Thursday, May 8, 2014

Re-usable Images!

As SLPs and other educators delve into creative visual tools, it opens up a world of language opportunities for our students. Creating videos, animations, books, comics, and other products is always a language process, and we can scaffold the use of many strategies while using these tools. However, using visual creation apps often requires images, and there is more than privacy at stake in this matter. We also must consider copyright and fair use.

As a general rule, using pictures saved via a Google Image search is going to be fine if what you are creating is staying on your iPad and not being republished or widely disseminated. For some examples, you're OK if you have saved a Google Image for educational purposes and you:
-Mark it up with photo annotation tool Skitch, save it to the Camera Roll and/or print it for use with the student or display in a classroom.
-Add it to a visual made with Custom Boards (which also has a built in Google Image search).
-Use it in a social story of which there are one (or "few" according to the confusing guidelines) copies.
-Add it to an album in the Photos app and only use it there.

We have to consider where trouble with copyright could occur on somewhat of an app-by-app basis, or even via some "if/thens" within a given app. For example:
-Toontastic, a wonderful animation app, allows you to add backgrounds from the Camera Roll, making for unlimited contexts for storytelling. If you have saved a Google Image without attention to copyright and send your completed toon containing that image as a background to Toontube, the app's optional sharing site, this is an issue. However, the app also has the option to just save toons within the app or to the Camera Roll, which is OK.
-Tellagami, a great talking avatar app, has a similar background image capability. Save your creation to the Camera Roll, and you're good. Upload that video to YouTube, and you're not.
-Many e-Book creators such as Scribble Press and My Story allow you to share your books, but only by first uploading them to their websites. This is a problem if you (or students) have saved images indiscriminately. Unless using images licensed for reuse (see below) share the book only to iBooks on your device or use a different app such as Book Creator, which allows you more diverse sharing options.

The purpose of this post is ultimately to offer solutions, not just scary problems. So if you know your work is to be shared (emailed to many parents, tweeted, posted to a website, uploaded to an app's sharing "gallery" of any kind) when it is completed, simply start by obtaining images licensed for reuse, along with citation information. Two easy ways to do this:

Google Images
Wait, didn't we just say use of Google Images is potentially problematic? Not if you customize your search to find images labeled for reuse.

This option was recently added to Google Image Search. Click/Tap on Search Tools, then Usage Rights, and filter by "labeled for reuse"

When saving your image, also note the source so that you can site it in your work with an "Images From" section or some sort of credit.

Flickr Creative Commons
I like Flickr Creative Commons for its wide selection and ease of identifying the source of an image for citation. This resource requires a few extra steps to get to a downloadable/save-able/citable image:

-Click/tap See more on the license level you want to use- I generally use Attribution.
-Search for images, tap or click on one you like to see it in detail
-Tap the 3 Dots, then All sizes
-Tap and hold on (if on iPad) or right-click/ctrl-click image to save. Note creator at the top of the page (e.g. johnsmith on flickr) so you can provide attribution if republishing, and use a link if possible.

image licensed for reuse by scott1346 on flickr
Above, an example of citing an image when republishing!

For some more background on this issue and these strategies for obtaining images, check out Common Craft's great video on Copyright and Creative Commons.


  1. Great summary there, Sean! Just to add to the discussion, the book "Getting Permission - How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online and Off" by Richard Stim is an excellent reference. It's now in its 5th edition and written by an attorney who specializes in copyright and patents, so it's pretty authoritative - yet easy to read! It costs about $25 from the publisher, Nolo, and the same from Amazon; and it's available in both "real" and eBook formats.

  2. This is great, Thanks for sharing.