Monday, February 2, 2015

Giving credit

pelotón de fusilamiento by kinojam, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by kinojam on Flickr

We live in the age of ubiquitous photography. I remember the days when I wondered if I should take one or two film rolls with me on holiday and the cost of developing 50 photos was considerable. Today I just snap everything I see and come home with hundreds of photos, some of which are quite good. An astounding amount of photos are stored and publicly shared in various cloud repositories like Flickr or Picasa and once there they can then be shared and reused by thousands. Once your photos are out there they develop a life of their own and you no longer control your creations.

In a world full of mashups and remixes we borrow from a wide range of sources and create new works. However it is seldom you see the original creators getting any credit and although the practice doesn't result in a copyright lawsuit it would be only fair to give credit to those who have inspired you. Professional photographers are generally good at protecting their work and being explicit about rights but the hordes of good but not professional photographers are often less careful and their work is then reused without credit. Putting a Creative Commons license on your work makes it clear how you would like your work to be used and always demands that reusers clearly credit the owner of the work and link back to the original. The problem is that people need help to give credit in the right way and that's where new tools are needed.

A new service called is hoping to help people acknowledge their sources. has been started by a Swedish guy called Jonas Öberg, who describes himself as "a technologist, teacher, software developer, project manager, non-profit serial entrepreneur, husband and father."The service that allows you to search for the source of any photo you find on the net and generates a ready format for acknowledging that source. The aim is to encourage a sharing culture where credit is freely given to people who are willing to share their work. This should be common practice in schools and universities where citing text sources is obligatory academic practice but where photos are often used without credit, especially in PowerPoint presentations. But it's not just about giving credit. hopes to help build a community of photographers and offer a community service where everyone contributes and benefits. Since it's an open source solution the field is open for new add-ons and developments.

This isn't limited to photographs: knowing who authored something is essential to be able to give credit to that person. In school, we've come to learn and appreciate the need to cite our sources, to give reference and credit to the authors whose work we use. When others cite you and give credit to you, they help you build your reputation, something that's vital if you are to succeed with your ambitions, whether you're a budding writer, journalist, photographer or scientist.

At present the app is available for Chrome and Firefox. The service is still in its early stages and although the present volume of photos covered by is considerable it needs money to keep expanding. That's why they have started as a crowd-funding project so you're welcome to donate to the cause. Here's the introduction film to give you an idea of what Elog-io has to offer.

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