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Wednesday, August 01, 2007



So far, I've only had one run in with this, over a picture of Jean Baudrillard.

But to be fair, our generation has used an aweful lot of media in ministry settings without really thinking through the copy issues. If the main issue here is proper credit, then it is surely not a big problem to be a little more cautious about use?


I'm alarmed to read this story - I'm going to ask what seems like a stupid question - pictures I copy from a search of Google Images then, are not safe?

Can you recommend some places that give free pictures?


Lynn - I think you should assume that most pics you find in Google images have some from of copyright on them. In the light of Dave's experiance I'm re-thinking all this so I don't have any suggestions just yet.


Fernando - I think there are lots of issues here. One is to do with credit and i have noticed some bloggers starting give the source of their photo. At the other extreem I think there are also those out there who don't flag that their work has a copy right inthe hope they "catch" people and charge them.


Have to disagree with you here, Brodie.

An original work (say, a photo) is copyright as soon as it's created. The author must opt out of these rights, not in, so unless a more permissive license is attached to the work, you must assume 'all rights reserved'.

To say that if you can nab it it's fair game ("or in the likes of flickr have a pro account so that if I try to save it...well I can't cause they've spaceballed it!") bothers me - publicly accessable/viewable is not the same as public domain.

Would you consider nabbing another blogger's words, or an author's words, and posting them on your site without credit? Or beyond 'fair use' (a US legal concept rather than a UK one, but the convention is widely accepted here too) without asking first? Same thing...


If I want images for something, like backgrounds for a sermon, etc, I search on Flickr for images licensed using various forms of Creative Commons. Given a little bit of ingenuity in what you look for, there are normally more than enough choices while sticking faithfully to the terms of the particular license (eg. adding the address of the Flickr page if attribution is asked for, not remixing a no-derivatives picture, etc).

For blogging, I tend to use my own pictures unless I'm blogging about a product, in which case I might borrow a shot from Amazon, as long as it links back to their store.

If somebody hasn't explicitly put a (cc) license on a more general picture then there is enough choice that I can happily ignore it and look for something else.


Google images all warn "Image may be scaled down and subject to copyright". Flickr is good in that it clearly shows the license beside the image. It's important also to note the distinction between pulic domain and creative commons. The former is free to use any way you like, the latter does have some restricions - either requiring users to credit the copyright holder, or requiring derivative works be released under the same licence.

I find it interesting that misuse of copyright by copying pictures or music or video is so widespread in the christian community and often accepted as not really a crime at all.


Is anyone really strategically trying to ensnare?

As pointed out, all works are subject to copy-protection. I don't watermark my flickr images for aesthetic reasons, but it is pretty clear they are subject to creative commons rights.

Perhaps the deeper problem is the assumption of "free" and its pervasiveness in church circles.

As a tangental example - every church I've been involved with was, when I first attended, a copyright nightmare...


Depends what you're using them for and you might not want to do this for a blog but for other things this is a good source for buying pictures from and they're not very expensive (although they are very American!) http://www.istockphoto.com/index.php


the age of blogging innocence is over - it's not just people being sued over photos but people being sacked for some of their content or persecuted/threatened/hounded...


Mark - Thanks for your comment. I was unaware that a photo is copyrighted as soon as it's created. Leaving the "legal" issues aside I think there are other interesting aspects to all this, for example - why do I and lots of other people put some of my pictures up on flickr etc. (I'm not going to answer that here but may do a post on it).

With regards to words there is a coloration with photo's but it's not really the same. If I quote a published work, and reference it then as far as I'm aware I'm not breaking any copyright. If I was to re-publish an entire book on my blog, well the answer is obvious - that's wrong, but it's also not something that a blogger is likely to do in the normal course of blogging. The use of photographs, well that has been common practice for many bloggers, and in reflection there has not been enough thought about copyright issues. That said I don't think you can "quote" a photo in the way you can "quote" a book.

Are blog posts copyrighted automatically? I've no idea. I think it is good practice, and good manners, to acknowledge not just the words we use in a post when these are not our own, but to acknowledge the idea/inspiration. So if you write something and it gets me thinking and I then post, even if I don't use any of your words I still think that it's good to say "Mark wrote about X and it got me thinking about Y". I think many bloggers who would be more casual about their use of photo's would take such an approach to words - perhaps this highlights an inconsistency, or perhaps it just highlights my/our ignorance around the issues surrounding copyright and photographs.


Wulf - thanks for your practical advice.


Fernando - In answer to your question - I don't know.


Margaret - that's for mentioning istock.


There was an interesting interview on blogging on the Radio 4 Today programme. You can listen to it at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/
The interview was at 07.22


Thanks for picking up on this whole issue Brodie.


Wulf or Mark - would either of you mind giving some instruction as to how to show on a blog an image of a book / album etc so that it links back to the original sight. I assume that in doing this your not breaking copyright?


Brodie - fair comments re the difference between books and photos :) That said, surely the only ultimate difference is that where you can quote part of a written work, it's hard to 'quote' part of an image. So it may well be analogous to quoting an 'entire work'. De facto, that's what it is.

As far as words - any work (photo, illustration, words, music, etc) is automatically copyright it's author (even without the (c) symbol being applied - there is no need to formally opt-in or register in the UK, or even to mark items as such, full copyright is the default position). The only exceptions I am aware of (IANAL, obviously) are where the work is derivative of another that is licensed in such a way (for example GNU GPL or some CC licenses) as to enforce those licenses on derivative works, or what is termed 'work-for-hire': if soemone is hired to produce a particular piece (eg an article for a magazine) then copyright belongs to the employer/hirer unless otherwise agreed.

Re the images I use from Amazon - these are made available as part of Amazon's affiliate programme, used on their terms with their links. That's the reason I joined their affiliate programme - so I could illustrate reviews and things with the cover images.

Thanks for bringing all this up. The whole area of Intellectual Property is fascinating, and as user-created content and blogging becomes ever more popular it's only responsible for bloggers and contributors to learn how it all actually works.

Ultimately, it all comes down to "be nice". An author, a photographer or an illusrator... they all put time, effort, often money into producing their words and images, so bear that in mind.

I guess I'm coming from the perspective of having sold images in the past, but also of having had them pinched. I'm not out to make money out if it, and if a blogger wants to use an image of mine, 99 times out of 100 all I'll ask is a credit and link in return - but if someone doesn't ask, then I get a little unhappy.


Mark - thanks for your response.
when I first started blogging there was a lot of talk in blogs I read about the idea of gift and hospitality. I wonder how we keep those kinds of ideas going? For me I don't really mind if people used my words or photo's, that is in some sense why I've put them in the public domain. Yet I realise that this does not mean that because I take such a stance that I can assume that other blogs or web sites are a place of gift (i.e. I should not take words or images without consent). I agree with you that in the end it comes down to being nice. There's no point in me trying to be nice by letting my blog be a place of gift if it's a house furnished with stolen goods! All of this goes to say that there's an appropriate way to behave as a host and as a guest. Perhaps that is how we should think of ourselves when visiting others blogs - as guests?


Brodie -

Interesting you raise that idea. I've been thinking a lot about this over the last couple of days since reading your post, and was in the process of putting some thoughts down for a post of my own.

In a society that is now heavily dominated by intangibles and 'intellectual proprty', how do we find a properly Kingdom approach? We strive to hold on lightly to material things, and IP is powerful modern-day material...

Hosts and guests; I like the challenge of that - how to work out hospitality in a virtual world?

John Smulo

Great thoughts Brodie. I couldn't resist blogging on this topic too.

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