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People Expect the Photo

I found the discussion topics of copyright issues and Open Educational Resources both extremely helpful and still confusing. On one level, because copyright law and issues of fair use seemed quite detailed in their case law and legalese, one could have hoped to find precisely the scenario a project might be creating in one of the examples. Alas, even in reading through our own ESC “Fair Use Helper,” I was struck by the complexity of the issues and the difficulties that can arise if I do not find items in Open Educational Resources or Open Content arenas: “there is no simple method for determining whether a particular use of a particular piece of content is Fair Use. That is something that has to be decided on an individual, case by case basis” (Morehouse, ESC Online Librarian). Thankfully the form spells out what we need to consider and offers personal assistance if needed.

In my current job, I often have to find images and pictures that can be used in both Facebook and blog posts. Thankfully I have been afforded the opportunity to use iStockphotos.com for the blog post images through a paid subscription account (a very pricey option covered by a work budget). But I have found myself wondering at times about the copyright issues for images from Google Images and other sources – am I in violation of copyright law for the use of some photos?

I had planned to look for photos and illustrations to use in the introductory and instructional piece at the beginning of my online pilot course and I had wondered how I could do that without a potential arduous path to get permission to do so. In addition, I wanted to be able to reference any outside online sources that could provide more in-depth information should a student want to dig deeper into, for example, advanced search options.  After reading through the Slideshare presentation on Open Educational Resources by Morehouse and Stone, I realized I do have many more accessible options than I knew before.

I do plan on using the MALET Moodle system as the platform for my project, and because ESC is TEACH Act compliant, I believe my use of this LMS will make my online pilot within compliance as well. Of course, that will only happen if I make sure to “clearly mark or caption” any illustrations or photos I use and “attribute the original source.” (Morehouse, “Whirlwind Tour,” slide 23-24)

In addition, I especially plan to use the search function of CreativeCommons.org to find as many open source options as possible. As the website indicated, search.creativecommons.org is a search engine, but rather offers convenient access to search services provided by other independent organizations.” As I said earlier, I have frequently used Google Images search for photos but it wasn’t always easy to tell which photos could be used. Going through Creative Commons to the Google Images site made finding detailed information about the distinctions between free and open much easier and quicker. I will be using iStockphoto.com and their “Buy Credits” options for a couple of images I have in mind to give me the freedom to use illustrations and photos in my pilot project.

Finally, I did also find the link to the iRubric evaluation tool for Open Educational Resources quite intriguing and want to test that out to see if it could be one of the additional resource links to provide to students in my pilot.


CreativeCommons.org  http://search.creativecommons.org/

Fair Use: Thinking Through the Four Factors Form. Empire State College Online Library. http://www.esc.edu/library/services/copyright/fair-use/helper/

iRubric: Evaluating OER Rubric http://www.rcampus.com/rubricshowc.cfm?code=L9WC6X&sp=yes

iStockphoto.com http://www.istockphoto.com/

Morehouse, S. A Whirlwind Tour of Copyright (including TEACH ACT):

Morehouse, S. and Stone, K.  Open Educational Resources: What Are They; Finding and Evaluating Them; Creating and Licensing Them.  http://subjectguides.esc.edu/oerforimtl


  • Bobbi-Jo Talboys


    I agree that sorting through the legalities surrounding copyright can be very confusing. You seem to be well on your way to defining how you will handle adding images to your pilot. This is an area that I am still working out, but I do plan to use images of project examples that I have personally made. This will allow me to have control over most of my images so I can avoid any issues associated with copyright. For the images that I choose to use that I have found, I will seek out those that allow reuse and use proper citations. I'm looking forward to seeing your completed pilot.


  • Maja Anderson

    I completely agree with you. The material was very comprehensive, but actually left me wondering if I'd been doing this correctly all along and a little confused about how to proceed from now on. 

    I'v often had to buy images when I couldn't find something suitable from creative commons and it's much quicker to find what you are looking for but even there images are limited and I usually have to combine several images to get what I really need.

  • Teresa Worman

    It can get pretty confusing but being in this university is the best place to figure this out. We have the opportunity to ask the instructors, the librarians and each other to figure out what works and what doesn't. As I mentioned in my post, you can use Creative Commons explore feature to find Creative Commons licensed works. I picked Google Images as a place I wanted to start, and at the top, used "I want something that I can...use for commercial purposes, and...modify, adapt, or build upon." I put in a description of a photo I want and enter. Once I get to Google images, you can find an image you might like to use, click on it and check view page. You can find who created the image and what sorts of restrictions, if any, there are on the use of the image. Document it and give appropriate credit in our work, and I think we are good to go.

    it means we have to be deliberative and give ourselves enough time to research the images, but the Creative Commons has given me a whole new look at this topic. There are definitely other places to do this. But let the creative juices flow first...a storyboard might help to at least plot out what we are doing. Trying that myself right now. Thoughts?