Digital Citizenship: Students learn copyright

Digital Citizenship: Students learn copyright

In this post we are going to continue the theme of ‘Digital Citizenship” and look at the issue of copyright and how we help students to avoid breaking copyright. Students often think that anything on the internet is copyright free. This is not the case. Copyright is automatic when an author produces something from scratch like a photo, video, piece of writing. The author may decide to put the ‘work’ in the public domain or after a certain period the ‘work’ loses its protection and then becomes copyright free but in the first instance, an original work is protected by copyright.

Often authors decide to waver the copyright and declare that their video or picture etc can be used freely by anyone. Sometimes they put certain conditions in place. So for example a photographer might say that anyone is welcome to use their picture as long as they attribute the picture ( ie they show who originally took the picture- normally through a link or some text under the image).

Google provides a tool that allows users to search for images where copyright restrictions have been wavered. If you do an image search and then click on tools, you will see that a number of options open including size, color, usage rights, type, time and more tools.


The tools that Google provide, offer an interesting range of options. For example you can choose images based around the colour ( so for example you might choose to only search for yellow computers). You could also search for certain types of pictures, like for example line drawings, clip art or even animations. The search options also allow you to search for images of a certain size, so for example students can search for images that are only 800 pixels wide. This can be very useful for students to know about as they tend to download huge files and images and not focus on the size of the image.

Intellectual Property


Students can either do this activity in school or at home. It not only teaches students to be aware of a whole range of searches they can do but it also develops their reading skills. You can do this activity as a race with the student who successfully completes all the searches being the winner. Students need access to a computer and must save all the files they find in a folder, so this way the teacher can check to make sure they completed the exercise correctly.


Tell the students to find the following images and to save them all in a folder on their desktop.

  1. Search for a picture of a computer that has been ‘Labeled for reuse’ save it into your folder and name the image ‘Computer labeled for Reuse’
  2. Search for a yellow picture of a computer that has also been ‘Labeled for reuse’. Save it into your folder and call it ‘Yellow Computer labeled for reuse’
  3. Search for a picture of a house. Make sure it is ‘Labeled for reuse with modification’ save it into your folder and call it ‘House labeled for reuse with modification’
  4. Search for a picture of a car. Make sure the picture is of type ‘Clip art’ and also make sure that the image is ‘Labeled for reuse’. Save it into your folder and call it ‘Clip art car’Copyright Trademark Brand Branding Marketing Concept
  5. Search for a drawing of a ship. It must be 400 pixels wide and 300 pixel high and it must be labeled for reuse. Save it as ‘Ship 400x300’
  6. Find a clip art picture of a rocket that has been labeled for ‘Labeled for non-commercial reuse’. Save it into their folder and name it ‘Ship for non-commercial reuse’
  7. Find a picture of a telephone. It should be type line drawing and this case you want it to be ‘Labeled for non-commercial reuse with modification.’ Save the file as ‘Ship for non- commercial reuse with modification.’
  8. Search for a picture of a face. The image must be exactly 800 pixels wide and 600 high. The picture must be ‘Labeled for reuse’. Now save the image as ‘Face 800 by 600.’

This will really help students to make effective use of the Google Search Tools but also help them with their reading

A great tip is to get the students to create their own searches. They can write out 8 searches and tell other students to do them. I have not tried this in the class yet but it would be a very good writing activity and get them to process lots of vocabulary.


For help on using the tools in Google you might like to look at these videos.


Russell Stannard

Russell Stannard is the founder of TeacherTrainingVideos.Com and the Associate Trainer at NILE. He was the previous winner of the Times Higher ‘Outstanding Technology Initiative’, the British Council ‘Technology Innovation Award’ and the University of Westminster ‘Excellence in Teaching Award.’ He trains teachers all over the world, especially in the use of technology in language teaching.