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Academic Honesty When Using Images, Music, and Video

Academic Honesty is an important mindset we work to cultivate in our students as teachers. We do a very good job to teach our students the ethical (and legal) practices required to ensure written work is their own (i.e. not plagiarized). We teach students how to summarize, paraphrase, and quote. And when ethics-got2they have used other’s ideas, we teach them to cite those ideas and the texts they come from using standard formats like MLA or APA. Along with our intuition, we have awesome tools like turnitin.com, which help the students and us do originality checks on their written work, giving us teachable moments to help students learn from their mistakes when they occur.

With teachers doing more activities and projects that require multimedia elements like images, music, and video, students are faced with the process of having to acquire these elements. The Internet has made it very easy to acquire these elements in just a few clicks. What is often lacking in the process of acquiring and using media, however, is the same ethical practice and mindset we have for writing. We have to be sure that our Academic Honesty scope also applies to the use of images, music, and video in student work. Students need to ensure they do not infringe on the copyrights of others, doing their best to use properly licensed media with clear and accurate attributions given in the work. This is an essential part of digital citizenship training for our students.

Though it’s important to be aware of the backbone to this issue, I’m not going to go into the depths of Copyright law and Fair Use in this post. I will just focus on some quick and practical ways you can get your students to have an ethical mindset to find and use properly licensed media. Unfortunately, there isn’t a tool like turnitin.com for checking multimedia, so we have to build our understanding of the means and websites necessary to get properly licensed media, ensuring and expecting our students are using them.

First, teaching this stop light metaphor to your students is a great place to start to build an ethical mindset for multimedia use.

ethical-media-use-traffic-lightTHE BEST OPTION: Students create their own images, music, and/or video. In the same way we expect students to write using their own words, students creating their own original media when possible is the best way to avoid academic dishonesty and breaching copyright in schoolwork. At the same time, it promotes additional creativity in the classroom. It helps our students to be creators more than consumers with their technology.

THE GOOD AND LEGAL OPTION: Students acquire and use multimedia from Creative Commons, Public Domain, or Royalty Free Internet sites with clear and accurate attribution. These are sites where the creator of the media has given certain usage permissions in advance; the student does not need to seek explicit permission from the creator in advance of using the media as long as there is attribution. Students do need to be aware there are different types of Creative Commons licenses and need to understand what they can and can’t do with the media according the license the creator chooses.

ONLY WHEN THERE IS NO OTHER OPTION: Students acquire and use (copyrighted) media from the Internet with clear and accurate attribution. The use falls under Fair Use. Sometimes there is no other option like when a student needs a scientific image, historical image, or other obscure content that would be difficult to create or find through the other options. In most cases, the use of the media would fall under Fair Use as long as there is clear and accurate attribution to the creator.

It’s also important for you to model this mindset and practice with your students. Follow the stoplight as you seek and use multimedia in your lessons. Always be sure to clearly and accurately attribute multimedia work used in your lessons and presentations.

Second, here are some places where you can guide students to find Creative Commons, Public Domain, and Royalty Free media.

All Media

Images

  • PixabayGeneral image site; most images are Public Domain and free to use.
  • Photos for ClassLegally reusable images with attribution already on each image!
  • PhotoPinCreative Commons licensed photos.
  • TinEye Labs – Legally reusable images searchable by color.
  • Wikimedia Commons – Contains Public Domain and legally licensed media.
  • CompfightYet another search engine to find legally reusable images.

Music

  • CCMixter – Thousands of hours of free to use music for video, film, or video game projects.
  • Free Music Archive – An interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads.
  • Jamendo – Creative Commons licensed music from a variety of genres.

Lastly, here are attribution statements your students and you can use. Note: these attribution statements usually appear in-the-moment when the media appears in the work. For example, if a student is doing a presentation, the image attribution should appear directly on the slide on which the image is placed.

Images (be sure to put the following statement ON EACH IMAGE when it appears in your presentation or other multimedia product)

  • If you have a photographer’s name – “Image by <author’s name> on <website name>
  • If you don’t have a photographer’s name – “Image from <website name>

Video (put the following statement in a corner near the beginning of the video clip for about 5-10 seconds)

  • If you have a videographer’s or production company’s name – “Video by <author’s name> on <website name>
  • If you don’t have a videographer’s or production company’s name – “Videofrom <website name>

Music (it will depend on the context in which music is used. If the music is in a video, put the following statement in a corner when the music begins playing for about 5-10 seconds. If the music is in a presentation, a attribution can be on a slide or can be stated orally if it fits well into the script. If it’s a podcast, the speaker can attribute music at the end of the podcast).

