Many educators, artists, and writers work hard to create slides and images that can be used to spread ideas and initiate important dialogue. Many people also share their work on the internet through a variety of methods. This is important as the sharing of ideas can result in “intellectual collisions” (C. Christensen) that can not only create some change but also improve upon ideas once they have been shared.
One thing I have noticed is that many of us share and use this work without reference to the original creator. When we share an image (or a quote) in a tweet, and we do not give a reference to the artist or author, are we are “stealing” images?
I realize we may not be intentionally stealing images but just because something is on google images or Flickr (or the internet, in general), it does not mean they can be shared without reference. Many times, they cannot be shared or used AT ALL unless there is a direct link to the original piece that included the work. Check out this post by Canadian photographer Francis Vachon “10 bogus excuses that people use when they steal a photo from the Internet” for more information. I used an image from a company on my blog a few years ago and I did not link the image correctly to their site. They contacted me and respectfully asked that I link to their site; luckily the company used it as a teaching experience (they acknowledged that I did everything right except the image link) and I was able to learn from it.
I have seen the great work from people like Krissy Venosdale, John Spencer, and Bill Ferriter shared without reference and it often appears that the tweeter or blogger has actually created the image. Here are some examples I have seen recently:
This is the work of Krissy Venosdale and she has made this available through Creative Commons. I have seen her work shared many times and, unfortunately, usually without attribution. Worse, I have seen posters and images created with the same message and phrases with NO reference to the original work. Krissy is amazing; if you ask her if you can use her designs and work, she often helps you to do this. She even created a James Hill version of this poster for us!
The above slide is from my friend Bill Ferriter. Bill creates some wonderful slides that always initiate great dialogue. I have used his slides in presentations, workshops, and staff meetings as Bill shares with Creative Commons permission. On the slides or in tweets, I attribute his work and often just point to his Flickr site where the image is located. This is another image that I have seen shared over and over again; I have even seen it attributed to someone else!
I strongly believe that very few of us intentionally use images as if they are our own; however, as educators, we all need to do our best to model the appropriate use of images to our students. If you want to share an image and are unsure of the reference, ask. Creative Commons is all about sharing; If you use or share images, use Creative Commons images on Flickr and provide the correct attribution. At the least, do not share an image or quote and present it as if it is the work from you. If you see an image tweeted without attribution, hold off on the retweet and ask the tweeter where the original image is from (or who created it).
Much like we know not to use the words from books as if they are our own (plagiarism), we should know not to use images from others as if they are our own. People work hard to create powerful images to drive conversation. We can often share this work, but we must make sure it is referenced properly. I have made many mistakes of not referencing and using Creative Commons images, but I continually learn in this new world of sharing (I likely still make many mistakes in this area and have even more questions). Hopefully, we can navigate this new world of digital sharing and work together to model appropriate practice and hesitate before downloading and sharing an image without permission.
Some sites to consider using for images: