Had the teacher and students started the project with a full under-
standing of copyright law, they would have used public domain or
Creative Commons music, and they easily could have shared their
work with the entire community.
and inspiration for a whole new creative work. Modern copyright laws
run contrary to this original intention as works became protected for
14, then 70, and now, in some cases,
120 years a;er their original creation.
Copyright law should not be used to
curtail our students’ creativity.
What’s a Teacher to Do?
Fortunately, there are ways we can
ful;ll our duty to teach students to
be collaborative while respecting
copyright and intellectual property.
Creative Commons is an organization
that helps artists license their work in
a way that allows sharing and collabo-
rating while still protecting the artist’s
rights. Artists, including teachers and
students, can license their work and
decide how it can be shared, if it can
be transformed, and if it can be used
commercially. When you use Creative
Commons works, the artist has al-
ready given you express permission
to use his or her work as long as you
give proper credit. ;e site www.
creativecommons.org will help you
create your own license and help you
search for Creative Commons works
that you can build upon. Some ex-
amples of places where you can ;nd
Creative Commons works include:
Google Images and Flickr. Both of
these sites have advanced search
features that allow you to ;lter for
images that are labeled for reuse.
Jamendo.com. ;is site publishes
thousands of music tracks with
Creative Commons licenses.
Blip.tv. ;is site publishes original
video content licensed under
By understanding and teaching the
essential concepts behind copyright
and fair use, we encourage our students to be respectful digital citizens.
By using works with a Creative Commons license and using the Creative
Commons license ourselves, we support creativity.
—David Wells is the principal of Westford
Elementary School in Westford, Vermont,
USA. He serves on the board of the Vermont
Information Technology Association for the
Advancement of Learning. Read his blog at
principalwells.wordpress.com and follow him
on Twitter @principalwells.
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