Images on a Website are NOT Public Domain
It is essential that our students are able to communicate digitally and visually. However, this also means we need to ensure that students really understand copyright, fair use, creative commons, and public domain. There is a pervasive feeling that anything on the Internet is free, it’s not. If you did not write it; If you did not take the picture; If you did not create it: IT IS NOT YOURS.
Being ignorant of copyright law will not keep you safe from being sued.
Purdue University copyright infringement information.
Copyright exceptions for instructional use.
This organization paid $3000 penalty for using a photo they did not own.
The Educators Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons
Copyright, Fair Use & the Creative Commons: Tutorials from Stonybrook University
From the University of Rhode Island: Fair Use and Copyright for Online Education: Examples: Images
I was literally told by a reporter who used my images without asking that since it was on my website she thought it would be okay to use. Actually, the opposite. When we put content on our websites we are sharing the information but not giving it away for others to use as they please. Unless the website has a Creative Commons license on it, all content on the blog, including images, is not available for free.
Giving credit is still theft.
Sometimes I hear “but I gave you credit.” Credit is not the same as permission. Yes, if you use content that you did not personally create, you should give credit. However, simply giving credit is insufficient. You also need to ensure that the person who did create the content is okay with you using it.
“If anyone says anything, I will take it down.” All that proves is you know you did not have the rights to use it. “Oh sorry” is not an acceptable use policy.
“I didn’t make any money off of it.” Still not yours. You didn’t make it. It’s not yours.
The creator of the content has the right to decide how the content is used, displayed and distributed.
There Are Free Things on the Internet
Check that the images you use actually are Creative Commons. And you must ALSO give credit. Check the type of Creative Commons license. It may or may not allow you to make modifications. Check, make sure you have permission and cite it.
If you use images.google.com assume all the images are under copyright and you can NOT use them. Google Images does NOT host any of the images, they simply search for them. Citing “Google Images” is completely wrong. You must locate the source of the image and YOURSELF check the permissions to see if it is Creative Commons or public domain. Click on “Tools” in Google Images allows you to sort by “Usage rights.” Even if it is labeled for reuse, you must CHECK for yourself. Robots determined the image was allowed for reuse, verify yourself. Labeling for reuse still requires credit so simply downloading from Google Images is not acceptable. Go to the source.
If you are looking for photos try photosforclass.com. They provide images that are Creative Commons and place the attribution on the image.
If you go to Flickr, the images are under copyright. After doing an image search, click on “Any license” and change to one of the licenses that allow for use with credit. I like to make a joke when I do a presentation showing Flickr “And now watch all the good pictures disappear.” That “perfect” picture that you just saw and wanted to use was possibly under copyright and you can not use it. Just because it was “the perfect one” is not justifiable to steal it. You didn’t have permission, you can pout about it, but then figure out something else. OR contact the photo owner, which might not be easy and you probably will not get a response. This does not mean you can use it anyway. “I asked, they did not respond” means you can not use it. “I do not know who owns the photo” means you can not use it.
Digital Citizenship and Safety Course
The Google Training Center provides, amongst other courses, a digital citizenship, and safety course. This course does not provide instruction in copyright, creative commons or image usage. However, the course is a good first step in digital citizenship with students.