Finding copyright-friendly photos for the Google Images generation

(Next page: How to properly cite images)

First, once a Creative Commons licensed image is located, students should gather the URL of the image. If using Google Images, once an item is chosen, two options appear— “view site” and “view image”. Have students pick the “view image” option that presents them with both the full-sized version of the image as well as the direct URL of the image in the title bar.

One suggestion for students is for them to put this URL directly on the image so it always travels with the image. This is simple to do. Right-click on the image and save it to the desktop, camera roll, or gallery. Open Keynote, PowerPoint, or Google Drawings. Import that saved image to a single blank slide or drawing. Copy and paste the URL in the browser bar and add it as text to that same slide. Resize the text box and put it near the bottom of the image. Save that single slide as a JPEG or image to desktop, and the student now has the URL on the image.

Students can also include a more complete attribution, including the fact the image used was Creative Commons licensed. For example, attribution for a Flickr image may look something like this.

Kathy Schrock. CC:by 2.0.

(The Creative Commons license URL is found by looking below the image and clicking on the Creative Commons license icons.)

It is important, if giving attribution for a Flickr image, to make sure the student actually gets to the URL of the original image, not the URL of the collection or set the image is located in. For example, this URL leads to a photo I took of a pile of technology gadgets: []

Comparison of thicknesses

The direct URL to the image ends at the number after my name, 2239556626, so the direct URL to the image is simply: []

Copyright-friendly site
In addition to Creative Commons licensed images, there are also some great web-based projects that offer “copyright-friendly” access to their images, but also request that you upload images that students and teachers can use in the classroom. The long-running Pics4Learning site is one I have used for years. I have uploaded several images, with my “cows in the field image” being the most popular! On their site, the original creator retains the copyright to their uploaded image but gives permission for educators and students to use the images in print, multimedia, and video productions.

The most important outcome of using Creative Commons-licensed images is our students begin to understand and practice “giving credit where credit is due.” Granted, the students do have more fair use rights than the general public when using images in support of learning. However, by teaching them how to locate Creative Commons-licensed images, we are building a life-long respect for honoring the intellectual property of others.

Kathy Schrock is an online adjunct professor, an independent education technologist, and a nationally-known workshop and conference presenter. She is online at, and is a member of Discovery Education’s Discovery Educator Network (DEN), a global community of educators that are passionate about transforming the learning experience with digital media. This is part of a series of articles from DEN members, which has included ways to change PD and tips for keeping girls interested in STEM subjects.

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