Giving credit when it’s due: attribution in blogs

Andrew Keen, author of the controversial “The cult of the amateur: how today’s internet is killing our culture“, dishes some pretty harsh criticism on non-professional content producers. To his mind, the current “cut-and-paste culture” undermines the hard work of artists, authors, musicians, filmmakers, editors and journalists. He argues:

“The problem is not just pirated movies and music. It’s become a broader quandary over who-owns-what in an age when anyone, with the click of a mouse, can cut and paste content and make it their own. Web 2.0 technology is confusing the very concept of ownership, creating a generation of plagiarists and copyright thieves with little respect for intellectual property.”

Ok, so this is a bit harsh (but nothing compared to the rest of the book throughout which he kindly likens internet uploaders to “exuberant monkeys”). However, he does have a point. If bloggers want their medium to be taken seriously, there are certain standards that need to be adhered to regarding accuracy, linking and attribution. The latter is the topic I’m most interested in.

While The Blog Herald wrote an excellent post on this subject that I’d recommend you read, I want to focus mainly on photo attribution, since it’s an issue that bloggers tend to ignore. Naturally, including images in a blog post jazzes it up. It’s understandably tempting to insert images from the web from sources like Google Images, Flickr or Yahoo Images. While many bloggers do do this, it’s actually illegal if the image is protected by copyright – and most are. The choice then is to buy the rights to the image or find an image that isn’t protected by copyright, but instead protected by something very cool: a creative commons license.

The license works like copyright in the sense that it protects the rights of the artist – but leaves it up to them to name the terms. Creative Commons’s site says they “provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.” To get a better understanding, watch Creative Common’s video below:

Convinced? So, now you need to actually find those creative commons-protected images, right? There are lots of options. In Yahoo Images, click on options>advanced search>creative common license. Another good option is searching with FlickrStorm. Follow advanced>search creative commons photos. 

So now that you’ve found your safe image, how do you attribute it? Scribd offers a very helpful, thorough description. In a nutshell, correct creative commons attribution requires bloggers to:

  • credit the creator
  • provide the title of the work
  • provide the URL where the work is hosted
  • indicate the type of creative commons license
  • include any copyright notice associated with the work

There are lots of different ways for you to do this in your blog – the important thing is that all your bases are covered – to save your ass and show your appreciation to the person whose work is actually making yours better.

One more thing: if you’d rather skip all of this but still do things by the book, then your other option is to use Picapp – a copyright-free database of stock photos you can use in your blog. It’s a totally free service that is compatible with blog hosting sites like blogger, wordpress and others. There’s no need to attribute them per se. Here’s an example of one of the images:

[picapp src=”d/f/8/f/Beach_huts_1ea4.jpg?adImageId=5227761&imageId=5079197″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]


Here’s their super-cute tutorial video:



Filed under Uncategorized

3 responses to “Giving credit when it’s due: attribution in blogs

  1. Thank you very much for the tips. especially i think i will certainly make use of PicApp in future.

  2. Shamina

    Hi Renee,

    Thanks for this – very useful for some of us first-time bloggers! I particularly enjoyed Flickr Storm – The Creative Commons images available on there are great quality and its even better knowing we can use them under the CC license!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s