on their site then Creative Commons fired back in response.
This is a classic example of what I was trying to argue / suggest about so much focus on the opposite end of Creative Commons.
Frankly I find the details and debates over licenses to be deeply uninteresting. Let me clear, that does not mean it’s not important, but I find it in the realm of observations of paint drying.
I’m more interested in the sharing than the licensing.
The thing is, Unsplash started out as a lark for just sharing high quality photos. And they decided, for all users, that all photos posted on their site would be public domain using CC0. I learned in my year of work on a Creative Commons project that technically CC0 is not a license but a declaration of putting a work into the public domain.
The big problem, according to Unsplash, is of these shady copy cat sites doing “mass image scraping and crawling with the purpose of replicating a similar or competing service”. What is the competition for sharing photos freely?
Ah, the age old boogie man PEOPLE ARE STEALING PHOTOS AND SELLING THEM!.
Don’t get me wrong, I know shady things like this go on. I have seen for months results showing up in Google Images search that are dead copy sites of Pixabay — they know about it. Yet Google does nothing to stop this. Why, the sites are using Google ads to make revenue.
And so, again, as I noted in my last post, people seem to seek some kind of protection in a license. Nevermind that if people find photos in some shady copy cat site, why are they not using their skills to perhaps find the real source of the image? Oh, they just want to grab and image and use it.
I am scratching my head about people uploading stuff to Unsplash, not understanding what CC0 means is that they are putting they works in the public domain, which means others can do anything with it, even exploitive. Even copycat.
But that’s license quibbling.
The problem with Unsplash IMHO is that they decide what license goes on your photos. Which means they can change it from CC0 to an Unsplash License to a Purple Frog License. It’s not your license it’s theirs.
If I put my photos on your site, I should either get to choose what license it goes under, or, it should always retain the license used at the time of sharing.
But that’s license quibbling.
The reality is the vast majority of people who are looking for photos on Unsplash do not give a rats nose hair about the license. What they are looking for is “free photos they can use and hey, they do not even have to attribute” that’s the usual explanation of public domain.
Which I loathe.
I have to say Unsplash is making some steps to communicate that “grab and go” of images is not the best way to go, so there are more nudges to attribute. When you download a photo, there is a friendly “Give Thanks” pop up.
There is a tweet of thanks link– that does not @mention the photographer but does mention @unsplash along with a link crufted with Unsplash tracking data
If I copy the “say thanks” stuff, I get:
The link in their box goes to Armando’s profile (with more tracking cruft in the URL), but not to this photo (I do follow CC’s suggestions of TASL for attribution). So if I wanted to find this photo in someone else’s attribution, I’d have to fish through Armando’s profile to find it.
All of this means more time spent on Unsplash’s site. Everything with their attribution is about Unsplash, and tracking data.
But look, they also have this nifty give credit embed code… holy cow look at this HTML, all hard coded styled to look like a pretty button, and again, every URL to Unsplash is full of stuff for them to collect information when clicked
All hidden inside a button, look at all that stuff.
Note the title tag “Download free do whatever you want high-resolution photos from Armando Ascorve Morales” (unless you are a copycat scraper).
So while Unsplash says nice things like:
Our aim has always been and still is that creativity should be open and those who contribute should be celebrated and respected.
Everything in their “say thanks” and “attribution” stuff is full of links crufted with
utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=photographer-credit&utm_content=creditBadge — which is all about Unsplash and not as much about Armando.
This raises my eyebrow.
I love the photos I find in Unsplash. And I will always always attribute them. Not the way Unsplash tries to help. I will always link to the source and the photographer, and the license of present.
I won’t add your Unsplash tracking
?utm_medium stuff to my links.
That’s how I splash my attributions.