I got an email this morning from a local company called Schmap — presumably as in “map, schmap.” I live in San Francisco and ocasionally post photos from my city wanderings to Flickr, licensing them under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license. They’re putting together an electronic city guide and are selecting photos from Flickr to include. Seeking permission to include a cameraphone photo I took at a diner while studying for the bar exam, they wrote:
Your photo(s) shown below have been short-listed for inclusion in our Schmap San Francisco Guide, to be published March 2006.
The creative commons license that you’ve assigned your photo(s) provides for non-commercial use. While all our Schmap destination guides will be FREE to download, some photographers might nevertheless consider these to be commercial (advertising revenue will support free distribution to our readers) . . . .
This strikes me as an exceedingly smart way to develop a pool of free urban photography. Rather than plunging forward and planning to brush off infringement claims from small-time Creative Commons licensors, they decided to ask permission, trusting that photographers’ egos will lead them to grant it. And the license agreement they proffer is really quite fair: