As we careen down the hill of inevitable slope to a machine generated future, it’s relieving to have small experiences that reveal humanness. Here’s one.

In the world of Creative Common Licenses (which I am a BF, Big Fan), one of the least favorite things I see are nitpicking/haggling over license details, like they are ironclad rules. There are human routes for expectations, kindness, and connection.

This starts late one night this week, when my low blood sugar wakes me up at 4am. I take my juice, and wait to make sure my levels go up. So while sitting at he table, I open Instagram, and see a private message from the wonderful Amanda Coolidge. She writes, “Is this you?” and a screen shot of an Instagram advertisement for some couples intimacy thing called OMGYES with text suggesting the couple on the screen have found something better to do than watching TV.

The first human note here, is that I would never have found my photo used in an ad had it no been for Amanda knowing me and my image, and taking the time o reach out. More than fleeting human connections are network keys.

Except, that the photo is one of my favorite photos of me and Cori, one on my screens, and hanging on the wall in our house.

Now its quite likely I had posted this to flickr, but searching and using all the tags I usually do for our pictures did not locate it on my phone (with 70000+ photos I do no recall them all), and I do no post all our photos (especially given past record of my photos being used for catfishing scams, which has tailed off in the last few years).

I should have been more thorough, but it was 4:30am, and I looked through the accounts stream, but could not find my photo (and now fearing what Instagram will serve me up algorithmically). I do know how to search for ads there, all I had was a screenshot Amanda gave me. I looked up the firm’s web site trying to find a contact email and finally found two general ones for general comments and one for privacy.

I wrote a pretty angry email accusing them of using my photo without permission, and made some veiled threat to call in lawyers if they did not remove my photo from the ads.

Within a few hours, I got a very apologetic direct email from Rob, the co-founder of OMGYES:

Hi Alan,

Yikes.  Know we take this very seriously.

1. We’ve removed all ads containing that image.

2. I dug into how this happened and heard back the following:

This image carries a creative commons CC0 license

https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/
Where the photographer has put the photo completely into the public domain for all uses including commercial.

Assuming from this email this license designation was an accident on the photographer’s part, we’re removing their photos from our database for all future use.”

3. Your photography is stunning and lifestyle very enviable.

Let me know if that clarifies or if I can answer any other questions.

personal email from Rob, cofounder of OMGYES

Wow, they removed the ad immediately, and they cited that it was used because the image (linked) carried a Creative Commons CC0 license, meaning their use was allowed by the letter of the license. I had not done my own research well at 4:30am.

But note how Rob acknowledged and assumed the possibility that I had chosen the wrong one, and took my image out of use.

AND… Rob added a human message about my photos.

Signs of humanity.

Gulp, and it was my fault. I’ve long had a default CC0 license as my own experiment of allowing wide reuse to see often people asked permission or attribute when they do not even have to, and so that’s applied to all my uploads since 2016 and many more I wholesale batch changed. I’ve come o realize some of these I have used are not quie kosher (some screenshots of web sites for presetaion slides put into flickr).

But I should have been more careful on my own personal photos that maybe I do not really want on ads. So I have changed the license on my photo to CC BY NC-SA -Attribution, Non-Commercial Share Alike… well actually I first went all rights reserved, but the flipped back as NC-SA would limit from ad use:

2019/365/213 Together Forever
2019/365/213 Together Forever flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Isn’t that photo lovely?

And this issue is 100% my own fault.

Rob and OMGYES could have ignored me, as the original CC0 license is not revocable, and they could use in for commercial uses under the original license. By the letter of licenses, they could have thumbed their nose at me, but I credit Rob for taking an understanding, human approach

Can I add as well what a fantastic feature that Flickr includes a license history, whence you can see my recent flipping:

So if anything, direct encounters like this, at the human to human level, is one thing tha calms fears of robots and corporations and evil billionaires from sucking all the profit humanity out of the web.

OMG, Yes, humanity.

Thank you, Rob.


Featured Image: Mine, a human made image.

Labeling Human Tracks
Labeling Human Tracks flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

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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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