Tag Archives: copyright

Adding image credits to lecture and research talk slides

I made this page because, if you’re a typical scientist, you don’t think crediting photographers is necessary, just like teenagers don’t worry about sharing music and movie files with each other. But you should provide attribution: it’s just like citing a quote in a journal article.

It’s really not that hard to do. Here’s one way: add a black box with grey text at the bottom of your image.

The above detail might be overkill, of course, but all that information is potentially useful to an audience member who is actually interested in the photograph. At the very least put the photographer’s full name. And, sure, the grey text is a tad hard to read, but that’s sort of the point: audience is supposed to be paying attention to you, not reading all the photo creds.

You can also tweak box color,


and orientation:

Slide09The problem with vertical text, of course, is that it’s annoying to edit. But it’s perfect if you have images with 4 x 3 aspect ratio.

And don’t be lazy about tracking down the photographer information when you find an image that’s perfect for making your talk interesting. Use Jeffrey’s Exif viewer, Tineye Reverse Image Search, and Google Inside Search to track down the source of images you might stumble upon. Note that just because somebody else use the image without credit doesn’t mean you should do the same. If all fails, provide the URL where you found the image … though providing that won’t protect you from being sued if the photographer finds you’ve published your slide deck somewhere.

If you have a room full of impressionable students, please pause once during your lecture (or semester) to comment about your image credits and how it fits with academic honesty policy. Students might have noticed, but it doesn’t hurt to be clear. Tell them you work hard to find this information because, like quotations and charts from others, it’s important to be honest and humble about sources. They will absorb what you did and model that behavior when they give their own talks.

And regarding the strategy of an “end of talk” image credit list: don’t do that. The fleeting moment the audience might be interested in an image’s source is when the audience is looking at the image

Finally … is it OK to share slides online? The answer is almost always, “no”. Even if you had permission from a photographer to use an image in a lecture, he/she probably doesn’t want that image being shared with the world for the rest of time. If you have to post it online, make sure it’s hidden behind Blackboard or Moodle CMS. Or put the file inside a .htaccess folder on your website, to restrict to just your campus.

Useful reads:

  1.  The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons,
  2. Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare,
  3. Washington State University Fair Use Guidelines,
  4. UCLA Drops Copyrighted Videos From Course Web Sites After Legal Threat,
  5. The TEACH Act.
  6. Cite and Attribute Your Sources.

UPDATE 02/22/2016: please also see “Image attributions in presentations“, by Catherine Scott at the Small Pond Science blog.

Tumblr tips for photographers

Photographers tend to loathe tumblr and related sites because they operate by using other people’s copyrighted material, gathered into collections to compete for Likes and Reblogs.  So I decided to take tumblr for a spin to see how alarmed I should be. In particular, I was curious how images get loaded onto tumblr pages and whether the company promotes conscientious copyright etiquette.  Screenshot of my site (http://colinpurrington.tumblr.com) is below if you’ve never seen a tumblr site before. [More below the image…]

Colin Purrington's tumblr site

And below is typical upload screen, toggled slightly to show how one can use an image’s URL to post.  There is a separate field on the right-hand side to paste the content source URL.  Because I host my photographs on SmugMug, I paste the photograph’s “gallery” link in the content source box, and that URL is automatically duplicated by tumblr into the “set a click-through link” box.  Now, if anyone ever clicked on one of my images (it might happen!), they would be transported to the photograph in question, but it would be displayed amid other photos in the same gallery (that’s good, because adjacent photographs might also be of interest).

tumblr upload windowSo when posters conscientiously specify source and click-through URLs, that information will then (sometimes) be displayed.  Here’s an example:

tumblr reblogBut the above scenario is rare, and usually your photograph will be displayed without any of the embedded information.  This is where I have the most misgivings about tumblr HQ — they are in a position to dictate that all “themes” (tumblr accounts can be equipped with one of thousands of styles) must show image source/credit, but they do no such thing.  If Tumblr has the look and sound of Myspace, and your credit information is lost in the mess. That’s why you really should watermark all of your images.  For me, I’ve just placed my name on them.  But you could also put source URL on the image itself.  Just do something.

Many photographers stay away from tumblr because they think it will promote image theft, but I think it can go both ways.  When you post your own images on tumblr, it gives a way for people to share your images in a controlled way, albeit imperfect. Doing so could actually drive traffic back to your site, since people these days rarely come out to browse photographers’ web sites. I.e., the same reason photographers are starting to duplicate their galleries onto facebook.  It also gives you insight in how to craft your “using my photographs” paragraph that you might have somewhere on your main photography site.  E.g., if you know the details of tumblr (or Pinterest, or We Heart It, or whatever thefting site is popular tomorrow), you can use the proper language to tell people how they may properly credit your work.  Or, if you don’t want your work used at all, having knowledge of how the sites work will improve your ability to find technical fixes that block that use.

Whether you have a tumblr account or not, you’re going to find your stuff on tumblr if you search for it (find it by tineye.com, or search tumblr for your name). Just contact the tumblr user and ask them to adjust the settings so that the image is specified by a URL and that it has the click-through destination you prefer — they can change those in under a minute, and some of them like this woman specifically ask for corrections:

yourdailyintake tumblr text

Of course, that only works if you can contact the owner of the tumblr account, and I’d estimate only 1% of pages have contact information (don’t ask me why).  If you have a tumblr account and “follow” them, then you can send Fan Mail. Or if you don’t want to deal with the violator of your copyright, just shoot a take-down request to support@tumblr.com (details) and they’ll pull the image within hours (I’ve found).

IP video lifts my photo

I was informed last night by a blog follower, Cherish Bauer-Reich, that one of my photographs appears, without credit, in an online video about keeping a laboratory notebook. …if you care, the photograph appears at approximately 50 seconds into the clip, and shows my Type A ink experiment. Other photographs are labelled with more information, but not mine!  As Cherish points out, it’s painfully ironic that the video is about protecting your intellectual property.  It was produced by the University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization.  The guy talking is apparently its Director of Intellectual Property Management. Lame.

I know one can manually search for image theft by using tinEye.com (love it!), but I can’t wait until you can subscribe to a service that seeks out all piracy on the internet for your entire online library, and has ability to detect signal in videos, too.