Most of us are already familiar with websites like Facebook and Flickr but Pinterest is a fairly new kid on the block which is becoming increasingly popular for sharing images online.
In education, image sharing websites like Pinterest can be used by staff and students to post and share images as an open educational resource and a tool for teaching and learning. Colleges, for example, are exploring using image sharing for photography students to share their work and obtain peer feedback. However, alongside opportunities there are legal risks. Sharing images on sites like Pinterest, where by default the content is public, has implications - particularly for copyright.
In my role at Jisc Legal I provide practical guidance to colleges and universities to help ensure they comply with the law when using ICT. Here are my top tips to ensure that you are legally compliant when using image sharing websites like Pinterest in teaching and learning.
1. Remind staff and students that they should only post images they have created themselves or have the permission of the copyright owner to post
- Copyright owners have the right to control the copying or public communication of their work
- To avoid copyright infringement, permission or a licence is required to post or ‘re-pin’ images owned by third parties in image sharing websites.
For a practical example refer to Jisc's guide, Pinterest, image sharing websites and the law.
2. Be aware that you may be required to grant licences to the website or other users for images you post
- Image sharing websites do not usually claim ownership for images posted but require a broad licence covering reuse of images by themselves and other users of the site
- When posting third party-owned material ensure you have the right to grant the required licences
- If staff or students are required to use image sharing websites ensure they are aware of what rights they are granting others to reuse images they post.
3. Take advantage of images already available that are out of copyright or copyright cleared
- Our guidance on finding copyright cleared images for use in education
- The Creative Commons website has a tool for finding Creative Commons licensed works.
4. Act promptly if the college or university becomes aware of potential legal liability
- Implement a Notice and Takedown procedure to alert the college or university, where a question of liability arises from use of image sharing websites, and remove suspect content promptly
- Reinforce to staff and students the (Acceptable Use Policy) message that copyright infringement (including via image sharing websites) must not be done in connection with the college or university’s activities and that users must remove infringing materials on request.
5. Be aware that using image sharing websites can have privacy implications
- Where images contain identifiable individuals their consent is likely to be required before posting to image sharing websites
- Remember, as a default, content in an image sharing website is publicly available so is unlikely to be appropriate where students are required to share personal information
- In this case, assess whether privacy settings, such as those applying to private groups in Flickr, would be more appropriate for your intended use.
6. Carry out a risk assessment prior to using photo sharing websites as learning tools
- A risk assessment should identify any foreseeable harm and what measures can be taken to prevent it.
I hope you find my tips helpful. If you have any questions about using image sharing websites contact the Jisc Legal enquiry service: email@example.com.
Homepage image: CC0 flickr/library_of_congress