Students today are increasingly accustomed to going to Google Images to find any image that they need for a class project and then copying it and pasting it into their project without thinking at all about copyright. Many teachers allow this to go on because they are not sure what else to do. Copyright seems SO complicated and it is unlikely that what they do in class will go out of the classroom anyway and so it is fair use.
However, understanding copyright is a new literacy issue. Teachers are responsible for helping their students understand and follow copyright rules! Even if the images they use in class are fair use, who is going to tell them not to put a "borrowed" image on their My Space? What can be done to make copyright clearer and user-friendly?
First you must start with the fact that EVERYTHING - including your studentsâ€™ work, is copyrighted automatically.
Here are some simple steps that teachers can be aware of and communicate to their students:
- Check for copyright notices at the bottom of Web pages.
- Never put copyrighted material up on the Web without permission. (Fair Use allows a one time use limited to a classroom - not for a multimedia presentation where others may download that image.)
- If in doubt, ask for permission. (This means leaving time for receiving permission before using something.)
- Create your own graphics. There is no more important literacy skill than learning to communicate. Visual communication is very important today. Always give credit to the original creator of anything you use.
- Use a Creative Commons license on your own work on the Web that will make it clear that others can use it.
For more information and links to copyright free images go to Copyright for Educators.
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