All MPs’ Staff Q&A Session: Home Office Update

Standard

Time: 14:00 – 15:00
Date: Tuesday 10 January 2023
Location: Online

We are lucky to be joined by Katie Shooter from the Home Office who will provide an update from her team.


This will be a Q&A session if you would like to submit a question, please email MST@parliament.uk , we will pass them to Katie on the day.

Time permitting, we will open the floor for additional questions.

This session is open only to parliamentary intranet users. Please click here to register:
https://parliament.learningpool.com/mod/facetoface/view.php?id=5413

Publishing Pictures And Avoiding Rights Issues

Standard
Composite image of Jennifer Arcuri, Boris Johnson & Tim Berners-Lee © 2022 Paul Clarke

We’ve all been there. 800 tightly-written words about that proposed industrial estate, and what it does/doesn’t bring to the constituency. Sparkling prose, crisply edited. But sitting there on the blog it needs…something to lift it. A picture!

As I say, we’ve all been there. A couple of seconds later Google has found dozens of photos. We do that clever screen-snipping thing; don’t even bother to save it. Click→paste and it’s up. Job done.

Then a few weeks later, other words arrive, in a letter to the office. But they’re firm, direct ones. This is our image! You are in breach of copyright! You must pay us £1500 (or £750 within next 14 days), and so on.

You have been busted.

It’s easily done; that lovely aerial picture was tracked down using automated image matching software. The rights holder got an alert, checked it was used without a licence, and triggered the collection process. Letters like this go out every day, and they are very imposing documents, designed to strike fear and get a result.

Will the pursuers keep pursuing? There’s plenty of track record that says they will. Your first instinct will be to remove the offending image. Not going to help. There’ll be screenshots, not just of the usage, but of the page’s source code that shows you’ve uploaded it to your web host, irrefutably ‘creating a copy’. There’ll be evidence of what and when and where, recorded well before that letter of claim went out, and it will stand up in court.

And this is just if you’ve used something owned by one of the big image libraries. Pick something more topical, and you may well have the photographer coming after you directly. (I took the photos of the last prime minister in the close company of a certain US tech entrepreneur, and I had a very busy couple of weeks when the story broke.) We base our offer of settlement on the demonstrable market value of an image, and that can be eye-wateringly high.

Funny things, photos. We hold them so dear at times, yet invariably wince at the thought of paying even pennies for them. We recognise their value – why else would we be wanting to use them? – yet often struggle to think of that as an actual monetary value. Perhaps you feel that pictures on the internet are fair game. (In honesty, almost everybody does, at some level – except us photographers, of course).

I can’t fix this. It’s been deep in our collective moral make-up since technology gave us the necessary tools. If I can’t persuade you to reframe that “valued but not valuable” paradox, then at least I can help you avoid getting pursued.

So what are you to do? Firstly and obviously, don’t search out photos to use without thought. If you’re not sure of the rights position, don’t risk it. You can, of course, spend a few quid (typically £5-£50 for a small image for non-commercial use) at one of the big image libraries. They have lots of choices, and you’ll probably find something highly relevant.

But you might not want to spend even that. So what are your options?

Bear in mind that almost every image created in the last 70 years will be under some sort of copyright. “Public domain” collections (where copyright has been renounced entirely) do exist: the Wellcome Collection, British Library and others have put considerable effort into releasing these.

There are also collections of photos whose owners, for whatever reason, have chosen to release them free of any requirement to pay or even give credit. They can be very generic images, and often very heavily used across the internet. Your piece could look a lot like many others. I think you can do better than this.

More usefully, although they remain under copyright, some image owners assign an “open licence” to their pictures – examples include “Creative Commons” and “Open Government” licensing. You can use the picture for free, provided you adhere to some conditions. I won’t get into all the licensing flavours here, but you’ll almost always be required to ‘attribute’ the image with a line of appropriate text below your post.

