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I apologize to my fellow Texas librarians for the cross-posting.

Earlier in the week, I posted a question about attribution and Creative
Commons.  My inbox was flooded with requests to post a HIT detailing what I
found out.  I think I finally have it figured out—sort of.  What I am
speaking to in this email deals only with using the images in CC for book
trailers that are published online. I am not speaking to the use of CC for
personal projects or in educational settings, where fair use law may apply.

 I hope this email won’t be insulting to those of you who already know this
stuff.   A vast number of librarians fully comprehend (and parlay their
knowledge into usable lessons) the ins and outs of copyright.  On a personal
level, this is daunting.  When I talk to other librarians, they seem to have
it all figured out, which leaves me feeling inadequate for not knowing what
I obviously should already know.  This may be a gamble, but I have a feeling
that there are a few of you out there who are as befuddled by copyright law
with regard to the internet as I am. I’m trying to dig my way out—one issue
at a time, starting with this one!

 This issue is important to me because I have a feeling that book blogs and
library websites are about to explode with teacher and student-created book
trailers. As media specialists, it is our duty to not only *teach* students
to respect the intellectual property of others, but to also *lead by example
with our own projects*.  When I first started creating trailers, I was so
excited with my end products that I didn’t take the time to consider
copyright issues, even though it did niggle at the back of my mind.  Once my
blog really started to take off, though, and people started asking my advice
on creating their own, I realized that I had a responsibility to learn the
right way, before I started helping others get started with their own

 I think it is safe to say that that it is definitely *not OK* to just
create a slide at the end of the trailer that says, “All Images Courtesy of
the Creative Commons Community.”  Even though this is the *easiest *way to
handle it, it’s simply not the ethical way to use the images if the trailers
are going to put online for the entire world to see.

 While it is common knowledge to many people, some still don’t understand
that it’s just not ethical to venture out on Google Images and lift pictures
to use in our projects.  Many people (especially our students and fellow
teachers) think if it's on the internet, then its fair game. (Of course,
it’s a different story when fair use applies—I’m only speaking to publishing
things online, especially on school sites.) As media specialists, it’s not
only our job…it’s our responsibility to educate others (and ourselves) on
the reality of the situation.

The reality of the situation is that before someone uses an image they’ve
obtained online in a project that will be published—and posting to a website
or a blog *is* publishing—they need to obtain permission from the owner of
that image, and then give attribution to them.  Imagine how time consuming
this would be—emailing each owner and waiting for their responses—especially
in light of the fact that when you’re searching for “just” the right image,
once you find it, nothing else will do.  Thankfully, Creative Commons
affords us the ability to skip that step.

I was under the misconception that when someone posted their work to
Creative Commons, it meant that CC became the owner of it. (This would make
a blanket attribution statement acceptable)  However, as inconvenient as it
may be, this isn’t the case. When someone posts their work to CC, they are
simply creating a situation where people don’t have to ask permission before
using it.  When someone posts their work to CC, they are given a series of
licensing options.  To view these options, click on the following link:    The owners allow others to use their
work, within the guidelines they set out—and for the majority of work
submitted; this includes a requirement to attribute credit to them when
using any of their work.  *Creative Commons doesn’t own anything*—it is just
an “umbrella” of sorts, which allows the “permission-getting” step to be

So…what did this mean for me?  Well, as much as I hated to do it, I knew I
needed to remove my trailers from the school blog and edit them, giving
proper attribution for the images I used.  It was a frustrating,
hair-pulling experience, but I think I finally did it. (Thanks, NB!)  I have
redone two of the trailers, which are posted at
I am in the process of updating my other trailers and will hopefully have
them posted by the end of the weekend.  In Animoto, the text on the slides
giving attribution are blurry—I can’t find a solution for this—if anyone
else out there figures it out, please let me know!  When using Windows Movie
Maker, the images come out much clearer.

I know that things are so easy to find online—it’s tempting to just use
what’s out there and not worry about what’s “right.”  For personal projects,
it’s one thing—but for us, as media specialists, we really don’t have
another choice, than to teach kids to use the internet responsibly with
regard to respecting the intellectual property of others. If we don’t teach
them, there’s a high likelihood that no one ever will—and we are setting
them up for potential sticky situations in the future—especially as
copyright law is sure to catch up with the advances in technology.

Have a great weekend!


Teresa Schauer
District Librarian/Pettus ISD
Pettus, Texas

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