Copyright on the Internet

Copyright is for losers ... not! Photo: 917press/flickr; some rights reserved.
Copyright is for losers … not! Photo: 917press/flickr; some rights reserved.

Observing the copyright of other writers, photographers, video makers, and illustrators is very, very important when you’re putting together your multimedia project. You may not use just any old photo or illustration you find using Google Image search. Similarly, you cannot simply “reblog” great stuff you find on other people’s blogs or web sites. Using other people’s work without permission is illegal. It also devalues the work professionals do, which may make your own work worth less in the future, when your work is your livelihood. That’s worth thinking about!

Fortunately, on the the Internet you can find a community of generous people who like to share their work. It can be an advantage for a keen amateur photographer to have his or her photos used on your site – it promotes their work. There are some very good web sites which offerCreative Commons-licenced images and music which you’re able to use in non-commercial projects.

A good first place to start to look for CC-licenced photographs is the CC licence search. Enter your search term, and click on the site you want to use for your search.

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You can also find CC-licenced images directly on Flickr and DeviantArt. Flickr allows you to narrow your search to CC-licenced images only, by going into options under the ‘advanced search’ link. DeviantArt contributors provide a download link next to their work if they agree to its use elsewhere.

When you’re using work posted on Flickr or DeviantArt, you MUST provide a byline or credit – an example is in the caption for the photo above: “Photo: 917press/flickr, some rights reserved.” You may also make your credit a link to the illustrator’s page on Flickr or DeviantArt. It’s also generous to offer the artist a thank you and a link to your site in the comments section below their work.

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That’s just, like, your opinion, man

John Goodman and Jeff Bridges in the Coen Brothers classic “The Big Lebowski”. Photo: AllMoviePhoto.com

TOPIC: Opinion writing and blogging

TASK: Write 500 words about a subject upon which you can form an opinion. It can be anything at all, from fashion to politics. You must stay within the word limit (10 per cent either way is allowable). You get extra marks if you make this reader laugh!

READ: How to write opinion articles (UNUSA)

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I should include a disclaimer with this topic: I’m not generally a fan of emerging journalists learning to write opinion too early, mainly because I’d prefer that you learn to tell the stories of other people’s lives first. In my (not so humble) opinion, someone who writes opinion should have a specific area of expertise upon which to base that opinion. So of course you’re all pretty qualified to discuss the travails of tertiary study, the complete dearth of great live music venues in Sydney, or trying to afford rent and a car on an Austudy allowance. But it gets trickier when you really hanker to let the world know what you think about climate change, for example.

We’re going to write opinion pieces because they are a natural part of blogging. There are some great opinion writers out there – check out the political blogger Greg Jericho (aka Grog’s Gamut). His work is mostly opinion supported by fact. Importantly, he’s not a ranter. He expresses his side of an argument with conviction, but allows for other views too. You can find more opinion writing at The Drum, The Punch, and on most of the major news sites. Plenty of opinion writing is fun – Google Marieke Hardy, grand-daughter of well-known Australian writer Frank. Marieke’s writing is irreverent and often just plain naughty.

To learn how to write good opinion, try looking for opinion pieces written about subjects which interest you: fashion, music, football, politics, art, theatre. Take note of how much research goes into the writing; effective opinion writing is not simply effusive venting from the inside of the writer’s head or heart. It’s always, always, always based on factual information.

Most reviews (of films or music) are really opinion. Have a look for some reviews in Rolling Stone (which also, by the way, features some absolutely amazing feature writing). Anyone interested in writing reviews (especially music reviews and music writing in general) should hunt down anything by Lester Bangs. Here’s a sample. When you can write like that, I’m happy for you to write all the opinion you want! Finally, if during your research and reading you find anything good, post the links below so the rest of us can have a look, or tweet them using the hashtag #justmyopinion.

Pretty as a picture

Border collie and frisbee. Photo: Ksuksa Raykova/deviantART

TOPIC: How to find photos and illustrations for your blog

DUE TUESDAY AUGUST 27: A photograph, illustration or map for each of your blog posts so far. The images you choose must observe copyright. In other words, you must have established that they are available for use under a creative commons licence, or you must have the author’s permission to use his or her work. Of course you can always use your own photos!

READ: Creative Commons FAQ

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Most eye-catching blogs use images to enhance their appeal – the Internet is after all a highly visual medium. Acres and acres of text unbroken by occasional illustrative relief are actually tiring to the eye, and tend to turn readers away. Of course there are exceptions, but a text-only blog should be very clean and unfussy if it is to be attractive to your audience. If you’re publishing journalism-style work on your blog, photos, illustrations and graphics are essential. Your Syria posts might serve as good examples: they really need a map so that your readers know where in the world Syria is.

One of the first places to look for good photos to use is Flickr. Head straight for the advanced search page and scroll down to the bottom where you’ll see an option to tick the box “only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” (in the photo below). Tick that box, and perform your search.

Once you’ve found a photo you like, click on it. At the top left above your photo, click on the link “actions – view all sizes” (see below).

 

On the next page you’ll be offered a variety of different photo sizes to download. I recommend keeping a folder on your computer or USB for blog photos, so you have them all in one place.

COPYRIGHT

It’s absolutely vital that you don’t infringe anyone’s copyright. For that reason, you cannot just download any old photo or illo you find using a Google Image search. The cat photo above is an example of one which is not available for use without permission (and probably payment to the photographer). Despite Flickr offering us a range of download sizes, the critical point is the licence: it says clearly “All rights reserved …” (see below), which means you may not use the photo without asking. If you’re crazy about the pic, and absolutely must have it, you need to contact the photographer to ask for permission.

CREATIVE COMMONS LICENCES

Flickr photos which are available for use will have a licence like the one below, which says the photographer agrees you can reproduce his or her photo, but you must attribute it (i.e. provide a photo credit). In the example below, the photo credit would be “Photo: donnmjck/flickr”. If you can make the photo credit a hyperlink back to the photographer’s Flickr page, that’s even better.

You must become familiar with Creative Commons licences and the rules of using other people’s work. You might also consider licensing your own work, and making the photos you take available for others to use.

Another really good source of illustration is deviantART. Again, observing the artist’s copyright is mandatory. You can usually find information about the terms of use if you click through to the artist’s deviantART page. If there’s nothing there, you should leave a message on the page asking for permission, or email if there’s an email address provided.

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LINKS: To see more photos by Ksuksa Raykova, go to her blog (if you have Chrome, it will translate it from Russian to English), or to her page on deviantART.

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Copyright on the Internet

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