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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Copyright Lessons for Students and Teachers

As many of you know, I spent much of my week dealing with a copyright infringement issue. As a result of that I have been doing more reading about DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) than ever before. One piece that I read was this article from attorney Sarah F. Hawkins. The article didn't have much that was new to me, but I am bringing it up because one of the comments posted under the article points to the larger problem of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of copyright as it pertains to the Internet.

Here's the beginning of the comment:
I run my own travel consulting page on a large social media platform, I recently used a google image of a hotel. This morning I received an invoice for $3500 because I used this image, I did not know about copyright infringements as it was just an image on google.

That comment reflects the way that a lot of people misinterpret Google Image search. Unless you use the advanced search filter to find only Creative Commons licensed images, most of what you find through Google Images is copyrighted. Google doesn't host the images or license the images. Google Images is simply a search engine. Giving an image credit to Google Images is not citing the source and even if Google was the source, unless it is labeled as Creative Commons or Public Domain, you can't use the image without permission. The exception being in the case of fair use. But even then just because you're using it for an educational setting doesn't mean it automatically qualifies your use as fair use. I explained this scenario in more detail in this post in 2014.

On a similar note to the Google Images scenario, citing Facebook as the source of an image does not mean that you can use the image without permission. I explained this in more detail in this post.


Resources for teaching Copyright, Creative Commons, and Fair Use.

The following two videos from Common Craft provide excellent overviews of these topics.




For a more in-depth look at copyright for educators, watch Dr. Wesley Fryer's Slideshare on the topic. Eight years after he released it, it's still one of the best resources on the topic.




Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright is a resource for kids produced by the Library of Congress. Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright is intended to help elementary school students understand the purposes and functions of copyright. There are four sections to Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright. The first section, Copyright Exposed, features a short cartoon that explains how copyright protects artists. Files on Record, the second section, chronicles important historical developments in copyright law. The third section, Reading the Fine Print, answers common questions and addresses common myths about copyright laws. The last section, Steps to Copyright, instructs students on registering their own works for copyright protection.

Disclosure: I have an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.