Webstuff and images

American Bison cantering; Eadweard MuybridgeWebpages are often made up of a multiplicity materials - text, images, video, audio, links, databanks, live feeds - which may have their own copyright and terms of use in addition to the copyright and terms of use associated with the website itself. 'American Bison Cantering' is based on photographs taken by Eadweard Muybridge over 100 years ago which are now in the Public Domain; the animated giff made from them is available through Wikimedia Commons and has been used in numerous pages on Wikipedia, including the one about Muybridge himself.

As well as finding an image suitable for the use you have in mind there are three other things to consider:

  • the quality of the image - is it good, sharp, large enough?
  • is it available for you to re-use as you want - its copyrights or licence?
  • is there reliable information with the image about its source and about it - title, place, event, dates, etc.?



Images that are good quality and can be reused legitimately are one of the most requested of all resources by teachers; demand it seems is never statisfied.

The web, is of course, awash, with images, though it can often be difficult to find ones which it is clear you can use for personal use AND re-purpose AND then share with others in school or beyond.  Finding images you can use for yourself is one thing as that is covered in the UK - and most other countries - as an 'exception'; finding images you can re-use and share is quite another because that requries that the images either:

  • in the public domain
  • have a licence that permits re-use and sharing (Creative Commons, GNU, OGL, etc)
  • have terms and conditons of use that allow re-use and sharing (National Heritage, Wellcome, etc)
  • are licenced to your school

If that isn't the case you may well have to ask for permission to use the materials.

Image search engines.

Black Swan: Photo Paul Wright, NEN GalleryImage search through a browser is simple and speedy. It is important to keep in mind that the images don’t come from the search engine and that they are only identified by it. You don’t get your picture of a black swan from, for instance, ‘Google’ - it comes from the website that hosts it which in turn may have got it from somewhere else. Neither does ‘Google’ own the copyrights and if asked, “Where did you get that image from?” and the answer is “I Googled it?”, that is the answer to “How did you get that picture?” not “Where from?”, let alone “…and who owns the copyright?”  or “Is it OK for me to use it and share it with my class?” - and that website may or may not be in the UK.  Image of a Black Swan is by Phillip Bachmann and available from the NEN Gallery with an education re-use licence.

You are, so to speak, reaching through ‘Google’ back to the source to get the full picture.  Going back to the source is not only a good way of becoming more certain about the copyrights that might apply to an image but usually provides further information about it, where it comes from, what exactly is shown in it and the context in which it has been published - things that may be important to the education use it is to be put to.  There is also more chance of getting a good quality image.

Advanced Image Search provides options which help identify images for re-use:

  • ‘Labelled for reuse’- meaning the resource can be re-used.
  • ‘Labelled for reuse with modification’- meaning the resource can be re-used and modified or changed. In copyright terminology ‘derogatory use’ is allowed..

There are also options for ‘commercial reuse’ and ‘commercial modification’.

The advanced image searches use categories similar to the Creative Commons conditions but the system is reliant on the person who uploaded the image having the right to licence it in the first place. A blogger may use a Creative Commons licence to cover their creative writing but then illustrate it with third party images which they have ‘borrowed’ - perhaps with an idea that they are ‘reviewing’ or writing about the subject of the image and that is permitted - but they clearly don’t have the rights to pass them on to anyone else.  Don’t always rely on what the search engine throws up – apply common sense and check it through.

Searches for Moving Image, Film and Audio material raise the same issues – only more so - as the copyrights that may be associated with a single clip of film or music can be multiple with distributors, director, composer, camera operator, scriptwriter, lyricist and performers rights for actors all being involved and, to make life difficult, the information may not be attached to the resource when you find it. See Multiple copyrights

NEN Gallery logoThe NEN Gallery makes images, video and audio availible to schools via the National Education Network. The materials are being gathered on a contributory basis - teachers register to upload images.   "To submit an image to the gallery you must either be the owner of the image or have the permission of the owner to do so. Checking the "I agree" box indicates that you (a) own the resource and (b) agree to it being used freely for educational use or, that you have the permission of the owner to submit it on these terms. However, the copyright holder still retains their copyright in the resource and, in particular, any commercial use is explicitly excluded from the permissions granted. In order to submit the image you must agree this copyright notice." Simple enough and the uploader is credited beside the image. The user is also assured that children will not encounter 'unsuitable' images.

