Comments & Attributions

HyperStudio is the only multimedia authoring system with both automatic citation of source urls for graphics and text, and a dedicated Comments & Attributions function to support Creative Commons and other copyrighted media usage.

First Steps: “Copyright Friendly”

Since first designing HyperStudio in the late 80s, I developed an interest in copyright and usage issues of media as they relate to student- and teacher-created projects.  I coined the phrase "copyright-friendly" in the 90s in the interest of promoting the idea that media offered to students for use in their projects should in fact be usable by them. 

In particular, this was in response to the Apple Visual Almanac laserdisc, which was an absolutely amazing collection of images, video and sound clips offered to educators for use in their classroom.  The problem was, that if one read the license terms, the media was in fact only "displayable" only within the classroom, and couldn't be incorporated into a student project that would subsequently be shared or stored anywhere.

Creative Commons is a very good evolution of the idea of “copyright-friendly”, and I have worked with them in adding features to HyperStudio for the attribution process and keeping a record of the sources of media used in projects.

The Comments & Attributions field is found in the Features tab of the Inspector for every object in a stack, as well as for the “About this Card” and “About this Stack” Inspector windows.

This field can have information typed in to it to satisfy the author attribution requirement for Creative Commons licensed media, as well as for those cases where you want to list the author and/or copyright information for media from non-Creative  Commons sources.

Whenever an image is dragged from the Safari or FireFox browsers on the Macintosh, or Internet Explorer or FireFox in Windows, HyperStudio automatically records the URL of the Internet location of that image in the Comments & Attributions field for that image:

Here is a video demonstrating how Comments & Attributions is automatically filled with the URL information when dragging an image from a browser window while building a project:

Note1: Safari on the Macintosh records the source url of an image when you drag it from the browser window to the desktop, and HyperStudio automatically reads that information later when the image is added to a project, and puts the url information in the Comments & Attributions field for that object.  Unfortunately, FireFox does not record the url information when an image is saved to the desktop, so that url will be lost unless you drag the image directly to the HyperStudio project.  For this reason Safari is a preferred browser to use when researching and saving images from Internet.

Note2: The url that is saved for an image is the url where that image is actually stored on a server, not the page that contained the image.  If you want to “remember” the page where an image came from, it’s a good idea to drag and drop the url from the address line of your browser to the Comments & Attributions field for that object.  If you want to make an active link from that object back to the source page of the image, then just drag and drop the url from the address line in your browser directly on to the image on the card in the HyperStudio project.  Do try this at least once - it works very nicely!


Creative Commons Attributions with

the Open Attribute Firefox/Chrome Add-on

Putting the source url for an image in the Comments & Attributions field is just the start though for a correct Creative Commons attribution.  The complete attribution is more than just the url. It should include information specified by the author, but it’s not always easy to figure out just what that information should be and how it should be formated.

The Open Attribute add-on for the FireFox and Chrome browsers is a good solution to this.  Once the Open Attribute add-on has been installed, a small “cc” in a circle will appear in the browser address bar whenever a Creative Commons attribution is detected for something on that page:


Choosing the “cc” symbol will give a pop-up menu, where you can choose to put a plain-text or html version of the attributions on the clipboard. For images that will be used in HyperStudio, use the plain-text option.


Now drag the image from the browser window to the HyperStudio project, and in the Inspector window that will appear for that, under the features tab, click in the Comments & Attributions window, do a “paste” from the clipboard, and the entire correct Creative Attributions information will be placed in the field for that image:

Later, all the Comments & Attributions for an entire project can be seen by choosing Comments & Attributions from the Window menu:

Which will then show all attributions for the project in one window:

The Citation Machine: MLA, APA, Turabian, Chigago

The Citation Machine is an online tool created by David Warlick that will generate a properly formatted citation for both print and non-print resources.  For example, for the photo, “A Little to the Left”, shown earlier on this page, the information entered into the Citatation Machine would look like this:

The resulting citation that can be copied looks like this:

And when pasted into the Comments & Attributions field for the image in the HyperStudio project will look like this:

This is another handy site for creating citations

Using Comments & Attributions for Stack Authorship Information

The Comments & Attributions field for “About this Stack” is a great place to put information within your stack about the file itself.  This could be your name and contact information, web-page url, or anything else that you would like someone viewing your stack to be able to see.

Whatever is entered in the Comments & Attributions field for a stack is the first information that will be displayed at the top of the Commen ts & Attributions window when “Show Comments & Attributions” is chosen from the Window menu in either HyperStudio or the HyperStudio Player.

Here is what the Inspector might look like for a stack with information saved in Comments & Attributions for “About this Stack”:


“Terms of Use” Agreements of Internet Media

When using media from online sources, it’s a good idea to look at the requirements placed on the use of media by the source that you are using. 

Keep in mind that students will probably want to share their projects with parents and their peers, and this can take place in places like YouTube, SchoolTube, Vimeo, Wiki pages, blogs and school websites.  If student projects will be kept in physical or digital portfolios, this may also be a factor in which media sources you choose to use for your students’ projects.

In addition, your students will often want to modify the media, at the least by cropping and resizing images and using shorter excerpts of longer videos. These uses may actually be prohibited under the terms of use of the site providing the media.

Furthermore, if the student actually alters the media, for example by coloring (or changing contrast, color saturation, brightness, etc.), or combines the images, audio or video with others and thereby creates a “remix” or “derivative” work, this may also be not allowed by the terms of use.

Also, many media creators and providers routinely prohibit “commercial use”, but it’s difficult to find a definition of what constitutes commercial use. Does the blog have Google adwords? Does the site promote the speaker for presentations for which fees are charged? Is YouTube a commercial site, given that advertisements will be superimposed over the video? Is SchoolTube a 501(c) non-profit organization, and if not, is media posted there in a commercial use?

Because these questions are nearly impossible to even begin to answer, I prefer to use Creative Commons media that does not have the “non-commercial” restriction, and I deliberately do not use the “non-commercial” restriction on all of my own photos that I post on Flickr with Creative Commons licenses.  My feeling is that I’m happy for people to use the photos - that’s why I posted them. 

Here’s an example of where a news article used my photo of Hong Kong:


Here are a few examples of phrases from websites providing media for educators, and questions that you can consider before using the media:

Example 1:  Online clip art gallery

The website offering thousands of clip-art images says, “Add graphics to your next project, whether it’s for home or school. Choose from hundreds of original clip art pieces, including animations!”

However, if you read the “Copyright & Use Information” page, you’ll find:

Permission to Use Clip Art

Permission is granted to download no more than ten different clip art images for non-revenue-producing use on hard copy documents or on Web sites with the following restrictions:

  1. Any reproduction must be unaltered from its original downloaded form. This includes, but is not limited to, colorization, cropping, or editing.

  2. Any use of clip art images on Web sites must credit <company name> and include a link to the <company name> Web site.  Credit must read - "Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on <company website>"

Any other use of the materials on this Web site, or modification, distribution or re-publication thereof, without the prior written permission of <company name> is strictly prohibited.


Strangely, the permission granted in the above text is to use the images only on printed documents or a web-site.  A strict reading of the terms of use prohibits using the clip-art in a digital student project that is not a web-page (“ Any other use of the materials ...  is strictly prohibited.”)

However, even if they did (clearly) allow the usage in student projects, “no more than ten images” could be used in total on a web-site sharing student projects, so that would limit you to ten student projects of one image each, or one project with ten images (or a combination thereof) for the entire school website. 

Moving beyond the quantity limitation though, is the problem of actually using the images:  “ Any reproduction must be unaltered from its original downloaded form. This includes, but is not limited to, colorization, cropping, or editing.”

This is so restrictive that it hardly needs explanation of the reality of how media is used in digital project, and for all practical purposes makes the media unusable for classroom projects, even though that’s what the site says the images are intended for.

Example 2:  Online Museum Access

In 2009, a museum portal website was set up, “Virtual Museums of Canada” ( that suggested, “Learn how to effectively use Canadian museums’ rich multimedia content to create your lesson plans. ...  The site features bilingual, fully accessible, copyright worry-free and custom-built content for the K-12 environment.”

By 2010, the site appears to have already been discontinued, probably because it wasn’t at all “copyright worry-free”.  As an example, one of the links on the former website was to Archives of Ontario website which invites students and teachers to explore Ontario’s history through their image archive.  However, the terms of use for the Archives of Ontario state, “Copies are provided for research and private study only. Permission to use images in any publication, exhibition, film, video or tv broadcast, or on any cd or website, must be obtained from the Archives of Ontario prior to use.”

Thus, although “fair use” might cover “face to face instruction within a classroom”, the use of the images within a YouTube video would seem to be prohibited.

Additionally, although the Archives invite people to donate their own images to the historic archive, anyone else subsequently wishing to use a copy of the image is apparently charged $20 per image.

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