I need a photo, a graphic, a video, some music and a chart for a lesson I’m doing next week. But my media specialist says I have to follow all of these weird copyright laws and abide by the Fair Use Clause. I don’t understand all of that so . . . I guess I’ll just give my kids a worksheet.

I hear this grumbling, in some form or another, at least once a week or so from teachers I work with. According to Doug Johnson, teachers many times begin to “hypercomply” when it comes to copyright compliance. He says that we should not stop doing things that make good instructional sense because there MIGHT be some sort of violation.

We need to quit worrying about finding a Safe Harbor for Fair Use and start exploring the outer limits of Fair Use.

What many teachers don’t know much about is the whole idea of the Creative Commons. Creative Commons is the growing practice by the creators/owners of creative works to relax their rights to copyright ownership.

I like the name.

Creative Commons.

Traditionally, a common is a piece of land owned by one person, but over which other people can exercise certain traditional rights, such as allowing their livestock to graze upon it. Common grazing areas still exist in parts of Great Britain and the US.cc-logo

So . . . what people are starting to do with copyrighted material is to extend those rights to others, in essence allowing others to use copyrighted material in lots of ways not possible under current copyright law. Creative Commons is designed to connect people who need multimedia stuff with people who have to stuff. Pretty cool!

So before you “hypercomply” and throw up your hands in despair, start thinking Creative Commons.

The best place to start is over at Drapes Takes. Darren, a technology integration guy in Utah, has put together an incredibly useful page with videos, links and resources to help you understand the Commons concept.