The power to “publish at will,” digital citizenship, citizen journalism, a working understanding of intellectual property rights, and digital ethics are all important topics for 21st century learners. Subjects from each of these areas were raised by the following NowPublic.com request I received recently via FlickrMail from Terri Potratz in Vancouver, Canada:
Terri wanted to use a photograph I took in September 2007 of Chinese organic milk in her September 23, 2008, article for NowPublic, “China’s Toxic Milk Update: More Recalls and Bans.” Now that I’ve authorized the photo to be used in this article, it shows up with its own linked page on NowPublic in addition to its original online home in Flickr.
Terri was able to find this photo and correctly hypothesize I’d be willing to share it on NowPublic because of two things:
- At the time I uploaded the photo to Flickr when I was in Shanghai for the Learning 2.0 conference, I “tagged” it with the tags “milk” as well as “china.”
- I chose to upload this photo (along with almost all of my other Flickr photos) under a permissive Creative Commons Attribution-Only license.
I think the way in which NowPublic solicits direct permission from photo sharers (in this case, Flickr users) is a conservative best-practice for citizen journalists. While it is true I’ve already granted permission for Terri or anyone else to use and remix that photo as long as attribution is given to me as the photo’s author, it is conservatively safer to ask for permission to republish a photo online for a citizen journalism article. Virgin Mobile Australia didn’t take this step when it used a Flickr image of teen Alison Chang for a national advertising campaign, and the result was a big mess and lots of embarrassment for the company. (For more on that case and others, see my post from January 2008, “Understanding and respecting copyright a problem for many.”) While I agree with those who hold asking for permission to republish images that are CC licensed attribution-only (as mine are) is NOT required, I do see the utility in asking permission “just to be sure.” I think it is wonderful NowPublic.com has created a streamlined way for citizen journalists to ask for re-publication permission from original copyright owners and integrate documentation of that permission as well as proper attribution within their website.
I’m wondering if use of the NowPublic.com writing functionality could become part of a StoryChaser‘s teacher professional development institute down the road? I’ve been exploring options for facilitating a StoryChasers’ summer institute this summer along with several partner organizations. Things are not fleshed out yet, but prospects are looking hopeful. I’m very glad to learn more about NowPublic. It’s a site I’ve heard about in the context of citizen journalism, but hadn’t previously joined or explored in depth. Now I’m a member, and I’m hoping to write some articles for/on the site in the weeks ahead. 🙂
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