September 14, 2015
Already, some of you are wanting to use images in your blog posts, and I’ve given you the short version. But Copyright Law is an important part of digital citizenship and knowing it keeps you out of trouble and makes you feel smart. We’ll run through a slide presentation put together by the Student Press Law Center that explains Copyright Law, and some ways to get around it under Fair Use.
You have a few options when adding images to your posts. The best way of avoiding any copyright infringement is to create your own images. Take your own photographs with a camera or your phone, upload them to your device (phone or computer) and add them to your posts. If you have artistic ability, either by hand or digitally, you can create images in pen (scan and upload) or in PhotoShop, InDesign or Illustrator or other applications, convert to .jpg and add those.
But if you really want to find something online, you need to understand how to find images that are in the Public Domain or have Creative Commons licenses. Items in the Public Domain have either had their copyright run out and not renewed (think Shakespeare), or their creators just issued them right into the Public Domain, retaining no license or rights. Other creators use CC licenses, which allow people to use their work, while they retain some of the rights and ask for attribution.
The best sources I have found for Creative Commons images are:
Wikimedia Commons: Wikimedia is an open source of free educational content that is contributed to by others. What I like about Wikimedia Commons is that it encourages participation with monthly challenges. Are you a photographer? This month, it’s fossils.
Flickr: Flickr is an app you can sign up with through Yahoo, but in the last year or so, that’s not a requirement. Even without signing up or signing in, you can put a topic in the search bar and images will come up. You can filter your search by usage rights in the upper left. Beneath the photo will be the information you need for attribution: the title (if there is one), the author and a link to the type of license. Hang onto this info. If you plan to download one of these and use it, you’ll need the attribution information.
Pixabay: Much like Flickr, Pixabay has a search bar and many images. You don’t have to have an account, and images are free, but they like donations. When you pull up a group of images, you’ll note that the top rows have a Shutterstock watermark on them. These cost money, but all the ones below that I have ever clicked on are in the Public Domain. You can download, note the author, but instead of a license, you note Public Domain.
Photopin: This is a new one I found as I was searching for more possibilities. It seems to work much like Flickr and Pixabay, with a search bar, multiple images, download capability and licensing information, but I found the loading of the pages a bit annoying. As the images load, they move around – very disconcerting. And, what you put in the search bar, “dancing”, might really only apply to a few of the images. The rest seem like people’s random images. I imagine more specific keywords, like “cupcake” might elicit better images. They promote themselves as “free images for bloggers and creatives”, so it seems promising, but I haven’t used this site personally.
Once you have selected and downloaded your image, save it to a server folder. If we haven’t set up a folder for you in the server, now is the time. This is where you can keep notes and items you download for class. Add the image to your post (I put mine above with a line break before my text begins). Then you’ll have the option for captioning information. In the captioning box, attribute the photo, following the TASL format: Title, Author, Source and License.
Title: When you click to download your photo, there is usually, but not always, a title for the photo. It may be a simple slug, like “traffic light”.
Author: This is the owner of the image. Sometimes it’s a full name; sometimes it’s a username.
Source: Where did you get the photo? Pixabay? Flickr? I usually follow the owners’ name with “via Flickr”.
License: Depending on the source, the license may be clear on the download page or you may need to click on a link to take you to it. The link might say “some rights reserved”. What you see will be something like CC by NC 2.0 or similar.
Once you add the photo and caption information, you can highlight portions to add links just like you do in the body copy. Highlight the Title and add the URL info in the link box that will take the reader to the photo on the source where you found it. Then highlight the licensing part of the caption and add the link URL that takes the reader to the licensing information for the photo.
After adding category and tagging information and proofreading ONE MORE TIME, you are ready to publish.
What to do with all this image, copyright and creative commons information?
Here’s your assignment: This week you will write your “About Me” biography information. In a paragraph or two tell about yourself, leaving out information that is too personal or that would provide location or other information that isn’t necessary to readers, but that could create privacy problems for you. Talk about your interests, goals in general and goals for the blog. Use humor, if that’s your thing or imagery or be straight to the point. If you feel lost on this, go read other bloggers’ About pages. They vary greatly. Post a photo of yourself, but it doesn’t have to be a portrait or a dead-on selfie. Be creative. How about part of your face? Or your image with a filter added? How about a photo of your hand on your knee or of your feet. Think anonymity. Or don’t. Your choice.
Next, write a blog post about something you are interested in. Do you have a passion? Are you interested in sports? Arts? Cooking? Animals? Favorite TV series? Stand-up comedians? All things green? Do you want to save the planet? Save the manatee? Raise awareness of the rights of midget ponies?
Find something to inspire you and organize a piece of writing about it. Draft in Google docs, share with a peer or two, revise if good suggestions are made, then share with me. Remember that your readers will be from anywhere, and there is nothing but your wit and intelligence to keep them from clicking away to another blog. How will you hold your readers’ attention? Invite them to comment in your close. Start a conversation.
Whatever your topic, find an image to use in the Creative Commons and attribute correctly according to the above instructions.