What rights do you have as a creator?
Once someone records an original idea, it is copyrighted. Copyright is an important law that helps protect the rights of creators so they receive credit and get paid for their work. Most things you find, download, copy and paste from the Internet are copyrighted.
You can use things you find online as long as you:
» check who created it
» get permission to use it
» give credit to the creator
» buy it (if necessary)
» use it responsibly
If you are not careful in how you use other people’s work online, you might be stealing. It’s great to be able to use things we find online, but we have to do it responsibly. We have to show our respect for other people’s hard work and creativity by giving credit where credit is due.
Ask, Acknowledge, Add Value
This process provides you with a framework to guide their thinking when using others’ creative work. It is particularly helpful when talking about how students can use others’ work in their own creations.
ASK: How does the author or artist say I can use the work? Do I have to get the creator’s permission first?
Look carefully and ask questions about the copyrighted work around you. Creators have different ways they allow their work to be used and shared. Some creators use an “all rights reserved” approach, requiring permission from anyone who wants to use their work. If students want to ask for permission to use copyrighted work, they would have to contact the creator through email, letter, or phone and have a clear explanation as to why and how they want to use it. Other creators hold a “some rights reserved” approach in line with Creative Commons that allows people to share, copy, or even distribute, change, or remix their work, as long as the creator is acknowledged and given credit. And some creators donate their work to the public domain so it can be used freely in any way. Finally, if someone is creating something that falls under fair use, that person does not have to get permission first.
ACKNOWLEDGE: Did I give credit to the work I used?
In all cases you need to acknowledge and cite the work you use. Whether you are using copyrighted work with permission, or whether it’s fair use, acknowledging the creator is a sign of being a responsible and respectful creator. To acknowledge someone’s work, you can include the creator’s name, title of the work, and year it was made at the end of a paper or in the credits. Follow the citation style used by your school.
ADD VALUE: Did I rework the material to make new meaning and add something original?
Consider whether your use of copyrighted work helps you express your own ideas. Have you simply copied the work and repeated the same ideas? Or have you used the work in a way to help you express an original idea in your own words?
Respond to the questions below.
- What is something you have made that you’re proud of?
- Can you think of a time when you used someone else’s work in something you created?