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Microsoft Office 2013: a copyright hero or villain?

One new feature in Microsoft's Office 2013 that hasn't received much attention - possibly because it doesn't seem that relevant to the millions of drones who make up its core audience - is the ability to run a Bing-powered image search across the web from within PowerPoint and pull images off into presentations.

Before you scream 'Microsoft, you image theft-enabling bastards!' - and that was my first reaction too - you should note that Microsoft's actually trying to help prevent PowerPoint users from using images, perhaps your artwork or photo, without permission.

Currently, if a middle manager in firm in Swindon wants to add a picture of a sports car to show that their performance figures are accelerating, chances are they go onto Google Image Search, find the first good photo that doesn't have a fat man in his underwear sitting in the car, pull it off and drop it in - copyright be damned. With PowerPoint 2013's built-in search (below), only images available under a Creative Commons licence are shown. Microsoft should get big points for this.

The screen also reminds the manager to check the individual licence for each image, which is well put if bound to be ignored.

More worrying is the 'Show all web results' button, which should be renamed 'Show me things I can nick off the web without getting permission' or 'Let me go back to my bad old ways' button.

This button relegates Microsoft's good intentions to the appearance of doing the bare minimum to avoid accusations of encouraging copyright theft. The company should be doing more than this.


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