Image Rights Online

Image available without restriction via Unsplash

I did a presentation recently on social media ethics and law in higher education, and the area that seemed to get the most interest and questions concerned the ethical and legal use of images. Ethical use might include not hotlinking to a site's servers to use an image, but ethics often crosses the line into law. You certainly want to respect copyright laws and intellectual property and those issues increase as the size of your organization increases in size and resources - and make you a more desirable lawsuit target.

Studies show that images and video increase retweets by 35 percent, and Facebook posts with photos get both more Likes and more comments. You write a post on a blog or any social network and you find a good image online - BUT do you have the right to use it?

Copyright protects all creative works. Those copyright laws protect photographers, videomakers and artists images. They also protect you when you create your own images that you share online. In fact, my first recommendation for image use would be to create you own original images. You own your creations and are protected even if you never registered it with a copyright office or other official body.

The U.S. section 106 of the Copyright Law states that only the copyright holder can reproduce the work, make derivative works based on the work, distribute the work to the public, and display the work publicly. That seems pretty clear and restrictive.

Image downloaded via GRATISOGRAPHY

Having worked in education my entire life, I know that the concept of "fair use" is often used as an exception to copyright. That is a rather gray area in many ways. Copyrighted works can be used without permission for specific “transformative” purposes that serve the public good. The questions that apply to these cases are:

Is it for commercial, non-profit, or educational use? (Commercial use presents the most problems)

Is the copyrighted work highly creative, or more fact-based? (Creative works are harder to justify for fair use)

How much of the work is reproduced? (There are no magic percentages, though I have often seen guidelines such as "as long as you only use less than 2 minutes of a film..." though they have no legal weight.)

How does the use affect the potential market for the original work? (Hurting the commercial value of the original is highly important.)

Fair use is often used in parody and criticism. If I write about a movie and my criticism includes several mages from the film to illustrate points made in the review, that meets the 4 criteria above. But adding a copyrighted photo on any post because it is attractive and eye-catching has no chance of being a legitimate use.

The myths I most often hear used as justification for using an image are  1) "But it's on the Internet"   2) "I didn't download it. I only hotlinked to it."  3) "I found it on Flickr (or Wikipedia or...)."   None of those are permissions to use an image.

So, where can someone get images to safely use besides creating them?

Creative Commons is one of the first sources usually mentioned. This system allows creators to make their work available for certain purposes using a Creative Commons (or CC) license and therefore not requiring express permission from the creator. You probably have seen their logo on Flickr, Wikipedia, or YouTube.

There are several Creative Commons licenses that allow or disallow including attribution, commercial purposes, and making derivatives from the original. See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

You can search for images on Google, but unless you narrow your search using their "usage right" tool setting in the search, you are very likely going to end up using copyrighted images.

Downloaded at Pixabay

There are sites that offer only images that require no permissions and are royalty-free. One of my favorites is Pixabay.  As their site states: "On Pixabay you may find and share images free of copyrights. All pictures are released under Creative Commons CC0 into the public domain. You can copy, modify, distribute, and use the images, even for commercial purposes, all without asking for permission or giving credits to the artist. " However, they do caution that the "depicted content may still be protected by trademarks, publicity or privacy rights." That might be true of an identifiable person, logo or private property.

Pixabay and other sites often rely on user-generated content being submitted to the site and the creator offering the images for use. That is true for some images on Flickr, most on Wikimedia, and sites like Gratisography. Be sure to read any site's copyright and usage information, such as the one for Gratisography.com.

Unsplash is a collection of images licensed under Creative Commons Zero, meaning you can use them for any purpose without attribution.  

cc-search

My favorite recommendation is to use a search engine that can search multiple free image sources, such as the Creative Commons search at search.creativecommons.org. From there, you can search for safe images via Google, Pixabay, Open Clip Art, Wikimedia and others. (It also allows searches for music, video and other media.)

If you have a budget for images, you should consider buying the rights to stock photography from sites like shutterstock.com and istockphoto.com They offer large professional libraries of photos with licensing fees based on the size of image and intended use.

Do a search on something like "free images for your website" and you will find plenty of articles and sites with information on sources. Read carefully and be sure of the rights that are allowed.


Our Attention Economy

eye

Money follows eyeballs. I saw that phrase on a slide in a conference presentation about marketing with social media.

Everyone wants your attention. Your children want your attention. Your spouse wants your attention. You want the attention of your students. Nothing new about that concept and there are plenty of ways to get someone's attention.

But it is a more recent way of thinking about attention to consider it as economics. I was listening to the audiobook of A Beautiful Mind recently. It's a book (and a good but highly romanticized film) about the mathematician John Nash. Nash received the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on game theory as it was applied to economics. His ideas, presented in the 1950s, certainly must have seemed novel at the time, but 40 years later they seemed logical. That will probably be true of attention economics. There are already a good number of people writing about it.

Attention economics is an approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity. With attention as a commodity, you can apply economic theory to solve various information management problems.

Attention is a scarce commodity or resource because a person has only so much of it.

Not only in economics but in education and other areas that focused mental engagement that makes us attend to a particular item, leads to our decision on whether to act or not. Do we buy the item advertised? Do we do what mommy said to do? 

We are deep into the Information Age and content is so abundant and immediately available, that attention has become a limiting factor. There are so many channels and shows on the many versions of "television" competing for our attention that you may just decide not to watch at all. Or you may to decide to "cut the cord" and disconnect from many of them to make the choices fewer.

Designers know that if it takes the user too long to locate something, you will lose their attention. On web pages, that attention lasts anywhere from a few seconds to less than a second. If they can't find what they were looking for, they will find it through another source.

The goal then becomes to design methods (filters, demographics, cookies, user testing etc.) to make the first content a viewer sees relevant. Google and Facebook want you to see ads that are relevant to YOU. That online vendor wants the products on that first page to be things you are most interested in buying. Everything - and everyone - wants to be appealing to everyone.

In attention-based advertising, we measure the number of "eyeballs" by which content is seen.

"You can't please everyone." Really? Why not?

In the history section of the entry on "Attention Economy" on Wikipedia, it lists Herbert A. Simon as possibly being the first person to articulate the concept of attention economics. Simon wrote: "...in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it" (Simon 1971, pp. 40–41).

Simon was talking about the idea of information overload as an economic concept and that has led to business strategists such as Thomas H. Davenport to use the term "attention economy" (Davenport & Beck 2001).

Where will this lead? On the outer edges are those who speculate that "attention transactions" will replace financial transactions as the focus of our economic system (Goldhaber 1997Franck 1999).

Designers of websites, software, apps and any user interface already take into account attention, but information systems researchers have also adopted the idea. Will we see mechanism designs which build on the idea of creating property rights in attention?


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

logoInternet.org was launched in the summer of 2013. Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a short whitepaper he had written about what he wanted to accomplish.

He wrote that he saw Internet.org as another step in the direction that Facebook had started going with earlier initiatives (such as Facebook Zero) to improve global Internet access.

Internet.org is a partnership between Facebook and six companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm) to bring affordable access to selected Internet services to less developed countries. 

Some writers have compared Internet.org with Google's X Project Loon which also has a mission of providing Internet access to remote areas. More than half of the world's population is still without Internet access. Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to extend Internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide.

Both sound like good things, but they have been met with criticism. There is a Zen-like proverb: "No good deed goes unpunished." Some say that these "good deed" projects would be violating net neutrality by selecting certain Internet services to be included. Might Facebook or Google exclude their competitors? In fact, in February 2016, regulators banned Facebook's Free Basics app service in India based on "Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations" and Facebook removed it.

Even Wikipedia has gotten into this space with its Wikipedia Zero. That project. by the Wikimedia Foundation, aims to provide access to Wikipedia free of charge on mobile phones, particularly in developing markets.

These kinds of projects rely on what is known as "zero-rating" which is toll-free data or sponsored data. For this to work, mobile network operators, mobile virtual network operators and Internet service providers have to NOT charge end customers for data used by specific applications or Internet services through their network.

 


Standardized Testing for College Admissions

Standardized testing for college admissions is now more than 100 years old. In 1901, the first standardized tests were administered by the College Board for college admissions.

At that time, many universities had their own entrance exams, some requiring prospective students to come to campus for a week or more to take exams.

But different colleges meant different standards. Students needed to know what schools they were going to apply to in order to know what would be required. Some high schools offered separate instruction for students based on which colleges (or type of school) they hoped to attend.

Colleges on the other end might consider in admissions how well previous graduates of a particular high school had done, or might send faculty to visit high schools and rate them.

Most of us today are familiar with the SAT which we took for college admission, but that is 25 years further in the history until we arrive at that test.

From 1885 to 1900, groups including the National Education Association formed committees, discussed and argued and finally formed the College Board (initially as the College Entrance Examination Board) in the hope of standardizing curricula at high schools with a goal of making a college education accessible to a wider pool of applicants.

This may sound somewhat familiar to more modern efforts at standards, such as the current Common Core State Standards, including the standardized testing. Those first standardized college entrance exams (given to less than 1000 students) tested English, French, German, Latin, Greek, history, mathematics, chemistry, and physics.

They were essay tests, not multiple choice. They were read and scored by a team of experts in each subject. That first year, the readers sat at tables in the library of Columbia University. the grades were: Excellent, Good, Doubtful, Poor, or Very Poor. They were used for several decades but did not have wide acceptance.

We would classify those tests as achievement tests because they tested for students' proficiency in a subject. The College Board would next move to using aptitude tests meant to measure intelligence, though achievement test in specific subjects were still to be used for admissions testing.

I was surprised to read that the motivation to change was twofold. Since some high schools didn't teach some subjects (like ancient Greek) or prepare students specifically for college, an aptitude test should make the test more accessible for those students. But a much more surprising and less well known part of the history of the S.A.T. is that some proponents of aptitude/intelligence testing were college officials who were concerned about the rapid influx of immigrants being added to their student body.

A Columbia University dean worried that the high numbers of recent immigrants and their children would make the school "socially uninviting to students who come from homes of refinement," and its president described the 1917 freshman class as "depressing in the extreme," lamenting the absence of "boys of old American stock." These college officials believed that immigrants had less innate intelligence than old-blooded Americans, and hoped that they would score lower on aptitude tests, which would give the schools an excuse to admit fewer of them.

It was a small group of men who drove the use of standardized testing in America. In 1925, the College Board began to use a new, multiple-choice test. It was designed by a Princeton psychology professor named Carl Brigham. He modeled it on his work with Army intelligence tests.

This new test was known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test or simply the SAT and it was first offered in 1926. Currently, more than 1.6 million students take the SAT each year.

Students started taking a new SAT in March 2016. Most students in the class of 2017 and beyond will take the new SAT in the spring of 11th grade and again in the fall of 12th grade.

As I wrote earlier, students are already prepping for the new test, including prep online offered free by Khan Academy.