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Alex Miroshnichenko and the Santiago Fires


In looking at CC success stories, we tend to focus on how CC licences have allowed new business models to grow or have helped facilitate new forms of artistic expression. While these are both incredibly important and, in their increasing abundance, popular implementations of what CC can provide, what sometimes gets lost in the shuffle are the more personal stories of how CC can affect lives on an every day basis.

Alex Miroshnichenko, a “full-time e-commerce professional and part-time freelance photographer,” recently penned such a story for Poynter Online in which he describes his decision to license his photographs of the recent Santiago/Foothill Ranch fires on Flickr under a CC BY license:

I realized, that, like me, these people also were emotionally involved. These images and this story were important to them on a very deep level.

Flickr was the obvious choice to distribute these fire images to family and friends. Little did I know that images of the Southern Calif. wildfires were starting to have a big impact on Flickr. I soon realized how important and compelling this story was to the online community, and around the world.

Still thinking with my heart, I changed the license for all my wildfire photos to Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic, rather than a standard “all rights reserved” copyright notice. This authorizes anyone to share these images or create derivative works as long as attribution to me is provided.

Even though I sell news photos to media organizations, this time my intent was to share my experience and feelings; to share what it’s like to have tragedy hit your hometown. Making a profit on these pictures would be cheating my own heart.

It is instances like this that show what CC licenses provide beyond traditional copyright. Alex captured history in the making with his camera, and CC licenses allowed him to share this history in a more distinctly open way (Flickr photoset here). It was digital sharing in a very true sense. What arose out of this series of events highlights another dynamic that CC licenses address – that obscurity is the biggest threat to any content creator in the digital age:

Now (thinking with my head), I also see that through this effort my images and work have gained tremendous exposure. When an image receives nearly 12,000 views in 24 hours, that is a strong message — including powerful marketing for my photography work. Now, it’s up to me to leverage the exposure and contacts I obtained through my Santiago Fire images, for times and stories not so close to my home and heart.

Posted 12 November 2007