ICT Tip: 4 ways to find digital images without breaking any copyright laws

Quick overview: While it’s often tempting to just use questionably copyrighted images for “oh-well-this-will-never-leave-the-classroom” student projects, I think it’s a good idea to start educating ourselves and our students about fair use and copyrights.. no matter how big or small the project! If you want to start teaching your students about digital citizenship, this may be a good place to start. Click on the name of the tools (see below) to find out more.

What is Creative Commons? If you haven’t heard about Creative Commons yet, I suggest you watch this 3 minute video before reading any further.

1) FlickrStackr Explore: If your students are using iPads, this free app allows them to enter in a keyword and swipe through a “wall” of Creative Commons images, similar to Qflick. To do this in the app, they would need to click on the “search” box and then choose “Creative Commons” in the search properties. Once they find an image that they like, they would click on this icon to obtain the name of the author so they can credit them in their work.

2) Creative Commons: This resource isn’t as fancy looking as FlickrStackr but it works both on desktops and mobile devices. Personally, I find I often go here first since it’s a “one stop shop” to search several sites where I’m most likely to find Creative Commons material. Think of this site as a master hub for searching for copyright free materials. Bonus: The Creative Commons search engine allows you to search for other types of media (sound, video, etc..) too.

3) Advanced Google Image Search: Yes, using Google Images is often the easiest way to get images from the Internet. However, did you know that when you do an image search, most of the images you’ll find are not copyright free? While it’s true that you can use the advanced Google Image search function to specify the “usage rights”, you’re still not guaranteed that the images being returned are copyright free. In fact, like ANY of the tools we’re looking at today, Google’s advanced search merely uses automated algorithms to find copyright free images. It’s always up to the user to verify that the images they are in fact, Creative Commons.

How do I check if an image has an actual Creative Commons license? In general, the license will usually be written near the image or clearly indicated in the app. If you can’t find a license, you’re safer to just find another image. Keep in mind that this rule applies to ALL of the tools listed above.. Always verify!

4) Pic4LearningUpdate 2/25/2013: Right after posting this article, I stumbled upon a great site named Pic4Learning. The great thing about Pic4Learning is that you are free to use the images on the site without needing to check for licenses, copyrights, or even attribute the original author, as long as you use the image in education. Here is the description from their site: “Pics4Learning is a safe, free image library for education. Teachers and students can use the copyright-friendly photos and images for classrooms, multimedia projects, web sites, videos, portfolios, or any other project in an educational setting.” Definitely work checking out!

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