CC = Common Courtesy

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Photo Credit: Sojourner in a Strange Land via Compfight cc

“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.”
~ Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

I think there is some real truth to the statement above. While copying in theory may appear to be the ‘easy’ way out, most creative people build on other people’s ideas. This recent article from Time has a fantastic quote that echoes this idea:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it; they just saw something and connected the dots. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” ~ Steve Jobs

There seems to be a large gap in understanding from both students and teachers on copyright infringement when using images for posters or presentations. This is an area we should be expecting teachers to honour, just as they are expected to honour MLA format in high school, and basic ‘sourcing’ using a bibliography or other format in primary school.

Now more than ever, teachers have access to other teacher’s shared material, but many of us are not giving credit to the original creators. And not because we don’t want to, but because we don’t know how. I’ve been working on introducing Creative Commons image banks to the whole school community for this very reason. We should be, and could be, modelling daily CC sourcing methods in our own classrooms.

I recently came across a fantastic website that breaks down Copyright in Schools. For any student or educator looking to quickly find information about what is deemed ‘safe’ and ‘legal’ when using different media. As this website mentions, there is a lot of misinformation about copyright and what’s permitted or not in the digital sphere. Often this misinformation “discourages kids and teens from following their natural inclination to be innovative and inquisitive. The innovators, artists and voters of tomorrow need to know that copyright law restricts many activities but also permits many others.”

There is an abundance of information for teachers to integrate Copyright and CC education into the curriculum, but unfortunately not enough demand at the top level (admin, policy and curriculum designers) for it to be common practice. Many curriculum frameworks, such as the International Baccalaureate Organisation, are still playing catch-up to the shifting digital age, so that they can encourage and foster more digital citizenship in IB schools. But what can teachers do in the meantime, to stay current themselves and pass on accurate information and useful Creative Commons (CC) resources for students?

Resources such as Teaching Copyright and Common Sense Media fill the missing gaps in curriculum and should be a common tool for all students and educators.

Earlier this year I helped co-teach a few lessons on Creative Commons Search practice and Copyright law for the G3 Digital Citizenship unit at our school. To tune them into the idea of Copyright, we watched this video and discussed the many ways they may have been unknowingly breaking copyright law.

As soon as students made the connection that the artists behind the photos, art and music they’d been ‘stealing’ were created by common people, like themselves, they were very passionate about using proper search methods and crediting all art they used. Students were thrilled to learn new tricks to filter google image searches as well as gain access to new image search engines like compfight and Creative Commons Search.

As Tricia Friedman mentions in her Coetail post The Teacher DJ , remixing content is an important part of furthering the creative process. Furthermore, she writes “Copyright laws are their very own collection of blurred lines.  This case opens a door to an authentic conversation around artistry, remix culture and law.  Teachers need to take these opportunities…As we find ways to invite creativity into our classrooms, it makes sense to promote the Creative Commons culture.”

From my experience, students want to execute creative play in the digital age, and we have a responsibility to explore and model Creative Commons practice. Online access to useful websites makes it easy for teachers to access information on ‘best practice’, so let’s show the artists the courtesy they deserve and credit their hard work.

4 Replies to “CC = Common Courtesy”

  1. Let me begin by saying that I loved your title and the image you shared. It literally left me in giggles. We just had a training on Common Sense Media by Robyn Trevaud and it was amazing. It made me realize to pay more attention to so many things that we think we know and we do but somehow miss in the process as we are busy taking care of other things. One way that we have made sure we attend to these details has been through the tech rotations that we have where we address 4 to 5 important tech issues and standards via the boot camp model. All the above resources you have shared are awesome. Thanks for sharing

    1. Hi @priyavenugopal I’m glad you enjoyed reading my blog! Creative Commons has been around for a few years now, yet so many teachers and students (and admin) are not properly informed on how it’s used and what it’s for. I like the idea of tech rotations…is this done with teachers, students or both? I’d love more information on this and any resources you have previously used! Thanks for your feedback!

  2. HI Jocelyn,

    Once I saw the main photo for your blog, I knew I wanted to read it right away. I have lived overseas and have traveled quite a bit in the last 10 years and always loved seeing stores that have copied a brand in some way, but have changed it so there were no copyright laws broken. It really does help a person understand how much we copy from each other and how little credit we give to the correct people.

    For example, while listening to one of my favorite songs, my partnered immediately told me that the song was originally written and performed by a different artist. He then went on to complain that my “my artist” was a fraud and just made money by copying someone else, someone better.

    I agree with you in the sense that creative artists are taking what they know and just changing it into something different. Everyone finds ideas or creative thoughts through what they have seen or heard. The problem is, how to we give credit accordingly.

    I have never worked in a school where a discussion about copyright infringement was brought up. However, it is definitely an important issue teachers and students must deal with. Thank you for the links and the blurb on the IB program as that is what my school is using now. I love the video you’ve posted as well and am planning on showing it to my IB coordinator. Hopefully this is something she will bring up in our next staff meeting.

    Thanks for the thoughts!

  3. Hi @kdao I really appreciate your thoughts and feedback. It’s amazing the more we travel the more we notice brand names being ripped off without consequence, and it seems to contradict what we try to teach our students. I feel like I’m still trying to grasp ‘fair use’ and its grey areas…for example when are screenshots acceptable and when are they not? I agree that there is not enough education or even discussion around copyright and creative commons at both the student and teacher level. I think schools need to implement stronger curriculum models for Computer Science and Digital Citizenship (for example, using the ISTE standards https://www.iste.org/STANDARDS) so that it is part of pedagogical conversations, along with math and language skills and concepts. Thanks for your thoughts and look forward to connecting more with you!

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