In my own classroom, I fight the good fight every day, wrestling with students who want to use copyrighted music or images in their work. I’m writing literally here. I’m not afraid to throw a kid in a headlock for slipping the latest Owl City release into a slide show.
I realize, however, students are not malicious, thieving miscreants who don’t care about fair play or giving credit where credit is due. Actually, teenagers have an acute belief in honor and fairness.
Why, then, despite what I considered engaging, varied lessons on fair use and proper citation, do they continue to use copyrighted images and music without a mention of the sources? There are many explanations, but the simplest one—let me grab Occum’s razor here—is that it’s simple.
The majority of students, when looking for a picture, complete a Google Image search and then use the first few shots they find. It’s so easy. Also, every kid already has music he or she likes in iTunes, so they go to this familiar place when creating projects. These products are user-friendly, so students use them. As I teach students to care about copyright, then, I look for simple tools that will help them create interesting work without requiring much more effort than a simple Google search. In sharing these tools with fellow teachers, I hope I make it easier for educators to help students care about copyright. Headlocks, while entertaining, don’t work.
One stop searching through CompFight: This school year I ask all my students to begin their image searches at CompFight.com. It’s the simplest tool to use. First, I have them set a filter that returns only images with a Creative Commons license; they simply click on the choices to right of the search window. Continue reading