“I Got It From Google”

Recontextualizing Authorship to Strengthen Fair Use Reasoning in the Elementary Grades

Authored by: David Cooper Moore , John Landis

The Routledge Companion to Media Education, Copyright, and Fair Use

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138638891
eBook ISBN: 9781315637549
Adobe ISBN:


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For students who are learning basic civic competencies and who may be unfamiliar with legal processes, understanding the concept of fair use can be an uphill battle, especially when the fear of “breaking the law” rears its head. As practitioner-scholars in the field of elementary media literacy education, we share our model for building fair use reasoning skills without explicitly addressing U.S. law. Instead, we outline a set of critical thinking competencies that require students to understand the authorial and message-purpose context of online images. Online image search tools decontextualize visual information and tend to obscure authorship. By practicing thoughtful and informed image searching as a non-negotiable part of the creative process—one that not only allows but requires the use of existing copyrighted work of other creators—students develop a language with which they can identify authorship and purpose in existing visual media, describe their own new purposes for using that media, and, finally, determine a set of ethical guidelines of “what’s OK” and “what’s not OK” when using the copyrighted work of others. We explore how these competencies can be developed as early as second and third grade, before the explicitly legal dimensions of copyright ever enter classroom discussion.

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