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Welcome to the seventh step in our free professional learning series on class and student blogging!

The aim of this step is to:

  1. Discuss copyright, fair use, and using images on blogs.
  2. Introduce you to Creative Commons.
  3. Explain how to find and add Creative Commons images to posts.
  4. Define free and public domain images, and explain how to source them.


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Intro to copyright, fair use, and images in posts

You can’t just use any image you like in a blog post.

Why? Because unless stated otherwise, the law automatically grants full “copyright” over any creative work a person makes.

Using images
Dexter the cat hates those that steal his photos…

You may be thinking it’s okay because as educators, we have a few more flexible rules, called “Fair Use”, to play by.

Fair use, in some cases, means you may have more flexible copyright rules if an image, text, video, etc. is being used for educational purposes.

The trouble is, most of the laws and rules that cover fair use and education were written well before the invention of the web. They don’t apply to use of copyright material on the internet. Using copyright material leaves you open to copyright infringement.

So what does this mean?

You need to:

  1. Learn what images you are and aren’t allowed to use, and why.
  2. Learn how to correctly attribute images you are allowed to use.
  3. Educate your students that you can’t just use any images online on your blogs (or other digital work).
  4. Show them how to source and attribute images they are allowed to use.

Understanding digital copyright is an essential skill we need to understand and teach our students.

Refer to The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons for comprehensive information on the use of images, curriculum docs, text and quotes, music, and videos.

The safest way to source images for your blog is to either:

  • Use Creative Commons images.
  • Use free (Creative Commons Zero) or public domain images.
  • Use your own photos or use images you’ve created.


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Including The Source Is Not Enough

A situation we commonly see on blogs is where someone uses an image they found online and then include a link to the site they got it from.

For example,

Image from Kathleen Morris kathleenamorris.com

Just because you link to the source of an image, does not mean you can use it. You would need to ask the image creator for permission.

Read on to find out about Creative Commons and ways you can find images to use — legally and ethically.

Intro to Creative Commons

Creative Commons, founded in 2001, is an organization that provides free content licenses that people can apply to their work. These are known as Creative Commons licenses.

When you license your work with Creative Commons, you are allowing people to use it without having to ask permission, provided they use it in the manner stated in your Creative Commons license.

The reason people use Creative Commons licenses is to make it easier for everyone to share and adapt creative work without the concern of copyright infringement.

Watch this video on Creative Commons.

Creative Commons licenses are used for books, websites, blogs, photographs, films, videos, songs, and other audio and visual recordings.

If an image, or website, doesn’t include a Creative Commons license, or isn’t public domain work, or doesn’t indicate that the content is free to use, then it is automatically implied that all content is copyright and you shouldn’t use it! Put simply — unless stated otherwise, it is copyright.

There are websites that provide public domain images that are free to use, or have their own free to use licensing, but you need to make sure you follow their terms and conditions of use.

For those wondering, unless a blogger includes a Creative Commons license, all content on that blog is automatically the copyright of the blogger.

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Creative Commons Licenses

There are several different types of Creative Commons licenses people use depending on what restriction(s) they want to apply to their work.

Here is a quick summary of the different types of Creative Commons licenses:

Attribution CC BY

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), remix (to adapt the work) and use it for commercial purposes provided you attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

Attribution-NoDerivs

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) and use it for commercial purposes provided you do not alter, transform or build upon the work and you attribute it in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike               

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) and remix (to adapt the work) provided it isn’t used for commercial purposes, you attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor and you distribute it under the same license.

Attribution-ShareAlike               

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) and remix (to adapt the work) and use it for commercial purposes provided if you alter, transform or build upon the work provided you distribute it under the similar license. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

Attribution-NonCommercial               

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) and remix (to adapt the work) provided it isn’t used for commercial purposes.  You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs               

Allowed to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work) provided you do not alter, transform or build upon the work or use it for commercial purposes and you attribute it in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

Confused About Licenses?

If you want to add a Creative Commons license to your own work and you’re not sure what one you should add, try this license chooser tool. It also gives you the right license graphic to use.

Watch this video for a summary of the different Creative Commons licenses.


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Flickr Creative Commons Images

One of the most common sources of Creative Commons images used by bloggers is Flickr (an online photo sharing website).

Unfortunately, it is often assumed the Flickr images are licensed under Creative Commons and are allowed to be used. This isn’t the case.

  • Images marked as “All Rights Reserved” are copyrighted and require permission from the person who uploaded it to Flickr.
  • Images with “Some rights reserved” means the Flickr user has applied a Creative Commons license to their photo and you can use the image in the manner specified by the license.

