Sharing is for curmudgeons, too

Dalek egg frontal view
CC-BY photo by Nancy Sims

It’s always neat to find out that somebody whose work you follow in one context has done something interesting in a completely different field.  Nancy Sims, who is an attorney and the Copyright Program Librarian at the University of Minnesota Libraries, writes the Copyright Librarian blog.  As I found out on Friday when I read her her post On releasing an image to the wilds…, she also decorates eggs… elaborately.  Take a look at our friend on the right, and if you’re a Whovian like me, take another moment to squee.

She posted her photos of the Dalek egg on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution license, and the images went viral.  As you might expect, the photos get a spike in interest, including reblogs, around Easter every year. Sometimes the images get attributed properly, sometimes they do not. And sometimes Sims gets requests for permission to use the photos, including one, amusingly enough from the BBC.

Of course, one of the points of the Creative Commons licenses is that you don’t have to ask permission to make use of CC-licensed content as long as you follow the terms of the particular variant that the creator applied. As Sims wrote:

[…] I hate it when people ask for permission to use things that already carry a CC-license sufficient to the purpose.

Further, in her response to the BBC, request, she says:

I am a big fan of Creative Commons licenses, and would like to see them used more (when appropriate) by everyone!

This circles back to the title of my post: Sharing is for curmudgeons, too.  To be clear, I’m not using the word “curmudgeon” to refer to anybody in particular. You may be a curmudgeon most of the time, never, or only just in the morning before caffeine appears. You may simply want to get stuff done quickly, with the least amount of interaction required.

Free and open licenses are perfect for curmudgeons. Why? No need to ask for permission. Need an image of a pristine lawn for your website? You can grab a CC-BY image, put it up with attribution, and never ask permission. Need to tweak your webserver’s software? If it’s free software, you can just go get the source code and modify it — and never ask for permission.

It works in the other direction. If you’ve written a useful little utility for yourself, you can slap on a free software license and publish it on Gitorious… then forget about it. If somebody else finds it useful, great — and they don’t need to bother you about it if they want to fix a bug or enhance it!

Free software licenses help promote community, which is important for any project that is larger in scope than a single person. If we can all see and talk about the code, we can made it better faster. But free and open licenses also reduce friction, and that’s where the curmudgeons of the world come in — often great things come from somebody working alone in her figurative garage.

Curmudgeons of the world — unite! Or not, it’s your choice.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Sharing is for curmudgeons, too by Galen Charlton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.