Freedom - The Geograph Manifesto

This is a community project - photographers, software developers, site administrators all giving their time and expertise to build something fun and worthwhile. We want to ensure that this resource will remain free (as in beer) and free (as in speech) forever.

This page explains how we're going to achieve it

The broad strokes

We want to make it impossible for the resource to be taken away from those who help create it or use it. To bring that about:

To illustrate how this ensures freedom, let's look at what would happen if it all goes horribly wrong...

Worst case scenario

Alice takes over running the site, and changes it from a free and fun educational resource to a commercial photo gallery where you must pay for the 640x480 full size image. Bob, a long time contributor, is furious.

Bob remembers that the site software is open source and licenced under the GPL. He obtains the source code, and with the help of a friendly developer, sets up a free alternative.

But what use is the site without content? Fortunately, all of the photographs are also licensed by the original submitters under a Creative Commons licence allowing them to be used by anyone as long as a credit is given. This means Bob will able to obtain the images and associated metadata for integration into the new site (we have several ways of providing such data feeds - please contact us for details)

This demonstrates how we're ensuring the future freedom and longevity of the resource, but doesn't answer why we insist on licensing the images for commercial purposes...

Why reserve commercial rights?

The reason is simple - this site costs money to run. We'll accept donations of course, but one likely method of raising funds is through sales of "montage posters" of the images or similar creative re-uses of the photographs. For this reason we use the commercial Creative Commons licence.

It's important to note this licence grants everyone the same rights - this is important, as when Bob decides to set up a competing site, he may need to raise funds too!

So anyone can "make money" out of my images?

The Creative Commons licence would allow someone to take an image from the site and sell it or use it commercially, but they must give you credit.

However, [by default] we only retain a screen-resolution copy of your photographs (up to 640x640 pixels), not your original print quality upload. This screen-resolution image will always be available free of charge from the Geograph website, and can be found by search engines that support discovery of Creative Commons content. In other words, there's not much scope for trying to build a commercial photo archive from the images.

Update, Jan 2010: It's now possible to release larger versions of various sizes for downloading and re-use.

It's important to note this is entirely optional, and we are still exploring the implications of this change. But suffice to say certain images can benefit from the increased resolution.

· Larger Uploads Information

Live Forever

We have 340,000 grid squares to fill, and it could take decades to complete. We expect many people to be involved in the project during that time. We hope it continues to evolve and improve, but the one thing that can't happen is the removal of these freedoms.

Your images will live forever, and will be useful for generations of site visitors!


Paul Dixon, April 2005
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