Thursday, March 10, 2011

Copyright is more than a concept

Reading from the Travelin' Librarian's Blog, came across a post reiterating our trite disclaimer about using copyrighted material but with an added twist. He quoted, as I also do below, from an Associated Press article posted on the KTVN Channel 2 Website:
Associated Press - February 15, 2011 7:05 PM ET

DENVER (AP) - A law firm that targets the unauthorized use of news content on the Internet has filed 32 lawsuits in federal court in Colorado seeking to stop the use of a Denver Post photograph showing an airport pat-down. . . .

Righthaven has been criticized by some for suing first, rather than asking bloggers or operators of websites to remove copyrighted content. . . . CEO Steve Gibson defended the strategy Tuesday, saying many people wrongfully assume that if something is posted on the Internet, it's in the public domain and can be used for free. . . .

In a notice to readers published Nov. 14, the Post said it would use all legal remedies to address copyright infringement. . . .

1 [sic] of those sued by Righthaven is Brian Hill, 20, of Mayodan, N.C. Hill said he found the Post picture on Google Images and posted it on his news and politics website, not knowing it was copyrighted.

Hill said an attorney from Righthaven called him Feb. 10 and said he could be liable for up to $150,000 in damages . . . . [apparently a settlement offer for $6000 is a possibility]

This, my friends, is why I try to teach our students about copyright law when we create multimedia content. Perhaps, as students they will not become the target of a lawsuit like the one described above but how many of our students might build their own businesses or work in small companies where they find themselves as Webmasters, public relations or news providers, marketing agents or social media liasons.

In education, with liberal interpretations of fair use, we feel protected but as we send our students out into a digital world, unless or until our national copyright laws are re-written, they will be held accountable by firms like Righthaven. Could you afford to pay $6000 (settlement offer) for every copyrighted image you ever used without permission? (I am sure I could not but do my best to use Creative Commons images and give credit whenever possible.)

Travelin' Librarian also identified an image search engine I had not seen before. Compfight searches Flickr and with one click on the primary search page, can limit search to Creative Commons images. In a couple quick tests, I did find images through Compfight that Google did not provide and so will definitely add it to my toolbox, but using Google's "advanced image search" and choosing "labeled for re-use" still seems to provide a broader selection of images.

NOTE: Remind students that searching creative commons does NOT assure that images are available without limitation. A copyrighted photo saved by another user to a Creative Commons license is still copyrighted. Multiple wrongs do not make a right.

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