If you look at images directly on Flickr always check to see which license applies to ensure you only use the image in the manner specified by the license.

The license is listed below the image.

For those you might be allowed to use, click on “Some rights reserved” for further explanation.

Flickr Licence

This takes you to the Creative Commons license where you can read how you are allowed to use the image.

Creative Commons

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Finding Creative Commons Images

A useful option for finding Flickr Creative Commons images is to use one of the great Flickr Search Engines.

Compfight

Compfight

Compfight is one of the most popular Flickr Search engines. It provides a range of search options including search by tags only vs. all the text, licenses, the option to show or hide originals, and turn on/off the safe content filter.

All images above the line returned by your Compfight search are professional stock photos — they aren’t free to use.  Those below the line are Flickr Photos.

Which images can be used

Photos for Class

Photos for Class

Photos for Class is a student friendly place for searching safe images from Creative Commons Flickr (and more recently, Pixabay Safe Search).

The downloaded images include attribution of the photographer and the image license terms.

Multicolr Search Lab

multicolor search

Multicolr Search Lab allows you to search Flickr images by color. This is a handy tool when you’re trying to match specific colors. All you need to do is select up to 5 colors.

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Creative Commons And Image Attribution

It’s a requirement of all Creative Commons Licenses that you attribute the original author. This means you can’t just use a Creative Commons image without correctly acknowledging the person who originally created it.

Within or at the end your blog post you must:

  • attribute the image,
  • include their copyright information,
  • and you should link the photo back to its original photo page.

Here’s an example of image attribution:

Pink Cake

Photo by Chotda licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.


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Adding Images From Compfight To Posts

Here are two options for finding Creative Commons images:

  1. Compfight plugin – is a quick tool on all Edublogs Pro and CampusPress blogs to find and add Creative Commons images with attribution.
  2. Compfight website – if you don’t have access to the Compfight plugin then you can search for Creative Commons images on their website and upload the images to your post.

How to add a photo using the Compfight plugin

1. Go to Plugins > All

All Plugins

2. Activate the Compfight plugin.

Activate

3.  Go to Posts > Add New

Add New

4. Place your cursor where you want the image to appear and then click on the Compfight icon.

Compfight icon

5.  Add your search term and click Search.

Add search term

6.  Click on S (Small), M (Medium), L (Large), or F (Full size) to add the image to your post with proper Creative Commons attribution.

Click on size

7. Your image will insert into your post and should look like the example below!

  • If you click on the image or linked text below you are taken to the original photo page where you can read the Creative Commons license.

The sound of red

Peter Thoeny – Quality HDR Photography via Compfight

How To Add A Photo Using The Compfight Website

(Use this method if you don’t have access to the Compfight plugin):

1. Go to Compfight.

2.  Add your search term and then click Enter.

Add search term

3.  Click on Creative Commons on the search results page.

Click on Creative commons

4.  Click on the Creative Commons image you want to use (from below the line).

You can only use an image from below the line. All images above the line are professional stock photos and can only be used if you purchase them.

Which images can be used

5. This launches a pop up image window.

Image window

6.  Click on ‘Download‘ next to the size you want to use to download it onto your computer.

Click on Download

7.  Copy the HTML with the attribution information.

Copy the code

8.  Go to Posts > Add New

Add New

9. Place your cursor where you want the image to appear and then click on the Add Media icon.

Click an Add Media

10.  In the Add Media window click on the Upload files and then Select Files.

Add media

11.  Find the photo you downloaded on your computer and then click Open to start uploading the image.

12. While your image is uploading you will see a progress bar.

13.  Once the image has uploaded paste the HTML code into the caption field. This is the attribution information.

Paste the code

14.  Select the size you want to insert from the drop-down menu next to ‘Size‘ in the attachment display settings.

Select Size

13.  Click Insert into Post.

14. Your image will insert into your post and should look like the example below with the photo credit below it!

Photo Credit: Dustpuppy72 Flickr via Compfight cc


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Free And Public Domain Images

There are websites that provide public domain images that are free to use, or have their own free to use licensing.

Some of these are licensed with a Creative Commons Zero license. This is the least restrictive Creative Commons license and means there are no restrictions on use and no attribution required (although it can be polite to still attribute a Creative Commons Zero image).

Public domain works are those works that:

  1. Automatically enter the public domain when created because they are not copyrightable.
  2. Their copyright has expired.
  3. Their creator has assigned their work to the public domain.

