Copyright and attribution

This site has three authors, the main one, with responsibility for the images onsite, is James Higham. This page now was written on November 26th, 2011.

Copyright has changed through amendments to the law but as relating to blogs and images, the law allows an author and/or owner to assert copyright and give the blogger reasonable time to either take down or pay royalties. In such situations, if copyright is asserted, the image comes down immediately the webmaster here becomes aware of it. This in fact has happened twice so far through legal emails, one from America and in both cases, the image was taken down and an apology issued. In both cases, emails of thanks were then sent to the webmaster.

The vast majority act in this reasonable manner and this remains the policy at this site.

There are certain companies who are known for buying up images and this can render an image previously clear for reasonable use by the blogger into not only a copyright situation but an aggressively asserted right, with the desire for litigation and moneymaking behind it. Again, the law allows reasonable time for the image to be taken down and at this site, it is done immediately the webmaster becomes aware of it. Any continuation after this is covered by Arkell v Pressdram.

All reasonable care is taken, particularly after the mooted amendments to the law, to be assiduous in attributing. This is the letter of the law:

s29.—(1) Fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical, etc, work, for the purpose of research for a non-commercial purpose, does not infringe any copyright in the work, provided it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement of the source.

s30.—(1) Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of criticism or review, of that or another work, or of a performance of a work, does not infringe copyright in the work, provided it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement, and provided the work has actually been made available to the public.

… and the spirit is incorporated in this blog’s policy:

1. Images in possession of the webmaster before 2006 fall into three categories:

[i] belonging to him
[ii] not belonging to him and able to be attributed
[iii] not belonging to him and unable to be attributed

The last one is the trickiest because it comes back to the opening paragraph above – that ofttimes ownership is not known until someone steps up and asserts it and then, if that person can verify ownership, either the image is allowed to remain, with attribution or else it is taken down immediately.

2. Youtubes are held to be their own attribution on a blog because they contain a direct link back to the youtube page.

3. Creative commons is all about reasonable and fair use, using one copy only and:

The proper method for giving credit will depend on the medium and means you are using, and may be implemented in any reasonable manner, although in the case of an adaptation or collection the credit needs to be as prominent as credits for other contributors.

The standard method of attribution on a blog is either a hyperlink or a hat tip. Providing the link takes you to where the image came from, that is attribution. It is not necessary for the author himself to be sought out, if he chooses not to reveal this on a site page. The area is grey and comes back to someone asserting copyright and this blog’s reaction to that assertion, as mentioned above.

Occasionally the owner is mentioned by name in the post, in lieu of the hyperlink.

4. Wikipedia. Until some weeks ago, the policy of this site was that if there is not a hyperlink, it’s either found in Wiki under the topic discussed in the post or else it’s the webmaster’s own image. Thus, if it was, say, a picture of a lion and the topic was wildlife, if you went to the Wiki entry on wildlife, you’d find the image there.

5. This site’s policy since October has been that irrespective of whether it is Wiki, Creative Commons, Copyright free for use or in any other form, if copyright is asserted on the source page, the image is simply not used. If it is not asserted, then the fair use policy under law is in effect and a hyperlink, hat tip or the name of the author is fair attribution.

This hyperlink can either be embedded in the image or in some text within that post such that, if that link were to be clicked on, it would take you to the source. An example is this post. The images themselves are not embedded as they need to be enlarged and embedding prevents that so the hyperlink is in the text. This takes you to the page where you’ll find the image[s]. Ditto with this post.

6. Where an owner is unknown and reasonable searching did not find the source, then the image is used, subject to two conditions:

[i] if the right is subsequently asserted, then the image is taken down

[ii] ongoing review of posts is in any case done by the webmaster here to ascertain ownership or the original site. When the original can be established, then the image is immediately embedded with that link.

7. The intent and spirit in which images are used counts in law. This site asserts that it takes all reasonable steps to avoid copyrighted works where an issue might arise and as for any other images, excluding the author’s own, all attempts are made to attribute by the methods above. This site rejects absolutely any assertion that it just uses images willy-nilly. Care is taken on every image appearing onsite, particularly since the mooted amendments to copyright law.

8. This site further asserts that there must be fair play. It has never attempted to “rip anyone off” nor to avoid responsibility and cannot speak for any other blogsites. Almost all the time, it’s not been an issue with anyone. Occasionally, someone comes in to stir up trouble and in that situation, unless he [or she] is the actual author/owner of a particular image in question, this stirring is filed under Arkell v Pressdram.

