I’ve had a number of times photos I have openly shared have been used as cover art for musicians, all the way back to before Creative Commons was a thing and a German band emailed asking to use my photo of a sign in Death Valley for the cover of their CD.

More recently, in 2018 I was contacted by someone from the Blue Crawdads, who asked:

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.

Here’s the photo 

2014/365/266 Belly on Newly Paved Fossil Creek Road

They did not have to even ask, but they notified me, and even mailed a copy of their EP from Kentucky to my home in Canada. Amazing! Read the story here https://cogdogblog.com/2018/10/not-paved-with-licenses/

More recently I was contacted via an Instagram direct message from Bo Green:

Hi Alan- I’m using one of your public domain photos (“wood eye”) for a cover for one of my upcoming singles – just wanted to say thank you.

The photo itself is in flickr! It’s a picture of a wood “eye” in the very table I am sitting at right now.

Wood Eye

Bo did not need permission nor even to notify me… but he did. And he did some editing to make it look like a pair of eyes!

And just two weeks later, a comment came in to flickr on this photo

Shambala Eyes

I thought I was being clever when I captioned it:

“I can tell my sister, by the flowers in her eyes, on the road to Shambala”

A little hippie music from Three Dog Night

Someone named “Gorilla Pirate” wrote:

So I was actually recording a cover of Three Dog Night’s Shambala, and I was looking for some public domain wildflower images for part of the art. Coincidentally finding this image with your description (when I only used “wildflowers” as my search term) totally blew my mind lol. Thanks for the photo!!

I’ve not found their song, but that’s okay.

As I wrote of these recent stories:

But here’s the thing. Independent musicians are not really flush with time or money. Yet I have had repeated experiences where they take the time to send a thanks when they find an image of mind to use. They not only provide attribution, but they reach out to contact me.

Just keep in mind that there’s more to Public Domain than “you can use it and not even give credit!” That’s just a minimum.

Always be Attributing- its a system of gratitude that works.


Download "Independent Musicians Are The Ones Who Really Get the Meaning of Public Domain"

Shared by: Alan Levine @cogdog

Reuse License: CC0 No Rights Reserved