I am also confused as to what is actually "copyright free". From what I have been reading, it is copyright free as long as it is used in an educational setting and not re-posted to the web. Do you know if the sites you have mentioned above fall into this category? Our teachers use their individual web pages to showcase their student work, thus we get into copyright problems. Any ideas?
Dee, you're thinking of "fair use" guidelines. There are 4 criteria for Fair Use, of which you mentioned 2. You also need to take into account the nature of the original work (artistic work is protected more than factual work) and how much you're using. When you're looking for educational, noncommercial use but in a public forum, a small clip might be fair use. A whole song most likely isn't.
One of the problems with fair use is that it's deliberately vague. We're back to the discussion Nancy and I had earlier. You can choose to fumble through fair use. You can try to get permission from the original creator for every item you want to use (a logistical nightmare with a classroom--my company pays a full time employee to handle those requests for courses we develop). Alternatively, you can use Creative Commons-licensed work. In that case, the artists have explicitly labeled their work to tell you how you can use it. That removes the guesswork and the need for individual permission requests. As Nancy said, better safe than sorry.
Christy, well said. Here's another thought I had after I logged off last night. It has a lot more to do with being a good digital citizen than it does with 'getting caught' or 'getting in trouble'. It has to do with realizing the efforts and creativity of others. I always say to my kids "if you went into a museum and like a painting on the wall you can't just take of off the wall and take it home and hang it on your wall." If you want a painting on your wall you'll have to do it yourself.
As kids move away from doing webpages (hurrah, the internet is filled with enough junk as it is) and start using social networking spaces, blogs etc. the line between what is 'mine' and what is 'yours' again begins to blur. Someone mentioned 'digital footprint' in a different discussion (on internet safety), I like that idea. Is the stuff you leave out there in cyberspace a bunch of original stuff--research, writing, drawing or have you ripped off a bunch of other peoples' stuff. Thanks for adding the left-brain side to this discussion. N.