In my inbox this morning was an e-mail sent via Flickr from schmap.com asking permission to use my Bricktown HDR photo in their Oklahoma City guide. I'd never heard of Schmap, so I decided to do some checking first.
It's an interesting site - a mashup using Flickr photos, plus maps and text from other services. They're using text from Wcities, which means they're paying for the content. The text on the Dallas page has some serious copy issues. (John Nelly Bryan, indeed.) The maps are from Yahoo!. Are they paying for those?
You wonder why I ask. The e-mail states in part: "While we offer no payment for publication, many photographers are pleased to submit their photos, as Schmap Guides give their work recognition and wide exposure, and are free of charge to readers." The web site (and presumably, the downloadable software) is ad-supported, plus they have a revenue stream with a store.
This bothers me. Apparently they are paying for some content, but feel that they shouldn't have to pay for pictures?
I share a lot of my photographs online. Some are available under a Creative Commons license, while others (like the Bricktown photo in question) have all rights reserved. I'm reserving rights on a lot of my Flickr photos because of the problems with image theft.
If someone wants to do a mashup with one of my shots, that's fine. If a non-profit would like to reproduce an image, I'd probably give permission to do so. But commercial use is another matter.
And no, I don't have any beef with people who want to give their permission to have their pictures used. I also appreciate the fact that Schmap asked for permission to use the picture. I just don't like the fact that they want to use it royalty-free - forever. The agreement doesn't restrict my rights to resell the photo, but I'm just a little uncomfortable with the terms. Granted, they do link back to the original on Flickr and give credit. They seem to be very up-front about how they use the photos, which is great. And just because their terms are outside my comfort zone doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't have any problem.
Sorry, but it's just not for me.
Here's the picture in question: