Mash Up, Mix Up, Re-Mix. We now live in a society intent on using the work of others (read: intellectual property) as the basis for new work. We used to call this "in the style of," when we looked at a modern-take on a painting with a classical echo. Today, with all of the content available on the Internet in a re-usable, digital format, we find society at an uncertain place. Is re-working the art, music, prose, or video imagery of one person okay in a digital age? For many digital kids, it is quite natural to assume that easily-reproducible content is ripe for the picking when they find themselves in the role of the "prosumer." Prosumer is a term coined to mean part "producer" and part "consumer."

Many students in Goochland rely upon Google's Image Search to find content online. It looks at the names of graphics files and the text in close proximity to the graphics to make matches. A Google search for "Goochland" reveals maps, the courthouse, and photos of people and animals in Goochland. But Google pays no attention to whether or not you, the viewer and researcher, have the legal right to use (copy, drag, cut, or re-format) these "hits."

True: Google Image Search leverages the awesome search power of the Google search engine to locate graphics.

False: The images returned by Google are okay for use in educational projects, movies, presentations, and student projects.

Allowing students to use Google Images to find artwork, graphics, or clip art is teaching them to steal.

While images found online can typically be used for "personal use," which is what you are officially doing when you view a webpage, the re-use of this content in new works, such as a video, book report, or slideshow typically extends beyond "personal use." Using digital content responsibly is a skill for the 21st century learner. The amount of content, and likewise the amount of content prohibited for use in prosumerist-pursuits, is only increasing.

It is true, that you can find public-domain images. These are images that are okay to use, as no one claims copyright on these images. Or, you can find images available from an entity that allows the re-use, and re-publication of content. Yet, there is currently no consistent and reliable system for clearly identifying what rights the creator of the website wishes to reserve. And finding a notice or writing the author/creator is often slow and tedious.

There is no perfect solution to this issue. Many people do not know they are breaking the law by re-using images found online. Yet, as many a lawyer may remind us, ignorance isn't a good excuse for breaking the law--however questionable society may about it.

Our recommendation is to search for content online that is "prosumerism" safe: content that has been organized and "tagged" by authors/creators using the CreativeCommons system. This is content attached with clear language that it is okay to re-use and re-publish another creator's work.

For finding and licensing work with a CreativeCommons deed, check out their website: You can also directly search for photos with the attribution license attached (now at almost 5.5 million specimens) through Flickr (

For audio, Goochland subscribes to a service called FreeplayMusic where we license audio content for use in videos and podcasts.

Aside from searching content that's legally reusable, we encourage teachers to provide students with a limited cache of images and/or audio to use in their school projects. For secondary students, we recommend that projects begin with an image search and that images chosen for the project are presented to the instructor with information about

  1. a)where the image came from (URL),

  2. b)the author/creator's name, and

  3. c) how they know it's legally available for use in their project.

It is our hope that with the experiences students have in Goochland county's public schools that they are prepared for a 21st century society that is wildly embracing the re-mixing of digital content. Responsibly, digital content can be sought out, used, and re-shaped to create exciting, rewarding learning experiences.

Our first Ethics of Cyberspace/Internet Safety Class of the year will be offered after-school on November 5 at the GMS Library Media Center. You can sign-up for this class on our wiki.


Did You Know You Could
Be Teaching Your Students to Steal?

Avoid Trouble!

Lime Wire software is something you should not have installed on your school-owned laptop.

Lime Wire is used to find content shared by other online users of the software for sharing files: from movies, to songs, to graphics.

Problem is, folks who are sharing this content do not have the legal right to do so.

Bottom line: if you’ve installed Lime Wire on your laptop, please remove it. Its use is against our A.U.P.