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 they 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.
THE 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.
- Search at Creative Commons – A one stop search for legally reusable images, music, & video.
- Smithsonian Institute – Great site for Public Domain historical images and media.
- Pixabay – General image site; most images are Public Domain and free to use.
- Photos for Class – Legally reusable images with attribution already on each image!
- PhotoPin – Creative Commons licensed photos.
- TinEye Labs – Legally reusable images searchable by color.
- Wikimedia Commons – Contains Public Domain and legally licensed media.
- Compfight – Yet another search engine to find legally reusable images.
- 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>