Hannah Coale
Teacher of Studio and digital art and animation

Keeping honest in image usage

Best Practice Published 10/13/11 Last updated on 2/28/20
Using an "Imageography" to track the use of online images
  • Photoshop

    Editing and compositing for photos, web and mobile app designs, 3D artwork, videos, and more.

Age Levels
CC License
Attribution Non-Commercial
5 / 5 • 5 Ratings

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Comments (13)

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John Doherty

Posted on 8/31/12 7:39:18 AM Permalink

Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

John Diaz Jr

Posted on 7/11/12 3:31:08 PM Permalink

Love this, sort of like the Music to Image project. Thanks for sharing.

Tami Roos

Posted on 12/8/11 10:31:50 AM Permalink

Thanks for the great tip, I'll definately be using that!

When it comes to copyright or responsible image use, there are 2 areas to be addressed:

  • Students who use images that they did not create, and they claim authorship of the image
  • People who copy work done by students (either work sent to a potential employer, or from the students' website)

I don't believe we will ever be able to totally eliminate copyright infringement due to the accessibility of images, but we can always make it a little more inconvenient for someone with malicious intent.

To check image authorship:
One resource I sometimes use if in doubt about the image being created by a student is Tineye (for reverse image searching). but It is only effective if the image has been indexed by Tineye, and it is usually the larger image stock sites that have their images indexed.

To protect work:
When my students send out digital portfolios (PDF), I recommend that they protect their files by password protecting their work to limit copying of their work. Use the security settings in Acrobat (or when making a PDF file) by going to File > Properties > Security

PDF Settings for Acrobat

I've included a screenshot of the standard settings I tend to use which will enable lores printing of the file but will disable 'copy and paste'.

To further protect my students, I tell them that if in doubt, they can always upload their files to Myows (My Original Works). For FREE copyright protection (especially for artists and authors). It date stamps your works and will help to prove authorship. The site also has some handy links and downloads on copyright info.

Leng Tiong Tan

Posted on 12/8/11 3:55:15 AM Permalink

Yea, this is a great tool to use to teach student about honesty. Also, to inculcate this value, the students will put into practice what they have learned in class. Thanks for sharing Smile

María Caballero

Posted on 12/7/11 8:15:18 PM Permalink

Good idea! Thanks for sharing

Hannah Coale

Posted on 12/7/11 7:22:16 PM Permalink


This is a really good question. I hope he called the firm and threatened them with legal action (not that any of us could afford such a thing, but the threat is useful). You have brought up a serious problem. Without using image tracking software, embedded in your images, this will always be a risk.

Jessica Lund

Posted on 12/7/11 6:52:27 PM Permalink

Thanks for sharing a great way to keep track of image usage! Keeping students accountable has always been a part of my lessons. What could be done when someone else chooses to be dishonest with your student? We just had an incidence where a student showed a digital portfolio to a small business but decided not to work with him. The next week his images were posted on the small business website.

Rachael Law

Posted on 12/7/11 5:23:19 PM Permalink

great, simple and practical idea - thank you

Laura Negri

Posted on 11/3/11 9:34:54 PM Permalink

This is an excellent procedure.

Judy Durkin

Posted on 10/17/11 3:13:55 AM Permalink

Wow. I am going to do this in my classes. Teaching about copyrights doesn't drive home the concept completely - this should do the trick! Thanks

Judy Durkin

Posted on 10/17/11 3:13:04 AM Permalink

Wow. I am going to do this in my classes. Teaching about copyrights doesn't drive home the concept completely - this should do the trick! Thanks

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/16/11 1:17:50 PM Permalink

You've nailed this, Hannah. (And I love that "honesty" is included in the keywords/search field.)

Janet Dee

Posted on 10/16/11 12:04:41 PM Permalink

This is a surprisingly simple solution to a frequent challenge. I always have my students grab the name or description of the image and the site they found it at (e.g. Flickr), not the search engine they used to retrieve it. Adding the thumbnail would make it complete.