Teaching cell phone photography

I’ll be working tomorrow with a group of Grade 8 students. We’re going to talk about how to take good photos with cell phone cameras. I’ll be giving them a handout to try to help them understand the ideas, and we’ll practise too.

Here’s the document if you want it: cell-phone-photography

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A good reason to NOT embed images in your blog post

Recently Getty Images announced that they were making a bazillion photos available for embedding in your blog posts and other web content. Many people misunderstood this to mean that Getty was opening up their catalogue for any kind of non-commercial use, but that is not the case. There are a lot of great discussions about the limitations of Getty’s free offering, but there is one point that really makes it a deal-killer for me:

You can embed only

Embedding means that the image is still hosted at Getty and your blog post just links to it. Your blog’s site is not storing a copy of the image at all.

Why this is a good idea

Embedding means that your audience can find the source.

It means that you’re not illegally taking a copy of the image and misrepresenting it as your own.

It makes attribution really easy, because it’s like auto-attribution.

Why this is not such a good idea

What if Getty’s site is unavailable?

What if they change the terms down the road?

What if they simply change the structure of the embed code, breaking your links to their images?

It’s fine in the short term, but there is a long-term maintenance problem. That’s okay for content that is “timely” and essentially expires; it’s not okay for content which we want to have persist.

Reliability is a good reason to not embed

If you can download an image, possibly modify it if the license allows, and upload it to your blog’s media library, you have a copy of it to use forever (or thereabouts). I like to search on Flickr by licence type for CC-BY images which give me wonderful freedom. It’s also how I share my own images, so help yourself.

Include attribution and links to the source, and you’ll be okay even if the distributor is later offline or revokes future licenses.

There is a nice-looking plugin called WP Inject if you’re using a self-hosted WordPress solution, or you can do something like this when uploading media to WordPress.com:

A screenshot showing how to attribute a Flickr image to me

Which will then appear like this:

An image showing a series of three laptops in a row. Only the nearest is partly in focus.

“Line of laptops” by Brandon Grasley via Flickr (CC BY)

Notice that the creator is properly attributed, the licence is listed (which is nice if not exactly necessary), and the image itself is a link to the photo on Flickr. That makes it easy to find, and I think that’s better than a gross-looking, unreliable embedded photo which might vanish without warning.

85% of Content Sites Respect Copyright – Very Small Case Study

Facepalm

Facepalm by Brandon Grasley via Flickr

I recently had cause to reuse the image above, and while searching for the original came across a small surprise – the image has been used quite a few times on various blogs, news sites, and more.

Most of these articles are of the “someone did something dumb and we’re calling them on it” variety. I counted 26 uses in total (thank you Google Image Search), and 22 of those had nicely attributed the image to me, thereby honouring the Creative Commons licence I applied to the image when I posted it.

Four sites did not.

85% of the sites did the right thing, but 15% made a boo-boo. I have contacted the offending sites or the article authors where possible. Not because I’m trying to monetize my exceptionally valuable intellectual property here (I’m not), but because some people are, and they deserve to have their rights respected. A little awareness-building, you know?

Three fixed it on the same day.

Actually, one has promised to and apparently hasn’t gotten around to it yet. I’m hopeful. (Update: the author attributed the photo to me later that day)

Another one replied to my email (the CEO replied, in fact), had to contact their marketing department, who contacted their writing contractor, who fixed it by properly attributing the photo and linking the way I asked them to. Beauty.

A third simply removed the article from their site. Not what I asked for, but it was a cross-post anyway, so no harm done, I suppose.

That makes me feel pretty good about where we are.

Admittedly, these are mostly companies, bloggers, or professional journalists who have made use of the image online. There are possibly lots of folks who have used it in local PowerPoint presentations (having a bad quarter, maybe?) without proper attribution; I’ll certainly never see those.

I often find a more willy-nilly approach to IP and attribution among coworkers, but I was surprised to see how well things are going on the web in general.

So, there’s your good news story for today. No need to facepalm over this one. Thanks, Internet.