Copyright law is such a confusing topic for educators. When is it okay to share something with students? Works of art, literature, and music are all potential areas where teachers can get into copyright trouble. A great place for teachers to visit is Creative Commons Resources for Classroom Teachers.
Creative commons (symbolized CC) gives the ability to share creative works with the authors or artists permission while allowing them to retain the rights to the work. This type of sharing is such a rich contributor to the internet. Previously, in this post, we talked about social bookmarking resources and the useful nature of Pinterest. With Creative Commons, individuals are much less leery of sharing because there is less fear of retribution from copyright infringement.
Students have become so comfortable copying items from the web and using them in projects and in their personal life. When asking students about where they get their information and if they understand if it is copyrighted, they usually give me a very confused look. In my experience, they understand that downloading illegally acquired music or videos is wrong. They are just unclear that laws also apply to pictures, art and even writing found online.
Since the use of work from other people seems to be so ubiquitous in my students, I think one of the greatest lessons instructors can provide is helping them identify creative commons logos on items.
One of the greatest resources for creative commons images is Flickr. When students are doing projects, they can visit the Flickr: Creative Commons page and know that it is going to be okay to use those images within their projects. Recently we did a project on coal mining disasters in the United States. Many students found images of the Upper Big Branch Coal Mining Memorial but they were from places like the New York Times and the Washington Post. The image below is a much better choice since it is covered under a creative commons license and can be found in the Flickr CC collection.
When creating lecture presentations for students that you want to publish online, it is better to use images that are not from your textbook. Textbook images have been approved for publication in the textbook but a lot of time, the copyright prevents you from sharing those online on your website. Instead, it is a good idea to get in the habit of using images that are from a creative commons collection.
Do you use creative commons in the classroom? I would love to hear what you think or how you stumbled onto the post. Leave me a comment below!