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Not clear about why you can use some music and photos from the Internet and not others? Read why below...


About Copyrighted Files and Creative Commons
Almost everything on the Internet can be considered copyrighted. Copyright is automatic for things you create; no application to the U.S. Copyright Office is needed. When people post their multimedia creations online, they still own the rights to them - just because it's on the web doesn't mean they're allowing people to copy it. We as viewers can look at it, listen to it, watch it, etc., but we can't copy it and claim it as our own. Adding well-known work such as clips from popular songs or box-office movies to presentations that we create also falls under the same guideline: you simply can't copy copyrighted work. The owner/creator must give you permission to do that. That's where Creative Commons helps out.

The Creative Commons copyright licenses are licenses that anyone can give to their own work in order to allow others to use it, also known as granting copyright permission. From a choice of six licenses, you could allow your original work to be copied, shared, edited, re-mixed, and added to by others without them having to ask you personally (they way “all rights reserved” copyright law now requires). People that have applied a Creative Commons license to their work are allowing others to use it in the manner given by the license they've chosen.

Creative Commons is all about sharing. Instead of “all rights reserved” as traditional copyright states, their licenses call for “some rights reserved,” such as giving credit to them when using their work. Every one of the six different licenses requires this “attribution” meaning the person using the material must give credit to the original creator. Other requirements the original creator may choose to allow are:

  1. Commercial use (using it to sell products and services).
  2. Editing it from the original form.
  3. Sharing any editing that another person does to it and requiring that edited/changed version (known as a "derivative") to have the same Creative Commons license as its original.  (Scroll down to see the six different licenses and their symbols below.)

How Do You Find Multimedia with Creative Commons Licenses? Here's some sites...

  • Compfight   A photo search engine that allows you to choose only photos with Creative Commons licenses.
  • CC Search   A search engine for Creative Commons videos, images, and music.
  • Flickr Photos with Creative Commons licenses   Flickr's own search engine for photos that allow re-use or copying.
  • To Use Someone Else’s Creative Commons-Licensed Work:
    Take a look at the license code near the item you'd like to use  cc sampleand see what that owner is allowing others to do. For school use, any of the six licenses lets you add their work to your school presentation. However, the two licenses that say ND: No Derivatives will not allow you to edit, change, or use just one part of their creation – it must remain unchanged and whole when used by you. Don’t use ND-licensed files if you only need a small part and plan to clip a section out. 


    Additional Sources:
    In addition to work licensed by Creative Commons, there are two other types that you can legally use in your own creations: those in the public domain and those that are royalty-free

    1. Being in the public domain means that the public is free to use those items as they wish because either a) the copyright owner has given up their rights to the work, or b) the owner's rights to the copyright has expired (the length of which is their entire life plus 70 years after their death).
    2. For royalty-free media, the copyright owner is allowing others to access them for free (i.e. without paying any royalties to the creator). There's a list of sites you can look at on the Digital Backpack Multimedia Collection Sites page.

    For your own original work:
    Posting it online with a Creative Commons license is easy – anyone is able to do it. Go to the Creative Commons website and click on  “Choose a License.” After the quick selection process, you simply copy the html code and paste it next to your work on the web site you’re displaying it on.


    attrib only   attrib no deriv

      attrib noncommattrib noncomm no deriv

    attrib share attrib noncomm share 


    Copyright is not an easy topic to understand and is debated over in our legal system all the time. For specific questions or any other questions on using a Creative Commons license or on copyright, email Mrs. Harris to find an answer for you.

    Learn more about Creative Commons from this video.


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