Free Icons

22 Feb
Chalkwork Icons

I've decided to slap a Creative Commons license on the entire darn Chalkwork Family and make them completely free for personal use, starting right now.

I've been considering doing this for quite a while. These icons represent a lot of hard work for me between 2006 and 2009, so you can imagine I've thought through the implications of making them available for free download without a pay barrier: will people use them commercially and not pay? Will they abuse the license terms? Will some redistribute them elsewhere? Will they modify them and claim them as their own?

The answer to each of those questions is, inevitably, yes. I've been on the web long enough to know that no matter what you intend to happen, someone will always find a way to do the complete opposite of that sooner or later. But you know what? I can live with that.

I'm of the opinion that DRM and increasingly consumer-hostile content protection laws are kludgy ways of protecting outdated business models. By offering a product for download, I've effectively been treating the pay barrier as a form of copy-protection all along. Which has worked well enough for my purposes, but if I'm being honest with myself I don't think I really need that protection.

People who appreciate your work do the right thing. Just as those who download music are more inclined to buy it, my bet is that those who download these icons for personal use may one day come back and pay for commercial use. If they don't, were they ever likely to buy them in the first place? I doubt it.

It's not all philosophy and rhetoric, I'm genuinely curious to see what happens next with the commercial sales since they've been on a steady decline over the years. I tried an AdWords campaign for a while, but that didn't do much to reverse the trend. Will opening them up under a free license provide an extra boost? Maybe, but then maybe I just killed all future sales. Hard to say.

Most of the money I was ever going to make happened at the beginning, the long tail isn't proving that profitable. Sales over the years have at least paid for the time I spent creating the family so I'm happy with the overall return, but there's clearly not much left to lose now so I'm willing to experiment a little.

Share and enjoy.

Note: if you're having trouble downloading the full files, it's not just you. Downloads appear to be getting cut off halfway through. Lots of data transfer is making weird things happen; I'm looking into it.