creative commons: reaching beyond google images


In the great aught ten, I’ve executed my lesson on plagiarism to students in two schools, reaching an audience that shakes out to be a couple hundred teenagers.

And that shakes out to be several hundred teenaged eyes rolling at my cheesy jokes.  Am I on the way up, or what?

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.  You see, friends, in my quest to abolish abysmally incomplete works cited pages from the face of the earth, there’s only one thing I discussed that no one was aware of.  In all the classes I taught, not one single student knew that you have to cite the images that you use.

So I explained to these students that using images in brochures, posters, PowerPoints, and research papers without citing the source constitutes plagiarism.  Just like the words you use, the images included in your work are assumed to be your own- unless you cite them.

More than this, I discovered that students and teachers alike are unaware of a fantastic resource for digital images.  This database of photos, illustrations, and other graphic artwork offers images that kick butt in terms of quality when compared to the results of a Google Image search.  And, unlike Google Images, this resource lets you know right away the terms of use for its content, which means that students understand whether they can use, share, and/or manipulate an image they find.

This resource, undoubtedly sent direct express from heaven, is the Creative Commons at Flickr.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Creative Commons, it’s a nonprofit organization that allows anyone and everyone to easily adapt the copyright of their creative work and subsequently share their work with the world… on their terms.  It’s a beautiful thing, something that I use often, including on this little blog of mine:

For a quick rundown of what Creative Commons is, check out their introductory video.  If you’d like to harness the good faith power of Creative Commons on your own work, visit their website to acquire a license in roughly seven seconds.

There are many more reasons why I recommend Flickr’s Creative Commons page, including the fact that the searches yield many more relevant (and much prettier) results than Google.  Also, it’s a cinch for students to conduct searches, and it includes a SafeSearch filter.

To get the awesomeness rolling, simply type “Flickr advanced search” into the search engine of your choice:

From there, click the link to the page, type in your search terms, and check the applicable boxes from the content/media/date prompts.  Before executing your search, be sure to check the box for Creative Commons content:

Click the search box, and be amazed at the delightful images that appear before your overjoyed eyes.

In case I haven’t lauded its eminence enough, the Creative Commons page at Flickr is great for students because it’s web-based image searching, but with the safety of knowing that these images have been put specifically on this site for an openly expressed purpose.  I’m spreading the word as much as I can, because it’s a great habit for students to get into, and can provide teachers, librarians, and parents with an opportunity to discuss important topics like intellectual property, plagiarism, and copyright.

At the very least, give the Creative Commons page at Flicker a shot.  If you still don’t understand why I’m so excited about it, you can always go right back to Google Images, right?


One Response to “creative commons: reaching beyond google images”

  1. 1 gail

    I use CC @ Flicker a lot, and lately I’ve been totally hooked on Deviant Art, which has a lot of great images. If people just delve a little bit beyond Google Image Search, there are a wealth of Creative Commons images out there!

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