Aug 31, 2012

Copyright, Fair Use & Citing Sources

The golden rule of copyright and fair use: Always give credit where due. But what exactly is the law for media use in the classroom? Technology and Learning produced a fantastic chart that outlines specifically the what and how of using other people's works (click image to see full size pdf).

While leads me to a question: How can we help ensure our students understand and practice ethical use of information and media? I suggest there are three simple steps:

First: Model what you expect. Demonstrate for your students where you get your information from, even your source is the textbook. By citing your sources you do two things:
  1. show students where good information comes from
  2. shows students that you are serious about giving credit where due
Keep in mind that images (clipart, photos), videos and other media are also information and should be cited accordingly. Google images gathers media for its indexes from blogs, websites, stock photo shops, online stores, social media profiles, etc. Often the creators did not intend their works to used outside of the blog, site or shop.

Second: Ask students to cite their sources. The format does not have to be formal, students can simply mention the title and author/artist. But... as students go through the process of gathering the citation elements (author, title, publisher, date of publication, etc.) they are learning how to evaluate information. If the author is missing, the publisher seems sketchy, or the date seems old, students should question the validity and reliability of that resource. The research pages on the wikis have tools to help students cite their sources (GS Wiki Research, SMS Wiki Online Research Lab).

Third: Apply a license to student creation. Emphasize student ownership of their work by guiding them to choose a Creative Commons license. This system allows all creators to set the rules as to how their creations can be used, at the heart of every licence is attribution. As students are in the mindset of information producer, discuss the topics of plagiarism and attribution.

Further reading: