Honoring intellectual property

I have been spending this past week discussing how we can honor intellectual property with my students as we search the web for “copyfriendly” images to use for multimedia projects.  Helping students to understand that all of their work – whether digital or not – is copyrighted the minute they create it is a new concept for a lot of kids.  I explain that you do not need a © symbol to copyright your work.  You created it – you own it!  Many are under the impression that you need to apply for a copyright symbol – showing their confusion with a trademark.

Appealing to the creative musicians, photographers and artists in the class, I try to help students understand that they can CHOOSE to share their creations and still maintain ownership.  This leads to a discussion about Creative Commons licensing.  If a student is willing to share their work to be remixed, changed or altered they must decided whether to allow commercial use or not.  Going through the process of choosing a license for their own work reinforces the concept of “honoring” the intentions of the other content-creators.

Inevitably, a student brings up the concept of “fair use” and wonders why they can’t just so a Google image search for their school-related assignments.  Its at this point that we talk about the purpose of citations for school work – that citing an image for a PowerPoint or presentation means that you are not taking credit for having made the image used and are indicating on the Works Cited page who is the original owner.  Luckily I teach at a school where citing using MLA or APA is used by a variety of teachers.

This discussion helps students to understand that under fair use laws, teachers must still follow certain rules:

  • I will include a notice that the materials are protected by copyright
  • I will use technology that reasonably limits the students’ ability to retain or further distribute the materials
  • I will make the materials available to the students only for a period of time that is relevant to the context of a class session  (see more)

I try to help my students to understand that even though using a copyrighted image for in-class presentation (with citation) is allowed under fair use – a lot of what we are doing in Multimedia / Web Development will not allow us to follow these guidelines because we plan on displaying them in a public forum by remixing images and making cool banners for our websites.  And you know what – the kids get it. Sure, there are always going to be those who think that if its on the Internet then they should be able to use it. But presenting Copyright vs. Creative Commons in a way that explains WHY and focus on HONORING the work of others, gets kids thinking about themselves as content-creations and how they would feel if someone “stole” their work and made money off it.

Most of my students tell me they want to share their work so I encourage them to apply an CC license for their creations – but also encourage them to retain ownership and ask for attribution.  And I know my students are understanding the bigger picture when they ask me if we are going to be sharing a particular assignment online – or is OK to “just” cite a copyrighted image for an in-class assignment — or where they should link attribution for an image they found on Flickr.

I am thankful to teacher librarians like Joyce Valenza who has put together an incredible listing of places to find “copyfriendly” images and audio online at:  http://copyrightfriendly.wikispaces.com/

3 Responses

  1. Collette
    Don’t be afraid to teach kids that they CAN use copyrighted material under fair use ESPECIALLY IN all of the ways you mentioned. You said that a lot of what we are doing in Multimedia / Web Development will not allow us to follow these guidelines because we plan on displaying them in a public forum by remixing images and making cool banners for our websites. if you teach your kids to REASON their use of copyrighted material then if they are remixing and being transformative they can not only create but SHARE their new work! You are making great strides with your kids and you are right they DO get it! If they are asking the question “can I just cite an image I found on flickr” ask them do go through this process and ask those deep questions for themselves! And let me know if you want a copy of the google form to create your own scenarios…
    Kristin Hokanson´s last blog post ..Thoughts about Internet 2010 in numbers

  2. Thanks for the resources, Kristin – your copyright resources will fit nicely with our discussions. I do allow students to use copyrighted materials in their multimedia projects but require them to cite their sources. One of their main projects, however, is to make a personal website and for this project I want them to use copyfriendly resources since several of the students keep their sites going once the class is over and turn them into portfolios for colleges or personal use.

  3. Carol Satta says:

    Hi Colette,

    Thanks for the great post on copy-friendly images. Just posted on the topic as part of an online professional development month-long challenge: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad ©? (http://tinyurl.com/49egqv4)
    Carol Satta´s last blog post ..The Fairy-Tale Detectives- by Michael Buckley pictures by Peter Ferguson

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