My students are getting ready to teach high school students next Saturday. They will have a short talk, hopefully in story format, and then an activity that illustrates the scientific principle from their talk. These are the same students who have been writing very nicely for Wikipedia. These are the same students who have been taught every carefully when they can use an image and when they cannot. They need to have permission to use it in this particular way, or it has to already have a Creative Commons copyright, and that needs to go on the image.
So why have all the talks I’ve seen so far contain tons of unattributed images? Why? Were the students unable to make the jump from entries on Wikipedia to images in talks? I’m guessing the problem comes from all those lectures they hear that are full of unattributed images. Yes, by you, you lazy professor.
There was a time when it seemed all right to take images for lectures in class. I did this myself. It made teaching animal behavior a lot easier. But that does not make it right. Now with the internet we can so easily get at other people’s property. Some people are trying to make a living with their images. Why should we make their lives miserable as they scramble to protect their property? It is wrong to take other people’s images and use them as your own. It is wrong to take other people’s images without attribution. If you are still giving lectures using using other people’s images without attribution, you are teaching your students something bad.
Is there a middle path for the busy professor using a talk in a university? If there is, it certainly still includes attribution. I believe it is all right to copy a single figure out of a paper, for example, for discussion . I don’t know all the details of fair use, but I’m sure it is not all right to just roam the internet stealing pictures.
Also, these days there are plenty of images with CC copyrights. Use them.
Wonder about all the photographs on this blog? Mostly I take them myself. Do you want to use some of them? Just ask. This is not how I make my living, so it is easy for me to share.