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Onboard with Wikimedia Commons!

Yay! I’ve just published my first photograph to Wikimedia Commons, a source of many images on

I had considered making photo galleries for the better, unused photographs that were to appear in my original book, however, that would be a problem for anyone wanting to use them.

One of the greatest difficulties I faced as a magazine article writer was sourcing copyright permissions or releases for photos taken by others. I might have a great picture in hand but who owns the copyright? Even if I found the owner, permissions were always slow in coming, most never meeting my deadlines.

Any editor needs a copyright release for any picture submitted for publication. No exceptions. Similarly, no commercial website of any size will want to use a photograph without permission of the creator. There’s another problem as well.

With the internet, images get tossed around and resized so much that in most cases a photo is too low in resolution to print. A design team will always want the largest possible file size to work with. And they would like to work with RAW files or tiffs, preferably, but Wikimedia does not host RAW files and only to a limited extent tiffs.

So, I could establish galleries but then images would float away without any release attached to them. Now, a person can find an image fairly easy along with the release and all sorts of information about the photograph. Since I do not make a living from my photographs I am putting them under them under the most liberal release possible, giving them what is called a “Public Domain Mark.”

This is the language:

“The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of their rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”

Most people, though, would probably be more comfortable with a license called “Attribution (CC BY).”  That means you have released your work for others to do as they will, but you have to be credited  as the one who took the photo.

Other licenses you can choose get more restrictive. Like not allowing commercial use.

You may have noticed that there are no ads at my site, not even logos on my Vimeo videos. I pay extra to make sure my sites are commercial and ad free. And no copyright notices. The only copyright notice I have ever used is now on my travel writing (external link) because there is a threat that the publisher I walked away from (internal link) will use my work. They have my completed MS in hand. And they have promised to bring out a book along similar lines and I can’t have that pack of rats thieving. Maybe another pack of rats but not them.

This goes back to the rise of the commercial internet. All os us were wrestling, and are still wrestling with the same old question, “Should information be free?” My answer has always been a conditional “Yes.”

“Yes, in some way, in some form, at some time.” No one publishing a current book should have the entire text exposed online for free but I do think a sample chapter or several good pages should be online for someone to read. If, after ten years or so and the book is out of print, never to see life again, the author should think about releasing the full text.

A writer gains nothing monetary from used book sales and the reader gains nothing if they can’t use what might be valuable information, simply because copyright extends decades after a writer is dead. If the writer is still concerned, they could supply the material in a locked down .pdf which can’t be copied or altered. Or perhaps one or two good chapters. Again, in some way, in some form, at some time.

I’ll have something on the mechanics of posting photos to Wikimedia and then how to insert them into Wikipedia in a future post. Also, musings on how we should all be building that inverted pyramid of knowledge. I bet you can’t wait.

My four recent wild desert tortoise photos should be showing up as a small gallery at this page:

And this is an example of a Wikimedia entry of mine:
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By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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