Just Because It Has a License

… still, you have to use some brain matter to think it through.

I was working on a document today about badges and wanted to reference the classic “We don’t need no stinking badges” line from Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Sure I can plunk search terms into say the new platform for CC Search and lookie! Goldhat is licensed CC BY-SA


But can that be? The film came out in 1948 so it’s pretty far away from showing up on Public Domain day.

In researching I come across in Wikimedia Commons an image of the movie’s star Humphrey Bogart

and buried down ni the fine print I read the assertion that this image is public domain because it’s from a movie trailer (not the film itself) which never had copyright applied to them. I find an explanation that seems to make sense:

This is news to me, and because I like doing retro remix art, I am curious now to look for vintage movie trailers to add to my arsenal. If Goldhat is in that trailer, well than I might be good to go. Maybe.

And do not rely on Google either, when you search for CC licensed results, sometimes you get results that are spurious. I had an example recently where it provided a link to an old movie poster and claimed it was CC licensed metadata, but it came from Bestbuy.com and even after examining the image, I found no license in the metadata. I passed.

I’d rather make or remix my own if possible, and feel that Making is Better than Taking. You can find great image generator sites-- for example, rather than just grabbing a poster for pulp fiction style covers, use the Pulp-O-Mizer is both fun and original (and can be used for non commercial work)


“Making is Better than Taking”


Also, an extra step that I do as a precaution: when I find an openly licensed image, I save the parent webpage, ideally with metadata in it, to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Why? Some authors have removed the open license from their resource and have sued their users for copyright infringement. Is it ethical? Not really. Is it legal? Absolutely.

By having an archived copy of the original page, you can support your side of the story (use in good faith) if the thing ever ends up in the court.

Finally, if the original page is ever deleted from the Wayback Machine (which may honor takedown requests), it may be a good idea to save the resourse in multiple online archives, e.g. https://archive.fo/

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Thanks Jan, that’s definitely going the extra mile/kilometer!

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OK, this is now a couple of weeks old but should be probably posted here for the record: A Bug in Early Creative Commons Licenses Has Enabled a New Breed of Superpredator | by Cory Doctorow | Jan, 2022 | Medium

It pays to be careful about licenses, even Creative Commons licenses, especially versions older than 4.0.

It’s rather chilling, it was in fact posted over here!

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