Creative Commons ideal attribution, screenshot
Screenshot from https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/best_practices_for_attribution#This_is_an_ideal_attribution

The image-hosting platform Flickr is a great place to find these. You can search not only by image description, but also by type of licence. But still be wary, especially if the picture features recognisable people. There’s a lot of nonsense written about (imaginary) image rights, and rights to privacy, and I won’t add to it here. But suffice to say that although you’re unlikely to be in trouble with the law or the lawyers for using someone’s face, there’s a non-zero chance that they might still object, and create a fuss that you probably don’t want to spend your time dealing with. Avoid faces, especially of the general public.

One of the best-known collections of political faces is of course the official parliamentary portraiture collection, by Chris McAndrew, released under open licence. Not only can you use them for free, the licensing also lets you alter them. In case you ever wanted to see “the PR edit” of some of your favourite parliamentarians.

Wikipedia’s also a great source. The images that power its articles are stored in the “Wikimedia Commons”: this includes everything that’s been submitted for Wikipedia use, even if not currently being used in an article, and it’s an entry requirement for this collection that the owner assigns an open licence to it.

But do remember that attribution. I am the rights holder for this image of Sir Tim Berners-Lee. It’s very popular with news organisations. When times are hard (and they’ve been very hard) I’ve gone round with the collecting tin for organisations who didn’t bother to attribute. I showed some leniency to a collective of well-meaning web nerds who were using it, but drew the line at obviously commercial sites.

And if I found something on a post related to politics or politicians? Well, they’re all fair game, aren’t they?

© 2022 Paul Clarke

Supporting Suicidal Callers

Standard

Join us to learn how to deal with a caller who is talking about suicide.

We are very lucky to be joined by Lorraine Khalaf from the NHS who will be able to share her insight on how to deal with suicidal callers and how to support yourself and your colleagues when dealing with this type of caller.

This event will comprise of a presentation from Lorraine followed by a Q&A session.

We would love to hear from you ahead of the event, so if you have any questions you’d like answering, please email MST@parliament.uk and we will pass these to Lorraine to answer on the day

These sessions will take place on

10 October 2022 – 15:00-16:00
26 October 2022 – 15:00-16:00

Please book via ACT on the Parliamentary Intranet – you must have a network account in order to access this training. https://parliament.learningpool.com/mod/facetoface/view.php?id=5338

Forthcoming Commons Library Talks

Standard

Details of all forthcoming Commons Library Talks can be found on ACT: https://parliament.learningpool.com/course/view.php?id=1563
Please note that you must have a parliamentary network account to access ACT.

Topics include:

Help with fire safety remediation work: high rise blocks (England)

Improving the UK’s science capability for managing animal diseases (NAO talk)

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill

Energy prices, security and market reform

The creation of the UK Infrastructure Bank (NAO talk)

Rising cost of living

An introduction to occupational and personal pensions in the UK

Mental Health reforms in England

Tackling local breaches of air quality (NAO talk)

Understanding and interpreting survey data

Legal aid and other options (England)

Q&A on devolved and reserved matters

Standard

Commons Library Casework Discussion Forum

The Library, in conjunction with the Members’ Services Team, is pleased to invite you to the Casework Discussion Forum which will take place virtually each month.

The September forum is taking place on Thursday 22 September, 2-3pm and will be a Q&A on devolved and reserved matters. It will be chaired by Wendy Wilson from the Library, with David Torrance, the Library’s subject specialist on devolution.

If you have any questions, please contact MST@parliament.uk

All MP’s Staff Q&A: Home Office/ Immigration

Standard

Upcoming All MP’s Staff Q&A:Home Office/ Immigration

Time: 10:00 – 11:00
Date: Tuesday 13 September 2022
Venue: Online via Teams
Booking essential: Click this link to book

Due to high demand, we are hosting a further event with the Home Office.  We are lucky to be joined by Katie Shooter from the Home Office.  Katie will provide an update from her team and will be more than happy to answer your queries on how the Home Office process Immigration Applications.

This will be a Q&A session if you would like to submit a question, please email MST@parliament.uk , we will pass them to Katie on the day.

Time permitting, we will open the floor for additional questions.

