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

February 19, 2013

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:


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!

ICT Tip: Royalty-free music for students to use in multimedia projects

November 15, 2011

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:


Links: www.jamstudio.com and www.incompetech.com

Quick overview: Websites that either allow students to create or download copyright free music for use in multimedia projects.

JamStudio: JamStudio.com allows students to cook up their own musical compositions to use in projects, even if your students aren’t musically inclined. It’s similar in concept to Apple’s Garage Band but everything is done through a web browser instead. A free educational account is required before using it with your students. (Source: Tammy Worcester, ISTE Philadelphia 2011)

Incompetech: If your students are simply looking for “ready to use” royalty-free music then send them to the Incompetech website. They can search for music by feel (moody, happy, dramatic, etc) or by genre. Listen and download the music for free, no fuss, no muss.. no catch! This is a great resource for iMovie, Movie Maker, or other ICT projects. Here is an example of an upbeat silent film piano score or a dramatic film score found on the site. For more information on copyright usage, see the FAQ section. (Source: Robert Miller, ISTE Philadelphia 2011)

Update November 22nd, 2011: I’ve received two additional (totally amazing!) royalty-free music sites from our readers Chris and Dano. Be sure to check out MusicRevolution and DanoSongs if you’re looking for some high quality tracks.

Some considerations: As I’ve mentioned in other posts, students can easily get caught up in creating the bells and whistles (i.e. – music) for a project when the main focus may be about developing language or other competencies. Try to remember to keep them on track. Last but not least, don’t worry about being an expert with either tool. There’s a good chance your tech savvy students will figure out how to insert the music into their projects on their own.

Video Tutorial: For more information on how to use these resources, click the video (3 minutes) link below:

ICT Tip: How to use digital images from the Internet without breaking any copyright laws

December 4, 2009

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:


Quick overview: Do you or your students use digital images from the Internet in class presentations or projects? If so, do you know if you are legally allowed to use these images in your classroom?

What is the problem? Most images found on the Internet are not copyright free, even for non-commercial educational use. In this blog posting, we’ll explore two methods of searching the Internet for digital images that ensure you or your students are not breaking any copyright laws.

How does it work? Flickr and Google Images are two popular websites that contain millions of digital images available for download. To address copyright concerns, Flickr allows the photographer (i.e. – original author) to assign a Creative Commons license to any photographic image they’ve placed on the Flickr website.

What is Creative Commons? Creative Commons is non-profit organization that has put a licensing system in place so that individuals, companies, and institutions have access to a straightforward and standardized method of attaching automatic copyright permissions to their creative works. Creative Commons is NOT only limited to images, but can also include works of text, sounds, and video. I recommend that you click on this link to read more about the different types of Creative Commons licenses.

Video Tutorial: For more information on how to search and use images from Flickr and Google Images without breaking any copyright laws, please click the large play button below:



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