James Higham

November 26th, 2011

15 comments for “Copyright and attribution

  1. Andrew
    November 27, 2011 at 01:15

    Copyright does not have to asserted. It exists the instant an original work is made (image, writing, whatever…), regardless of whether it is even published, apart from in a very few countries not party to the relevant international agreements. And the Creative Commons criteria are clearly available on the Creative Commons main website, which should be consulted for Creative Commons use. BUT, James, it really was and is no big deal to me, but you do have many images for which only a meaningless filename appears (if anything) when to at least make an attempt by repeating the url you copied from would have been easy, though still insufficient. Most bloggers do the same all the time, of course (perhaps within their own feeling of fair use but usually not within the legal one) and it was just the rather precious concern you raised about others being able to automatically copy your stuff without specific permission that struck me as worthy of comment. I am very sorry that you perceive this comment as causing “trouble” and I will not trouble your sensitivities with a single comment ever again. I have no desire to participate in places where my honest views are not welcome. That is my last word to you, ever. Goodbye, and even though you may not believe me, good wishes.

  2. November 27, 2011 at 07:33

    Andrew, you state:

    I have no desire to participate in places where my honest views are not welcome.

    I was well aware you’d answer this here when you couldn’t on the other thread and as you see, the comment is welcome, as indeed are you. The very tone of this comment here is more neutral on the issue and therefore your “honest view” stands.

    Not only that but it caused me to go back through the policy and through a considerable number of images last evening, when I usually sleep after a day at work, just to ascertain whether there were unattributed images and there are.

    Hardly not listening to your views or you not being welcome.

    I commented above that images either:

    [i] belong to me
    [ii] do not belong to me and are able to be attributed
    [iii] do not belong to me and are unable to be attributed.

    The last one is the critical one and in a blog where many images are used, “reasonable” care must be taken to attribute and that care is taken on this blog.

    when to at least make an attempt by repeating the url you copied from would have been easy, though still insufficient.

    Not at all. Not in the least. The hyperlink is more than sufficient attribution and every academic I know accepts it as long as it returns to the source directly. That is exactly the same as writing out the url.

    Not only that but in many cases, the url is written out precisely as a variant on the attribution. Your “view” is not borne out by perusal of the Creative Commons licence conditions for a start and it is from those and the copyright law in this country that I directly quote. I am well aware of what the law states regarding bloggers and keep within it.

    There are, having said all that, so many situations where the image is simply unverifiable as to its origin and that, as you say, sometimes involves other bloggers who use and re-use.

    The point is that I don’t do this and you libel me in asserting that I do. I am assiduous in sourcing images. The tone with which you came in last evening was hostile and your denial is like previous denials of yours – without substance. To any reasonable mind, the words “This concern from a blogger whose blog is stuffed full of images pulled from the web without attribution?” most certainly had an edge and were a direct slur on me and there was no intention, as was borne out in further comments from you, to take on board my explanation. It was of no interest to you – precisely what you accuse me of [projection].

    One person, in fact, emailed me afterwards and mentioned trolls but I know you’re not a troll and never stated that. You do get a bee in your bonnet about some things though and nothing will shift it, no matter how much evidence is shown.

    Test case – images on the front page, as of last night, were checked by me and one image, not “many”, as you assert, had no attribution and needed it. It was the reptile on the shark.

    I don’t know the source because the source is blurred. The source itself appears to gather images and so it it is left open. Do I use the image or not?

    Yes because my policy is to make reasonable efforts to source and so it awaits some artist popping up and asserting copyright. Then the procedure is clockwork. You mention it’s not necessary for the right to be asserted. Yes it is.

    If it is not asserted, I can’t know and have to assume it’s either in commons or is copyright, which requires me to await an assertion. There’s a critical point here. The law speaks of “reasonable use”, “fair use” and “reasonable steps” and it’s clear that I take those.

    “November” is a case in point and I was not to know you’d be initiating this at the point where those images went up. So I’m happy to stand on how those images were treated and no alteration whatever has been made to that post nor will it be [easily verifiable through database entries on revisions]. The way images are treated in that post is the example for the blog as a whole – that is the intention and the practice.

    You assume that all images unattributed are copyright but the law asserts intellectual property rights within certain conditions, one of which is that there are duties required of the owners. Not only that but latest amendments actually free up, rather than tighten copyright in certain situations after fierce protest to the government.

    As an image user, I attempt to stay au fait with what the law says at any time on the matter but do rely on google to supply news items on it, otherwise, how can I know?

    Having said all that, what it appears to come down to in your mind is that hyperlinking is insufficient. I state that it is more than sufficient if it identifies the source through one click. This is no different to a footnote or an endnote in a written work and last evening I checked a number of university websites and read their guidelines for students.

