“proper citation will make you a star”

I recently had one of my images used in article that was posted to LinkedIn and Academia.edu (one of the articles has since been removed) without giving proper attribution. What is ‘proper’ attribution? On the bottom of each page of this website is my Creative Commons license: BY-NC-SA (attribution / non-commercial / share alike). The license is simple and has stood the test of courts in many countries.

by-nc-saIf you are going to use some writing or an image from the Net, it is best to first determine its provenance. This source is not usually Google, which is merely an index. I suggest following the advice of Kate Hart, on Citing Sources [note the name & link]: “in general, the reason the internet has images at all is because of ‘fair use.'” This is known as ‘fair dealing‘ in Canada, and copyright laws are different around the world. It is best to be informed.

In general, giving attribution to the originator is the minimum requirement. Nina Paley, creator of the Mimi & Eunice cartoons, sums it up well in this animated video, via QuestionCopyright.org. Just remember, “Proper citation will make you a star“.


5 Responses to ““proper citation will make you a star””

  1. Nick Leffler

    It baffles me how anybody can republish something they didn’t create and not take the time to cite where they got it from. I know it’s not the intention to steal (at least I hope it’s not!) but it’s not hard to do. You’re not asking for money or anything difficult to provide, just credit where due 🙂

    Oh, by the way, did I mention that I created that video? OK maybe I only watched it and had nothing to do with its creation.

  2. Julian Elve

    Not only is it good manners, but when you look back at the reasons why Lessig and co introduced CC, it’s really important to support the balance of public good and due reward.

    However I suspect the vast majority of people don’t think about it for one moment – surely the most common experience most netizens have with sharing content is clicking “Share” on FB ?

    PS Harold looking at your earlier tweets this offence didn’t look accidental…

  3. Karen Jeannette

    Harold thank you for continuing to address issues of copyright attribution.

    I struggle to understand what is meant by non-commercial. I also struggle by what is meant by sharealike (even though I’ve read the CC statement many times). For example, many university or educational sites have a blanket ‘All Rights Reserved’ copyright statements on the bottom of their web sites and blogs. According to your copyright license, I do not think I can post an image/portion of a blog post with your (CCNASA) license to a blog on one of these sites because of the conflict with the ‘Sharealike’ and ‘All Rights Reserved’. Is this your understanding as well?

    Another question I have is about the non-commercial aspect. If a university uses one of your resources/images in a course for a fee, I would assume that some reimbursement would be needed to include those materials, or would this still be considered non-commercial use because it’s for educational purposes?

    I find myself erring on the side of caution, and splitting hairs, so any insight or wisdom you can pass on about these examples or related scenarios would be much appreciated!

    • Harold Jarche

      I added the non-commercial and share-alike clauses over time as companies used my work to generate revenue, and in some cases not attributing my work. I agree that commercial use can be a fuzzy area. I would say that if a university copies my material for a course that requires a fee, then it is a commercial purpose. If they link to my material/site, then it is not commercial. Of course, American law covers “fair use” quite broadly, so you may be covered by that. In Canada, “fair dealing” is less comprehensive.


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