Stock images, CC0, and public domain pictures

Stock Photography is Big Money

Stock images and videography licensing is a huge business. I recently read that one company “is well into the millions” for a single year’s worth of efforts working as a contributor to a highly ranked stock image site. They don’t even own the site. They run a successful business model designed around feeding stock imagery into another company’s stock image business. This is amazing news if you are an aspiring photographer looking to earn some cash on the side. However, what if you are an entrepreneur with minimal funds available to spend on “the perect stock image”? What if you can’t afford the price tags associated with a large institution’s stock images? You could pick up a camera yourself, or you could start to consider using CC0 imagery, and the public domain treasures that exist.

Fair Use

For those that are unaware, CC0 is the ultimate term for “fair use”. It stands for Creative Commons zero, license 1.0; Universal public domain. Anyone can use an image tagged as CC0 for commercial or non commercial purposes without paying a penny, or requiring attribution (more on that here.) These public domain resources are a hidden within the confines of the world wide web and can help you find great stock images for free. Yes, free. And not free as in someone simply located, snagged, and used the image/video secretly without asking or telling the owner (yes folks, this violates a section 501(a) of Title 17 of the US Code… unlawful use of a copyright protected work, or infringement ). I’m talking free to use wherever, however, whenever, commercial or non-commercial…with impunity.

How does it work?

You see, the folks over at Creative Commons, the organization responsible for assisting with public domain, attribution and “copyleft” licensing for imagery, works, software and more. They created a system to assign works immediately to the public domain for use globally. This means when you take a stylized photo of your sweet new boots from xyz emporium, and then license it as CC0, your neighbor can use the photo, without asking, for her shoe business. Free and clear, as she sees fit, even without attributing the image to you as the photographer. However, so could StrideRite, Walmart or Payless, and unlike your neighbor Suzie and her “Snazzy Shoe & Boot Recovery LLC”, they have the coin to pay you for it. So your chance of selling it for $5,000 goes out the window when you put it into public domain via CC0. Pros and cons I guess.

How does it affect me?

As yucky as it is to loose out on sales like that if you are a photographer, what are the chances of your simpke little shot getting picked up by some muti-conglomerate that then turns over 5 large for the rights to use it? Unless your a known, seasoned photographer, Zilch. Zero. NO odds.  However, turn it around and look at it from Suzie’s standpoint. Her business is just starting up, and a sweet picture on her web site is what she needs. She’s probably opposed to spending $750, $350, or even just $50 to use it. If she can acquire the stock image for free then she is better off for it. All over the globe there are Suzies out there, with minimal budgets, looking for the perfect shoe image. Because of this, many of them are finding those perfect images for free CC0 repositories.

How do we use stock images it at Phlume Media?

Here at Phlume we use Pixabay for a lot of our stock images and web development work. They have quality uploads, wonderful sizes to select from, a great selection and a simple, clean web site to use. There are different public domain image houses out there, yet we found success with Pixabay. Because it’s free to sign up, and you can download images and upload your own, its a very useful tool. They have a large selection of images to select from. There is no monetary gain, however, it would be cool to see your photo in a travel agency’s ad,right?

If you have found success with an image hosting service that offers CC0 imagery, either share on social media with your idea, or comment below.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Go ahead... add your thoughts too!