The internet has made things easy to find, and easy to take and use without permission. As a matter of legal right, and Quakerly integrity, it’s important to think about copyright and fair use concerns when creating media for your own use. This has become more complicated as everyone now seems to have an easy way to click on a picture or song, and download and use.
Here’s a good basic summary of how and why this applies. When in doubt, assume the image you want to use (unless you took it yourself) does NOT belong to you, and you need a permission. “I found it on the internet – it must be free for me to take and use” is NOT fair, or legal. Also note some photos can be used without altering, others are free to edit and alter, some you may use with attribution, some do not need it.
How do I do this at New England Meeting of Friends? A number of ways.
I ask for photo permissions all the time! I see candid snapshots taken by Friends at Quaker events, and we love to show them in NEYM newsletters and media. “May I use this for NEYM print and online publications, with attribution?” is what I usually ask. Pro tip: just ask for a general permission. You may want to use a photo in two years, when you have a new media platform that didn’t exist when you asked for permission! I then save the photo in google drive, named with the person who gave the permission.
Some Quaker photographers are happy to allow us to use their photos for free – and they watermark their own photos so each one has their name/website right on the photo. For others, we make sure we assign an “image credit” – our NEYM website will not let you upload a photo without including a credit (safety measure).
Here’s a watermarked photo from Skip Schiel, at http://teeksaphoto.org/ – I can’t just “use it” because it has his name on it (lower left corner) – I still need permission to repost (I have it for NEYM purposes). He links on his website to a slideshow of mine – he reposted it, didn’t alter the work, and linked from the public posting (our NEYM youtube account) – that is also just fine!
Here’s a different example. In this case, Arnie Alpert, of AFSC New Hampshire, has given me permission to use the photos he posts online from various NH witness and events. Note in this case I credit him in the image. I also use the “NEYM” logo as part of the graphic (made with Canva) so when it is shared more widely, we (NEYM) is the creator of the work – and sharing is under our creative commons policy. That is my work for the YM and our agreement – they “own” that work. NEYM has given me their various logos and watermarks for this paid work.
A third example I often use is our very popular “quotation posts” – sometimes it’s easier and quicker (and more appropriate) to use a general photograph. These are the photos I select from Unsplash and other sites for this purpose. Be careful! You may see that photo in other places, used in other ways. They are not unique to you (that’s ok for me).
On Facebook and other social media platforms, there is an even easier way to share photos and news. On our NEYM Facebook page, I will often simply “reshare” the original public post from another page or person. It is assumed that the person who made the original post has permissions. If they are asked to delete it for any reason, (or Facebook deletes it due to copyright violation) it will automatically “disappear” from our NEYM Facebook page as well.
What questions have arisen for you around this important issue? Share them in the comments!