Public domain images are free and available for unrestricted use.

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Attributing Free And Public Domain Images

Public domain images and free to use images may not have a strict legal requirement of attribution, depending on the jurisdiction of content reuse, and depending on the terms and conditions of use of content from the website, but attribution is recommended to give correct provenance for most of these sites.

This means within or at the end your blog post it is recommended to attribute the image, include their copyright information and link the photo back to it’s original photo page.

Here’s a list of free and public domain websites:

All the images on Pixabay and Unsplash are Creative Commons Zero. They do not require any attribution and can be modified.

You need to refer to the terms and conditions on the other websites to see if attribution is needed and how it is meant to be added.

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Add Image From Pixabay

Here is how to add an image from Pixabay:

1. Go to Pixabay

2.  Enter your search term and press Enter.

Add search term

3.  Click on the image you want to use (you can’t use any image in the sponsored images row).

4.  This takes you to the image page.

5.  Click on Free Download, select the size you want to download and then click Download. Save the image to your computer.

Click on Download

6.  Go to Posts > Add New

Add New

7. Place your cursor where you want the image to appear and then click on the Add Media icon.

Click an Add Media

8.  In the Add Media window click on the Upload files and then Select Files.

Add media

9.  Find the photo you downloaded on your computer and then click Open to start uploading the image.

10.  Select the size you want to insert from the drop-down menu next to ‘Size‘ in the attachment display settings.

Select Size

11.  Click Insert into Post.

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More Sources Of Free And Public Domain Images

Here are some good free and public domain image websites to use with students:

Pixabay

Pixabay

Pixabay is a curated repository for finding and sharing public domain images.  All of the images on Pixabay can be used freely in digital and printed format, for personal and commercial use. Attribution to the original author is not required.

Openclipart

openclipart

Openclipart is a gallery of clip art images that have been released into the public domain that can be used freely, for personal and commercial use, without attribution.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository for public domain and freely-licensed educational media content, including images, sound and video clips.

Images and other media on Wikimedia Commons are almost all under some kind of free license (usually public domain, CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, or GFDL (GNU Free Documentation license).

Clicking on an image or media file on Wikimedia Commons takes you to the information page for that file. This is where you’ll find the information supplied by the uploader, including the copyright status, the copyright owner, and the license conditions.

The following image from Wikimedia Commons is license under GNU Free Documentation and Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0.

License information

The Commons

Flickr Commons

The Commons was set up to help share photos and images from the World’s public photography archives.  There are over 56 institutions contributing images to The Commons.

A special rights statement — ‘No known copyright restrictions’ — was created to provide a copyright framework allowing institutions to add their photos to Flickr Commons and define how the public could use their work through their own rights statement.

Once you’ve located an image on The Commons you should click on the ‘No known copyright restrictions’ beneath the image.

This takes you to the Rights Statement for the Institution who supplied the image.  This is where you’ll find information on how the institution would like the image to be attributed.

Attribution

Below is an example of attributing an image from The Commons.

River Cave, Margaret River [Western Australia, 2] [Frank Hurley] Courtesy of the National Library of Australia
River Cave, Margaret River [Western Australia, 2] [Frank Hurley] Courtesy of the National Library of Australia
Getty Open Content images

Getty Open Content

Getty Open Content images are all available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose. No permission is required.

The Getty requests that you use the following source credit when reproducing an image:

Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Here’s an example of attributing an image from Getty’s open content program.

Vincent van Gogh [Dutch, 1853 - 1890], Irises, Dutch, 1889, Oil on canvas, Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.
Vincent van Gogh [Dutch, 1853 – 1890], Irises, Dutch, 1889, Oil on canvas, Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.
Getty Images

Getty Images

Getty Images is an American Stock photo agency which allows their images to be used for free for non-commercial use. Getty Images have no relationship with the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Getty Open Content images.

Once you have found an image on Getty Images you can embed it into a post or page using their embed code


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Using Your Own Images

The alternative options for sourcing images from other websites are to upload your own photos or create images using online tools.

Image editing tool

Here are some ideas for creating your own images:

  1. Comic Generators like ToonDoo
  2. Photo Editors like Befunkyfd’s Flickr Tools
  3. Tag Cloud Creators such as Wordle or WordArt.com
  4. Fun photo tools CutMyPic, Glitterfly, PhotoFunia
  5. Drawing tools like Google Drawings or Auto Draw

Note: Many online tools are 13+ so check the terms and conditions if working with younger students.


