Sunday, April 15, 2012

What do your students know about Copyrighted work?

What do your students know about copyright? 
By Shirley

How many students and teachers download their favorite music or find pictures on Google Images to copy or embed into their papers, reports and projects, without even thinking that copyright  applies to them? Over the past few years, my students have been using a variety of online sites, and web 2.0 tools to share their work with people around the world, and it has become very clear that copyright applies more online than anywhere else in their daily school life. Fair Use Policy for educators no longer applies when teachers and students are creating and sharing globally.

Copyright Laws have always been difficult to understand and decipher because of the legal terminology and the fact that educators are under the misguided impression that anything can be used for students and teaching as long as it is for educational purposes. The basic rule is that everything is copyrighted unless stated otherwise. Of course these laws were passed before digital copyright was an issue.

Picture by Stuart Miles From Freedigitalphotos

Taking an online course and being part of an Edublog Challenge a few years ago really started me thinking about what was legal to copy or embed and what was not.  And so I found a number of useful sites for public domain pictures, copyright free pictures, Creative Commons (CC) pictures and free music sites – lifesavers in students’ lives so they can use those great pictures to illustrate their work and play background music to enhance their project or presentation, of course with the correct attribution. Attribution should include a link to the site being used and the name of the author, photographer etc.

Teaching about Copyright is an essential part of teaching technology today, especially when students are creating and sharing more of their work globally. Watching videos about copyright, finding helpful sites and using examples with correct attribution have helped my 6th graders become more aware of copyright laws. 


Edublogs has a very helpful page for understanding copyright restrictions and this You Tube video is also enlightening for students... 


Here are some useful links for finding usable pictures and free music…

One of my 6th graders recently found an ideal picture to use in a wiki page he was designing and creating on medieval architecture and arts, but realized that the site he has used, The Canadian Center for Architecture, had a copyright license on all of their art in the collection. Lukas decided to email the curator and ask permission to use this picture.  Within two days he had received an interesting reply, Thank you for your email and your interest in the CCA Collection. Since this particular image is from the 17th century, it is out of copyright (or in the “public domain”). It will not be necessary to obtain our permission for the use in your wiki. We would love to see your wiki page once it has been completed. If you want to, please send us the link and I will show our curators here at the CCA.I f you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Good luck with your project!”

                                                                                      Courtesy of the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

Another student, Manny was making a Voki about Poet’s Walk, (which is a favorite local spot) to embed into his blog page and found a local photographer’s pictures that were copyrighted. He also decided to e-mail the owner of the site and ask permission to use two pictures. He too received a great email , “My photographs are copyrighted, so I do appreciate your requesting permission to use the photographs. Normally I do charge for use on a website, but I will waive my fee and you do have my permission to use both photographs in your blog.  Please give me photo credit – Linda T. Hubbard. And please send me the link when you finish your project, as I would like to read it. Please let me know if I can help you any other way.  You have picked two of my favorite places. 

A link to Manny's blog page with his voki and picture.

What a great real life learning experience for these two students who obviously understand the moral issue in this copyright confusion and were able to follow the process to successfully work with copyright restrictions. As we use more technology in schools there will be many more similar questions to investigate and new problems to solve.