    Most universities go overboard and impose their own rules on top of copyright, just to be safe but even here, fair use is always mentioned on copyrighted works, let alone CC. I am within the guidelines.

    And you would expect me to be, given my university background, where such issues arose the whole time. This is the reason I didn’t appreciate the slur.

    OK, hope that clears the matter up.

  3. Andrew
    November 27, 2011 at 10:38

    May be worthwhile jumping in again on this thread if never any others, to let you know that if you are attempting hyperlinking in many cases it is not working. Click on the Blue Devil airship, and the picture enlarges up and the address bar shows just
    ie the location of the file on your own blog. If it does otherwise on your computer it’s perhaps because you have the link to the original which an external user does not have. Click further and nothing happens. Get someone external to try. The same issue applies to most others that I have ever clicked on.

  4. Andrew
    November 27, 2011 at 11:20

    However I do see that in the text a link to the url you took it from exists in that case, but try your “Women at Work” one as another example.

  5. November 27, 2011 at 11:22

    Glad you pinpointed one, Andrew. Click on the part:

    The techie bit

    … and the attribution comes up fine. As you say, it “applies to most others that I have ever clicked on”. That’s how it works.

    As I put in the policy – the link is within the post. Because of the nature of WP, an embedded image won’t enlarge and most times it needs enlarging. Therefore the link is in the text. The bottom line is that the attribution is there.

    For someone unfamiliar with blogs though, admittedly it would take some minutes to latch onto. Perhaps I assumed too much in this department and jumped in, not realizing you weren’t familiar with linking. If that is so, my apologies for jumping the gun and being borderline civil.

  6. November 27, 2011 at 11:31

    Our comments crossed. There’s no post I can find called women at work but I assume you mean this one:

    Now, if you click that, it does not link but if you look under it at:

    Well you know – this is a bit each way. The over 60s are certainly splitting up more and this is a major factor

    … then if you click on “this”, there is the attribution. I really do attribute whenever I can. Now I must apologize but I genuinely have to run [11:34] because I have visitors and must prepare. The thread remains open.

  7. Andrew
    November 27, 2011 at 11:34

    No the women at work photo is in Sexism watch – let the girls talk

  8. November 27, 2011 at 11:35

    OK, as I say, have to run now but will come back to this later.

  9. Andrew
    November 27, 2011 at 11:53

    I am very familiar with linking James. I do accept you are incorporating an indirect link within the associated text in many cases if not, so far as I can see, in all. My basic initial comment was simply due to being astonished by you complaining about people being able to ” get auto-images without our specific approval” when you use so many other people’s pictures without their specific approval. From a little spark a fire can grow. But I will spark no more.

  10. November 27, 2011 at 12:44

    Cup of coffee time.

    This is the one I think you mean:

    The top one was sent by email to me and the source of that is itself an aggregator so who knows where the original source is? I agree that people should attribute wherever possible, which I do and thus your “astonishment” is, of course, misplaced in my case.

    You haven’t established that I fail to play fair with copyright and attribution, for the reasons now laid out and it’s also apparent you were gunning for me, as you’ve now stated twice.

    Yet the thread is useful because you get your point across about the need to observe copyright and attribute and I get my point across about what the blog rules are for this site plus some forays into how it works in practice.

    Having said all that, I must say though that the lower image in the sexism post raises another question again. That’s because the original image:

    … lost its attribution when it had text added. When it was reposted, it went in unattributed and I rushed on to the next post and so on.

    This falls into the area of someone “asserting” and though you didn’t specifically mention this image, I saw it when I double-checked and have now embedded it. If you look at the site it was on, you’d know I’d be more than happy to quote it as it reinforces what I was about. What I mean is that there’s no reason there I’d not wish to attribute and the fact that I’ve now done shows I keep a list of my attributions – it was on this list. How many do that?

    Again I come back to the source of my ire which was that it seemed unfair. I do make efforts and take care to embed and link and/or hat tip, occasionally get it wrong but if someone brings it up, as per the blog policy, it is quickly corrected. If you go down the posts on the front page, unaltered by me [except for the one just mentioned now], you’ll see attribution all the way down.

    It is in no way anything like what you were trying to assert and that’s why I made an issue out of it. Now, if you’re done here, how about turning your attention to Photo Hunt entries – I’ve seen dozens of photos by bloggers you used to visit, Andrew and/or are visited by them, which have no attribution whatever and are not their own work.

    There’s a rich field for bringing the copyright/attribution question into the limelight in Photo Hunt.

