Have You Hugged A Resource Today?

(Preface: This post is totally inspired by Mode Historique's blog post from today.)

I talked a briefly about copyright issues in my talk at A Reconstructed Visitable Past: Recreated Period Attire at Heritage Sites. Only briefly because, well, to be frank, I could talk about it for hours...if not days....and if you're trying to talk about it with museum folk who are highly protective of their collections and the unclear copyright laws...it just is a bajillion times worse.

So my brief talk was basically: Yes. There is copyright infringement. Yes. It is getting better. Yes. We use images from your website. BUT if we're good and responsible bloggers, we cite where the image came from and even link back to the original source. What does this mean? Well, Museums, this means you're getting tons of traffic and tonsssss of free marketing from blogs. It's true. I have the statistics.

48% of you visit a new website every time a blogger writes about it. (Another 48% were 'Sometimes)
86% have discovered new museums through blogs. (The nevers is a funny story I'll write about later).
94% are influenced/have used blogs to decide whether or not to make a purchase.
38% of you have had a case of the impulse buys after reading a blog.

What does this mean? It means we have influence, we have a role. 

With this influence comes responsibility. There are popular blogs and there are not so popular blogs on the internet. The issue of copyright is starting to come to a head, I've addressed it, American Duchess has written about it, and Mode Historique just did a great post that refers to copyright. MH's post this morning got me thinking about a way to promote proper citation of sources in order to encourage bloggers to cite their images, their quotes, and their research. Not only would this be good practice in general, but it also will let any museums who might be checking out the blogs to see what we're doing, saying, using, referencing, etc, that we're legit.

...We are fairly legit...aren't we?

Too legit to quit?


In a fit of mildly pathetic creativity (and a little lesson in Photoshop Elements) I created a little badge/picture thingy for us (if you wanna) to put on your blogs to promote resource citation.

...is that like...super nerdy of me?

Anyways, here it is in all its silly glory:

Ok. Ok. I know it's a bit cheesy. I didn't want to be preachy, and I wanted it to be cute and a little fun. My photoshop isn't that brillz, I'm not a graphic designer at all. I just piddled until I thought it was acceptable.

If you can design a better one, share it! Or take this one and add it to the side of your blog (if you wanna). 

And finally, if you think this is a dumb idea, have a better idea, etc feel free to comment and tell me. I just thought this might be a relatively fun/nice/funny way of promoting citing our resources for our blog. It benefits everyone. Can you feel the citation love? Ffffffeeeeeeeeeeeelllll iiiiiitttttt.

(Sorry no sewing posts, I haven't done anything with my Mrs. C jacket since my last post. I was too busy being pissy about The Three Musketeers.)

<3 <3


  1. Copyright is a huge issue across the Internet for all kinds of websites & blogs. My company regularly teaches a copyright class in-house, plus we wrote a chapter on copyright in our style guide (parts are published here & the full book is available at amazon.com. It can be a confusing subject, but it's *vital* that anyone writing online take the time to understand the basics!

  2. 2 legit, 2 legit to quit, Hey heeeey!

    Ok, I just showed my age there. ;)

    Anyway, I like the idea Silk Frocks suggested in reply to my post, about creating a costumer's copyright pledge. It's a small step towards accountability, and showing the museum world that we're not out there trying to steal their stuff, but use it responsibly. :)

  3. I'll be happy to post the icon and to sign a pledge. The issue has been very worrisome.

    I try always to cite and link, and to buy museum catalogs when I can afford them as a way of saying thanks.Some museums are to far to ever travel to, but Amazon brings us closer ;)

    Abby, you're right on about online collections and people who blog about them fueling interest and sales..and trips. The collections online are indispensible learning tools but also fuel desires to travel.Finally, they are a public service bringing access to culture to those who cannot, due to money, lack of mobility, or what you will, go far.

    Very best,


  4. Trystan is working on a handy guide for copyright rules and whatnot for bloggers and will give me the link as soon as she's completed it. We could probably include a Costumer's Pledge as part of it, too...

  5. Trystan: That's great! Thanks for sharing & for the copyright thing you're working on that Sarah mentioned...that's fabulous!

