Monday, June 6, 2011

What I need to do vs What I have time to do

Drawing by MissSophieMac
Last week I taught a workshop on finding images for presentations and research, that also explores digital image copyright, including creative commons licenses. It's hands-on and I showed people how to refine their google image or flickr search to things that can be reused (among other things). Part of this process is explaining how the licenses work in relation to educational use and how things should be used and attributed according to the license. Last week one of the students wanted to know the definitive answer on copyright - "what do I have to do" and the answer "that depends", did not please her. If anyone knows anything about copyright it's that there are no definitive answers. This frustrated the student who just wanted to know what they have to do! I said you should only use images according to their license and attribute any you use by the way of a link etc. somewhere in the presentation and she said "but is that what I have to do? Or just what I should do?" I was perplexed by this question and she continued "because it's going to take me much longer to attribute all the images I use and I don't have time". This was the crux of the situation. The right answer vs the right now answer. While we might aspire to be ethical digital citizens in reality we've all used images off the web that we didn't attribute when we were in a hurry. There is no way to stop this and saying 'because you really should' isn't going to cut it! Anyway, I told her to do her best and things ran smoothly after that but it did challenge me to think about how I explain the importance of copyright when the educational use clause makes it seem so vague. Something I didn't share with the students: one way I get around this if I can't find an image that adequately depicts what I'm trying to convey - draw it yourself. Always an option! I've seen many great conference presentations recently featuring hand drawn graphics! Maybe the next top trend?


  1. Sophie - that sounds like a great quick answer.
    When working with students I used to use the arguments of either making sure you don't get marked down for plagerism, or the fact that others may then do the same with their work.
    These were arguments that seemed to relate to them at their particular point in time. Perhaps useful?

  2. Another great post. I think you've hit on some decent responses here. I madly photograph anything and everything now and shove a good selection up on Flickr (under CC licenses). That gives me a good selection of my own images to use where ever I am to illustrate different points. I think that exhibitions like Sculpture By The Sea always gives you endless images to use for all types of needs. As they say in the classics: "share and share alike".

  3. Great article! It reminds me of when I was a classroom teacher - I wanted to show kids how to WORK THINGS OUT for themselves. They just got frustrated because they didn't want to work things out, they only wanted to know WHAT TO WRITE IN THE EXAM!