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Andrea Hernandez 

Tips & Tools For Ethical Media Use

What do ethics have to do with images or audio? In our technological world of remixing and mashups, memes and viral videos, isn’t everything up for grabs? Because I share my work (visuals, videos, etc) in a digital format, does that mean that anyone can use, adapt, reshare or even claim ownership?

Because something CAN be done without “consequences” does not necessarily mean that something SHOULD be done. It is my belief that, as educators and learners, we continually grow and take steps to embody the values we wish to teach. In other words, when we know better, we do better (even if it’s the more difficult path).

I’m not going to go into the rules or laws of copyright here. For some excellent resources, including materials to use with your students, check this website. The purpose of this post is to share my go-to sites and tools for ethical use of the work of others.

Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons:

I use the Wikimedia Commons to find images in the public domain. (You can find creative commons images there as well). You can go directly to the commons and search by topic, license, or type of media or you can search Wikipedia for your topic and look for the commons icon to see if there is usable media to go with that topic.

Wikimedia Commons logo
Wikimedia Commons logo

Creative Commons Images:

Pics4Learning is one of my favorite sites. They have an extensive collection of SAFE images that have been contributed specifically for use in student works.
What I love about this site: All of the images are reviewed for appropriateness so there is no chance of a student stumbling onto something offensive. The image citation is included with each image so all your student has to do is copy/paste. The images are organized into collections. There is a wide variety of images, and many of them are of very good quality. You and your students can also contribute your own images to the site, a nice way to teach students to give as well as take. I have used this site with students as young as 1st grade.




Photos For Class  filters through the Flickr safe search looking for appropriate CC licensed images. When you download the photo from the site, it includes a citation at the bottom of the photo.

Flickr I use flickr for a lot of my own slides and visuals. I am so appreciative to the many photographers who share their work under a CC license. I also share my own photos under a license that is Creative Commons, attribution (I would like credit), non-commercial (if someone is using my photo to make money, I’d like to be specifically asked for permission and maybe paid), share-alike (If you use my cc image, you can not claim ‘all rights reserved’ but must also share the image as creative commons. You can see, from the image below, the licensing offered on Flickr. Having students choose a license for their own work, is an excellent way to teach the concept and understand the different licenses.


In order to find CC licensed images on Flickr, first you search in general, then refine the search by choosing license. For students and most projects, I choose “all creative commons.” For attribution, I link directly back to the flickr page. If using Flickr with students MAKE SURE that “safe search” is ON.



It can be hard to sell your students on using Creative Commons audio. Often they are so excited about using a favorite song that they have trouble seeing past that. However, I have found that once they understand the ideas behind copyright and licensing in a deeper, more personal way, they are willing to adhere to CC licensed audio as well. By having to make audio selections that match the tone of the work (as opposed to starting a creation with a favorite song in mind), they employ critical thinking skills that are part of media literacy.

My go-to site for CC Audio is ccMixter. It’s like Flickr for musicians and audio creators. You can search using different keywords or use their categories of genre, instrument or style.


Create Your Own

Another excellent option is to create your own media. Stay tuned for another post with tools and suggestions for creating your own media.

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One thought on “Tips & Tools For Ethical Media Use

  1. […] Cross-posted from Charles E. Smith’s edJEWcon blog […]

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