Teachers, Use Creative Commons Media

Nobody likes it when someone steals his stuff and claims it as her own. We're outraged at the idea. But, the truth is, we do it all the time. People post photos and videos all the time without getting permission or giving credit to the creator. It's rude. 

As educators, we get certain liberties to use media under fair use. Yet, we often abuse that and don't give credit where credit is due. And even more problematic, we don't teach students these best practices. 

Honestly, I think this is mostly because teachers and students don't know how easy it is to find and cite Creative Commons licensed media. 

What Is Creative Commons? 

Creative Commons is a non-profit devoted to giving the world awesome media that they can use in a legal and honoring way. They allow creators of media to give their work a variety of different licenses that give the rest of the world different levels of permissions for their work. This means they can indicate if you can use it, modify it, or sell it. 

How can I find Creative Commons Media? 

Creative Commons has made it simple by creating a launching point to search websites for Creative Commons media. It looks like this: 

This allows you to visit a variety of sites to find images, music, and videos that people have deemed available for you to use in your work. Note the check boxes under the your search box about if you plan to "use for commercial purposes" or "modify, adapt or build upon" - this changes the level of licensing for which your search will return. 

** However, be careful: people are labeling their own work, and they sometimes do so without really understanding Creative Commons. If an image or a song or something is done by a famous artist, it's still unlikely able to be used. Make sure that the work is actually posted by its creator. **

How should I cite my media? 

"dog" by University of Liverpool Faculty of Health and Life Sciences on Flickr

"dog" by University of Liverpool Faculty of Health and Life Sciences on Flickr

Take, for example, this picture from Flickr. I found it by searching for "dog" at search.creativecommons.org.

If you've created something, likely even if you've given permission to use it, you'd like some credit for your hard work. That's why it's important to use citations for your work. There are a couple different philosophies on how to cite media. You can definitely use the MLA or APA format that you're used to (Check out EasyBib for an easy way to do so.)

However, I like to teach students a simple method way to do so: "Title" by Artist on Website. This is great because users can always search for this information and find the picture, even if the link has changed. And it's not the ugly hyperlink that no one will ever take the time to type in. Each site has these items in slightly different places. This is what it looks like on Flickr: 


From that information, then, I can draw out "Title" by Author on Website -- in this case, "dog" by University of Liverpool Faculty of Health and Life Sciences on Flickr. Now if you take that and Google it, you'll find my photo as the first entry. 

Teachers, please use this Creative Commons licensed media. Model it to your students and then require it of them. Set a standard that your classroom will use media that you've been granted to use and that you'll give the artists credit for your use of it. Spend time teaching these steps at the beginning of the year and keep the expectation going all year long; require it on slide decks and movies and posters and any other thing for which students are using media from someplace else. Don't be rude: use and cite Creative Commons licensed media!