posting images on school websites

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  • Two copyright questions. 1. Can you post images of bookcovers copied from a source such as
    on a website as part of a classroom book review page?
    2. Can you post podcasts on a website with children holding up an actual book cover while they review the title?
  • This is just a quick response; I imagine you'll get others. In particular, I think that the answers to the questions may be much more straightforward if the use you describe is for a specific class and access is limited to class members. However, even if that is not the case, it seems to me you would have a fairly strong Fair Use argument for both scenarios. There's a great Fair Use checklist linked from our home page that you can use to help you go through this analysis yourself. Purpose: Both uses described are educational use, which is good. Nature: This depends a bit on what kind of materials you're using. I assume that they would mostly be artistic covers of fiction works. The more educational the focus, the better here. Amount: You're using the whole covers, I assume, but if you're using thumbnails (or similar small pictures) then the Arriba Soft case, available online at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's web page , which allowed use of thumbnails, would seem to indicate that this would be ok. I would think that since podcasts are often not full screen, and the image of the book within that would likely be fairly small and a relatively poor copy (moving a bit as the child talks, and so on) that the same reasoning might apply to the second question as well. Effect: It's on the web and available to all, so that argues against Fair Use, but I would think it would be more likely to increase the market for the books, so that's good. Copyright is a balancing act. For Fair Use, you need to consider the four factors for each use. In any case, also consider factors not found in the law, like who owns the copyright and are they especially litigious; and how risk averse you and your institution are. Copyright issues aside, this looks like a fun project!
  • I am going to nitpick a bit about the fair use analysis, but I ultimately agree with Ms. Anderson's conclusion.

    I think we need to be careful when relying on Kelly v. Arriba Soft. That case did not say that thumbnails are always ok; it said that thumbnails used to create a web index, a purpose the court found to be transformative, were fair use. So I think we should say more about the purpose of this use.

    Here, the purpose in both uses does seem transformative. The cover illustrations are being used to illustrate book reviews done by school children -- new works that will serve a different purpose than the original. (And, from the risk analysis point of view, who could imagine a more sympathetic set of potential defendants?)

    If the transformative purpose argument is correct, than Kelly v. Arriba Soft does seem to support the proposition that even using the whole work is acceptable. The Bill Graham Archive v. Dorling Kinderley case is also helpful here, where thumbnails were used to illustrate a time line about the Grateful Dead. Thumbnails were allowed to support these transformative uses in situations where there was no possibility that the use could substitute for the original purpose of the full-sized image

    Most importantly, a finding of transformative purpose really alters the fourth factor analysis, since courts tend to say that there is no legitimate market for licensing transformative works. And in this case, where the cover art is used to illustrate book reviews in order, presumably, to assist in finding the books in bookstores or libraries, the argument that this use aids the primary market seems persuasive as well.

    So I agree that there is a strong fair use argument here, as well as a very low risk, even if these reviews and podcasts are available on the public web.
  • Our library uses Amazon Web Services to place book cover images in our library's catalog. The library makes a small amount of money for click-through purchases. It would be nice to be able to use Amazon Web Services for a project such as this, but I don't know what it would take to set this up on such a small scale. It might be worth an inquiry.

    If we consider the CONFU guidelines for Educational Multimedia Projects (see, Section 4.2.4), videos of students holding the books while reviewing them seem well within these guidelines. Of course, these are not law but guidelines endorsed by a long list of organizations including commercial entities and representatives such as the American Association of Publishers.

    I agree that it's relatively low-risk...and also that it's a fun project!
  • As a school librarian who regularly works with students and parents, I am going to chime in with my two cents worth.
    I have no reservations about the book cover images or any of the responses given on that issue. I just want to caution Dstrumello about the video aspect. Be sure you have permission from the parents to place the image of their child on the web before you do so. Also, do not include any identifying information such as name (not even first names or initials), class or school.

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