Category Archives: digital citizenship

Getting Permission Easier than Anticipated or My Sub-Par Performance


The last few weeks I have been working with colleague Derrick Willard on Digital Citizenship Resource Guide based on Providence Day School’s new Digital Citizenship initiative. We have this “insert superlative here indicating awesome, but not as overused” compass graphic (cannot show you yet) that has seven key precepts of digital citizenship:

  1. Be present.
  2. There is no delete.
  3. Credit others.
  4. Manners matter.
  5. Nothing is private.
  6. Protect Yourself.
  7. Be real.

One of the chapters I am working on is the “Credit Others” chapter and it is a blast to write it. However, I have to make a confession. If I accurately assess my own behavior against the basic tenets of crediting others, I find it completely sub-par. As I wrote about using images, 4 different presentations and slide decks came to mind where I used images without permission that I found doing a google image search. Being a human being, I immediately began rationalizing my behavior. It became clear to me that I only borrowed without permission because getting permission was nearly impossible and perhaps even cost prohibitive. After all, I am only a poor educator using these images to help others.

Thankful, my conscience is still alive somewhere in the depths on my black heart. It forced me to prove that I was indeed correct in assuming that getting permission would be impossible and costly. I chose two images to use to prove my point.

First, Randy Glasbergen is a cartoonist that has caught my attention over the years and I have used one of his cartoons in a presentation with new teachers. I reached out to Mr. Glasbergen and below is the result….

Hi Matt,

Thank you for your interest in my cartoons. It’s great to hear from you today!
I would love to be a part of your iBook — also school newsletters, handbooks, posters, meeting agenda sheets or PowerPoint presentations, staff communications, etc. I receive many requests to use my cartoons, but due to the time invested in creating, preparing and delivering my cartoons, I must charge a small fee for the use of my work.
My fee for the usage you’ve requested is $X  for one cartoon then discounted to only $X for each additional cartoon in your order. (Fees are quoted in U.S. Dollars for black and white artwork. Specially discounted for schools.)
You can select your cartoons from my online cartoon catalog @   Hundreds of cartoons are available, all sorted by topic for fast and easy browsing. Unless otherwise requested, these cartoons will be delivered via e-mail attachment as high-resolution TIFF files. (The online images are low-resolution and not suitable for printed pages.)
Please send an e-mail to confirm your choice of requested cartoons, then choose one of the following payment options. I will follow up ASAP with delivery of your cartoons and authorization.
You can see how WRONG I was. Apparently Mr. Glasbergen is not just a talented and funny cartoonist, he is a great guy.  He was the only person including my own kids to tell me “it was great to hear from you” that day. He truly seemed eager to help me with my project and offered me educational discounts without making me beg for them. The process was simple and I now can use the images feeling good about supporting the artist who created them.
The second image was a photo that I again found using a google image search. It took about five clicks to track down the creator, a photographer who responded to my email request with the following…
“I didn’t even know that shot was still online. Feel free to use it. Thanks”
Again, I was completely wrong.
Most importantly I hope many of you have already begun to get frustrated with me for missing the larger point. While it may be far easier than many of think it is to get permission to use online images, easy or hard is not the deciding reason why we should seek permission for using other’s work. Giving credit where it is due and properly compensating the artist/creator is just the right thing to do.