Dec 032009

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I’ve contributed tons of content to Wikipedia including dozens of my own photos. Whenever you upload any images to the Wikipedia Commons it is automatically released under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. All image files pages clearly state this fact below the photo and even give you the idiot-proof summary of “In short, you are free to distribute and modify the file as long as you attribute its author(s) or licensor(s).” So anybody can use my photos that I’ve uploaded to Wikipedia but they are required to give me credit for it – or else it’s stealing.

I often see my photos show up while surfing the internet. Yet nobody has ever given a proper source credit to me, and although it bugs me when people break the rules, I generally don’t care much because it’s usually inconsequential uses. But I recently visited the website of my old high school and noticed one of my photos that I uploaded to the Wikipedia Commons was used in the header of no less than six of pages on the Northport High School website (squished disproportionally, no less).

Unlike other times I’ve seen my photos on other websites, this one bothers me because they are a school and they should know better. I work for a school district and I know how schools actively promote the responsible use of information obtained on the internet. So it really bugs me that a school (my old school) is teaching students about citing sources and not violating copyright regulations, but they’re not practicing what they preach. In this case they aren’t even required to ask permission, but they were required to give attribution. Heck, they link to a Citation Guide right on their website! Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to help out my alma mater and I’m happy to have them use my photo on their website, but ignoring the clearly posted license just ain’t right.

And the kicker is that they could do a lot better by just taking this photo themselves. I was in a huge rush when I took this photo in 2008 (actually 3 photos stitched together using Microsoft ICE) so I just took the photos from where I was parked without looking for a better camera location, and I also never bothered to correct the blatantly obvious color shift in the sky. But who knew that Northport High School would actually take my photo and use it in their website’s header.

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