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Copyright and Media

There is a lot of material available for easy download on the Internet. You can get image files, sound files, movie files, text files, and more for free, but this doesn't mean that there aren't restrictions to their usage. In this lesson we will do two things:

1. Discuss copyright law
2. Look at a couple tags that can be used with different media types.


Let's say that you:

1) Download a really cool image from some website
2) You have a website of your own
3) You wish to display the picture you downloaded on your own website



The first question concerns ethics (whether an action is right or wrong). The second question concerns the law (what is legal or illegal to do).

Most people would agree that it is wrong to take credit for the work which another person did. If you display a picture that someone else made on your website and take credit for its creation, then most people would agree that you did something wrong. If, however, you give this other person credit for the creation of the picture, most people would say that this is fair... UNLESS the person who created the picture does not want you to display it on your web page.

This is where copyright law comes in. A person who creates an image (or a song, or a movie, etc.) has the right to decide where and if it is displayed. You must get that person's permission before using the image (or whatever) on your page. This is especially true if your site is a commercial site. If your site is not available outside of a LAN then there are still restrictions on the display of the image, but any penalties you might have to pay would be less severe.

Some pictures are available for free and may be used without any restrictions, but this is not always the case. If you are not sure if an image (or sound file, etc.) is available for unrestricted use, then you should try to contact its creator (or owner) to get permission to use the item before using it on your page. However it is always permissible to embed a video from YouTube since if the owner doesn't turn off embedding, then that means that anyone automatically has permission to embed it anywhere.

For more information, check out these sites:

Electronic Freedom Foundation: The copyright FAQ at outlines copyright law as it exists in the United States. Terms such as copyright, public domain, and fair use are defined and discussed at this website.
MORE INFO: Teaching Copyright at EFF

Free Software Foundation: The most interesting concept developed at this site is the concept of copyleft. Copyleft prevents an unscrupulous developer from taking software from the public domain and adding features to it and then selling this "enhanced" version.
MORE INFO: Copyleft Explained


This brings us to the topic of how to include various forms of media on your web page. Often you will come across web pages which incorporate sound and movie files as well as other forms of active content. Embedding these items is remarkably easy. In fact, you can easily find examples with just a little bit of searching!


Create a web page and embed two items on it:

  1. Video from YouTube.
  2. Sound file.
Make sure both items are appropriate for school.

ALSO read this page: Remix Culture and write a 200 word summary of what remix culture is and provide some examples of what it is and what it isn't.