*DNA : Want to display your photos? Donate them to Wikipedia*


*Kannan Shanmugam's grandfather was the first man to set up a photo studio
in south Kerala at Kollam, giving the locals one of their first tastes of
technology.Around 100 years later, Kannan is hoping to continue his legacy
in a way that could be just as revolutionary in today's world — the act of
giving something away, for free.*
*Kannan is an active contributor to Wikimedia Commons, an online repository
of free-use images, sound and other media files primarily used to supplement
other Wikimedia projects, Wikipedia being the most popular.*
*The project, which began in 2006 and to which anybody can contribute, has
amassed over 11 million media files in five years. *
*With the fast-growing interest in Indian topics on English Wikipedia and 20
Indian language Wikipedias already in existence, there is a dire need for
images from India. In the run-up to WikiConference 2011 to be held in Mumbai
in November, the India Loves Wikipedia initiative has been launched to
encourage people to donate their photos for India-related articles.*
*Kannan has been one of the biggest contributors in the initiative which has
amassed 3,359 photos, but feels it is difficult convincing professional
photographers to contribute their photos.*
*"Photography equipment is costly. You don't get any returns from uploading
images on Commons. Only those who share this idea of free information are
willing to do it," said Kannan, a former press photographer.*
*Tinu Cherian, executive committee member of the Wikimedia India Chapter,
agreed. "Releasing images for free use isn't a popular concept in India. And
once your image is in the public domain, you are allowing people to use,
share, alter the images (provided it is attributed) for both free and
commercial purposes."*
*However, Wikimedians (contributors to Wikimedia projects) insist you don't
have to be a professional to submit your images.*
*Vaishak Kallore from Kannur in Kerala believes it is amateur photographers
in remote villages and towns in India who can be the most useful and
generous contributors. "Professionals might not see it worth their while to
take photos of seemingly mundane things. But there is a desperate need for
such images to substantiate and inspire articles on India."*
*From images of panoramas tostructures on the verge of extinction, almost
nothing lies beyond the scope of Commons. *
*And being a free repository, the images can be picked up for use by news
publications, portals and blogs. However, Kannan said, Indian media
companies often tend to use these images without giving credit to the
photographers. "There is a need for greater awareness about free licensing.
If there is proper attribution, more people will be encouraged to donate
their photos."*
*Explaining how government bodies in the US, especially NASA, release images
into the public domain (including Commons) for free public education and
use, Cherian said: "The biggest goldmine for Commons from India is actually
the government. We haven't approached them officially yet, but we should be
lobbying with them to come up with a similar policy." Want to donate your
photos to Wikipedia? Visit www.commons.wikimedia.org*

Tinu Cherian

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