Just had an interesting experience with copyright. The image above was taken a few years ago when my son was 3 weeks old and after posting to Flickr it has soon became a favourite image for many (at the time of writing it has had over 59,000 views). However, recently somebody kindly pointed out that another Flickr user had posted it on their photostream and was in effect posting it as their own as they had not credited the image in any way to me as the original author (the image was without my logo). At this point I did not know whether the Flickr user’s decision to not credit me as the original author of the image was intentional or just because they were unaware of copyright restrictions and correct behaviour. A direct message to them (no response) and a comment left under their version of the image (quickly deleted by the user), suggested that they knew very well that they were in breach of copyright. Thankfully Flickr (which is a photo sharing site for those not in the know – sharing as in somewhere to upload your images for others to view, not necessarily actually share and allow others to use) has strict policies about this sort of thing and responded to my query about the copied image by removing it. Incidentally the query does require you fill out a form in which you have to give evidence of the original image and authorship, so it’s not just a simple “this image is copied please remove it”.
However, it made me wonder how many know about copyright. Effectively full copyright of an image the “all rights reserved” means that an image cannot be copied or an altered copy used commercially or non commercially (eg home or school copying) without the original authors permission. Flickr also offers the “Creative Commons” copyright system which allows every user to tag each image with how they are happy for their images to be used (if at all) which offers the following types of license:
Attribution: Allows for material to be copied, changed, used commercially, but credit must be given to the author of the original work.
Attribution-NoDerivs: Material can be copied and used commercially, but cannot be altered (must stay unchanged) and credit given to the author of the original work.
Attribution-ShareAlike: Material can be copied, changed and used (even commercially), but the license applied to the new work must be the same as the original work credit given to the author of the original work. Ie you would not be able to alter a piece of work and then claim full copyright over the changed piece.
Each of these also have a NonCommercial variation that means the work cannot be used for commercial purposes.
… that is unless the original author has given express permission for this.
I guess I’m one of those photographers that turn a relatively blind eye to use of my images in student’s essay’s/homework/research, after all there’s no way of tracking this usage, but if you happen to be a student or a parent with a student, its good practice to at least get into the habit of acknowledging who took the image. Ideally you should also contact the photographer for permission to use it explaining what you are using if for. You may be surprised at how often photographers are happy for images to be used in this contex and if asked may be able to supply information about the image that will help the project/essay/research!
If you are interested in following my Flickr photostream it can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/kitlogan/ although be aware I use it more to share images I’ve taken with family and friends. It does not show all my work or even all my professional photography.