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GU-Q INAF 356 - Gender Politics in African Cultures & Societies

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.

Additional Resources

Video - Follow the Four Factors of Fair Use

Website - Fair Use - weighing the Four Factors

Google - Copyright Statement

Best Practices

Useful Tips when using Multimedia Content
  • When using multimedia content, attempt to find resources that have a copyright that allows for free use or reproduction for educational purposes.
  • Another good practice is to include as much information as possible to give proper attribution to the original creator of a work.
Providing Attribution

Include as much of the following information:

  • title of the work
  • creator's name (author, artist, photographer etc.)
  • date the work was published or created
  • place of publication
  • publisher
  • name of the institution or museum where the work is located (for artworks and museum exhibits)\
  • type of material (for photographs, charts, online images)
  • dimensions of the work (for artworks)
  • website address and access date
Main Campus Resources on Copyright and Multimedia