Attribute Images – new JISC funded rapid innovation project
1 March 26th, 2012 at 07:03
I am really pleased to be able to report that the Learning Technology team have recently won some JISC funding to extend the Xpert Attribution service. The funding is part of the UKOER rapid innovation programme that runs until October 2012. The project we have funding for is called ‘Attribute Images’ and it will extend the Xpert Attribution Service.
The Xpert search engine currently provides access to 270,000+ open learning resources. Xpert was funded in 2009 also as a JISC rapid innovation project and the Nottingham built system has now matured into one of the largest collections of Open Educational Resources (OER) in the world. It was extended in 2010 to include the Xpert Attribution Service. This service currently allows users to carry out searches for Creative Commons licensed images available in Flickr and automatically attributes the images that it finds with a Creative Commons licence statement. This service has a proven user group, with over 61,000 images attributed through the service in 2011. However, one limitation of the service is that it relies upon metadata stored with the picture in Flickr to generate search results. This can mean search results displayed in the Xpert Attribution Service are not always relevant to the user.
The Attribute Images project will extend the Xpert Attribution service by creating a new tool that allows users to upload images and have a Creative Commons attribution statement embedded. This will remove the reliance on images stored in Flickr, and put the power to attribute specific images into the hands of the user. Automatically embedding open licences simplifies content development, removes barriers to repurposing and publishing OER, and substantially increases the usability of open content. Automating licence attribution also enhances digital literacy around the use of third-party images, as the tool enables best practice in relation to attribution to be followed. The tool will include a bulk-upload option. It will provide an option for the user to upload the newly attributed images to Flickr through the Flickr API. It will record and report the number of images that have been attributed and the number of newly attributed images uploaded to Flickr. It will be made available as part of the Xpert site, providing access to an immediate and established user group. In addition it will have an API allowing developers to make use of the service in other sites.
A requirement of the JISC project proposal was to include an openly licenced use case. I have included it below as helps to further explain what we are doing and why we are doing it.
Use Case for Attribute Images
The Problem: There is no established internet service enabling users to upload images in bulk, automatically incorporating Creative Commons attribution and copyright statements into the images and then allowing the user to share the annotated images openly. The lack of such automated services costs the time of those involved in use, re-use, creation and publication of OER, both when attributing images manually and when clearing copyright.
Lack of attribution within images is a significant barrier to re-using third-party content, since provenance and permissions are often difficult to ascertain. Where images are Creative Commons licensed (as part of larger, parent resources or within open websites), the licence is often stored in nearby metadata and not attributed as part of the image. Attribution information will therefore not travel automatically with the image when it is inserted elsewhere. This is a problem: Creative Commons licences demand that correct attribution be given.
The Solution: Create a tool that allows users to upload images (singly or in bulk), select a Creative Commons licence and specify the name of the copyright holder, publication date and a URL. The tool then embeds a licence attribution statement in the image. It should allow users to save the image locally in various sizes and also to embed images within PowerPoint. To maximise sharing and discoverability, the tool should facilitate uploading the newly attributed images to Flickr. It should also provide an API, enabling others to include the attribution functionality in other websites.
OER Practitioners: When publishing OER, OER practitioners from the UKOER programme have reported taking most time in the provenance and copyright clearance of third-party materials, particularly when content comes from multiple sources containing different media. This is a significant pain point for publication and reuse. Practitioners will benefit from a simpler and time saving process (both when attributing copyright safe images and when replacing unsafe “orphan” images and from having more attributed images available.
Educational Institutions: The existence of an automated service will give educational institutions that have (or are considering) an OER programme greater confidence: an automated service reduces the risk of legal challenges about inappropriate use of third-party images.
Academics/Tutors: Subject specialists using, re-using or creating open content will benefit from a much simplified and speedier attribution process. The workflow helps users that are unsure of best practice relating to attribution learn what their licence choices mean. This educational element of the tool improves digital literacy; the tool’s automated aspects enable appropriately attributed output.
Third-party Rights Holders: The primary source content providers’ knowledge that an automated tool exists which provides appropriate attribution and clear permissions statements and developed within the JISC/HE community may encourage co-operation by third-party rights holders in future dealings with the HE and OER communities.
Technical Developers: Developers will benefit from an API, allowing them to embed the tool in other websites. De-coupling the service from the parent Xpert site supports the proliferation of open academic practice by allowing technical developers to support local users.