This is why an IPS image gallery is needed. The best photos on PalmTalk should be catalogued, watermarked and made available commercially for a licence fee.
John brought up an issue that I think should be discussed. I have spoken with Dean previously about the issue of just what policy does PalmTalk have in relation to licensing photos that we users upload to the site. He really surprised me when told me I was the first person to ever ask! I realise that hammering out a policy regarding what rights PalmTalk users retain or give up when uploading their images to PalmTalk may not be easy but eventually I believe it will be necessary. Many other sites that are driven by user-based content (as we are) have policies in place not just to protect the rights of their users, but also protect the company or organisation from copyright lawsuits ( ). My interest is not to spark debate about the merits of copyright law or intellectual property rights, but it would be good to explore options that Palm Talk and the IPS leadership can agree on.
I think an IPS gallery of the best photos that appear on PalmTalk would be wonderful resource and I am grateful John brought it up! That alone would attract even more visits and visibility via internet image searches etc. Our mission of education could be greatly aided by this.
I am a member of many plant societies and I can say that over the years as a member of the Pacific Bulb Society our wiki administrators have been able to track a clear correlation to the exponential rise in visits via internet searches to the number of named and tagged photographs we have in our "Photographs and Information" 'page' (really a wiki); bumping up our visibility on the web and in turn helping to achieve our goal: to make valuable information on growing geophytes visible, accessible and efficient to as many people as possible.
As plant societies shrink (at least in the US they have been on the wane!) their viability for the future is based on the strength and strategy of their internet presence. PalmTalk is evidence of this, however a catalogued gallery could make the IPS even more viable and valuable. (It's true that we are not using a wiki format but a gallery could be assembled by other methods.)
To speak personally from my experience with my own images; I am just am amateur photographer and I am not putting on airs. Most of the time I really don't mind sharing my images for educational/non-profit purposes when an interested party or person actually asks for permission. In contrast from time to time I have sold licensing for some of my images for profit-driven projects and entities and so I choose to retain a full copyright on my work as a default. This is a highly personal decision. I must say it is frustrating and time consuming to contact and contest unauthorized use with site after site the world over in dozens of languages when I find that my work has been used without even asking for permission beforehand.
Not that I am holding a grudge, I'm flattered even, that some of my images have been copied pasted and uploaded onto PalmTalk by fellow users and I've stumbled upon them later. It would be more flattering however if a fellow user would either link to my original or simply pop a PM, flickrmail, or even an old fashioned email inquiry my way before using my image(s) instead!
Perhaps PalmTalk & IPS could offer users options to license photos they share under a spectrum of licences, i.e. from the varied and quite flexible of the Creative Commons licences across to retaining full original copyright whilst allowing IPS/PalmTalk to feature and/or host images of users. Whether we like it or not, as I understand matters under the status quo, both the IPS and PalmTalk users need protections just in case anyone decides to get litigious (not to worry, I am allergic to lawsuits LOL).