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Using Student Photos Online

Even though 99.99% of visitors to your class blog will be well meaning parents, students, community members, or interested visitors from around the world, the unfortunate reality is that those with bad intentions can also visit public sites. There are also cases where the personal background of a student might mean they need more privacy and anonymity than others.

Decisions on whether to use student photographs or not are often about protecting educators from having problems with parents, caregivers, or administrators who have concerns about cyber-predators.

Information that helps someone identify a student should always be shared with care.

Before using any student photos online, even on a private blog, you need to:

  • Find out your school, district or Education Department guidelines for sharing student photos online — make sure you follow these guidelines.
  • Find out if there are forms caregivers and students need to sign to consent to use of student photos online — make sure you have all forms signed by parents or caregivers.
  • Respect the wishes of caregivers and students while understanding consent to use photos can be withdrawn at any time.

Remember it isn’t possible to stop parents, students, and caregivers from downloading photos and sharing them on their social networks, even if you are using a private blog.  If you don’t want a photo shared on a social network then don’t upload the photo.

Our recommendations:

  • Don’t use student photos for avatars. There are many tools available where students can create their own avatars such as those listed on The Student Blogging Challenge.
  • If you do use any photos of students – don’t use their name in the file name and don’t refer to the student by name, even their first name, in the caption under the photo or in the post.
  • Avoid the use of any photos that can identify individual students. A safe compromise is to only use photo taken from behind students. Some teachers also like to add emojis over the students’ faces using tools like Luna Pic (desktop) or various mobile apps.

Here’s an example of the emoji approach from teacher, Rob Kelly.

Refer to We Should Talk – Are You Using Student Photos Online? for examples of student photos that are less likely to cause issues.


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Your Task

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about student blogging by completing the following tasks:

  1. Add a Creative Commons image or public domain image to a post. Or try using any of the tools mentioned in this post. Then leave a comment with a link to your post so we can take a look.
  2. Read through the most recent comments in reply to this step, click on a link to someone else’s post to check out the image they added. Then leave a response to their comment.

 

190 Comments

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  1. This is a pretty useful list, thanks 👍

    I’ll recommend also https://imageric.com with tons of free photos, vectors and videos under CC0 licence (Public Domain).

    • Martin Imageric
  2. I also want to say that hyperlinks will be added as soon as possible. Thank you for communicating with me. I will g the hyperlinks updated.

  3. I want to apologize for it being difficult to see my posts. I can’t figure out how to change the text color. Any tips?

  4. Hi Sue,

    Thanks for referring me to your thorough post! I also have this previous post that shares other sources – http://www.dpresident.net/journeywithtechnology/using-online-images/.

    I have a tendency to use public domain images or images I take myself for my featured image post, because I know that I don’t have to give an attribution for them. I get your point about consistency, and I think attributing everything removes any ambiguity. I must admit to sometimes sticking to the requirements at the expense of ambiguity, however.

  5. Great post! One thing that was not covered that should have been, is the use of models or copyright/Trade Mark items within cc0 photos. While websites like RepublicOfStock.com and flickr cc0 search do provide free images, that does not mean all images can be used for everything. For example if an image contains a models face but doesn’t have a model release agreement and you use the image for something controversial, that model has the right to take legal action. The same is true of using an image that contains a known product or brand. That product or brand still remains copyright.

  6. I included one of the pictures featured in the last step: “Top 10 Reasons for student blogging” in my welcome page. I provided the source and linked the name to the original.

    I think copyright is an important issue to be tackled with the students. We do research projects that include a lot about referencing, sources and quotes – but very little about online material. This should prove interesting for the students as well.

    • Forestdweller
      • I agree, Forestdweller. With students obtaining many sources online, this is an important discussion to pose on referencing material and understanding copyright.
        You chose a great image from Flickr to supplement your post and acknowledged the author on Flickr. This also introduced me to other images by sylviaduckworth.

    • I really liked your 10 reasons for blogging picture and I used your idea because so many students always ask WHY! 🙂

    • Very good! I believe that showing the importance of following copyright laws can teach our students how much of hard work they must put into the writing and research process.

  7. http://almasiscience.edublogs.org/2016/08/28/motion-sickness/

    Well, this was an eye-opening challenge. I’m certainly not an idiot, but I was incredibly ignorant of photo copyrights – I thought as long as I attributed a photo from the internet, I could use it.

    I’ve now changed the header photo to one that I took in Alaska a few years ago, and a photo in the linked blog post to one that I obtained from photosforclass.com. Thanks for the good lesson!

