In 2006 I became a huge fan of open source projects. It’s online karma. The more you give away to the world – the more the world brings back to you. WordPress is probably my favorite example. There are a lot of plugins and themes available for the platform, most of which have been “donated” to the community at large by people who have created them.
A little while ago I changed the licenses of a large part of the photos in my Flickr collection to Creative Commons Attribution license. This means anybody can use the photos in anything they want to create, provided they cite the original source of content (preferrably with a link back ;). My personal rule was to exclude photos of people and photos that I am particularly fond of.
To be honest it’s a little daunting to give up this control. You don’t know what will happen to your work if you set it free. Who will use it? How? After a while though, it’s pretty liberating.
Why did I do this? Mostly because I hope others would do the same. I have found other people’s photos by running a creative commons search that I have been able to use for presentations, websites, etc. I am really just reciprocating, as I hope others will too.
If you were a fledgling photographer and you licensed your work under creative commons, your work would get distributed much wider than you could ever do yourself. It’s essentially the butterfly effect at work. If you want further proof that this works, read Mark Glaser’s post about the Creative Commons Effect.
To me, it’s just a digital version of karma. When more people are willing to share their work, everyone wins.