Tag Team Tech: Wrestling with Teens and Technology October 2013

A Copyright-friendly Toolkit for Makers and Other Media Creators

Joyce Kasman Valenza

Among my high school students, creativity thrives both in and out of school.  They’ve got all the tools they need and they are producing.  Way, way far back in 2005, a Pew Internet in American Life study shared this early evidence of teen digital creativity: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2005/Teen-Content-Creators-and-Consumers.aspx .

A key finding worth celebrating was American teenagers today are utilizing the interactive capabilities of the internet as they create and share their own media creations. Fully half of all teens and 57 percent of teens who use the Internet could be considered Content Creators. They have created a blog or webpage, posted original artwork, photography, stories or videos online or remixed online content into their own new creations . . .

A key finding worth addressing is that teens continue to actively download music and video from the Internet and have used multiple sources to get their files. Those who get music files online believe it is unrealistic to expect people to self-regulate and avoid free downloading and file-sharing altogether.

A more recent Pew study, in collaboration with the National Writing Project,  examined The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Teachers-technology-and-writing.aspx .

A key finding worth celebrating was that teachers noted: students’ exposure to a broader audience for their work and more feedback from peers encourages greater student investment in what they write and in the writing process as a whole.

A key finding worth addressing was that teachers identified serious student deficiencies and gave students the lowest grades in “navigating issues of fair use and copyright in composition.”

We can help raise those grades and address those issues.

As librarians who work with young people and with their parents and with their teachers, ethical reuse or remix of intellectual property is a critical area for our interventions.   And there are so many new ways for us to intervene as cheerleaders rather than gatekeepers in this area of digital citizenship.

We also need to be conscious about the fact that what we ourselves do with intellectual property presents a model for ethical use in our schools and libraries.

Note: These resources will live beyond this article in embeddable EdCanvas boards.  Please share boards with the teens you love.

Here’s a toolkit guide to share with your young artists, musicians, filmmakers, poets, storytellers and journalists. [An online version of this guide, aimed specifically at teens, is available as a Smore poster.)

A true digital citizen understands how to ethically use the works of others to build his or her own creative products—music, art, video, stories, presentations–and share them with the world.  Just as you’d want others to respect your originality, others expect the same of you when it comes to reusing their intellectual property.  As you create and publish media yourself, please be conscious of how you use the work of others.

Here are some guidelines, categories, and tools to consider that will help you as you create, contribute to, remix, and enrich our shared culture!

Creative Commons (cc)

Note: We’ll spend a lot of time talking about Creative Commons because it is important.

As digital content creators you might just want to celebrate the Creative Commons (cc) movement and consider using a cc licensing for your own work.  

The Creative Commons respects intellectual property while it recognizes the new, more open cultural landscape.  And it makes it easier for us to legally and ethically share and build on each others’ work.

When a work is created, it is automatically protected by Copyright.

Creative Commons licenses allow content creators to maintain copyright over their work, but to modify the traditional all rights reserved copyright (or big C) to a variety of more liberal, copyleft some rights reserved (cc) options. Creative Commons licenses work alongside copyright, allowing you to modify copyright to best meet your needs and your desire to share or not share.  So, the creator lets the community know whether and/or how he or she wants a work reused and remixed.

So, how can I find Creative Commons stuff?

Creative Commons itself offers a find page (http://search.creativecommons.org/), as well as the opportunity to add a CC Search bookmarklet to your browser with their browser plugins.  (http://wiki.creativecommons.org/CC_Search_Browser_Plugins)


Some of your favorite search tools offer filters for finding CC images.

In its Advanced Search Screen, Google has a pull-down menu.


After you do an image search in Bing, the license filter option appears.


A Creative Commons search appears at the bottom of Flickr’s Advanced Search.

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CC is for you too!

Creative Commons is not just for adults or professionals.  Young artists and producers have every right to make decisions and share information about how they would like or not like their own work to be shared, reused, remixed, or left alone.  You have every right to attach a license to anything you create.

For more information and for guidance, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/.

For help in deciding what type of license to attach to your own work, the Creative Commons’ license chooser will generate a customized cc image license and embed code for your website.

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Even if you don’t go to the trouble of visiting Creative Commons to get a logo or code, many media portals—YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, for instance–will prompt you to attach licensing as you upload your original work.

You can also incorporate the millions of Creative Commons-licensed videos on YouTube when creating your own videos using the YouTube Video Editor. For more information about Creative Commons, visit http://creativecommons.org/about.

What do all those Creative Commons License icons mean?

Because the cc licenses let you know explicitly how creators wish their work to be shared, no permission is necessary to reuse.   However, attribution or credit is required by most cc licenses.

You need to understand the license options and the easily recognizable icons of the particular Creative Commons license attached to an image, song, or video.  cc-licensed content isn’t always free for all uses.

For instance, you wouldn’t wanted to add a drum track to song, re-color an image, or remix a video with a No Derivative Works license.

Get to know the licenses

Creators choose to mix and match this set of four conditions to apply to their work:

Valenza 6   Attribution: Others may copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and create derivative works based upon it — but only if they give credit.


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  Share Alike: Others may distribute derivative works under a license identical to the license that your chose for your work.


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Noncommercial: Others may copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for noncommercial purposes only.


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No Derivative Works: Others may copy, distribute, display, and perform only exact (verbatim) copies of your work, but derivative are not allowed.

These four conditions may be combined in the form of six possible licenses, listed in order from least to most restrictive:

Valenza 10Attribution: Others may distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.