CC Search is a gateway to search engines that can identify Creative Commons materials. It gives opportunity to narrow the search if you want to re-use the materials and/or use them commercially. These serach engines and repositories are included:  Flickr (image) blip.tv (video); jamendo (music); Spin Express (media); Wikimedia Commons (images); Europeana (images); Open Clip Art Library (graphics); Fotopedia (images); You Tube (video); Spin Express (Media); Google (Google Web and Image); Yahoo (web).  See http://search.creativecommons.org/

Flickr Commons symbol‘Flickr Commons’ publishes material in the 'public domain' and ‘orphans’ -  works that have no known owner to ask permission of and so are in a sort of copyright limbo and can’t be used. Flickr Commons is a community of archives from around the world who have agreed to publish images that are in the public domain or where there is an element of uncertainty about ownership. They use a common "no known copyright restrictions" statement. The works are published through Flickr providing a search across the collections.   UK members include the National Museum of Media, National Maritime Museum, The National Archives, National Library of Wales, National Galleries of Scotland Commons, LSE Library and Imperial War Museum. The green (for go) empty (nothing known) circle symbol is used to indicate that there are "no known restrictions'. You can use thew phrase 'no known restrictions' in an image search. See http://www.flickr.com/commons

Flickr. the photo-sharing website, provides an option for its photo-uploaders to assign a Creative Commons licence when they upload images and an advanced search tool to identify them from images that have “copyright reserved” tags. The Advanced search tools filter out material which you may not be able to use and brings forward a lot a material which you can – so that’s half the battle. You may come across some adult material in Flickr amongst the millions (literally) of suitable images.  http://www.flickr.com/

Education suppliers like Bridgeman Library and the Edina's Education Image Gallery (EIG) provide images for specified education use through school pay-for licences via authenticated access. Their libraries offer a range of materials that are: suited to education needs; high-quality images and files; details about each image that have been fully verified; good search facilities and of course copyright cleared for the uses listed.

Shapesoftime has a list of websites with re-useable resources with notes about how they manage copyright and their terms of education use – good for demonstrating the wealth of legally available material ‘out there’ and how to use it. See  Little Marvels http://www.shapesoftime.net/pages/viewpage.asp?uniqid=12754

Acknowledging images

Having found the images or resources you want to use, what next? Acknowledge them.

It is good practice to acknowledge the source and authorship of other people’s work that you refer to or use.  Following this through as we use digital resources does add to the time taken but can often bring added information about the resources and enhance the learning process.

First thing to remember is save the url and filename together somewhere safe to avoid the oft-recurring ‘I can’t find it again,’ syndrome.

Acknowledgements may reference information such as the title of the work; the name of the creator or author; the date of the work or publication; for some items a or Map or GIS reference; the distributor or publisher; the source; a web link (but perhaps not a search string link as that may not work after you have left the website). Different media and different uses will dictate which information is appropriate. In practice copyright acknowledgement requires the name of the copyright owner, who may be or not be the creator or author, to be helpful to users.

In newspapers you often see beside photographs the photographers name and the name of the press agency they work for. The photographer may work for the agency or have sold their work to it assigning the licence to them. The agency will licence the image to a newpsper, or to hundreds of publications around the globe. The copyright is with the agency but the photographer has rights to be the acknowledged ‘author’ and in UK moral righst as well.

Acknowledgements given for education or academic use and for copyright reasons are related activities and young children can develop their understanding of both by providing selected information most relevant to the main focus of their learning activity at the time.