The importance of being 'Creative Commons'

I’ve been working with my students at Flinders on the ICT General Capability for ICT this week.  We’ve mostly been focusing on the one organising element of “Applying social and ethical protocols and practices when using ICT“.  We’ve been trying to break down what that means, how that might add or grow the content of our lessons and perhaps make us think carefully about some of the ways we, ourselves behave when using the amazing flood of images, video and text available to us on the net.

Those of you who have attended any of my Professional Development over the last few months will know that I’ve been on a mission to share the Creative Commons message with as many of you as possible.  In fact I’ve been suggesting to school teachers and leaders that it is time that we changed our default search engine to search.creativecommons.org.  Here’s why.

There is a difference between Copyright and Creative Commons.  When anyone creates something, copyright is automatically attributed to us as the author.  That work belongs to us and people have to ask our permission to share or edit it.  However, we now live and work with a generation who thrive on collaboration.  The human race is making massive amounts of progress because we are collaborating, sharing and growing together. We’re using the internet and its tools like Google, Twitter, Facebook and other collaborative tools to make that happen.  It’s wonderful.

However, sometimes we forget that we’re supposed to ask permission.  Most of the people who read this blog will be thinking.  “I don’t mind if you don’t ask permission.. feel free to share”.  That’s certainly how I feel about this blog (and all of the other elements in my digital footprint).  I write this blog to share, to reflect and to learn from others.  I also make sure that I make my intention to share clear to those who visit.  At the bottom of all of my posts I share a Creative Commons license.  This license enhances copyright and clarifies my position on sharing.  I openly say, ” take what you need, don’t sell it though… oh and let people know where it came from”.    I follow a protocol of being Creative  Commons. As a result I often get emails from other fabulous educators who let me know they’ve used something. They let me know how it went and I find another person to connect with. Someone else who shares my passion for repurposing technology. Someone else to learn from. 🙂

My  pre-service (teacher) students are being asked to operate under these protocols themselves. Their first assignment is to publish something online about that tricky General Capability.  They are also being asked to operate under and with the Creative Commons licensing system.  That means that they have to show the world at what level they are willing to share their work by choosing a CC license and adding it to their work. I also expect them to demonstrate that they understand how to respect the law of copyright and that they don’t use any images (etc.) that they don’t have permission to use…. that includes images that come up in a basic Google Search. The easiest way for them to do that is to only use Creative Commons images.  They know that Google doesn’t show them those images by default.

You’re not behaving ethically if you take images from a normal Google Image search… Even if you add the URL underneath.

That’s right…. when you run a normal image search in Google, Google will show you every image it can find which fits your criteria – regardless of the license or copyright that that image carries. If you were then to copy and paste that image somewhere else and to use it in your own work you have no idea whether you’re breaking the law.  You have no idea whether that image is Creative Commons (and you can use it as long as you attribute it back to the author) or whether it is copyrighted (because no license has been applied) and you therefore should contact the creator and ask permission.

This makes it very difficult to operate within an ‘ethical protocol’. Don’t get sued! and certainly don’t teach your students that it’s ok to google search an image and just use it…even if they write the URL underneath.  If you do, you’re teaching them to behave unethically and they could get themselves into trouble. Check out this example of a blogger who found herself in a tricky situation as a result…

What is the correct Ethical Protocol for searching and using images?

If you still want to use Google as your default image search then you’ll need to conduct an advanced search.

  • Run your search as normal.
  • Now look for the cog in the top right hand corner. Click it and select “advanced search”.
  • On the page which appears, scroll all the way down to the bottom.  You’ll notice that the default search is for images that are “not filtered by license” – everything.
  • Click that menu option and select from the creative commons options which appear. If you want to photoshop the image you’ll need to select the option which includes modification.If all you want to do is use it (non commercially)  choose the “free to share” option.
  • Now click the advance search button at the bottom of the page.

