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Multimedia Project Guide

A lot of what you find online is copyrighted. That means, technically, you would have to go through a long process of seeking out permission (and maybe even paying a fee) if you wanted to use it legally for your own project.

Creative Commons is different. People who create things can choose a Creative Commons license for their work, which means you're legally allowed to use it for free as long as you follow a few simple rules (which vary depending on the license they pick).

What is the Creative Commons?

The Creative Commons came about as an alternative to traditional copyright. They developed several legal licenses (below). While each license has its own set of rules, they also give a lot more freedom than traditional copyright, and they're written in plain language, so they're easier to understand.

This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

View License Deed | View Legal Code

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

View License Deed | View Legal Code

This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

View License Deed | View Legal Code

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

View License Deed | View Legal Code

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

View License Deed | View Legal Code

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

View License Deed | View Legal Code

Items come into the public domain in a variety of ways. One option is for creators to "dedicate" their items to the public domain. This simply means they choose to waive their copyrights. The CC0 license refers to items that have been "dedicated" to the public domain.

More information

Pictures

You can find Creative Commons Licensed pictures on a number of sites.

Video

YouTube

To find CC-licensed videos on YouTube, enter your search term, and click the Filters dropdown menu. In the fourth column (Features), you should see an option for Creative Commons:

Screenshot of YouTube's search filters

If you want to download one of these videos, you can use ClipConverter or a similar tool.

Vimeo

Screenshot of Vimeo's search filtersVimeo hosts many Creative Commons videos, too. Search for a video on your topic, and then select More Filters on the left. You'll then be able to limit your results by CC license. If the original uploader has allowed it, these videos will include an option to download.

Some videos can be downloaded - look for the Download button below the video:

Screenshot of Vimeo download button below video

Music and Sound

Creative Commons has an excellent list of places that offer music under their licenses. Here are some of our favorites:

Citing Creative Commons Sources

As a general rule, you can use the Creative Commons citation style instead of traditional citation styles like MLA & APA.

The citation can be included anywhere in your work. For example, you could put an image credit below the image or on a Works Cited page. Another example would be to include an image citation in the credits of a video.

Fair Use & Traditional Copyright

Do you need to use copyrighted material in your project? There might be a way you can do it legally. Read up about Fair Use in our copyright guide.

Learn more about copyright and fair use in this quick video. 

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