I’ve been having a conversation with a couple of friends about things like moocs and blended learning and the future of education. In that dialogue, the issue of sharing content under the Creative Commons License arose – this being offered as a reasonable step to take to share resources for online learning without having somebody steal it and sell it on for profit.

My first blog was posted in 1997 and within a few months I realised that the images and content I so carefully created were being used by others to make money, either through aggregation or lazy theft of copyright material. Since that time, I have tried on a number of occasions to seek redress, either by having the content removed, or properly acknowledged and back-linked to the source, or by seeking some kind of royalty or compensation for the use of my intellectual property. Only once have I ever been successful in getting appropriate acknowledgement posted for my articles and images.

I’ve often defended against leeching by substituting another image – something a little less appropriate for the thief’s original purpose, usually. There’s not much you can do when your images or content are posted into someone else’s server space. Legal fees are prohibitively extortionate – £150 per hour is mate’s rates around here and it’s only lawyers that can afford that kind of expenditure.

Encouraged by my friends’ assertion that I have the law on my side, I’ve just billed a well-known Scottish University £200 for Royalties for an image (a drawing of mine) they have stolen from one of my sites which is clearly marked copyright. Ironically, on the site where they have posted the image, there is a notice for students which states: “Note: Don’t post other people’s pictures to your blog without permission” a few lines down from the infringement.

I’ll let you know how it goes. UPDATE 28 March 2013: They paid up.