In my best Rod Serling intonation, “Submitted for your approval, two different musicians, never having made contact, both express appreciation and credit for shared public domain photos, and offer thanks despite the general understanding of said licenses are that you do not have to attribute…”

A direct message came to me in instagram, and it’s dicey I would have even seen it as its buried in the menus under requests.

Hi Alan- I’m using one of your public domain photos (“wood eye”) for a cover for one of my upcoming singles – just wanted to say thank you.

It’s funny because of course, there is no public domain declared in Instagram, but I can guess he is referring to my flickr photos. I did find one:

Wood Eye
Wood Eye flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

I am not even quite sure where this was, somewhere on a board or a palette around the house? Or maybe seen out on a walk. But I followed the account links, and sure enough there it is.

That was pretty clever to mirror the image to make the eyes.

I responded of course with an appreciate thanks, especially since it’s not even required under public domain. Thus Bo replied:

Thanks Alan – ya I like to let people know if I use their PD stuff. It’s much appreciated from my side. 

That’s the way it should work, right? Anyhow, the song is available from a few services — share widely. Or directly:

In less than a week, a comment came in on this flickr photo, just a shot of two aster flowers I spotted in Arizona in 2010:

Shambala Eyes
Shambala Eyes flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

I guess I thought I was being clever with a Three Dog Night lyric reference to a song I had sort of half learned to play. I had put in the caption:

“I can tell my sister, by the flowers in her eyes, on the road to Shambala”

A little hippie music from Three Dog Night

Forgotten photo, and even more forgotten was my little semi-witty caption. Then, I get a comment from “Gorilla Pirate”

So I was actually recording a cover of Three Dog Night’s Shambala, and I was looking for some public domain wildflower images for part of the art. Coincidentally finding this image with your description (when I only used “wildflowers” as my search term) totally blew my mind lol. Thanks for the photo!!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/4625433285/#comment72157715856019108

I am hoping they send a link!

What are the odds of this? This was the kind of stuff that in the past I would dash off to record as an Amazing/True Story of Open Sharing, but it’s now lucky for me to get into a blog post.

But here’s the thing. Independent musicians are not really flush with time or money. Yet I have had repeated experiences where they take the time to send a thanks when they find an image of mind to use. They not only provide attribution, but they reach out to contact me.

This has happened before, a few years ago there was a photo of a road that found its way into a Blues CD (and they mailed me a copy!). And maybe one of my first open stories, how a German band used my Death Valley photo as their cover art (this was before flickr, before creative commons).

And again, this is the whole experiment I have been running since I flipped my 60,000+ flick photos from CC-BY to CC0 (flickr borked and could not convert them all).

I wanted so see is I shared my photos with the least restrictions, one where it is most understood people can just grab and use and not acknowledge or say thanks, how many people would go beyond the letter of the license.

Yes, I prefer attribution, but I don’t want ti to happen because of rules or a license, I want it to happen because people feel like saying thanks.

Many do.

This is the spirit of public domain, not just the way a license reads.

Because most typical, the way educators and others describe public domain is, “you can use the image and you do not even have to attribute.”

But you can.

Be less of a stick to the letter of licenses.

Be more musician.

And buy their music. Check out Bo Green’s music here https://ffm.to/y57ayr0 and hopefully I will find out soon where Gorilla Pirate is doing their version of Shambala.


Featured Image:

2014/365/124 Musician in the Making
2014/365/124 Musician in the Making flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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