  11. Andrew
    November 27, 2011 at 16:20

    I agree it’s a big issue and I am happy to leave it at that. I rarely look at Photo hunt but when I used to I always assumed it was a place for people to post their own images. Yours is one of the very few (less than half dozen) blogs I have regularly perused. I find it interesting, but will desist from commenting. I hope things go well for you in the future.

  12. November 27, 2011 at 23:37

    James, I am little bit curious about your comments on PhotoHunt…

    I have done PhotoHunt for a number of years and the people who participate post their own photos in one of two ways…

    They PhotoHunt in their (own photo) archives or take on the challenge for a much more up to date PhotoHunt and go out and take a picture that week that fits the challenge.

    I have never come across any photos in this challenge that have been taken from web pages…

    Do you have some examples of where PhotoHunters have used images inappropriately?

  13. November 28, 2011 at 00:38

    As you know Cherie, I don’t do PH but know the rules and there are two before me now on themes Handwritten and Cracked which fall into that category of the borrowed image. I’ve no desire to drop anyone into it. There’s another one from Asia and one from Australia but my feeling is – so what? I can’t see that they were being deliberately passed off as non-genuine but with the Cracked theme, the lower image was borrowed or else it was genuine and someone else on the web borrowed it because it’s appeared elsewhere. These were but a few. There’s one on Purple where the girl attributed to what appears to be her friend’s Flickr, so that doesn’t really count. The only reason I know about these is in image searching myself for the blog and coming across them from time to time, knew I’d seen them before and what’s happened, IMHO is that they’ve been borrowed by someone from the PH entry and appear on a blog elsewhere.

    The issue was not PH or impugning any particular people but to suggest there are other areas of exploration. My point is that it’s largely a non-issue in the general run of events although deliberately doing it is another thing. Pic Dump rules work along these lines – now there’s one to explore if one were obsessed with doing so.

    To me, the real issue is passing a photo off as one’s own or allowing people to think it might be so.

  14. November 28, 2011 at 01:10

    Yes I know you don’t do PhotoHunt which is why I wondered why you commented on it as if you knew all about it…

    I have never seen anyone on PhotoHunt passing of a photo that wasn’t there own.

    Why use that as an example for stealing/using photos inappropriately when you haven’t followed it?

    Please rephrase your first paragraph in the comment I am replying to. To me it is a load of waffle and makes no sense :-/ Cracked – purple – asia girl – friend – australia.

    As to the real issue – the important point is to attribute (to the originator (or source where you found the material) whether it is words, photos, art, creativity, ideas, thoughts).

    Bloggers always H/T to blog posts they like but perhaps don’t understand the link to other material they use is also important for a H/T

    It is a fine line, but I haven’t seen any PhotoHunters that have got anywhere near to the wrong side of the line…

  15. November 28, 2011 at 07:08

    Cherie, before replying specifically to the The Great Photo Hunt scandal and just speaking in general terms, I see you’re quite forthright about Photo Hunt users and your annoyance with me for casting a slur on them suggests that you see your point of view on them as the truth. You couch it in terms of “I’ve never seen” yet you’re sure that the truth in this is not as I’ve suggested.

    I could reply using Andrew’s terms – that mine is just an “honest opinion” or that there are two sides to every question or that everything is relative and that there are no immutable truths, which so many on one side of politics and religion maintain, that there are two equal and opposite sexualities – hetero and homo – that one must balance good with bad and therefore do as many bad deeds as good to “maintain the balance”, that according to the spirit of diversity, the nation must be all-inclusive of every ethnicity in equal proportions and that Christmas must not be celebrated because it would be offensive to others and we must all pull together in one huge irreligious soup – I could pull that one but I’m not going to.

    In fact, I’m going to say that you may well be right, which would mean I could well be wrong. Your strength of feeling on this is only matched by my strength of feeling on the political matters and as I wrote elsewhere, when so many feel one thing strongly, there might just be some truth behind what they’re saying, just as there might be with yours now.

    So, coming back to Photo Hunt, if we are to assume you are right, on the grounds that you are more familiar with it than I, just as I might be more familiar than most people with Them, having studied Them in fine detail, then it would be ignorant of me to attempt to gainsay you, mouthing things like “there are two sides to every question”.

    In fact, because I do believe in certain immutable truths and that people other than myself can be right, an issue we had with various commenters a few days ago on OWS, when the boot was on the other foot and people were refusing to consider they might just possibly be wrong, then let me say here that on the basis of your experience and expertise, you’re probably right about Photo Hunters.

