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You might not know it yet, but Al Jazeera may have just changed the face of student journalism.

The news agency has now started publishing its news footage on the web under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence.

Those of you who immerse yourselves in Flickr will understand that term very well. Simply put, it means 'You can do what you like with this, just so long as you tell everyone you got it from us'.

Many - myself included - would describe Creative Commons as the very essence of the internet. It says, 'I've made this because I wanted to', while inviting others to use it and build something great. The Al Jazeera Network is effectively opening up its newsroom to us all.

The timing couldn't be more significant: Al Jazeera is, and has been for some time, one of the only mainstream media companies in Gaza. Its news team is right where the action is.

So passing on this content to others for free is remarkably generous given its 'monopoly' (for want of a better word) on news from Gaza.

The implications on a wider scale are up for discussion: will other outlets follow suit? What happens if one news company pinches content from another citing Creative Commons?

How will the likes of the BBC - which makes a pretty penny selling its news to BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm - sustain that income if the same, or similar, if reports are being made by companies embracing Creative Commons?

At the moment you couldn't call it much more than an experiment. A very brave experiment, it has to be said, and Al Jazeera probably has as little knowledge about its potential impact and success as I do.

But what I do know is that journalism tutors the world over should be jumping for joy that Al Jazeera is doing something no other mainstream media company would dare.

What excites me most is the potential for student journalists. Imagine that learning experience: your workshop task being to put together a national bulletin, piecing together your own reportage, and displaying it alongside the world's top headlines and top-class pictures.

You may have done this in the past with archived clips, but now you can publish the work online without fear of a copyright backlash.

Think of the challenge of dealing with clips of conflict and suffering for a young aspiring news anchor. An ethical lesson that could not be replicated as realistically in any other way.

A journalism tutor I know very well maintains you can never teach ethics in a classroom. Ethics, retrospectively speaking, are easily agreed upon; real ethics are learnt when dilemmas smack you between the eyes, expecting immediate direction from your moral compass - and you must provide one.

A good student journalist on a good course will hopefully encounter these dilemmas on their own reporting adventures. But it won't always be that way in their careers - sooner or later they'll be making decisions based on less than enough information.

Exercises using real, professional clips - like those provided by Al Jazeera - will heighten a student's sense of what is right and will nurture an altogether tougher egg to crack: the knowledge of what isn't offensive; the skill of observing when enough is enough, but not too much, or even worse, too little.

The clips provided are unedited and raw in every sense of the word. A clip from January 4 carries a haunting description: 'Dead woman laying beside her two killed children'.

What does Al Jazeera gain from all this? It's a marketing and brand identity masterstroke. Independent news programmes will lap up this opportunity with open arms, chopping and slicing Al Jazeera's clips until their hearts' are content.

While a clip on Al Jazeera television may have once been seen by only a handful of western viewers, when compared with the rolling news juggernauts, its uniquely Middle Eastern brand will now start popping up all over the place - not least on YouTube.

It's no exaggeration to suggest that this scheme has the potential to make Al Jazeera news the most watched in the world.

But that's looking to the future. In the present, journalism tutors - I'm pleading with you now - get your students involved with this visionary scheme.

You don't have to do anything other than visit a simple, fast website, and then give your students a taste of the real world, with all its decisions, morals and pressures.

Take a look at the Creative Commons repository from Al Jazeera here.

Dave Lee is co-editor of the BBC Internet Blog. He is a recent journalism graduate from the University of Lincoln. His own blog on media and technology can be found here.

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