I recently read an amusing, but instructive article, entitle “PSA: Don’t Let Salami and Google Images Get You In Hot Water.” While amusing, it also highlights a rising concern for educators and students, as well as creators of content, about copyright and copyright infringement on the web. What can you use freely for education and what requires a fee? How do you cite material? How can you use it?
In my class, we do a lot of image based content. Most recently, my students are working on a Digital Storytelling project (you can see a highilight of the project in this article: “My First Attempt at Employing Digital Storytelling in the Classroom“). I work every year to teach my students about copyright and proper use of content. However, I know that it’s a learning experience for me as well. What I have learned is a consistent for use in an educational setting is material with a Creative Commons License.
A Creative Commons license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and even build upon a work that they have created. CC provides an author flexibility (for example, you might choose to allow only non-commercial uses of their own work) and protects the people who use or redistribute an authors work, so they don’t have to worry about copyright infringement, as long as they abide by the conditions the author has specified. – Wikipedia
This year, I have gathered (sometimes with the help of students) some ways to search for License-Free or Creative Commons Licensed content and am listing a few below:
CreativeCommons.org - Just what the site says, it focuses on purely Creative Commons Licensed products. You can use CreativeCommons.org to license your own material. You can use their website to search for material on a myriad of sites.
Google Advanced Search - Google’s Advanced Search allows users to search via license content.
Fotopedia - Great for humanities, Fotopedia has a repository of images from around the world. What makes it so amazing is that it is entirely user built. So those photos from a vacation you took to Rome years ago? Make sure that you upload those to the site and build their library!
YouTube Creative Commons - While searching YouTube videos specifically for creative commons content is best done via Google Advanced Search or CreativeCommons.org, it does merit mention here that YouTube has a strong video collection of Creative Commons content. Even more so, I greatly encourage that when you upload your own videos to YouTube, you check that “Creative Commons” License box!
Wikimedia Commons - Wikimedia is similar to Wikipedia except it is a database of Creative Commons and Open Source Licensed images, videos, and sounds. If you are a creator of content, this is a great place for you to show off your work!
Flickr - One of the most popular online tools for storing and sharing images, Flickr also expressly has a Creative Commons” element in their advanced search feature. Again, upload those vacation photos or drawings of your own and be sure to check that “Creative Commons” box to support education and creativity!
I’m sure that there are several other places to find Creative Common or Open Source material, but these sites are a great place for educators and students to get started. And, even with Creative Commons, be sure to always cite the original piece! Even if you are allowed to use, distribute, and modify someone else’s work, you should always give them credit!