CopyWRONG and Frustrated…

I just read “Getty Images Suing You for Copyright Infringement Over Photos for Blog?” by Meron Bareket. After scouring the internet today for information about copyright laws for print and digital media to boil down to a useful, accessible guide for myself and my students, I was left quite frustrated and even more confused than ever.

Even copyrightforkids.org didn’t really help all that much because it didn’t offer any solutions to the fundamental reason WHY people right-click when they shouldn’t – where do we GET things we can use, anyway?!

I found Meron Bareket’s article, and it really helped put things in perspective…at first. His interview with the CEO of Image Bank Israel, a delegate for Getty Images in her region was quite enlightening. I’m not going to quote her directly here (copyright?), but she basically said, “If you didn’t make it, you need to get permission to use it.” That’s simple enough and something I can teach my students.

This fact, however, raises a lot of issues. So we can’t use any images or videos on our blogs if we didn’t make them? Even if we link and credit them? The rules apparently are that even if you credit the source of the media, different licenses will allow you to share and/or modify and some don’t. Therefore, before you link, you have to think: What kind of copyright license does this have? If it’s not under a CC license, who do I write to get permission to use this? Or maybe you just can’t use it because you can’t find the contact information in the first place.

His article even warns against using photos in the public domain on sites like Flickr because third-party violations are still violations. You didn’t steal it, but someone else did, so now you’re at fault too. So, where do we get images to enhance our work?

I was inspired to comment on his blog and share my thoughts and frustrations about this topic:

Dear Meron,

First, thank you posting this article! I’m a teacher who teaches 4th and 5th grade. I’m 32-years-old and grew up with computers. I’m no tech expert, but I get around! Two years ago, I attended an Edtech workshop, and it was only then, that I heard about potentials for copyright infringement with Google images. It got a brief mention in the workshop, and the presenter showed us how to use Google Advanced Search to filter for license use. Is this a viable way to search for images I and my students can use?

We do a lot of blogging in the classroom, and I’m a blogger myself. They write articles, research papers, and book reviews and often want to include images to enhance their work. I should have done this two years ago, but now I’ve really started researching copyright laws because I’m new to blogging in the public domain, and we will be looking at making student blogs public next year (we operated on a closed, password-protected network last year).

The information I’ve found so far is confusing, seemingly contradictory and very frustrating. I’m trying to encourage my students to see the internet as a friendly place to share and learn. Part of the appeal of the internet is the ease that you can find content to enhance your own work.  It is not always possible or time-effective for them to create their own images. If a child wants to include a map of Greece in his website report about it, I want to say YES! Of course, do what you can to make your project better.

It’s looking more and more after my research, however, that I should be saying, No. Since Fair Use laws are so slippery, and it’s not a sure thing EVEN if you are using creative commons images for educational purposes, what do we do? And Shutterstock? Try $250 a month to download images. That won’t work for us.

I have to say, that I understand why artists are upset that people are using their images without permission, but I’d like to present this view. If 85% of images on the net are unlicensed, doesn’t that indicate an education problem, rather than a criminal one? Since metaphors have been thrown around, how about this one: Would you be angry with a child for peeing his pants if he was never potty-trained? If we’re not properly educating people about the no-no’s of the right-click, how can we be surprised that infringement is so rampant? Also, if we made free content people could use easier to access (and confirm that it’s indeed free), than there would be no NEED to infringe.

So, I’m trying to help! I’m starting with 9 and 10-year-olds and teaching them about plagiarism of print media and citing sources (books and web), and now I’m going to start teaching them about copyright infringement for images as well. SO…here’s the big question, how do I provide standards and guidelines to 10-year-olds about what we need to do? Where do they find public domain images easily and for free? The value to everyone else is that if we can figure out a comprehensive way to do this, and a 10-year-old can do it, then everyone else won’t have any excuses!

We also need to get together and discuss the gray areas with digital media because there are a LOT. For example, I searched using “free to use, share and modify” in Google images and found a colorful abstract design I wanted to use on my blog. After reading this post, I reverse searched the image and found it used on hundreds of sites, which is fine, but….the image came from Flickr, and it’s actually a photograph of an art installation at the Denver Art Museum! Is that legal? He took the picture, but it’s of someone else’s art…!

In the end, I think we have to think about three things before getting angry, and before copyright infringement will get any better:

Education is needed.

Open discussion about gray areas is needed.

More free resources are needed.

Anyone out there want to start a free image bank for students and teachers with me?  

Anyone willing to donate? 🙂

In the end, Meron Bareket promised to write another post that would reveal how to use Flickr to find photos legal to use. I looked for it, but wasn’t able to find it. Instead, I found another article that goes into the issue of “release.” You may have taken the photo, but if you didn’t get the person’s permission, you could get in trouble.” Same with famous buildings, pets, kids, etc.

Sigh. Again, 0 options.

Doomed to be CopyWRONG no matter what!

I HATE brick walls, so I’ll keep researching, but for now, my head is sore, so I’m going to avoid using images and sharing content until I can get a better handle on this.

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