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Wikieducator is an Open Education Resource (OER) project founded on the principles of openness and freedom.

Our community values can be found on the Main Page. In keeping with the core educational values of sharing knowledge freely, we only allow media that meet the licensing requirements of the Free Cultural Works Definition to be uploaded for use on our wiki pages. We encourage WikiEducators to explore what the concept of "free content" means in our community.

A brief introduction to copyright

Copyright of teaching materials in a digital world is a complex topic. In short, unless specified otherwise, the default position of all content you find on the Internet is "all rights reserved" copyright. This means that you may not necessarily download, copy or adapt images you find on the Internet or search engines. While most web sites can be accessed openly, this does not mean that you are legally allowed to download or reuse these images. The default legal position is that you do not have the rights to reuse the images you find on the Internet on WikiEducator.

There is a misconception that if you alter a digital image so that it does not look like the original, that you are entitled to reuse the image. This is not true, unless the original digital image provided the rights for derivative works.

What images can be reused and uploaded to WikiEducator?

Thankfully, there are digital materials which use licenses that grant you permissions to reuse the images under certain conditions, for example some of the Creative Commons licenses. Note that not all Creative Commons licenses meet the requirements of the Free Cultural Works Definition. For the purposes of this tutorial we will keep things simple and specify a list of license types which can be reused on the WikiEducator site and we will direct you to places where it is easy to search for images that use permissible licenses.

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Key points
Images with the following licenses can be uploaded to the WikiEducator site:

You may also use images which:

  • are in the Public Domain (PD) because copyright has expired,
  • are associated with a clear Public Domain declaration, or
  • you have created yourself (e.g., a photo you have taken with your digital camera assuming you have not taken a photo of any trademarks in your image) and as the copyright holder provide the necessary permissions in the license you choose for your image.

While your own national copyright legislation may provide explicit exceptions under a concept called "fair dealing" (similar to the doctrine of fair use in the United States) for education and research purposes, when resources are published on public web sites, like WikiEducator, it becomes more difficult and complicated to apply the principles of "fair dealing" or "fair usage" for educational purposes.

Education institutions in some countries may negotiate a copyright license agreement (CLA) which entitle these institutions to use certain copyrighted materials in lieu of a collective payment for this usage. Note that this does not alter the all-rights-reserved copyright status of the resource, and if your institution is part of a CLA agreement, you may not upload these images to WikiEducator because we are an international project which extends beyond the jurisdictions and permissions of local copyright license agreements.

I'm sure you will agree that this can be confusing when trying to incorporate an image in your teaching materials. In the next subsection we provide guidelines on where to source images you can use in WikiEducator which will simply the complexities of copyright.

Where can I find free cultural works approved images and graphics?

Glad that you asked! There are many repositories for images and graphics that meet the definition of a free cultural work. We recommend that you use sites where the images are properly tagged with licensing information:

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Tip: You may not use images in WikiEducator which use the Non-commercial (NC) or no-derivatives (ND) restrictions, even though these may be Creative Commons Licenses. We may only use "Free cultural works approved" Creative Commons licenses. These are: CC0, CC-BY or CC-BY-SA.

Can you recommend a search facility for free cultural works' images?

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Key points
Licensing can be confusing and if you're unsure of which license types qualify, we recommend using the following sites for sourcing images you can use in WikiEducator:
  1. Wikimedia Commons -- all images in this database meet our requirements
  2. Search by Creative Commons
  • Make sure that both search options are checked, that is images that you can: (1) use commercially and (2) modify, adapt or build upon.
The search box on the Creative Commons web site
  • We recommend using the flickr tab option for images, because the Google search tab on this site does not always provide easily accessible licensing information. It is your responsibility to verify that the license of the image you find is CC0, CC-BY or CC-BY-SA.

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Search for an image or graphic in Wikimedia Commons
  • Click on the link to the commons above.
  • Enter a keyword or keywords in the search text area.
  • Select the file you are most interested in.
  • Write down the exact location and name of the file or save this URL on your user page for use in a future activity.
  • Explore the image file on the Commons, and scroll down to the "Permission" section and read the licensing information (see screencast).

Uploading images

Before you upload an image, make sure that either:

  • You own the rights to the image (usually meaning that you created the image yourself or took the photo).
  • You can prove that the copyright holder has licensed the image under an acceptable free license.

Whenever you upload an image, you should:

  • Determine the relevant information for attributing the image, including the author, where the file came from (e.g. web address or personal image), date the image was created and license.
  • Fill out the relevant detail for full attribution on the "Upload file" page (we will explain this in more detail on the next page).

Now we are ready to learn about the basics of adding images to a wiki page.