    That leaves me with duplicated images, i.e. as I explained quite clearly above in English [not necessitating rephrasing of a waffle which makes no sense], that I have come across, in my image searching, many duplicated images, i.e. they appear on different blogs. Thus someone has taken and not attributed. I indicated to Andrew that there are dozens of such cases over time and therefore some people have been less than careful. The “Cracked – purple – asia girl – friend – australia” were just examples of those.

    As I said I had no intention to slur and as I didn’t want an issue made of this because Photo Hunt was only one example where this has occurred – there are Flickr, Photo Dump and many other sites and schemes using images – then obviously I’m not going to put those images up and compound the felony but I did explain what they were about.

    My immutable truth here is that there do exist duplicated images, i.e. images appearing on more than one site and ofttimes one of those sites is a Photo Hunting blogger. If it were not so, I would not have written it.

    As you maintain that it could never be the Photo Hunters themselves who took images from elsewhere, despite me having one here which one Photo Hunter did on the theme of Purple – it’s a pic of a flower – and it is quite clearly borrowed, for the simple reason that she acknowledges the source, which I’ve consequently been to – and that is one of many, then clearly someone is going to Photo Hunt sites and borrowing images unattributed, which Andrew alluded to, although he erroneously tried to implicate me in the wrongdoing.

    After the discussion with Andrew, I went through my blogrolls at the sites which run images and was shocked to discover that two of them were running unattributed and unembedded images fairly regularly. Once again, as with those Photo Hunters, I’m not going to shop these bloggers but might send a quiet, friendly email to be careful.

    The essence of this post though, the one which fellow bloggers would pickup and which validate the post, is related to your comment:

    As to the real issue – the important point is to attribute (to the originator (or source where you found the material) whether it is words, photos, art, creativity, ideas, thoughts).

    Bloggers always to H/T to blog posts they like but perhaps don’t understand the link to other material they use is also important for a H/T

    This post concentrates on images, rather than text and so I presume that’s what you’re referring to. Yes, it is important to do so and that’s where, in a copyright dispute, the law will look at the intentions and behaviour over a period of time of such bloggers. Where a blogger clearly attempts to attribute whenever possible [and it’s not always possible to find the owner or original source], then the term “reasonable” comes into it.

    In the case of some, no reasonable attempt has been made and there is no policy or system in place, unlike this site. With the law being the ass it is today and justice being completely relative, there is no guarantee that even doing the right thing will suffice but I agree we do need to try.

    On the other hand, with the proliferation of photosharing – and Flickr does make it easy to do – then the intent of people on the web is to share, is it not? The whole idea of it is to share and that involves duplication and “one copies only” – let’s leave aside deliberate malfeasance for now.

    That’s why there was the strong reaction against the law about cookies, such a law criminalizing anyone on the web by definition. This is all too common these days with Them. That’s why the principle of fair usage is enshrined in those two sections of UK copyright law, to protect the user and recent mooted amendments would free it up further.

    This then covers copyright but still leaves a responsibility to attribute where possible. Where it’s not possible, one must wait for assertion by an author or owner and as long as there was no intent to defraud, that can be resolved.

    If many bloggers shy clear of images altogether over fears about copyright, then that is wrong IMHO, as images are a delight on the web and help many posts come alive. I see your point of view, as you are the photographer of images on your sites and don’t fancy any Tom, Dick or Harry coming in and ripping off your images unattributed and fair enough – I completely agree with you.

    Yet there is this photosharing tradition on the web which the law does take into account under the heading “fair usage”.


    One aspect which has not been covered and which I’d like to cover now is advertising. This site has never taken a penny from advertising, partly as I can see a case being made that I am profiting from other people’s images, which would invalidate the “fair usage”. Regarding Google, for certain reasons I shan’t outline here, Google can never pay me, nor do I have any intention of correcting this oversight on their part. I did have two other advertisers at one point but no money changed hands [easily verified].

    I was happy to run those and my section on advertising did mention a fee per link but that has not been up now for a couple of months and I felt it best not to take any money when I was asked by one firm. It did arise and I baulked when it came down to it – there seemed too many negatives which would flow both in real life and on the web from that. Hence no tip cup or Paypal either, no link exchanges, none of it.

    Why keep the Google advertising up then? Anyone dealing with Google knows it earns brownie points with them to have their ad sense up. My attitude to Google is that one can either call them out for their Facebookishness or else one can fully embrace them. I chose to fully embrace them and to hell with the consequences. Plus, the tower ads do add to the site IMHO and if someone is interested in any of them, so much the better.


    I’m going to use Cherie’s quote above [attributed of course] as the basis of an OoL post as certain things she says there about creativity are quite vital. It’s good that Andrew raised all this in the first place and Cherie clarified certain things.

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