“[Creative Commons’] founders recognized the mismatch between what technology enables and what copyright restricts, and they provided an alternative approach for creators who want to share their work. Today that approach is used by millions of creators around the globe.” (Creative Commons, n.d., Unit 1)
Founded in 2002, Creative Commons (CC) is a nonprofit organization committed to open licensing. They provide creators, worldwide, with “a free, simple, and standardized way to grant copyright permissions for creative and academic works; ensure proper attribution; and allow others to copy, distribute, and make use of those works.” (Creative Commons, n.d.2).
It is important to understand that, although CC-licensed resources are free to use, there are some restrictions and attribution is always required. You must carefully read and understand the terms of the CC license and use the resource as specified.
There are six Creative Commons licenses. From least restrictive to most restrictive, they are:
You can distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon a work, even commercially.
Attribution must be given to the original creator and modified works must also be licensed CC BY-SA.
You can reuse a work for any purpose, even commercially, but no modifications or adaptations are allowed.
Attribution must be given to the original creator of the work.
You can remix, adapt, and build upon a work, but the use must be non-commercial.
Attribution must be given to the original creator and modified works must also be licensed CC BY-NC-SA.
You can download and share a work, but it cannot be modified or adapted or used commercially.
License icons by Creative Commons / CC BY 4.0
Creative Commons also provides public domain tools that help creators make their work available without copyright restrictions.
This search engine, linked on the CC website under “Search the Commons” and maintained by WordPress, allows you to search for CC-licensed content across the web. You can filter by the type of license or by intended use (commercial, modify/adapt).
Flickr is a photo management and sharing site, with billions of photographs. You can limit your Flickr search results to CC-licensed images.
Google Images allows you to limit your search to CC-licensed images.
Once you have entered your search terms, in this example "human heart", click on Tools (1) to open a menu. Click on Usage Rights (2) and select Creative Commons licenses (3).
It is important to note that not all images retrieved this way are actually CC-licensed. Always check the source of the image to make sure you can use it without payment or permission.
Bing Images/Microsoft Office
To limit your Bing Images search to Creative Commons or Public Domain, click on Filter (1). Then click on License (2) and select the type of license from the dropdown menu (3). Bing’s filter allows you to be more specific than Google.
Microsoft Office allows you to insert online pictures through an integrated Bing Images Creative Commons search.
As with Google Images, the Bing Images/Microsoft Office Creative Commons search is NOT 100% reliable. Always check the source of the image to ensure if and how you are permitted to use it.
Attribution is a requirement of all CC licenses. Creative Commons (n.d.3) states that an ideal attribution includes the:
See the Creative Commons Best Practices for Attribution wiki for more details.
When you insert a CC-licensed image in a Microsoft Office project, a generic attribution will be included.
To obtain the correct title, author and license details , you will need to click the text This Photo (1) to view the original image. Replace the generic text with the actual title (linked to the source) and the author’s name (2) (linked to their profile, if available). Check to make sure that the CC license (3) is correct. The correct attribution (4) for this example is:
Doctor greeting patient by Vic is licensed under CC BY.
For more information about Creative Commons licenses and other copyright topics:
1. Creative Commons. (n.d.1). Creative Commons Certificate for Educators, Academic Librarians and GLAM. https://certificates.creativecommons.org/cccertedu/
2. Creative Commons. (n.d.2). What we do. https://creativecommons.org/about/
3. Creative Commons. (n.d.3). Use & remix. https://creativecommons.org/about/
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