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It is my school’s policy that students and teachers use only copyright-free material. This makes sense hypothetically, but what does it actually mean? Where could this mysterious content be found?

After asking around, it became clear to me that copyright-free material was not understood by many other teachers as well. So how could we possibly teach and model finding such content for our students? Although it was part of my job to ensure students were only using copyright-free material, I knew very little myself about what can and cannot be used nevermind how to monitor this from my students.

However, teaching in a technology-focused school means the students use digital technology to create many of their projects. They take images, video clips, sound bites and more from the internet and to create their own products on a regular basis.

I decided to make it my mission to learn about copyright licensing alongside my students.

First, I compiled a list of websites with copyright-free material. I sent students to my Pinterest board of copyright-free resources.

However, my students thought Pinterest itself was all copyright-free material which could not be further from the truth. I witness numerous students searching for “copyright-free” content using the search bar of Pinterest!

I can see now why the students were confused.
So next, I modeled finding content using the Creative Commons website. This search engine links to various copyright-free sites. But students still struggled with the specific options on the different websites.
Luckily Creative Commons has a great resource to explain what each of the copyright permissions mean: