Thursday, 17 September 2015

Who Owns Stuff on the Internet?

One of the biggest issues I come across nearly every day in my work is around copyright and ownership of intellectual property.  For instance, teachers and students search for a subject on the internet, look for images and then because they see a picture that they like, they use it in their presentations or on their sites or in their blogs and so on.

Who owns the stuff on the internet?
There is a lack of understanding about whose property the images are or indeed any written resource or video or voice recording that someone  has created.  As one teacher said to me, "if Google puts the images up on the internet, then they must want us to take them."  No, no, no.

Think about this then - if you see a whole lot of paintings up on the wall in the art gallery, are you allowed to help yourself to them?  Or perhaps this - if little Johnny paints a beautiful artwork in his year one class, can I go in and take it off the wall and put it in my home because I like it?  Of course the answer is no.  If Johnny gives me permission to do that, and gifts the artwork to me then of course I can take it, but it is not mine to take without explicit permission.  You can explain this to your students in this way and I encourage you to do this right from an early age.

The image I am posting here is one that I created myself, on my phone this morning.  It belongs to me.  You do not have permission to use it.  If you want to use it, you could contact me and I might give you explicit permission.  And I might want you to pay for it.

And this is what you must think about every time you want to use something that you see on the internet.  Is the person sharing the resource the owner?  And if they are the owner, do they give you permission to use it?  Have you checked that whoever shared it is the rightful owner?  And do the owners want payment for the use of it?

If they do allow you to use it, you must give them credit for the resource, and sometimes even pay for it, because they make their living from making the resources.   If someone has purchased a resource and then shared it, that does not mean that they have permission to use it.  

Giving credit:  You would not dream of submitting a university paper without citing the source underneath so don't do it with anything else that you use on the internet.
Here is what to do if you go looking for images on the internet that you can use.

To search for images which are free to use on Google, select Google Images then Search Tools (see above), Usage Rights,  and and then one of the filters that will suit your purposes (see below).  Note that the default search is not filtered by licence - in other words, all images are put up, free to use and otherwise.
Don't forget to cite the source of the material.  Better still, make your own images and use them instead.  Some google searches (for example in the Slides App) do provide images labelled for reuse, so use these whenever possible.

There are a number of other sources of free-to-use images - like Free to Use Flickr Photos or Free for Commercial Reuse.  Google them.  There are thousands of possibilities to avoid breaking intellectual property laws.

But there is another layer to this slippery marsh.  What if you create  a resource while you are employed by a school?  The answer is that it belongs to the school Board of Trustees, even if you created it at midnight on Sunday morning.  So you are not free to share it unless the BOT has a creative commons licence that allows you to share it.

I am no expert on the subject of copyright law, but there are people who are, and they are found at the Creative Commons site  They will tell you how you can ask your BOT to grant a Creative Commons licence if you want to share.  But it is not your right.

It would be a reasonable thing for BOTs to do in this age of sharing and collaboration, but some boards specifically do retain the right to own the resources.  And remember, they did pay you to do this.  So you do not have the right to just take the resources that you created while you were in their employ.  When you move schools, make sure you have permission from your old school to use the resources you created in the new school

If you are sharing resources on Facebook or in the Pond, make sure that you have the rights to the resources.  Only share if you know you are allowed to.  You will notice when you post in the Pond, that it specifically asks you if you have permission to post it.  Don't just ignore this - check whether you do and avoid a nasty battle in the future.

One last thing: - feel free to share this blog I created!

1 comment:

  1. How about free stock photos site like
    Free for commercial use and personal project.