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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/15152251297

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 www.bluecrawdads.com.

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?

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