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copyright : Are We There Yet?

Tackling Copyright Issues with Flickr Storm

August 17, 2008 · Posted in citizenship, graphics, Tools · 6 Comments 

In my classroom, we deal with digital images on a daily basis. They end up in our digital videos, PowerPoint stacks, blogs, and posters. My “Teaching with Technology” students are required to have Flickr accounts to organize and share their photos, and we spend a lot of time learning how to resize and repurpose images for different media.

A couple of well-chosen search terms entered to Google will return a plethora of images on any imaginable topic. And therein lies the problem; it’s so easy to find the images that we want that we tend to forget that every image published on the web is copyrighted. In order to legally use that image outside of the classroom, we must have permission of the copyright owner.

As a teacher of teachers, I feel doubly responsible about modeling the right behavior for my post-secondary students. I need to make sure that my teacher candidates know the copyright ropes so that they can properly instruct their students when they become teachers. That’s why I love Flickr Storm.

Flickr Storm is a web-based service that allows you to search Flickr for photos by license. The key is to use the Advanced menu for all of your searching.

When you click the Advanced menu link, you are presented with a drop-down menu with a choice of license types. The majority of photos posted to Flickr are licensed under the “Attribution” agreement, meaning that you can use the photo in a commercial or non-commercial project as long as you give credit to the copyright owner.

There are many other nice features of Flickr Storm. The attribution URL is clearly shown so that you can copy/paste the attribution information into your project. You can create an online library (a “tray” in Storm lingo) of found images on a topic with a URL that you can share with others if you want.

Using Flickr Storm for searches helps me call attention to copyright issues with my students, provides them with a rich source of usable images for their projects, and gives credit to the copyright owners for their work. It’s an essential element of working with digital images.

Smithsonian Images Database

March 3, 2008 · Posted in graphics, Teaching 2.0, Tools · 1 Comment 

Finding images for use in school settings is always an interesting exercise. Aside from the very obvious question of appropriateness of the image, there are questions of copyright, image resolution, and image authenticity. Google image searches and Flickr are wonderful tools, but there can be a significant amount of sifting through extraneous material to find just what you want, and the question of whether or not it’s legal to use that image can hinder the progress of a project.

barite crystalThat’s why resources such as Smithsonian Images are so useful for educators. Images are of very high quality, can be easily verified as authentic, and include a copyright license that allows for fair use for personal, school, or non-commercial use as long as proper credit is given when images are used. (Speaking of which, the image at left is a barite specimen photographed by Laurie Minor-Penland in 1995.)

As you might expect from the Smithsonian Institution, images are tracked by categories that are very useful to educators. The default categories are:

– Air and Space
– American History
– Animals
– Fireworks
– Gems and Minerals
– History of Technology
– Marine Life
– Military History
– Nature
– The Presidency
– Transportation
– Washington, DC

Other categories are available, and there is an excellent search engine on the site.


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