Openness, Not Just Licenses, Can Take You There

I just popped a CD of blues music into the player. How it got here is a story with being in the mix of other True Stories of Sharing. Why? Well, that’s my own photo printed on the back cover.

If the bass player (and also art producer) of the Blue Crawdads had followed the most typical interpretation of a Creative Commons (CC0) License he would not have had to bother even contacting me, much less asking how I want to be credited, much less mailing a CD to me in Canada.

Almost every way I hear CC0 explained is something like “you can use it any way you like, and you do not even have to provide attribution” or “just grab it and go.” Like I’ve Blabbed in The Road to Sharing is Not Paved With Licenses, this is the most minimalistic, machinestic interpretation, completely devoid of the simple act of human grace.

Rewind to last October when I got this flickr message:

I’m a member of a 4-piece Blues combo from Barbourville, KY called The Blue Crawdads.

You have a photo listed in the public domain at

We have an EP coming out soon named ‘Take You There’, and I’d like to credit you properly, since we intend to use this photo as part of the cover art. In addition to your name, would you want to have a website link or something along those lines?

Also, we’d like to send you a copy by way of thanks once it actually hits. You can check us out at

This is leaps and bounds above the terms of a Creative Commons CC0 license.

This is the photo:

This was among a series of playful photos I have done by literally laying down in the middle of a road. There’s a bit of nervousness about it that I enjoy. This particular one was on the main road where I previously lived in Strawberry, Arizona. I crossed it every day to get my mail at the boxes on the left; its recent paving suggested a laying down photo would be fun.

This began a series of email messages from Jesse about what I wanted for attribution (which again is not required by CC0!), some apologies because production was taking longer (I think they all have day jobs).

I asked him if I blogged about it, what could I say about why he chose this photo? His response:

 I found the photo when searching through various public domain photos, I don’t remember exactly what site it was posted on.

The Blue Crawdads got together back in 2014, and all of us are either from the mountains in this part of the country, or have a close connection to the region.  Those ties factor strongly into the lyrics of our music.

When conceptualizing the art direction for ‘Take You There’, I had several ideas – but the theme of this recording pushed us toward images of the open road and the mountains we love.  As such, your photo was a perfect thematic fit AND kept me from having to crawl around on a busy road with a cheap camera trying to get a low-angle highway shot that wouldn’t have ended up looking half as great.

More than licenses, eh? This is included in the nice letter that came in the mail today, with not only the new EP with my photo on it, but 2 of their other CDs.

Look what came in the mail today! A letter from the Blue Crawdads, 2 previous CDs, and the one on the right, “Take You There” with my photo on the back!

I’ve got “Take You There” in my player now- its got a low ZZ Top like shuffle blues to it, and some gritty electric guitar riffs on the four tracks. Next, I’m listening to the rest.

Thanks again Andy, Derryl, Keith, and Jesse for finding my photo, going above the minimums for reading the license, giving me another story about the value of sharing openly, and also for just some great music.

There is much more to openness and sharing that licenses, which to me, are the least interesting aspect.

Check them out! Buy their music!

Blue Crawdads band members, from their web site

(and yes, the guitarist on the left has a bit of Bavatuesdays going, eh?).

Featured image: My photo of “Take You There” in my hand, tonight it will go to flickr, and carry another CC0 license with it. You know what that means, right?

There is Joy in Flicker CC-Attribution Helperville, The Mighty Firefox No Longer Strikes Out

With no apologies to Casey

One of my favorite home-spun projects that joys me to see in the world is people using my Flickr CC Attribution Helper, a tool I really built for me to make it easy to quickly form well-constructed and consistent attributions from open licensed flickr images.

It’s a simple browser bookmarklet tool that is able from a flickr photo page to request info via the flickr API (all through public javascript calls, do you need to know why flickr’s API is the bomb when other services repeatedly cripple their own API

I can often see it used in other people’s posts and projects because of the way their attributions are stated. And this is not 100% self-congratulating back-slapping, just seeing more attribution of open content is the real joy.

But one of the pain points has been that for a year or more I’ve had to tell people it won’t work in Firefox. Because they changed security levels on what the browser can do, any one like mine that opened a new browser window via javascript was walled off. Dead.

Until yesterday.

And the best part?

It was a student who figured this out.

Ken Bauer did flag me in a private channel that this was coming, and he was eager to see his student push the change to the GitHub repo.

There was proof!

The proof is even better because the flickr image used is one from my photo pal Michael Coghlan.

And sure enough the commit came in this morning from José Carlos. It’s not even a code fix I have to do; installing the the Bookmarklets Context Menu Extension enables your bookmarklets to be run as “content-script” which I infer means it has fewer restrictions.

Regardless of how, this means that Firefox users can again use th Flickr CC Attribution Helper. What happens with this new Extension is that all your existing bookmarklet tools are now available via a contextual menu (right or control click in a flickr web page, then select your CC Helper tool).

The flickr cc attribution helper is available in Firefox under the Bookmarklets contextual menu (after installing the Bookmarklets Context Menu Extension).

And boom, here it is!

Flickr CC Attributions working in Firefox, I should have done better to screen cap the whole browser window. Trust me, it works

You can also get to the bookmarklet via the button for the Bookmarks Context Menu extension on the browser bar.

This is really good news. I do have longer term hopes of redesigning the tool as a proper Firefox Extension (and maybe for Chrome). But even bigger, I think the attribution tool can be expanded to work on other services such as WikiMedia Commons, Pixabay, maybe Unsplash. Technically, it should work on any site that has a public JavaScript API for getting info about the photo from the page that contains it.

And beyond that, I’d like the tool to be more flexible from the results window to offer different size, and/or attribution options.

This will take some time and effort to do (wedged between the “real” work); but if any group, organization, filthy rich person wants to sponsor the development, contact me and/or click the begging buttons below.

But thanks to José Carlos (and Ken for encouraging his CIS students to take on real projects) we have a short term fix for the Mighty Firefox Users to now strike out on doing one click flickr attributions.

Featured Image: Added the Firefox icon, an “F” and screenshots from the flickr cc attribution helper (those are mine, I give myself permission) to Casey at the Bat pg 21.jpg a WikiMedia Commons image by Ernest Lawrence Thayer shared into the public domain cause it’s pretty old and Sono Bono could only extend copyright so many decades back.