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IPR and Copyright

Page history last edited by Phil Gravestock 12 years, 9 months ago

Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright


The information provided in this section should not be taken as legal advice; rather, it is an attempt to highlight some of the potential issues that might arise from the use of digital stories.  If in doubt advice should be sought from copyright advisers in your institution.  Additional information about Intellectual Property Rights and copyright in relation to digital storytelling and Web2.0 technologies can be found online: Copyright and Digital StorytellingWeb2Rights; JISClegal.


When using digital storytelling it is most likely that at some point intellectual property and copyright issues will be encountered.  The Higher Education Academy-funded Pathfinder project at the University of Gloucestershire on digital storytelling set out to make available exemplar stories; however, the project team noted:


what we hadn’t anticipated was the fact that most of the digital stories that had been produced, and the ones that had already started to be produced by students as part of the project, contained large numbers of images that had been downloaded from the Internet with no regard to copyright issues.  A smaller number of stories had also used commercial music soundtracks as background music.  (Gravestock, 2008)


As the form of digital stories broadens out beyond a focus on personal narratives and the use of personal images then the range of digital sources that might be incorporated also broadens out hugely.  Copyright protection is applied by default to most original works, and it should be accepted that any web materials are copyrighted; it does not need the copyright symbol.  How the stories are intended to be used will have an impact on the actions that are required.  As the quote above illustrates, if the intention is to publish stories on the web then this can have greater impact than if just used ‘in the classroom’.  This could be seen as a dilemma in the use of digital storytelling given that one of its potential benefits is giving power to the voice of the student through dissemination.  Their expectations may also be influenced by examples of video-based media that are uploaded to sites such as YouTube which make use of images and music gathered from the Internet.


Ohler (2008: 195) identifies what he calls ‘three rules of respect’: citation, permission and compensation. 


Citation: students must make appropriate reference to all sources that they use in the creation of their story.  In this respect the use of digital stories in education should not be considered any differently from other work in respect of fair use.  All information sources, images, music or any other media should be properly referenced as for any other piece of academic work.


Permission: in some cases it may be necessary to seek permission to use material.  This will be particularly so if the intention is for digital stories to be made publicly available, i.e. published.  Where students are also gathering their own images that include pictures of other people then permission should also be sought.  In such cases those people being photographed should give permission for their photographs to be used.  Most institutions are likely to have a standard form that is used when collecting publicity photographs, which can be used as the basis for a form for digital storytelling purposes.


Compensation: Ohler’s third level of respect relates to providing compensation to material owners for the use of their materials; however, rather than paying for material use can be made of the range of sites that make images, music and other material freely available (see list below).  Some of this will be copyright-free material or material that is licensed through Creative Commons.


Creative Commons is a form of licensing that allows creators or developers of materials to retain intellectual property rights whilst allowing them to specify how they might be used.  Creative Commons provides a range of options, which include:


  • only requires attribution
  • no derivatives
  • non-commercial – no derivatives, or
  • share alike.


If materials are licensed under Creative Commons then they will have a statement specifying the form of the license.  More information can be found on the Creative Commons web site (http://www.creativecommons.org).


In summary the creation of digital stories should follow good academic practice by making due attribution to materials that are used, of whatever nature.  Creating digital stories can help expand students; understanding of intellectual property issues; however, it needs also to be reiterated that making stories available on the web is a form of publication or broadcast.  As Ohler suggests, ‘show respect’ (Ohler, 2008: 200).


The following sites provide images and music files that can be used in digital stories.  They can also be accessed via the Delicious site set up for this synthesis project (http://delicious.com/tags/dst_synthesis) using any of the the tags, resources, audio, music, photos and free.


Image sites:





Creative Commons Images








Flickr Creative Commons


Free Images


Image After










Pixel Perfect Digital





Music sites:


Creative Commons Audio


Free Play


The Freesound Project


Ghost Note








Partners in Rhyme


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