    • Your header is beautiful! And the explanation I find interesting 🙂

      • Forestdweller
  8. Hello edubloggers!

    I have found all this information about copyright really usegul and it has challenge me to be more carefult with the way I use pictures, so I am really grateful for that.
    Besides, and in order to fulfil the task I have created a new post about reading and I have used a picture from Getty Images which I thought was quite nice. http://tiradelalengua.edublogs.org/2016/09/06/leer-es-un-ritual-2/

    I will be more careful about using photos and illustrations in the future. I am actually a big fan of illustrations… Is there any gallery different to openart you could recommend? Thanks!

  9. Who knew there was so much involved in copyright? I plan to use a lot of my own images, but will references this page as necessary. Thanks for complying it!

    • All this step about copyright has also been quite a surprise for me. I think it will be really good for my students learning to acknowledge others people work. The photo you chose for your post is really suited!

  10. Thank you for this information on copyright, but I wanted to caution you that your treatment of Fair Use is incorrect. Fair Use is not context specific, meaning it applies to both print and online materials. You may be confusing it with the TEACH Act, which has two parts: one for in classroom education experiences, and one for distance or online educational experiences. A Fair Use argument can apply equally as well to the internet as it can to the classroom. The TEACH Act, and its separate protections for classrooms vs online, does not apply to both. This is an important clarification, as Fair Use is an umbrella exception that can be used in any context and with any material. Please don’t limit its use for your readers!

  11. This page was extremely helpful and informative! I do not a specific plan for using clip art at the moment, but when I do I will be referencing this page!

  12. I added a creative commons image from Flickrs, and actually of my own, taken expressly for Edublogs Comment Challenge back in 2008.
    I also left a link to a wiki page where I’ve been collecting several links to creative commons image sites or public domain sites I keep finding through Edublogs, mainly during past Students Challenges.
    I was glad to know about Getty Open Content Images. Thank you!
    Here is my post: http://cadescrita.edublogs.org/2016/08/19/teacher-challenge-4/

    • I like your post. I am still having a hard time creating posts and not just adding to my page…

    • inpi-

      I like how you’ve blogged about the challenges along with the images. What a great way to keep record and reflection of all that we’ve done. Beautiful picture as well!

  13. I made a power point presentation for class and used this picture for my back ground J, G. D. (2015, July 10). Church Silhouette at Dusk. Retrieved from openclipart.org. And the face book logo from this source for a slide in the presentation Facebook. (2013, June 9). Facebook Logo (Square). Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Facebook_logo_(square).png

    -Carolyn

    • Carolyn Garza
  14. I added a photo of a panther (school mascot) to my blog, the link to flickr works (although I can’t get the link to open in a new page) and I added the photo credit text under the photo myself as it didn’t show up from alt text.

    • Hi “Mscoultas”

      We edited your photo to open in a new window, to show you how it is done.

      Open your post in Edit Mode and click on the image.
      Click the edit icon on the image.
      Under Advanced Options, select “Open link in a new tab”

      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

    • Nice! How did you get the page to scroll like that over your image?

  15. I would like to thank you for this awesome post. I am honest: I didn’t know there was such a deep underwater world about images and copyright. Well, yes, I knew you can’t use images for free if they are not yours. But I really didn’t have a clue about Creative Commons. I will for sure re read this post, and keep it safe for my future on the bloggosphere. And publish new posts with your precious suggestions in mind. Thank you again!
    HAVE A HAPPY EASTET IN PEACE, LOVE AND TOLLERANCE
    Mrs. Dorigo
    http://www.matenglishblog.wordpress.com

    • Hi Mrs. Dorigo, and a Happy Easter to you too.

      Your blog is looking really good! I like that you have added Europe specific online safety.

      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

    • Your blog looks great. The image below the navigation really brings emphasis to your blog. We now know where to find and source our images.

  16. I have followed your advice and moved the ’email subscription’ higher up the Widgets.
    I have also uploaded an image from Flickr.
    Generally We would only be posting images we have taken ourselves, but very useful exercise in copyrights etc.
    http://bowleepark.edublogs.org/

    • Mrs C A Smith
    • I will have to check this resource out. I used the CDC for mine. Many governmental agencies offer public domain images.

      • mrpthescienceg
    • Stephanie,
      I love your use of photos on your commenting guidelines page! Great idea to engage readers.
      Kama Almasi

    • Great images – and this looks like just about the best class ever. Sign me up! 🙂

      • stephaniewardrop