My students are required to create and design original content in my Online Media class. In some cases, they are allowed to include other creators’ work on their sites. I lecture briefly on copyright. This semester I decided to dedicate more time to the topic.
Much misinformation exists about copyright. Mark S. Luckie lists common copyright mistakes. Google Images are not free for inclusion on websites. Students will often ask if it is permissible to use a photograph if they credit the source, however it is important to understand that citing the source does not equate to permission from the author.
Permission must be asked before taking multimedia content from another source, according the U.S. Copyright Office, unless “embed code” is adjacent to the content (e.g., YouTube). Or students can take their own pictures, record their own audio, or shoot their own video. Students should also not alter the image or use a derivative of the author’s work unless permission is given.
Copyright is “a form of legal protection automatically provided to the authors of ‘original works of authorship,’ including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works.” Copyright lasts for the life of creator + 70 years from the author’s death.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides a nice overview of what works are copyright protected and fair use. @JackRosenberry shared with me an entertaining YouTube video using Disney snippets to explain copyright and fair use. Frank Lomonte from the Student Law Press Center tipped him about the video.
Public Domain Resources
Some organizations provide content that is classified as public domain, which means property rights are held by the public:
- Smithsonian Institution Public Domain Images
- New York Times Public Domain Images
- Wikipedia Public Domain Resources
- NASA (guidelines)
Stock Image Resources
Students can also use stock photos for free or for a price. Here is a list of sites that offer free stock photos:
People have access to creative commons content because authors/creators provide permission through Creative Commons licenses. Authors can choose from a variety of licensing options. A person must read the author’s restrictions related to the use of their content before posting the author’s content. Authors often times allow people to use their work as a way of promoting themselves, and thus, they want credit for their work. Creative Commons (CC) “is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier to share and build upon the works of others consistent with copyright. We provide free licenses to enable sharing,” according to Vice Chair of Creative Commons Esther Wojcicki.
This screencast shows you how to navigate creative common search engines. Here are some sites that host or provide access to free creative commons content and other sites:
- Creative Commons search engine
- Wylio search engine (photos)
- Compfight (flickr photos)
- Yahoo Creative Commons search engine
- Flickr Creative Commons (photos)
- Picasa Creative Commons search engine (photo)
- PD Photo (some public domain)
- Jamendo Creative Commons (audio)
- SoundTransit (audio)
- Incompetech (royalty-free audio)
- Mashable’s Free Legal Music List (audi0)
- Adam Westbrook’s Free or Cheap Music List (audio)
- Blip.tv Creative Commons (video)
- Vimeo Creative Commons (video)
Licensing Your Site
Students can copyright their blog or site as well, however it can be costly. Law student Ruth Carter said at a PodCamp AZ conference that it costs $65 every three months to copyright a blog. You do not have to register your site/content to receive copyright protection, however @rbcarter said the advantage is you are able to sue for more money if someone steals your stuff. If someone steals your content, you can also sue for statutory damages ($200 – $150,000 per infringement) and attorneys fees, rather than just actual damages.