Wellbeing – looking after yourself and others

Standard

Caseworker Discussion Forum hosted by the Commons Library

The Library, in conjunction with the Members’ Services Team, is pleased to invite you to the Casework Discussion Forum which will take place virtually each month.

The next session is taking place on Thursday 18 August, 9:30-10:30am and will be on the topic of Wellbeing – looking after yourself and others. It will be chaired by Wendy Wilson from the Library.

The Forum will be complemented by a dedicated Teams chat which will allow you to share ideas and best practice, as well as support being on hand from the Library should specialist knowledge be required.

(Please note, you do not have to be a Caseworker to attend these sessions, they are open to any Members’ staff who handle casework.) 

If you have any questions, please contact MST@parliament.uk

Upcoming HR Familiarisation Sessions

Standard

Learn about skills starting as an Office Manager

Office Manager – Getting Started Workshop for Members’ Staff

To book, please click this link Thursday 15 September 10-12 pm 

Course overview

This workshop focuses on the elements of an Office Manager’s role that relates to HR best practice. It provides an opportunity to build knowledge and get practical guidance from the Members’ HR Advice Services.

  • The Members HR Services team
  • Your role as an Office Manager for an MP
  • Recruitment
  • Running the office
  • Insurance
  • EAP (Employee Assistance Program)

PDS Summer Training Sessions

Standard
DateTopicHow to sign up
Thursday 28 July 2pm
Cyber Security Briefing essential to understanding the risks and mitigations around cyber security for us all, both in and out of workRegistration form for webinar here
Friday 29 July 10amIntroduction to Microsoft Teamstips on using Teams as a tool to organise and communicate. Learn about chats, channels, calendar, calls and filesRegistration form for webinar here
Tuesday 2 August 11amAccessibility features demonstration from Microsoft Microsoft are running a session on how to use the inbuilt accessibility features on your Windows device and Microsoft365 applicationsEmail the Digital Service Accessibility Champions
Thursday 4 August 2pmIntroduction to SharePointtips on how to use SharePoint as a tool for creating, saving and collaborating on shared documentsRegistration form for webinar here

Friday 5 August 10amIntroduction to OneDrivetips on how to use OneDrive as a tool for individual work, document storage and remote access to personal filesRegistration form for webinar here
Thursday 11 August 2pmUsing Microsoft Outlook effectivelytips for managing your mailbox and getting the best out of available featuresRegistration form for webinar here
Friday 12 August 10amMicrosoft Plannerhow to use Planner to work collaboratively and manage team tasks, projects and work streams
Registration form for webinar here
Thursday 18 August 2pmIntroduction to Microsoft Teams tips on using Teams as a tool to organise and communicate. Learn about chats, channels, calendar, calls and filesSign up for webinar here
Friday 19 August 10amCyber Security Briefingessential to understanding the risks and mitigations around cyber security for us all, both in and out of workRegistration form for webinar here
Thursday 25 August 2pmIntroduction to OneDrivetips on how to use OneDrive as a tool for individual work, document storage and remote access to personal filesRegistration form for webinar here
Friday 26 August 10amIntroduction to SharePointtips on how to use SharePoint as a tool for creating, saving and collaborating on shared documentsRegistration form for webinar here
Thursday 1 September 2pmMicrosoft Plannerhow to use Planner to work collaboratively and manage team tasks, projects and work streamsRegistration form for webinar here
Friday 2 September 10amUsing Microsoft Outlook effectivelytips for managing your mailbox and getting the best out of available featuresRegistration form for webinar here

Grantfinder Training today – places available

Standard

There are still places available on today’s Grantfinder training at 10:30 – 11:30am on MS Teams.

If you’d like to attend this morning’s session please contact Catrin Owens by 10:20am and she will make the booking for you.

Grantfinder is a database of funding sources including grants, loans and advisory schemes and can help you with funding requests from community groups, etc. It’s available via the Library website Resources for casework – House of Commons Library (parliament.uk) page.

Places are also available for the session on Thursday 28 July, from 14:00 – 15:00, also on MS Teams.