Copyright Issues for Students

First and foremost, in any class that involves the creation of images and the Internet, I need to address the issue of what is--and is not--legal regarding images, code, or anything else that you can view over the Web.  I have to thank several sources that state things much better than I could ever hope to do so.  The best explantion is made available at the What is Copyright Protection page.

Another is from Brad Templeton and debunks ten myths about copyright Both sites cited (sorry about that) make it very clear that just because you can right click and/or go to View/Source and copy code, does <b>not</b> make it legal for you do so if you intend to use it for your website, a birthday card that you want to print, or any other purpose.  NOR does it have to be marked as copyright protected for it to be protected. 

In fact, it has to be marked as "Free to use" or else you must assume that it is considered protected by its creator.  If you'll note here on my site, on the Figures page, I have put up such a notice for folks AND I have my figure examples plastered all over'em with Karamy (my "face")  and text ( to make sure folk understand that.

Now, is there an exception?  Yes but it is a danged complicated one.  Fair use allows images to be used for educational purposes and in a class like a Photoshop or Dreamweaver or Illustrator class, yes, the web provides the biggest source of images for a student to use to learn how to use the program. One of the best definitions of Fair use that I've found so far comes from the University of Maryland University College Library web site.  The portion below is their work and is the guideline under which I work as an instructor of a digital imaging program who is also very much concerned that I make sure that I properly inform all those I teach about what Fair Use means:

What are the Rules for Fair Use for Instructors?

Copying by teachers must meet the tests of brevity and spontaneity:

Brevity refers to how much of the work you can copy.

Spontaneity refers to how many times you can copy.

According to the rule, the need to copy should occur closely in time to the need to use the copies. I call this the "one semester rule." If you use something for one semester it is likely to be seen as fair use. If you use something repeatedly, it's less likely to be considered fair use. The expectation is that you will obtain permission as soon as it is feasible. Using something over a period of years is not within the spirit of the guidelines.&quot;

What applies to teachers also applies to students.  It would be acceptable to take images (or code) to work on a project here in class as an assignment and manipulate them in order for you to learn how to use the program but those same images cannot be used by either you (as a student) or me (as your instructor) for any other purpose than learning/teaching how to use the program. And you should list the sources for the images you are  using (see the pertinent section: Fair Use on the &quot;What is Copyright&quot; page).

Once the project is completed/graded and the grade recorded, the images created using images collected over the Internet are to be dumped, erased, destroyed, whatever word you choose to use.  They are not to be saved or used outside class or in anyway reused or redistributed for any purpose without the express permission of the person whose work you are using. There are a ton of sites out there that provide free clip art and images and/or first class images for a minimal cost ( is one of my favorites at $1/image and Photoshop you can access their Adobe StockPhoto service by going to File/Browse and look for the Adobe Stock Photo item.  If you're connected to the web, you're in!)

Is this strict? yes.  Is it needed?  Yes.  Like the music industry, visual arts are pretty heavily impacted by the ease of rightclicking and saving images.  For those who make their living by creating art, it is vital that we respect them, their art and thereby allow them to continue to create beautiful things that we can all enjoy.  One reason I teach photoshop is to help you as my student develop your own abilities so that you too can join the world of creative artists these laws were designed to protect.