    Sarah: Haha! Thanks for acknowledging the Hammer reference :) I like the idea of a pledge, too. I think anything that has a unifying quality that also helps promote citing is marvelous :)

    Natalie: I love that "Amazon brings us closer". So true. So so true! You'd be amaze though, how museums still reacted to that aspect of copyright vs free marketing. I didn't hear much of it though, Sarah (Mode Historique) did sitting amongst them, but I feel like I might have made a couple people..um..uncomfortable? Their online collections are ok, but I don't know how they feel about people reusing the images (even for promotion to their own museum)... gotta love it! :)

  6. To be honest, I didn't hear much other than a lot of murmuring and grumbling around me when you brought up the issue of blogging, copyright and free publicity. But just going off of body language, it seemed like there were quite a few people who seemed reluctant to look at it as "free publicity". I'm totally with you, though... I have worked in the museum field, and I've been an academic for a good number of years, both studying and teaching, and I completely believe that the kind of blogging we historical costumers do can breathe new life into a stagnating and increasingly outdated research field. I think this will be our generation's contribution. ;)

  7. I'm one of those 84% who discovered new museums thanks to blogs.
    And I try to cite my sources. And link back to them. Especially link back to them. I know for myself those links back are helpful when I read other people's blogs. And I'm with you on the free advertising. It works that way. The copyright issue is still a tricky one, but it is free advertising.

  8. I'm glad people are talking about all this! I'm currently in a state of great concern, trying to figure out how I can document my historical-clothing-research-and-reproduction thesis project online without upsetting any copyright or perceived-copyright issues....while still actually including necessary reference images in a readily digestible way. Citing sources for historical clothing isn't just about quoting text.

    I need to be able to post images of the 1860s corset I'm making, alongside images of the original I'm imitating, which is in the V&A collection, and images of other, similar corsets. But strictly speaking, I can't do that. I could link to other images (the ones that are available online, anyway), but that's not very cohesive. Ethically, I believe it would be fine to copy images from a museum collection onto my own hosting service (because it's not nice to hog bandwidth), show the images on my non-profit, academic site, credit them fully, and have each one link back to the original page on the museum site. But that would still be infringing on copyright.

    Considering that I'm planning to start on a master's degree in Public History this fall, and spend my entire career working in museums, I feel like I should avoid getting off on the wrong foot now. But - how do we share research and learning in this field of study without using images in ways that currently creep around definitely-acceptable-fair-use?

    I wish I knew!

  9. Unfortunately copyright is a sticky issue for museums - particularly with regards to pictures not "vetted" for public consumption. If you take a picture of a dress at a local museum for your own reference, lying in a heap on the bare wood table, or with your metal measuring tape touching it, or near a ballpoint pen etc. etc. etc., that museum's name is still on it, and THEY ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN AND OH MY G-D THE WORLD WILL END.


  10. a swedish friendMay 8, 2011 at 7:17 AM

    Abby, awesome post. I'm glad you're bringing up the copyright issue(s).

    Copyright is a spider's web when it comes to usage on the internet. With websites located around the world, enforcing copyright is a nightmare. Is a museum in the US going to sue your blog in France for using their image? Then add on, the lack of knowledge of what can or cannot be used. I took a photo of a corset at a museum, can I use that on my blog? Some museums prohibit photography, others allow it, but all have no clear understanding of usage on the web.

    There was even a time that some websites tried to sue webmasters because they linked (yes, hyperlinked) to their sites. Turns out, the courts thought that was pretty idiotic, you can link to whomever you like.

    Then are the official museum photos. Can you use them? Can use them if you credit the museum? Can you not use them at all?

    It goes on and on with issues related to copyright, photo usage, and linking.

    In reality, people have to wake up. By "people" I mean those who want to have everything under their control. It's not going to happen. You cannot sue everybody, and what a public relation nightmare if you did. You can't demand a webmaster to display content the way you want it (not withstanding laws protecting an image again racist, negative, or obscene usage); because then you're controlling their website.

    Personally, it is way better to share good information from real sources that secondary information. And if that means sharing a copyright photo from a museum, good. That means, the blogger loves that photo and loves that museum. If the museum doesn't like it, they can send a Cease-And-Desist order which would then allow the blogger to say "Hey, you don't want your information online? Get off the web. Don't Facebook, don't Twitter, don't share. Oh, and you just lost a patron too."

    The future of the web is be about social sharing and viral information. Regardless of how much control and "copyright" you own on an image, you cannot police it all. The academic world, the internet, and the real world have to coexist together, and it means pushing the limit of acceptable use.

    What does that mean for bloggers? We do our best to cite resources with links and names. We link love. We share who inspires us and sometimes about who does not.

    At the end, we make the internet. If you can't handle the ways of the web, then you should get offline. If you want control, then you're looking at years spent like the RIAA and the movie industry; without respect and in a constant state of litigation.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts