I was in a meeting today about an after-school program where students are creating a lot of digital content. As much of this content is being tagged, students need to identify the copyright holder for individual media. While the copyright holder is rightfully the student who created the content, this is actually a nice opportunity to introduce kids to digital rights management.
What students rarely realize is that they can't simply grab a picture off the web and then use it for their own purposes. Whether they are putting on a play or developing a website, simply because media are available on the web (or in a book or wherever), doesn't mean that they can simply reuse it.
These students also don't realize that the content they create enjoys the same protections. Most students aren't interested in protecting their work; if they take a picture, they'd rather share it. From a DRM perspective, though, that doesn't simply mean posting it on MySpace. As students learn their way around the digital world, I'd love to believe that a new generation of kids will bypass the difficulties of all things bit torrent and think instead about really and appropriately sharing their creations.
I brought up the idea of Creative Commons licensing for the after-school program. Obviously, students will want to keep certain bits of content, whether video, photo, audio, or otherwise only for their own use. All of the kids are producing a major digital project, so it makes sense that they wouldn't want the best of their work used by other students. However, because the kids are producing so much content, there is more than enough to share.
Creative Commons provides a means for kids (and educators, and just about any other content creators) to make their media available for use in a variety of ways. Do they want it freely shared? Do they want it shared with an attribution? Does it need to be used as is, or can it be used as part of "derivative work"?
Creative Commons is a nice introduction to the meaning and vision of copyright for students. There is no better place to explore it than with content they create.