One thing that few people realize is that not every picture on the internet is fair game for teacher use. At the end of the day, will you face legal reprimands for using a picture you downloaded from someone’s website? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to stick to using legal images. This is also a great way to introduce your students to the ideas of plagiarism, and let them know where they can find images they may want to use for commercial works they are planning to create.
Street Art and Handouts
I once looked at a co-workers handout and saw something very familiar about the street art image they used. A quick check later showed that it was one of my own pictures. I gave that teacher explicit consent to use it, lest you think I’m a terrible person.
The copyright of a photograph of street art is an entirely different, far more complicated, question. So we’ll avoid that. This example just proves that once pictures are posted on the internet, they often find their way around, legally or otherwise.
Can I Legally Use that Image?
This question is a great one to ask before you start adding them to your documents. To discover the answer there are three main questions you should ask yourself.
Did you create it?
The first question you want to ask yourself is “did I create that image?” This means, you either drew it or pressed the shutter button on the camera that took the picture. Just because you’re in the picture doesn’t mean you own it. Whoever literally pressed the button is the legal copyright owner. That’s why I can’t make millions on that beautiful picture of me on the sand dune, and also why there’s someone involved in legal battles against a monkey.
Is it fair use?
If you’re using the image for educational purposes you’re almost always covered. This is explained in Section 29 of the Copyright Act under Fair Dealing. Now you think, ah hah! I need not be concerned with this advice, as I can use any images I want because “Fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire does not infringe copyright.” And while that’s true, if you want to sell your lessons, or post them on a website (not unlike this one) that’s where it becomes murkier. Is this website for education, or is it for commercial gains? I’d rather not have to hire a lawyer to figure that out for me.
Is the image covered under Creative Commons?
Creative Commons is a movement all about sharing. There are a number of types of creative commons licenses, but the one that you really want to keep your eye out for is CC0 1.0 which allows you to use the image without attribution for commercial purposes. Basically, it allows you to use the image for anything you want. You can put them in a book you plan to sell, add them to an app, or use them on a commercial website. In theory, you could create a photobook of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 images and sell it. But, you shouldn’t. Because that’s not nice.
Why do people add their own images?
For the same reason people update Wikipedia, and upload free 3D printer models. To make the world a better place.
Where can I find CC0 1.0 Images?
Surprising no one, the answer is Pixabay! When you go to the site, you can download images in various resolutions for personal use. Each image explains what Creative Commons license applies to it. Most of them are CC0 1.0 (beware images of Lego or Disney toys, those ones will almost always be covered by a different license.)
You can upload your own images to help grow the community, or give donations to people whose images you really enjoy. But you don’t have to, and you’ll never be bothered to do that. It’s just an option made available to you.
For all your royalty free image needs, be sure to start your search at http://pixabay.com.