3. Blogging with images: Using open resources

(This video can be downloaded from Media Hopper Create.)

What are the conditions of use for images on the Collections website at the University of Edinburgh?

The University of Edinburgh is moving towards an open by default policy. However, that can only happen if the images are out of copyright, if there are no data protection issues, and there is no sensitive material displayed. So, currently about half of the images in the collections have an open licence on them, and can be used in any way that you want. They generally have a CC-BY licence that means that you can download them and use them however you want as long as you credit the university with ownership.

Some of the images are unfortunately not under the CC-BY licence. If you want to use them for a project you would have to contact the Centre for Research Collections and ask for permission to use it. The copyright information is clearly displayed on the website.

Although there are already a lot of digitised images online, The University of Edinburgh has a huge collection. So there is still a great deal that can only be seen by visiting the university in person. The staff at the Centre for Research Collections would encourage you to get in touch if you would like to arrange a visit to see something in particular.  

What other license restrictions are used by the University’s image collections?

The CC-BY licence is the main one that images are licensed under. This means you are free to use them for anything you like so long as there is the correct attribution.  There are more restrictive licences for some images. For instance there is a collection of Islamic manuscripts that contain images of the prophet Mohamed. These will not be given away under an open licence as the image is considered highly sensitive and could be used in a way that causes offence. So it is important to control the way that some images are used. In cases like these the University tends to use a much more strict Creative Commons licence.

There is a column on the left hand side that contains the metadata for the images. The licence is clearly displayed there.

The Leith Improvement Scheme photographs were a private collection. Why wasn’t a licence applied?

The community group did not have a great deal of experience in dealing with licenses and were very happy to be guided by the experience of the university when it came to distributing the photographs.

More importantly, the key purpose of the project was to restore the images, preserve within an archive, and distribute them as widely as possible.

It is very interesting to see how other people and organisations have used these images. For instance, a local magazine took one of the best known images, which is a young girl in an old coat in a street called Queen Street, and used it as their front cover. Another image of some barefooted children was used by a very popular soccer website called “Pie and Bovril”, with a reference to Leith. There have also been a number of stories run by the Scotsman newspaper to generate interest in the collection and draw their own links to the Port of Leith. So the main commercial use that is known is in publishing.

Activity: Finding the right licenses

You probably have a project in mind where you would like to use some images. Explore the University of Edinburgh’s images on http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/ and find some images you would like to use for your own project.

  1. What kind of license do the images have?
  2. What are the licence restrictions?
  3. What would you like to do with the images?

Thinking about how you would like to use the images in your own project, discuss whether the license is suitable for your needs.

Find out more