Friday, May 26, 2017

How to Get Reference Photos Labeled for Reuse

I've made it part of my mission in the last two years to teach students about copyright and fair use. I try to encourage students to...
  • Work from observation or your own photo if possible
  • Start with an idea in your head and then find the necessary references
  • Combine multiple reference images into something new

But SOMETIMES those options don't work. For example, I had a student who wanted to paint a picture of Machu Picchu for her sister who had visited there, but the student couldn't go take her own photo and since it is a real place, it wouldn't work to change the layout. In situations where you need to work from one reference photo, I teach my students to use the search tools built in to Google.

Here is what you need to do:

1. Go to Google and type in your search topic. Select IMAGES. The tools won't show up if you just do a general search.
2. Click the tools button off to the right.
3. Under usage rights, select any of the Labeled for Reuse options.
4. Double check and use common sense to make sure it's really ok to use. For example, if it has a watermark or copyright printed on it, it was probably labeled wrong.

This is not a fool proof method, but it at least gets students to start thinking about it and taking steps to responsibly and fairly use reference images.

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