Green Comet blog uses a lot more photographs than it used to. As I have increased my use of photographs, I have improved my handling of them, both technically and legalistically. Some of the early photos were acquired haphazardly, and even I don’t know their provenance. As I gained experience I learned how to do it better. How to properly attribute the photographer. How, where possible, to provide links to their original material. How to identify the hazy boundary between fair dealing and infringement. My compass is always guided by what I believe is fair to the person who created the image. Any photographer who feels I’m not treating their work fairly is encouraged to contact me. See the contact link at the top of the page.
What makes all of this easier is the existence of the Public Domain and Creative Commons. In the spectrum of rights to creative works, Public Domain is on the opposite end from copyright with all rights reserved. We are allowed to use Public Domain works any way we want, and we are not required to give any attribution to the original creator. In between the two ends of the spectrum is Creative Commons, where some rights are reserved. The creator, through the power of copyright, can choose to release their work at their chosen balance of freedoms and restrictions. Green Comet, with its Creative Commons Attribution and Share Alike license (CC-BY-SA), is just on the free and open side of that balance. Freer than CC-BY-SA are CC-BY, which requires only attribution, and CC0, which is the same as Public Domain.
With CC-BY-SA, anyone can use Green Comet any way they want, within the bounds of my “moral rights,” as long as they give me attribution (BY) and share the result in the same way I shared the original (SA).
On the more restrictive side of the balance are the Non-Commercial (NC) and No Derivatives (ND) licenses. NC is obvious: you can’t use the work for commercial purposes. The creator doesn’t want anyone to make money from their work. ND means you can’t alter the original. The creator wants their work passed on, but fundamentally unchanged. No Derivatives (ND) has always made me wonder just how to interpret it. If the originsl photograph is large, say 2560 x 1920 pixels, can I show a smaller version, say 640 x 480, on this website? Can I crop the image and use only part of it, as I did with the picture that accompanies the post Extension Five? I believe I have found the answer to that.
The website Social Media for Good has a blog post covering the No Derivatives license. I believe the author has come to the correct conclusion: as long as the photograph is not changed so much that it would qualify as a new work, you haven’t created a derivative. So you can re-size and/or crop the picture, as long as it’s obviously still the same picture.
Caveat: “changed” and “same” will be subjective, but if you do it in good faith, I don’t believe you need to worry. Of course, since I’m not a lawyer, you are free to worry if you want.-)