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Creative Commons

Amy Wong, 05 November, 2013 0 Comments


So you’ve found a great photo, but it’s copyrighted. What then?

If possible, your best bet is always to create your own photos or graphics. It may take longer than finding an image online, but the benefits may be worth it. For example, it may be cheaper to labor over photoshop for a few hours than to pay for photos/graphics. It might be extremely difficult to find a suitable photo to match your needs, so making your own means that you’ll get exactly what you want. Needless to say, you have complete control over every detail, so the end product can blend in better with your company theme, colors, and more. Every time you make your own visuals, you get to put your name or website on it, which means that if others choose to share your work, credit will be automatically redirected to you.

Photos registered under Creative Commons (CC) licenses are a great way to get awesome pictures or visuals that can be freely and legally used. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that “enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools” [1]. CC licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright, and allow authors or creators to modify copyright terms to suit their needs. In other words, “all rights reserved” becomes “some rights reserved.” If authors/creators want to give the public the right to share, use, and even build upon a piece of their work, publishing it under a CC license can give them the flexibility to allow or restrict certain types of use. See this page for more information on types of CC licenses.

The quickest way to search through creative commons material is to go to Search.creativecommons, where you put a search through a media, image, web, video, or image search engine (i.e. Flickr, Google, Wikimedia Commons, YouTube), and it automatically filters for content with Creative Commons licenses. can’t guarantee that the results generated are placed under a CC license (as there is no registration to use one). One should always be sure to verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link. Otherwise, you can go directly to websites which have material published under CC licenses.

Some examples of Users of Creative Commons licenses:

1. Google: Google has enabled CC-search capabilities through their main search engine, image search engine, and book search engine. Google users are also allowed to CC license their own content in Picasa and documentation at Google Code. YouTube (Google-owned) has added the CC BY licensing option for video uploads, so users can search the “Creative Commons” filter if they so desire.

2. Flickr: “Flickr was one of the first major online communities to incorporate Creative Commons licensing options into its user interface” [2]. It allowed photographers worldwide to easily share photos however they wanted. As the Flickr community grew, so did the library of CC-licensed images. With current standing at over 200  million photos, Flickr is the world wide web’s “single largest source of CC-licensed content”. Flickr has a CC image portal and advanced CC search features.

3. OpenCourseWare: MIT OpenCourseWare began releasing its materials under a CC BY-NC-SA license in 2004. Today, MIT OCW “has over 1900 courses available freely and openly online for anyone, anywhere to adapt, translate, and redistribute” [3]. Having free courses from MIT to use and even adapt seems to be too good to be true, but it is, and the only restrictions are: materials cannot be repurposed for commercial use, any and all reuse (of original and derivative works) must be attributed to MIT and the associated faculty member’s name if applicable, and any distribution of original or derivative works must be offered freely and openly in the same way that MIT OCW did.

You can go here to see which domains house CC-licensed works, check out the CC case studies, interviews, and the milestone tag in the Creative Commons blog to find more resources.

The objective of Creative Commons is to develop and encourage legal restructuring of copyright in the digital sphere so that digital creativity, sharing, and innovation can be maximized. Social + Good believes in creating original work, giving credit where it’s due, and expanding on innovative thoughts and creations!

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