Saturday, April 07, 2007

Using images: In response to "As blogs move toward 'Mainstream'"

I noted Scott's Morning Brew post about the issue of integrity and images. Scott wrote,
We need to be more cognizant of what we are doing. I know I am guilty of snatching a cartoon here and there and posting it. I guess I need to stop no matter how entertaining they are.

In a recent conversation between bloggers, we discussed “integrity”, and being a viable outlet for public and not so public opinion.
I'm with him, but I'm swimming even deeper in it after my recent work censorship issue. That whole mess is for another posting, however, and one which will, likely, never make it to this Musings.

As to images, I think Scott is right: we just need to be smart about it.

I use images all the time, but I'm pretty careful about how I get the images. Yes, I've been known to lift an image, but generally, I use images where the copyright owner is allowing use (or appears to allow use).

I use flickr quite alot. I figure if the "blog this" button is on, I can use the button to post the picture to one of my blogs. Using the "blog this" button puts a larger-than-thumbnail-sized image directly into the blog with a link back to the original picture. This is one of those times when I use an image, in good conscience, when it "appears" the copyright owner is allowing use.

You can also use images found at Search by Creative Commons. Creative Commons is a licensing tool that copyright owners can use to allow other people to use text, images, sounds. For instance, Tidewater Musings is published under a Creative Commons license that allows some use.

Another set of images I use are images in the public domain. For instance, any photograph taken by a government employee in the performance of their official duties, is generally in the public domain and can be used. Anything marked as an "official agency name" photograph is fair game. I take that to also be any photo with agency identification, such as the fish in the below post.

The other thing to note is that generally the use of a thumbnail-sized image is considered "fair use." And, linking back to the original, and providing attribution, is usually a good thing to do.

Now, I will say that my method -- having a topic and then searching for a supporting image -- is different from seeing an image and then wanting to post it.

Bottom line: When in doubt, leave it out... or be willing to go to the mat if called for it.

Please note that this entire post is a general discussion and does not represent legal advice or counsel... ;-)

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