Photo Pin searches for Creative Commons images on Flickr. Flickr has an advanced search option for exactly that, but Photo Pin simplifies the download and attribution process.

This is a K.I.S.S.* product, reducing the effort needed to find and credit photos. The primary purpose is described as giving access to photos for blog posts. Unless you take your own photos, you should always use photos that use a liberal license such as the ones available through Photo Pin. Photo Pin connects to Flickr, where thousands of people have posted photos, but only searches for photos that have a Creative Commons liberal license.

The following screen capture documents a search for “books” and the particular image shown has one of the Creative Commons licenses that is pretty restrictive. “Attribution, Non-commercial, No-derivatives.” That means I cannot use the photo for advertizing a product, or sell my blog post with the photo in it, or make changes to the original. I also need to display credit for the photo. Fortunately, that’s one of the things that Photo Pin makes very easy.

Screen capture of Photo Pin "books" search

In the left column, you see the license limitations clearly identified.

At the bottom, you’ll find a complete credit, set in html code that is typically easy to add to a blog post or other web page. Past the code below the image or at the end of the post, whichever is appropriate for your situation. Just be sure you do the attribution. That’s the basis of the Creative Commons licenses, no matter what other restrictions are applied.

You do still need to verify that your use is valid. There are several licenses under the Creative Commons umbrella. They range from allowing almost any use to very limited use. They do stop short of full equivalence with standard “all rights reserved” copyright. Read the terms and know your use fits before you use a photo.

Always comply with the attribution requirements, too. You are being a good digital citizen, encouraging others to share with you.

While Photo Pin specifically targets educational bloggers, the tool is also valuable to anybody who wants to legally add photos to their digital works.

Give back. That’s next, of course. Share your own photos on Flickr. Use a Creative Commons license when you do. Please consider using the least restrictive license you can. Your work will go further and do more good if you do.


*K.I.S.S – “Keep it Simple, Stupid” which in the case of Web design is a very good thing.


Big Buck Bunny is free! He has escaped being assigned to “The Vault” where so many of his type have been locked away behind the formidable firewalls of their corporate masters.

Enjoy this short celebration of his freedom to expression.
[Click that triangular arrowhead covering one of his handsome cheeks to start the show.]

Speak out. SOPA protests were a good beginning. It is time to tell the legislators of this planet that the copyright laws are not benefiting the citizens (unless their personhood is incorporated). Let copyright monopoly expire in time for our children to enjoy more of the work now trapped in “The Vault.”

Play is emulation, copying. It is natural for kids. Teach emulation. Teach copying. Teach attribution. End the cycle of plagiarism. Teach copyright through the lens of common culture.

Children copy routinely. I don’t just mean they copy from encyclopedia articles for class. I mean, they copy the behavior of others. They copy the clothes their friends wear. They copy the swear words they’ve heard their parents use. They smoke because it is “cool.” Cool is simply a term that says “I’ll do that, too, because that other dude does it.”

You should try to write so everyone will want to copy what you’ve said.

Get pdf of page: (US Letter size poster)

It is natural to want to emulate our heroes. We crave to have at least their style.

I followed a Twitter link to this article by a teacher:
I recommend that every educator read it and think about the issue seriously.

“After school got out, I had to zip across the street to the public library. While I was there, I figured I’d ask some of the questions my kids had about copyright to the librarians. While they couldn’t provide much for answers besides “It’s education so you should be good to go,” they were extremely impressed that I’m digging into copyright with my kids and not just pretending like it doesn’t exist. Besides just feeling like it’s hard to “teach” my kids about copyright because I don’t know much about it and there seems to be so much gray involved, I hadn’t thought about how I would be doing them a disservice by ignoring it altogether.

Today really convinced me that I need to trudge on. Besides these two projects this quarter, we’re going to hit research really hard fourth quarter. I think by then, the kids will really be ready to embrace creator rights. My goal is for them to choose their own CC licenses for whatever it is they create.”

As a teacher, embrace copying, encourage emulation and attribution. Demonstrate to students that plagiarism isn’t the same thing as celebrating our culture through emulation.

Teachers, you are the path to success for your students, or you are the blockade against which they will beat their heads. Show your students how open sharing is good. Honorable collaboration and seeking advice should be what you present. Be honest. You don’t need to know all the answers, so be willing to admit “I don’t know, but let’s find out.”

Then when you have the answer, credit the source.

If you create worksheets, study guides, classroom directions, any teaching tool, openly publish it with a liberal license. Creative Commons provides several. Let your students know you are doing it. Let the parents know you are doing it. Let your students learn to value their culture. Maybe some of them will copy what you do.

Support the Open Internet.

Make it easier to share.

Creative Commons CC-BY Badge

Look for this badge on the Web - Use it yourself.

You see the badges on Web sites, and they make it easy to decide what you can do with the information. CC-BY is my favorite license. It means you can use the page contents and your “cost” is acknowledging the original author. That’s just common courtesy. This is the way to help teach your students how sharing works. It also encourages them to think of others in everything they do.

The CC-BY license is just one of the licenses that Creative Commons has developed. Choose the one which suits your needs.

I encourage you to choose to use the Creative Commons licenses and teach your students about them, but here’s your chance to donate some money, too.

For the record, I donated today.

If you do public performances (including classroom singing) of most Christmas carols this season, you normally need to pay a fee because most carols are under copyright.

Watch this cute video and learn a new carol for the holidays. You’ll get the added benefit that the tune is in the commons, thanks to a Creative Commons license.

I don’t really understand economics. Why gas prices go up in the summer eludes me, for example. But I was very interested in Ransom Stevens’ clear analysis of the economics of the publishing industry in this age of Internet and ebooks.

[I am going to go back to do more scanning of the content of the parent site: whom I thank for Stephens’ article which is released with a Creative Commons license. Good.]

Ransom Stephens isn’t described as an economist either (the article link of his name leads to his ID as a technologist and physicist, but his article is both enlightening and clear. His analysis may be controversial in the era of Digital Rights Management and expanding copyright terms. But new authors come along all the time. A few of them get a book published through the current system. Stephens envisions that all authors would get their shot and a new “word of mouth” in the Internet would give more of them a chance. He does have the following statement of publishing gloom though.

Except for the case of textbooks – but that’s a different article (the answer: textbooks in printed form will truly, conclusively die).

Is this a future of books you can live with?

Do you have a different view, and how open do you think the process needs to be?

Know the facts.

This blog is about open source software in schools, and schools are charged with helping students to gain the skills with which they can access and use knowledge that has been created up to the time of their education. By encouraging creativity, schools can also prepare students to contribute, adding new knowledge on their own.

Copyright is one tool used to “encourage” the development and expression of new and valuable knowledge. If you are interested in open source/open knowledge, you need to know about copyright.

I would recommend you read The Illustrated Story of Copyright by Edward Samuels, a faculty member of New York Law School.

The book is accessible on the Internet.

UPDATE 6-09-09:

If you are even more interested in learning about copyright, you will benefit from looking into the blog of William Patry, a copyright lawyer for 26 years.

He has apparently written a 6000 page book about copyright, too, which he mentions in a blog post.