  • <”Song name”> by <artist or band’s name> from <website name>

Image Attribution 1

 

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There Is a Line

If you know me well, you’ll know that I’m liberal and progressive-minded in pretty much all aspects of life. If you read through all of my posts in this ToGa Learning site, which mostly focuses on issues in education, you’ll recognize that I’m an ardent supporter and practitioner for innovation, change, and  transformation in teaching and learning. I’m not a fan of the industrial model of education as I feel it does a disservice to how students need to learn in order to be successful in today’s world. I’m not a fan of the pervasive use of standards and benchmarks and standardized tests and I’m not a fan of policies like No Child Left Behind and Common Core.

Upon some personal reflection, I think part of this passionate attitude for innovation, change, and transformation was developed from being a huge fan of alternative and independent music from my youth in the early/mid-1980s until the present (You can read this post I wrote a while back about my life-long passion for music). My favorite musicians and influences have been those that have done things differently in music, upending the system in some way, being irreverent at times, and creating some controversy along the way. As Jack Black teaches the kids about rock-n-roll in the movie School of Rock, they “stuck it to the man!” Some of these influential musicians of mine are: Johnny Marr and Morrissey of The Smiths; Robert Smith of The Cure; Cocteau Twins; The Doors; Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz; David Bowie; Death Cab for Cutie; XTC; Jeff Buckley; The Pixies, and Radiohead.  These musicians and bands are ones people still talk about today, while other bands who played the status quo or mainstream style of the time have withered away.

Image Licensed from Shutterstock.

Image Licensed from Shutterstock.

Recently, U2, another very innovative band that has constantly evolved and pushed musical and social norms over the years, released a new album. Even though I was never a huge fan of U2 and I own only  few of their albums, I did always respect their innovative approach to making music. The Edge’s guitar style was like no one else’s before him, and I’ve always admired that. The way they released their new album, Songs of Innocence, however, pushing it into millions of unsuspecting iTunes users’ music libraries, crossed a line in my usually liberal opinion. In a recent article, Bono referred to their approach in releasing this new album as “punk rock.” I don’t think it was “punk rock.”

I’m all for the punk rock DIY ethic and attitude of sticking it to the man, but this manner in which they pushed their album into iTunes users’ accounts was a blatant invasion of privacy. As far as I know,  punk bands in the 70s and 80s didn’t break into people’s private houses uninvited, setting up their instruments and blasting out a set of music. This would have been illegal, considered an invasion of privacy, and the band would have been arrested. Also, as far as I know, no band has ever shipped out millions of cassettes, records, or CDs in the mail to random people around the world who didn’t ask for it. The investment of time and money to do such a thing never would have come back to benefit the band/label financially. Just because we now have the technology to push an album into people’s computers at little or no cost to the band and their label, it doesn’t give a band the right to make us receive the thing without wanting it, taking up space on our devices. It’s an invasion of privacy to do this. It’s really not any different than a hacker that pushes a virus or bug into your technology without your knowledge. Hackers that do this are usually arrested and tried as criminals if caught.

I’m not arguing here for U2 to be arrested. Apple is to blame for this, also. I just think the band needs to reconsider their action, apologize, and stop referring to it as being “punk rock.” If U2 want to give their album for free, that’s great. That’s their artistic choice, but let the people who actually want it go to iTunes or wherever to download it on their own free will. Many other bands have released an album for free in this more ethical manner.

U2 will never lose their place in history as an innovative and transformative alternative rock band. They’ve made some great music over the years and support some very important social causes. I also recently read that they are apparently working on a new digital music format with Apple. I’m very curious to see what this is and I hope it will be something awesome. As an educator and technology learning coach who works to instill ethical digital citizenship practices in my students, I hope this action U2 took doesn’t set a precedent for other bands and artists, both now and in the future. It will be a very slippery slope if it does, and I feel more problems than benefits will ensue.

If you want to remove U2’s album from your iTunes, follow this link.

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