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Rock Out Your Projects With Royalty-Free Music

Cross-posted at ISTE’s Learning and Leading with Technology – Issue forthcoming

Using music in projects is an important skill for students to develop. Music and sound effects can make or break a presentation, and can take a good project to a whole new level. Sir Alan Parker, director of the films Birdy, Evita, Fame, Pink Floyd the Wall, and many others) states:

“When music and images gel they can take the audience’s brains to another plane emotionally and dramatically. Bad film music intrudes without complementing the action. A great score gets under your skin, triggers your subconscious, enhances the drama and helps drive the emotional power train of the movie.” 

For students to use music in their projects, they need to be able to find royalty-free music. If they simply import a song from their iTunes library, chances are, it is not permissible to use under Creative Commons licensing. If students post videos on YouTube or Vimeo which contain copyrighted songs, the audio will likely be stripped and their accounts may be suspended.

There are hundreds of sites that offer music to download, but the majority of these sites are pay-based, and/or not very user-friendly. Below are 3 great, easy to use sites for students to find free, royalty-free music and sound effects to use in their projects.

Purple Planet

Purple Planet Royalty Free Music is a nice source for fun, easy to use, royalty-free music for projects. All the music on the site is free to download and is composed and performed by Geoff Harvey and Chris Martyn. A link back to the site is all that is required to use any of the many songs within the site. Three things I really like about this site are: 1. There is a nice mouse-over audio preview feature that allows kids to get an idea of what the song sounds like. 2. The site is organized in 14 different geners for easy searching. 3. It is completely free!

SoundJay

SoundJay has a nice selection of .mp3 and .wav files that are organized into 10 different genres. All of the sounds and songs at SoundJay are free to use under the condition that the user links back to and cites http://www.soundjay.com and does not post the sounds for others to download.

Royalty Free Music Room

All the free downloadable mp3s at Royalty Free Music Room are public domain music. Students are free to use the music for any project (book trailers, movies, presentations, etc.) and even upload to Youtube, without worrying about copyright infringement.

As educators, one very important role, succinctly stated in the NETS-T is to: “Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.”  Music is such an under-stated importance in student projects and it is vital that children know how to find and use royalty-free audio.

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Copyright Metro

A couple of months back, I wrote one of the most popular posts ever received on Edtechideas.com. It was called Four Creative Commons Photo Sites You Should Know About, and it will be cross-posted in ISTE’s August 2012 Leading and Learning Magazine. Just today, I stumbled across a fantastically cool website from Baruch College called Copyright Metro. Copyright Metro takes you through an interactive “subway” to figure out if the media you are using is copyright protected.

Although designed for faculty of Baruch College, I think the site would be beneficial to students as well. There is a lot of great information and resources about copyright laws and fair use policies, and the interactivity of the site makes learning fun.

Three Creative Commons Photo Sites You Should Know About

Grabbing images from Google is one of the easiest things there is to do. You simply search, copy, paste. A no-brainer. However, when using someone else’s photos, how do you know if you have permission? Students need to be taught about copyright and how to find royalty-free images that are ok to use in projects. Below are four great sites that I use with my students.

Pics4Learning

Pics4Learningas the site says, “Is a safe, free image library for education. Teachers and students can use the copyright-friendly photos and images for classrooms, multimedia projects, web sites, videos, portfolios, or any other project in an educational setting.” It’s easy to use and all of the copyright information is available in a simplistic bibliography underneath any chosen photo.

flickrCC

flickrCC is a good place to start for Creative Commons images. The panel on the left of the original displays the first 36 photos matching your search term. Click on any of these thumbnails to get a slightly larger image and the attribution details displayed in the right hand section. Right-click the image and ‘save image as’ if you want to use this size, or click on the link in the attribution text to go to flickr and chose a different sized image. Don’t forget to include the attribution text in any work you produce using the picture.

Flickr Storm

Flickr Storm is similar to flickrCC. You simply run a search, click on a thumbnail and the photo appears on the right. Make sure to have your students click on the advanced search feature which allows them to limit their searches to Non-Commercial and Share Alike photos. One nice feature about Flickr Storm is the “Add to Tray.” You can add several photos to your tray and then when you open your tray, all the photos are there in large sized format along with the attributions.

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