Recently, I found myself reading a local blogger’s posts regarding everything from management to lessons to professionalism. While knowledgeable, I was becoming frustrated with the amount of material I was seeing throughout the posts that contained “stolen” pictures and concepts without citation. The blogger is has their own unique set of “resources” but after all the emphasis our state, and even our nation has put on the importance of originality and crediting those deserving, I guess I expected more. From them…and ultimately, myself as well as every art educator.
Are you on the right side of copyright? Let’s be honest, the inconvenience of copyright is that sometimes it goes to far. We can all admit there are somethings that have serious legal copyright and you’re thinking, “what in the heck?” Anymore it seems like *everything* is copyrighted. As art teachers, we battle this every single time a student has an idea that may or may not include the ideas of others.
So? How do we proceed? What is and isn’t copyrighted? Well, quite frankly, it’s easier, most likely safer, to think that everything is. You have certain rights to nearly everything you create, even without paper work. Of course, if you want cut and dry rights to your creations, that’s when you do the paperwork. But that’s up to you.
It is my goal to run a classroom that has no issues regarding students using copyrighted images without the proper permissions or use of a “free photo” website like Free Stock Photos. That’s not to say previously created artwork can not be used as inspiration but truly original creations on the part of each student is my goal. I of course, would like to still address the importance of copy right laws and what everything means – including the fair use doctrine (link).
The important thing to remember is educators is that students will never learn these basics if we don’t address them. The perfect place to do that is in the art room because we can address that and we can also pull the creativity speech about original works. And no, I can’t say I’m 100% innocent because as a beginning teacher, I’m making my fair share of mistakes. We all have. I don’t know a single art teacher that can say they haven’t, especially in the beginning. But the important thing for me is that I’m willing to stare these mistakes straight in the face and say “never again” now rather than later or worse, when it’s too late.