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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Creative Commons

creative commons logo

Creative Commons licensing reflects the core values of the OER movement. Creative Commons allows creators to share their work and specify more flexible forms of copyright that allows "others to be able to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their works."

Look for copyright information (often at the bottom of webpages). Creative Commons licensed material sometimes display clickable icons that indicate the specifics of licensing.

Types of Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law.

The Different Types of CC Licenses

Types of CC licenses

How does Copyright work with Multimedia?

Important copyright concepts when working with Multimedia content

Multimedia content needs to be properly cited just like a book or article. It's also important to understand when it's okay to re-use multimedia content. The following examples give some guidance:

  • The image is a public domain work. Generally, anything published in the U.S. before 1923 is in the public domain.
  • The image is available under a Creative Commons license. CC images are labeled as such. When using a CC image, be sure to provide proper attribution to the source.
  • The image is otherwise made available for re-use by the content provider. Some websites permit you to re-use their images as long as certain conditions are met (e.g. non-commercial use only). In these cases, you can find out whether re-use is permitted by looking at the website’s Terms & Conditions.
  • You have permission from the copyright owner.

Fair Use

Sometimes a multimedia image is copyrighted, but re-use qualifies as Fair Use. The concept of fair use means that there are some kinds of uses that do not require permission or payment. Typically, a "four-factor test" is applied to determine if fair use can be claimed or not when using copyrighted content.

Four Factor Test:

  1. Purpose and Character of the Use - Purposes that favor fair use include education, scholarship, research, and news reporting, as well as criticism and commentary more generally. Non-profit purposes also favor fair use (especially when coupled with one of the other favored purposes.) Commercial or for-profit purposes weigh against fair use.
  2. Nature of the Original Work - This is typically a consideration of whether the work is more "factual" or more "creative": borrowing from a factual work is more likely to be fair than borrowing from a creative work.
  3. Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Used - This focuses on the amount of a work is being used (one image from a copyrighted collection of photos versus all the photos in the collection) and substantiality, or whether the work used comprises the "heart" of the original work.
  4. Effect of the Use on the Potential Market For or Value Of the Source Work - This asks if the use in question substituting for a sale the source’s owner would otherwise make.

Video - Follow the Four Factors of Fair Use