image credit Sam Judson
With tactics not dissimilar to those used by the Music Industry, it is not surprising one could get the impression that digital content providers work against the best interests of their potential customers or users. Using the medium of the BBC Education News pages this latest example could be seen as a deliberate attempt to scare schools about their use of digital images.
Whilst the 'advice' offered by Jean-Louise Green may be legally correct, she does not provide any constructive or positive suggestions as to how schools might review the way they use and access digital images; for example, there is no mention, of using Creative Commons image search, (currently with over 61 million images to choose from), or pointers to any of the excellent collections and other sources of digital images schools could draw upon.
Perhaps this is hardly surprising because, Jean-Louise also runs Picture Nation, an image library and brokering service, which sells images to schools at prices, that many would consider, exorbitant, with restrictions on use and access. Is it a coincidence that this item appears at a time when schools have to seriously consider spending their elcs before the funding runs out in August? Perhaps it is in the interests of content providers to try a create a climate of worry and uncertainty, and on the back this offer schools an easy, (and possibly expensive) option.
I believe, what could be more helpful to schools would be focussed CPD, workshops and communities of practice to help teachers and children use digital images and other digital assets legally and confidently . This is becoming an increasingly important element of digital literacy, and schools could benefit from exploring these issues in contexts that include, searching, tagging sharing and file formats, rather than a list of rules. What they probably don't need is threats and warnings from Linda Macpherson, the lawyer quoted in the piece. Mmm... it is also interesting to note the close relationships between all the sources of input to the article.
"RIAA notice" image credit Wesley Fryer