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Copyright-friendly pathfinder–join the wiki party!

Most students know how to get images and other media. They are well aware of the cool stuff they can find using  Google’s Image Search, or YouTube, or Flickr or iTunes.

But despite common practice, the fact that an image or a sound is available to us doesn’t really give us the right to copy it and use it indiscriminately. Most Web images are copyrighted and licensed.  Broadcast of those images or sounds on the Web, on a network, on cable television, or in a virtual learning environment–like online courses transmitted over such courseware platforms Blackboard or Moodle–generally requires the permission of the creator or owner. The rule is–when in doubt, ask. But it is not always easy to ask, or to contact, or even to identify the creator or owner of an image or a sound or a video.

This stuff is darn confusing to a student who wants to create and communicate. We can make it easier for her. We can create pathfinders to lead our students to more generously licensed content.

New copyright-friendly archives recognize and respond to educational needs while they remove many of the legal and ethical thorns. Creative Commons is a license that allows creators to maintain a copyright while allowing users the right to reuse, reproduce, and change software or files. If you are a little in the dark on all this, view the cool videos on the Creative Commons site. In the spirit of the open source movement, a growing number of portals encourage the sharing of photographs, clipart, and other illustrations.

Copyright-friendly media archives actually come in a variety of flavors. Some are government archives offering liberal use. Some offer older media in the public domain. Some are collections of material posted by their creators with the definite purpose of sharing their work or seeing it grow and mix.

With school about to start and teachers already eagerly warning me about upcoming media projects, I decided to ease the confusion (my own included) but updated my Copyright-friendly Pathfinder. And, as I promised in an earlier post, I migrated it to wiki format.  But it is very clearly a work in progress.

Friends, this could be our very first uberwikipathfinder. Please join and help me build and better describe these nifty resources for students and teachers.

Some of my personal favorites from the pathfinder:

And for music:

Note: always check individual licensing notices before publishing on the Web or broadcasting!

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. FYI – there is a “t” left out of the url link for your pathfinder. Thank you for sharing this. I think it will be really helpful to many people!

  2. joycevalenza says:

    Thanks, Anne! It’s fixed.

  3. CAROLYN FOOTE says:


    Great resource. I had been working on one but it was very rudimentary so you should saved me a lot of effort!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

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