Perhaps it is because I have just covered in my classes use of images and the wealth of material available through Creative Commons licensing, so the topic of copyright is near the surface of my mind, but I noticed something today on Facebook that happens all too often. I know I have done it, and you probably have, too, without even being aware of it.

I’m talking about sharing links on social media without first taking the time to check that they are ours to share.

What caught my attention was a wonderful cartoon about “Vintage Social Networking,” shared on Facebook by a friend via another friend.

I wanted to share the image on my Facebook page, too, so I went to the page of the “via” friend to see where it came from. The cartoon is carefully drawn and didn’t seem like something that would be clipart or a royalty free stock image. When I couldn’t find any source, I did a quick Google search, which immediately led me to the blog of cartoonist John Atkinson. His latest post is this:

Traffic light, by John Atkinson

I am now a happy subscriber to Atkinson’s blog and am glad to have stumbled upon his work, but I never would have heard of him without a couple minutes of sleuthing because the cartoon that first got my attention had the bottom website and copyright information cropped out. Here is his original version:

Vintage Social Networking by John Atkinson

Interestingly, I found in my web searching that I’m not the first person to notice the misuse of this particular cartoon or to use it as an example. See this good piece on “Facebook Image Sharing and Copyright.”

Atkinson carefully explains on his blog his policy for sharing his creations. Creative Commons allows artists of all kinds to be generous with their work, but I am aware more than ever that we all have an important responsibility to be careful not to abuse their gifts in our rush to share the shiny and new.

I, for one, am trying to do better.