Copyright by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Looking through my course one blog posts, I did indeed cite every photo that I used. I also made sure that the photos were pulled from websites that allowed for photo use. The three websites that I used for most photos were Creative Commons, labeled for reuse photos from Google Image Search, and my favorite source Unsplash. Since beginning this course I have thought a great deal about my school, and what further work we need to do around copyright education, and of course my role in all of it. Being the Director of IT and Innovation, part of my portfolio is to work with staff to set direction around educating our students about these issues. Just today, I happened to be in our Learning Center while elementary students were working in Google Slides. All of them were pulling images from Google, without selecting images for reuse, nor were they citing their photos. Again, it had me very reflective about the work we have to do with both staff and students. Two resources from this week’s reading that have given me a great place to start are You can use a picture if, which is a great infographic on the circumstances in which you can actually use a picture, and this infographic, created by Tanya LeClair, which contains links to many great websites where students can legally pull photos.

Domenico Loia

I enjoyed the reading this week and the TedTalks. What I appreciated the most was that they represented a variety of viewpoints on the issue of copyright infringement. The MIT sponsored document; Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century contains many great points to think about.  Specifically, the paper points to three areas of concern when it comes to educating youth around media: The Participation Gap, The Transparency Problem, and The Ethics Challenge. I would like to speak to The Ethics Challenge, as this area of concern relates to our current discussion. What I found fascinating after reading this section of the paper, was that there was no specific mention of teaching copyright laws or proper citation to young people. There was much mention of young people entering the digital space, whether it be through gaming, blogs, or myspace (yes I said myspace!). The paper also had many great suggestions of how to engage youth in this burgeoning space, while at the same time honouring their need for authenticity. One quote that I believe encompasses this topic from a broad perspective, is as follows:

“One important goal of media education should be to encourage young people to become more reflective about the ethical choices they make as participants and communicators and the impact they have on others.We may, in the short run, have to accept that cyberspace’s ethical norms are in flux: we are taking part in a prolonged experiment in what happens when one lowers the barriers of entry into a communication landscape. For the present moment, asking and working through questions of ethical practices may be more valuable than the answers produced because the process will help everyone to recognize and articulate the different assumptions that guide their behavior.” (pg 17) I believe that the last sentence is very true, many of the discussions around ethical practice will help to understand the variety of perspectives that exist, yet at the same time much work has been done recently (after this white paper) to protect artists and their work. But still, as the digital space continues to expand, and morph, there are many discussions to be had about copyright infringement, and this is why this topic needs to be part of a curriculum in schools.

J-Fish (

The article entitled: Top Euro court: No, you can’t steal images from other websites (too bad a school had to be sued to confirm this little fact), provides a very poignant message for our schools today. What would seem like a straightforward situation, actually ended very poorly for the school involved. After reading the article I could logically see both sides of the argument. The picture was already out there in cyberspace, so why bother citing it. However, the artist should have say over what audience views the picture. Students need to be taught to properly cite information, and to always err on the side of caution. I believe that schools have the responsibility to not only teach about copyright laws and proper citations, but to have this learning as part of a broader context of learning, namely digital citizenship. I also believe that this curriculum needs to start early and happen on a recurring basis so that it is embedded deeply within our students; so that when they go looking for an image, it is without a second thought that they are looking for these images in places where they can legally use them. These days there are some great programs that exist, and teachers do not need to reinvent the wheel, one great starting place is Common Sense Media, where one can find resources from K-12. As I work towards building this type of curriculum and program at my school, I am wondering what others are doing at their schools, and if they have a program for teaching copyright laws and digital citizenship?

6 thoughts on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want

  1. Hey Ryan – great post, and I like that you include saying that schools have the responsibility to teach copyright laws and citations. Perhaps it could be included in the AUP given to students, before they start using technology.

    I think teaching this topic fairly early in their education is a good idea. In terms of which grade level to start at, I would need to confer with my G1-3 colleagues to see what they think is doable at this age. Afterall, don’t we ask our students to ask permission to use someone else’s equipment in class such as a pen or pencil, so why not teach them the importance of citations and copyright too.


  2. David, thanks for the reply, I definitely think it’s important to start young, but as you said, we must be age and stage ready that is for sure. I also think it is very dependent on culture and environment. For instance at my current school, I see elementary students as early as grades 1 and 2 with their own mobile devices. Of course they are not allowed to use them during school, but they are definitely using them after school and into the evening. So having conversations with them and their parents is vital. At other schools it may be a completely different story, and the conversation may look completely different in elementary school. I think it is important, as you mentioned to make sure we are speaking with and conferring with the classroom teachers who are on the ground level with the students and caregivers.


  3. Hi Ryan,
    Thank you for your post.

    The quotation that you chose spoke to me in the sense that it discussed the value of questions around ethics more than specific answers to said questions.

    This might also be true of education in general to a certain degree. When we ask meaningful questions that are thought provoking, students are able to answer with questions that make sense in their own minds’ schemas and experiences. Answers can become something to memorize; questions focused on beliefs can be applicable in all facets of life in and outside of schools as they help students make sense of the world whereas the “answer” might be only associated with that particular class, situation, and time in the students’ minds.

    I also really liked the words “experiment” and “flux”. We are really needing to come back to what we believe as people first and foremost in 2019; technology is a social (media) experiment and there are times that we lose track of who we are and what we believe.


    1. Well said Alex, we often forget that we are living in a longitudinal experiment. What lays before us has never existed before, which is why treading with some caution is advisable. Additionally, as adults we have to teach our kids to be critical so that they understand this too!


  4. Ryan,

    Your article on ‘Top Euro Court’ shows the importance of how any for-profit institution can get into trouble for unlicensed images, so it’s best to crowdsource them from local faculty, internal experts or hire a professional.

    I agree that schools need to do more to teach student about this. I’m sure worldwide millions of images are used in K-12 learning without permission but given the prevalence and age of the malfeasors, creators ‘let is slide’. Teaching how to cite media and written work through MLA or APA attribution is good practice for college bound, High School students that may have IB or passion projects that are shared with a world audience .

    How to start? Have a version of Tanya’s infographic (or similar graphic on A3 paper) that your institution can print and mount in every classroom? What do you think?

    Gary J


    1. Gary, I absolutely agree, I cannot imagine how many imagines are inappropriately used in K-12 images because educators let this slide, under the misbelief that “they are just kids”. Having an infographic, or something similar at the front of classroom will go a long way in teaching our students how to do things the right way. I also think that this behaviour has to start at an early age, so that it just becomes common practice in education.


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