Applying ethical protocols to Google Image Searches

  • This time all of the images shown are under a Creative Commons license.  You have permission to use them as long as you attribute them to the site they came from.  This is the time when you can use the image and paste their URL underneath…. If you did that with a normal Google search then there’s a high chance you are stealing an image without permission and then letting the author know you definitely stole it from them… but leaving their address under it.

That’s a big faff! Too hard!

I agree! Especially in a Primary Classroom.  However, there’s an alternative… and this is why I am trying to encourage as many schools as possible to change their default search engine to search.creativecommons.org.  Creative Commons have done all the work for you! and it’s FREE (our favourite word).

Creative Commons Search Engine

Creative Commons Search Engine

When you use the Creative Commons search engine it will still take you to Google, Flickr, Youtube etc. but it will apply all of those advanced settings for you.  When you conduct a search through it, you won’t need to worry.  You will always be shown images that are labelled for re-use and you are following the correct ethical protocols.

What’s more, their search engine will lead you to music that you have permission to use as backing tracks to your new podcasts, images, videos, text and more.  It makes it all so easy.  This is where you should be getting the images from for your lesson resources (to fulfull NPSfT 4.5) and it’s the protocol we should be sharing with our students (of ALL ages).  We can teach them about the rights others have and use this search engine to make things simple for them – so that they are following the correct protocols too.

But Nothing Comes Up!

On one occasion, when I shared this with a primary school teacher and they went looking for images of the First Fleet, nothing came up.  What happens then?  Well… ethically, you shouldn’t be using the images that come up without this filter without asking permission from the owner of the original image.  You can find the rules of copyright and education on the Australian Copyright site. However, if you are looking for historical images and you can’t find them via Creative Commons it’s likely that that’s because the images are owned by the National Library of Australia.  They have an online catalogue you can search and then, when you find a nice picture from the first fleet, you can tick a box to confirm you are an educator and you can use the image.  That’s the fastest way I know to gain access. 🙂 The kids? If they want to find image?  Well send them to the kid proof version 😉   There’s Trove  for a start 🙂

The bottom line is that, if we are going to fulfil 4.5 of the National Professional Standards and teach our students how to operate online in an ethical manner we shouldn’t just take images without permission. 🙂

How do I  get my work to appear in this search engine?

This is the interesting part.  You can apply a Creative Commons License to your work too. I would encourage you to do so. Especially if you’re writing a blog and you want others to be able to share and use your content. Otherwise, legally, they don’t know where they stand unless they contact you first. Remove the barrier of basic copyright and get yourself (or your work) a creative commons license instead 🙂  I know that the students in my Pre-service class would appreciate your permission to use your work to support theirs 😉

Other elements of your FootPrint where you can apply Creative Commons.

6 Comments
  1. Britt Gow 5 years ago

    Great article Selena, thanks for sharing. I will be forwarding this to pre-service teachers and keep it bookmarked for future use with students.

  2. Britt Gow 5 years ago

    Great article Selena, thanks for sharing. I will be forwarding this to pre-service teachers and keep it bookmarked for future use with students.

  3. Selena Woodward 5 years ago

    In response to some of my students’ requests I made the following video in which I show how to get a CC license and add it onto a post in a blog 🙂 Enjoy!

  4. mochinbach 5 years ago

    In response to some of my students’ requests I made the following video in which I show how to get a CC license and add it onto a post in a blog 🙂 Enjoy!

  5. Ally B. 5 years ago

    The reason why there is still a high incident of copy infringement cases is due to the fact that other people are unaware of it. Even writing pieces are even stolen. Not good for the academic advantage really. Imagine someone stole your idea and made it as his own.

  6. Ally B. 5 years ago

    The reason why there is still a high incident of copy infringement cases is due to the fact that other people are unaware of it. Even writing pieces are even stolen. Not good for the academic advantage really. Imagine someone stole your idea and made it as his own.

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