Occupy Wall Street & Creative Commons
by Hope Bordeaux
Here is a great image of the Occupy Wall Street protests from earlier this month. In some ways, it represents the convergence of the two topics I’ve been writing about here–American economics and alternative ideas for these dominant cultural systems–in the form of this photograph.
The photographer is David Shankbone, who licenses his work via a Creative Commons license. For those of you who haven’t heard of Creative Commons, the idea is open up artistic work to the public, to be freely read or viewed, in part to protest standing copyright regulations. The Creative Commons movement sometimes refers to itself as the “copyleft” alternative to emerging–and increasingly harsh–concepts like Digital Rights Management. It’s something that we’ve discussed here the Poly as an option for the website. Shankbone describes his views in an interview with GOOD Magazine here:
Getty Images approached me on Flickr because they had a client who wanted to purchase some of my OWS work, but I would have needed to take those shots out of the Creative Commons. I decided against it. What is going on in Zuccotti Park is important, and people need to see it unvarnished without having to wade through all sorts of possessiveness.
Americans are often trained to measure worth only in dollars, but I care more about experience than money. I was at a party once where someone asked me about my work and she said I must make a lot of cash. When I said I give my photos away to the public, she looked at me like I was a fool. She derisively asked, “Why would anybody do that?” and I replied “What did you do last Tuesday?” She said that she came home from work late and watched Law & Order on her DVR. I said, “Last Tuesday I had a four-hour dinner with Augusten Burroughs, and then I photographed him. I didn’t make any money off of it, but it was a hell of a Tuesday night.” Then she smiled and got what I was about.
You can view more of Shankbone’s photographs on his Flickr page.