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Allowing reuse of your content is more than a yes or no decision. Apart from the type of license you choose to share your content, you can also keep control over several other aspects. You can throttle your openness. Examples are:

  1. Quantity: do you share all files, or just a few?
  2. Quality: large files or smaller files?
  3. Type of files: do you share the raw building blocks of your production or the compressed final files?
  4. Date of release: when do you release the files for reuse?

Let’s go through some examples of these aspects.

1. Quantity

One or more portraits? Photos of and by Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0
One or more portraits? Photos of and by Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0

A typical photoshoot can result in dozens to several hundreds of photos. You could share them all, or just the ones that are the most usefull for others. Is it a portrait shoot? Then one or two photos a person are already great to share. Is it an event? Than one photo per speaker and 10 to 15 that show the general atmosphere are a good starting point. The more, the better is what people that want to use the content will say, but you don’t have to comply to that.

2. Quality

"DPI and PPI" by Wapcaplet, improved anonymously (2014) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
“DPI and PPI” by Wapcaplet. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Some organisations are limited in their posibilities to share large files because they still have a business model based on selling the files. That does not have to be a dealbreaker. They can still choose to release smaller files of the content in their collection. This gives others the option to view, remix and reuse the content, while still maintaining their business model for professional use. Examples of ways to influence the quality of files are:

  1. Resolution. Print requires 300 dots per inch (dpi), web 72dpi.
  2. Size. A photo camera easily creates 16 Megapixel photos. That’s 4896 x 3264 pixels. A typical computer currently has a display resolution of 1440 * 900 pixels. The lowest quality Wikipedia volunteers consider usefull is 1200 pixels on at least one side of an image.

3. Type of files

A zoomed in example of the footage straight out of a camera and after color correction and compression.
A zoomed in example of the footage straight out of a camera (left) and after color correction and compression (right). Notice the differences in detail in the pattern of the dress.

When you see a video that you can remix, most of the times you have the option to download the compressed edit of the video that has been published online. This footage is of a less quality than the film originally was made with. And everytime it is being remixed more loss of quality might happen. This doesn’t have to happen. With the declining storage prices it is possible to share the high quality raw footage that was used in a project and give professionals and advanced amateurs the option to deliver high quality remixes.

The file format plays a part too. A lot of professional software tools have their own file format. A Final Cut Pro timeline is not compatible with Avid or Adobe Premiere. For images, video and text there are open file formats that quarantee that someone can open and use the file without having to buy the same professional software. The choice to make then is how easy you want to make it for potential reusers to be able to use your content.

4. Date of release

Every time a new issue of Arts&Auto was send to subscribers the portrait of the last issue would be released on Flickr.
Every time a new issue of Arts&Auto was send to subscribers the portrait of the last issue would be released on Flickr.

Some magazines share the content of their last publication in the same week that a next issue has been published. This way people still have an incentive to buy and read the magazine when it’s just out, but the content is not being locked away forever after an initial publication. So the question is: how long do you want to benefit from the content before putting it online?