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Copyright & Creative Commons, Free Images and Music: Copyright & Creative Commons

All things related to copyright, intellectual property, plagiarism, referencing, Creative Commons and copyright-friendly resources.

Intellectual Property

What is Intellectual Property?

"Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

Click here to see how piracy and intellectual property theft are global crimes that affect everyone.

Watch a YouTube clip - Dangers of Intellectual Property Theft

IP is divided into two categories:
1) Industrial property
, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source;
2) Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs.
(World Intellectual Property Organisation)

Find definitions here for:

Copyright - What's It All About?

There is a huge demand for free images and music for educational use in schools, with many people just copying anything from the internet without asking for permission or acknowledging the source.

What is Copyright?

"Fundamentally, copyright is a law that gives you ownership over the things you create. Be it a painting, a photograph, a poem or a novel, if you created it, you own it and it’s the copyright law itself that assures that ownership."  Read more here about your rights if you are the owner of copyright.

Copyright expires 70 years after a work was first published, or 70 years after the owner has died.

If you don't own a piece of work, then you must acknowledge the person who created that work.

To find out about copyright laws in Australia, see the Students and Copyright Guide.

When is Sharing Stealing?

"In a world where social media users, bloggers and even some professional journalists are increasingly comfortable simply copying the work of others and republishing it, can intellectual property rights survive? Can original content survive? And what should the world do when an amateur photographer takes a newsworthy photo and shares it on a social network?"

Both Stephanie Gordon and Janis Krum have taken photos on their iphones and tweeted them, then the photos have been used millions of times by the media.

Is this fair and ethical?

That famous Space Shuttle photo: When is sharing stealing?

Fair Use - Is It Fair?

There is a lot of discussion about fair use - whether or not it is accptable to take images and music and remix them to create somethingnew and then republish it.

YouTube removed videos that KenRG uploaded which used pre-recorded sound tracks from CDs he had purchased:

The video below is by KenRG

Public Domain: What's It All About?

What is Public Domain?

'Works that are freely available for commercial or public use without restriction - not protected by copyright restrictions.'

    (US Patent and Trademark Office)

    'Public Domain refers to the knowledge that is freely available, commonly shared throughout the world without any access restrictions.

      In the context of Intellectual Property this term refers to knowledge that is beyond the realm of protection of IP rights.'

      Public domain images are free for you to use, modify and even sell without giving credit.


      How is Public Domain Determined?

      As a general rule, most works enter the public domain because of old age. This includes any work published in the United States before 1923.

      Another large block of works are in the public domain because they were published before 1964 and copyright was not renewed. (Renewal was a requirement for works published before 1978.)

      A smaller group of works fell into the public domain because they were published without copyright notice (copyright notice was necessary for works published in the United States before March 1, 1989.) 

      Some works are in the public domain because the owner has indicated a desire to give them to the public without copyright protection.

      (from Stanford University Library)


      Public Domain Resources

      Use the Digital Copyright Slider to determine is a work is still protected by copyright.

      Click here to find Public Domain image resources

      Click here to find Public Domain music resources

      Sources for Public Domain Works -  This is an excellent guide from the University of Montana showing where to find Public Domain written works, music, visual art and images, maps, movies and multimedia.


        Useful Links

        Creative Commons: What's It All About?

        What is Creative Commons?

        Creative Commons refers to a way of assigning a particular type of Copyright licence to your creative work or intellectual property, so that other people can legally reuse it, but within certain guidelines which you specify.


        How do I Find CC Images?

        • Go to Google Images, and click on Advanced Image Search.
        • Next to 'Usage Rights' click the drop down arrow.
        • Select: Labelled for reuse OR Labelled for reuse with modification.
        • The images you find will be fine to use, but you still need to acknowledge who created them and where you got them from.



                                Google Web
                                Google Images
                                Yahoo Web
                                Flickr Images
                                Blip TV Video
                                Jamendo Music
                                SpinXpress Media
                                Wikimedia Commons Media

          Something for Nothing

          Creative Commons Licence Elements

          This is an excellent video clip from Creative Commons NZ which explains simply what the different licences mean and how they can be applied.

          What Should I Include?

          Best Practices for Creative Commons Attributions

          To attribute works that you reuse under a Creative Commons license you generally must at least include

          1. the title

          2. name of the author, and

          3. the specific license the work is under

          Read this article for specific examples of how to acknowledge and attribute works that you use.

          Creative Commons Licences

          Image from M Porter's Flickr photos

          This easy guide for using material with Creative Commons licences is from New Media Rights. You may also use these licences if you choose to make your own published work available for copying or re-use.


          Attribution-NoDerivs (You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.)  

          Attribution-ShareAlike (If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.)

          Attribution-NonCommercial (You may not use this work for commercial purposes.)  

          Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (You may not use this work for commercial purposes; You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.)  

          Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (You may not use this work for commercial purposes; If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.)


          See also the Creative Commons website which has more information about each type of licence.

          Royalty-Free: What Does It Mean?

          Generally, royalty-free means that an image or piece of music will cost you money to purchase it once, but after that you can use it without having to pay any more royalties (money for using it).

          Some sites offer a mixture of free and royalty-free images, but the free ones often are not as good or there aren't as many.

          If you are asked to sign up to a site before you can use anything, this is generally a good indication that there is a cost involved.

          You may decide that a particular photo or image is exactly what you need, and you may decide to pay the cost, which can range from 25c to $10.00 per image, depending on the quality.  To pay, you will need to use a credit card.

          Once you have paid once, you can then reuse that image as many times as you need to without paying again.

          Wanna Work Together?

          This is a short video from Creative Commons explaining what the CC license is all about.

          Licence: CC-BY