Copyright: Knowing What You Can Use in Your Digital Project

Copyright: Knowing What You Can Use in Your Digital Project
Dr. Amy Gaffney, Division of Instructional Communication and Research
Most materials put online fall under copyright restrictions.
These restrictions mean that you legally should not take
pictures (or video or music) from someone else and use it on
your site or video even if you properly cite the source.
The Creative Commons project allows people who create
materials to offer them to the public for further use. There are
six types of these Creative Commons licenses:
You can look for references to these licenses on materials,
which will help guide you in making decisions about what to
use. Notice that each license begins with “attribution.”
Regardless of how you use material, you must attribute the
source. Any license that says “NoDerive” means that you can
use that material but you cannot change the work. That
stipulation means that you can use a picture, for example, but
you cannot crop the picture or manipulate it in any way.
To help alleviate concerns about which materials you can use,
there are sources available that will ensure you have
permission to use materials:
 Search at for text,
pictures, and video. This search engine combines
several sources such as Flickr pictures and Wikimedia.
 Look for audio clips (not music) at the Freesound
 Look for video you can use at community video:
Even when searching through one of these sources, be sure to
verify the license that applies to the material. Sometimes
people change the licenses or add particular stipulations so
you want to be sure you are correct in using that source. If a
source says something about “no commercial use,” you are
likely OK to use that material because you are not going to be
selling the materials you create.
A final note: Material that you create yourself – video footage
you record, pictures you take, songs you write and perform –
can be used without any restrictions, although you may
consider putting your own license on the material.
Figure 1: Image of Licenses from