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Citing an Image is Not Enough!

I am thrilled to see so many students creating blog posts and going BEYOND “writing” text made up letters, words, sentences and paragraphs. Being able to “read” and “write” in other media is part of becoming fluent in media literacy. In addition to media literacy, knowing your rights and responsibilities as an ethical digital citizen is a vital part of participating in our digital world.

My frustration with educators not knowing about observing copyright when producing content online was expressed in a previous post titled  No! You Can’t Just Take It!. I see sprinkled attempts of students trying to “do the right thing”, but coming up short many times. This is all part of the process for students, but frustrating when they do not receive any feedback from a teacher of how to correct the behavior.

Would it be helpful to create “What if scenarios” for teachers and students to follow?  Could we crowdsource a few more examples? Leave another scenario (also student using, inserting or embedding different media) in the comment section or by writing your own blog post and then leaving the link in the comment.

Take a look at the example below:
A student used an image for his blog post. He/She links to the source of the image.

When we follow the link, we are taken to Flickr, an image sharing platform. Flickr hosts many Creative Commons images, but NOT all are licensed under Creative Commons. By scrolling down, we find out that the image is indeed COPYRIGHT protected.
The student does not have permission by the owner to copy the image and place it on his/her blog. It does not make it “right” by simply linking to the copyrighted image.



What should the student do to practice and act like a responsible and ethical digital citizen?
First thing to do is to remove the image that is infringing on the owner’s copyright.The students has several choices. They could try to contact the owner of the image and ask for permission to use it on their blogfolio or… if he/she does not have enough time to wait to for a response…
Continue to search for an appropriate image that is indeed licensed under Creative Commons.

The student could find a similar image on Flickr…
Check that it is indeed licensed under Creative Commons… and then attribute it properly

“Image licensed under Creative Commons by tq2cute – http://www.flickr.com/photos/tq2cute/6384672459


Currently there are "18 comments" on this Article:

  1. […] Citing an Image is NOT enough. Help crowdsource scenarios to help teachers and students langwitches.org/blog/2013/11/0… […]

  2. […] Citing an Image is Not Enough! @langwitches (I sure need examples!) langwitches.org/blog/2013/11/0… […]

  3. Another of the things I think we CAN do to help students with this problem is to encourage them to create their own images. There are web apps and iPad apps that facilitate this. It makes such good sense that I am tending more and more to do it as a blogger myself.

    • @Susan,
      I agree 100%. Encouraging our students to create their own media to use in digital spaces needs to be part of the equation. I am also encouraging them to think about supporting Creative Commons when they create by releasing their “creations” into the CC pool for others to remix.

  4. The crazy part, Silvia, is that most teachers would argue that teaching kids how to use digital media fairly isn’t necessary simply because “students and teachers don’t have to follow copyright laws.”

    I constantly push back against that thinking in my work, saying, “Your kids won’t be students forever. Why not teach them to use digital content fairly. It’s just not that hard to do!”

    Until we get teachers to recognize just how easy it is to find and cite images fairly, it’s going to be tough to change this sad reality.

    Thanks for the reminder,

    • @Bill
      I try to take the same approach, when reminding teachers and librarians, that teaching search and citations mostly with databases, academic journals and APA or MLA, does not necessarily do students a service. They will most likely, when leaving University NEVER have access to paid databases again, nor the need to cite APA or MLA style, unless they work in Academia or write a book. The vast majority will be publishing on YouTube, Facebook or their own web space. No need for APA or MLA.

      I am receiving the same push back from teachers and students that they can use everything by relying on “fair use” in education. The hard thing to explain is that this does not apply when you are disseminating the work beyond your own classroom walls to a global audience via digital spaces.

  5. Silvia,
    This post could not have come at a better time as I have been talking about this exact thing with my students the last couple weeks. It’s hard for them to understand at first why they cannot just “google” an image and take it. I try to make the connection with them through some analogies: I’ll ask them if when they walk down the hall and they see jackets hanging on the coat racks if they are able to just take one they like; or ask them about taking things from the supermarket shelves and walking out the door with them, or I’ll walk through the classroom taking things from their desks so I can use them. I’ll tell them that these things of theirs are all out there for me to see while I browse around so why shouldn’t I be able to take them? In contrast, I’ll ask about things the teacher has out for everyone to use like the extra pencils, markers, etc. They come to the difference- some things are meant for everyone (the pencil, marker example), some things are other people’s and you need either permission (desk or coat rack example), or you need to buy them (supermarket example). From there I give them the option to use specific sites like wpclipart, flickrcc, or pics4learning; or I tell them they can draw or photograph their own. The best was the other day when a student had been the photographer for a class trip and everyone used her images for their blog posts. They gave her photo credit and she was pretty excited!

    • @Debra,
      I have used similar examples to illustrate, no you can’t take the image… it is like walking into the candy store and taking any candy you like without paying for it….
      the push back is… You are not taking the original… after you copy an image, the original is still there… so it is not like your are stealing it….

      How do you go against that kind of reasoning?
      Take a look at this point of view criticizing Creative Commons?

      • If your students understand the definition of copyright, they wouldn’t make such a silly argument.

        Copyright does not mean physical ownership of a product. Copyright means owning the right to control copying of that product.

        Think of this analogy: An individual can own a $100 bill printed by the government but is prohibited from making own copies of that $100 bill for his own use. The government owns the copy(ing) rights and thus can legally control who may legally make copies. Even putting “The United States of America” across the top of copies they make of a $100 bill is not enough to keep someone from being charged with counterfeiting.

        Many products are practically valueless as one-of-a-kind items. Their originator can profit from them only by selling copies. Depriving an originator from actual or potential proceeds from a product is stealing that person’s income. The copyright holder does not have to prove the infringement resulted in monetary loss; the person who infringed on the copyright does not have to have profited monetarily from the theft.

        • @Linda,

          Thank you for your comment and sharing the analogy. We need more kinds of these analogies to combat the “reasoning” behind copyright infringement, especially in education when fair use is mostly used as a means to avoid having to deal with the issue.

  6. […] We need more scenarios to MODEL good ethical behavior. Please contribute – Citing an image is not ENOUGH!- langwitches.org/blog/2013/11/0… […]

  7. Silvia,

    I recently spoke to a Digital Photography class about plagiarism, copyright, and fair use. In addition to mentioning some of the points mentioned in your post, I urged them to begin sharing their original work with some sort of CC licensing. This will help them build a positive digital footprint, get critical feedback from outside the classroom, and create a virtual portfolio they can use in college and professionally.

    • @Diane,
      Thank you for encouraging Creative Commons. I believe if we support the growth of Creative Commons among students, they will experience first hand the sense of digital ownership in addition to the benefits (you mention) of building a digital footprint and valuable feedback.

  8. […] Citing an Image is Not Enough! | Langwitches Blog […]

  9. John Smith says:

    It is better to get inspired from some existing photograph and creating own picture and photograph using imagination and creativity with also improve the creativity of student it also gives a feeling of accomplishment and encourage students do more better work if their genuine work got some praise.

  10. […] Langwitch’s blog is all about LANGUAGES! It provides a fabulous resource about language. In this blog there are tips and tricks to using technology in the classroom. I enjoyed reading a blog post about copyrights on the internet. I was very insightful and enlightening about this topic. Read it! You won’t be disappointed. […]

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