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Attribution Share Alike: Others may remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
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Attribution No Derivatives: Others may redistribute your work, commercially and non-commercially, as long as it is passed along unchanged, unedited, and attributed.

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Attribution Non-Commercial: Others may remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you.

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Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike: Others may remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. New work based on yours will carry the same license.

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Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives: Others may share your work unedited and non-commercially as long as they credit you.  (This is the most restrictive of the six licenses.)

Public Domain (PD)

Public domain materials include government content never covered by copyright and material for which copyright has expired.  You may use these materials in any way you like without asking permission, with attribution.

Unfortunately, public domain content is not always labeled clearly as such. Nevertheless, government portals, like the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, NASA, and the various U.S. Military and agency sites offer large archives of public domain content.

Among the richest portals of public domain content are:

Fair Use

However fabulous Creative Commons and Public Domain content may be, sometimes you really need to use copyrighted material.

Say you plan to comment on popular media or current events. For instance, if you are planning to critique the portrayal of Native Americans in commercial film, you are going to want to “quote” commercial films like Pocahontas, Lone Ranger, and Dances with Wolves. If you are reviewing a book, you may want to share its cover art.

You may use copyrighted content without asking permission if you believe that your use falls under the doctrine known as Fair Use.

Fair Use is a little complicated.

In general, when you transform original content, repurpose it, and add value to it in your own remix, you may be able to claim fair use.

According to American University’s Center for Social Media, these two tests or questions help you plan whether to use the copyrighted work of others without asking permission:

  • Did the unlicensed use “transform” the material taken from the copyrighted work by using it for a different purpose than that of the original, or did it just repeat the work for the same intent and value as the original?
  • Was the material taken appropriate in kind and amount, considering the nature of the copyrighted work and of the use?

Examples of transformative use include: satire and parody, negative or critical commentary, positive commentary, quoting to start a discussion, illustration or example, and incidental use.

AU’s Recut, Reframe Recycle offers specific examples of transformative use in video production.

A variety of “Codes of Best Practices in Fair Use” (http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/fair-use/best-practices) represent agreed upon norms and boundaries the help clarify what fair use looks like in education, libraries, documentary film making, poetry, media studies, and more.

You will want to download and consult these Codes when you plan to ethically use copyrighted materials under the doctrine of fair use.  (Or if you are questioning a take-down of your media.)

Original work: It’s pretty obvious, but you can remix your own original work in your creative projects. Use your old stuff or create or create and use new original art, music, and photography, freely—no attribution necessary.

So, grab your cameras.  Draw and paint on your tablets or scan your paper work to make it digital. Compose or produce music and video using tools like GarageBand, iMovie, MovieMaker, WeVideo, Soundation, or JamStudio, or UJam.

Clipart:  Not all clip art is the same. You may use clipart without permission only if the specific licensing attached to the individual work allows that use.

Images at some clipart sites are fine for school assignments and personal and noncommercial use without citation.

Some clipart requires citation; some does not.

Please read licensing notes on the clipart sites you visit and any specific notices relating to an individual image.

And ask yourself, is clipart attractive and interesting enough to add to your creative work

Be careful when you search!  Media are sometimes “orphaned”

Sometimes it is hard to determine who created a particular song, image, or video. However hard you work on ethical reuse and remix, other people may upload images that do not belong to them and misrepresent licensing and ownership.

When in doubt about using media, try to identify ownership.  You may have to try to identify and contact the creator.

Tip: On identifying unidentified flying images

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If you’ve found an image you are interested in using, but cannot find any information about its origins, you can drag it into the search bar of Google’s Search by Image.  The results are likely to give you clues about the background of the image and where it might live on the web.

Asking permission

If you have any doubts about whether your use of copyrighted media is fair, it is best to ask permission before you reuse or remix it.  Some sites offer pages with information about licensing or asking permission, or perhaps, email or phone contact information.

You may also have some success identifying the Twitter handle of the content creator and opening the permission conversation on Twitter.

And please note: Within any of the portals you discover, it is important to check the Copyright notice on each individual element you would like to use or remix to be sure of the actual permissions.

Copyright-Friendly Images

Link: http://edcvs.co/16x8ggv QR1

Copyright-Friendly Sound & Music

Link: http://edcvs.co/1alEj4x


QR Code:

Copyright-Friendly Video

Link: http://edcvs.co/1am65xC




“Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.” The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing Is Taught in Schools. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2013.  <http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Teachers-technology-and-writing.aspx>.

Lenhart, Amanda, and Mary K. Madden. Teen content creators and consumers: More than half of online teens have created content for the Internet; and most teen downloaders think that getting free music files is easy to do. Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2005.  http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2005/Teen-Content-Creators-and-Consumers.aspx>.

Valenza, Joyce Kasman. “Opening Gates: on Celebrating Creative Commons and Flexing the Fair Use Muscle.” Library Media Connection, 29(4), 30-32.

Valenza headshot, used with permissionJoyce Kasman Valenza has been a special, public and school librarian, and a library educator. For ten years, she was the techlife@school columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Valenza is the author of Power Tools, Power Research Tools and Power Tools Recharged for ALA Editions. She currently blogs for School Library JournalValenza is active in ALA, AASL, YALSA, and ISTE and ALISE. She speaks nationally and internationally about issues relating to libraries and thoughtful use of educational technology. She joins the faculty of Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information in January 2014.  For more information: http://about.me/jvalenza Contact Valenza at joycevalenza@gmail.com


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