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Copyright & Multimedia

What Can I Use?

  1. Materials in the Public Domain.
    Works that are in the public domain are no longer, or never were, protected by copyright law. For example, anything created by the federal government is public domain -- everybody owns it! Also, almost any work published on or before December 31, 1922 is not protected. Some things, like data, methods, or processes are simply never protected. On the whole, though, there is not very much multimedia content that is in the public domain. Visit Wikipedia's entry on the Public Domain for more information or the Stanford Copyright & Fair Use site’s Public Domain section.

  2. Materials with a Usable Creative Commons License.
    The Creative Commons is a non-profit organization created to facilitate sharing content by creating an organized system of permissions. By marking your work with specific Creative Commons symbols, they provide ready-made licenses that tell other people exactly how the work can and cannot be used. Today, you will see these symbols and licenses throughout the web. Be warned that there is a wide range of licensing and permissions -- do not assume that all licenses are the same. Some users may allow you to use their images/music/video for non-profit use, but not for commercial projects. It is also common for most copyright holders to insist on attribution somewhere in your project. Learn more about the various licenses here.

  3. Materials with Permission from the Copyright Holder.
    Direct, verifiable permission from the real copyright holder is the ultimate safe bet. However, this can be difficult or time-consuming to obtain, and may not be necessary.

Can I Claim Fair Use?

"Fair use is the right, in some circumstances, to [use] copyrighted material without asking permission or paying for it. Fair use enables the creation of new culture, and keeps current copyright holders from being private censors." (Center for Social Media, American University)

Under the fair use doctrine, you may use limited portions of copyrighted material in your work without the permission of the copyright owner. Before using media under the fair use doctrine, however, you will need to evaluate whether your use qualifies as fair, which must be done on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration the following four factors:

  1. The purpose and character of your use
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion taken
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market

In short, the fair use determination will depend on how much of the copyrighted work you are using and how you are using it. The sites listed below explain these four factors in depth and will help you evaluate whether your use qualifies as fair use.

Learn More About Fair Use

Tests for Fair Use

There are limits to using copyrighted materials, even if you are a student or a faculty member. To be safe, try out some of these resources to evaluate that you are using copyrighted materials "fairly":

 Warning!

Make sure that you understand the basics of Copyright and Fair Use before you consider using third-party multimedia content for your multimedia projects. You can find this information by clicking on the tabs to the left (What is Copyright, What Can I Use, Can I Claim Fair Use). Below, we have listed several sites with videos that you may be able to use in your projects without getting permission from the copyright holder. Be sure to check the copyright/license status and be sure it matches with your use - it is your responsibility to determine that your use of 3rd party materials is legal!

 

YouTube

YouTube is platform that allows users to watch videos that have been uploaded and shared by other users. There is a very broad range of videos which are created not only by individuals but also by organizations and corporations. To get CC-licensed videos, set the filter to “Creative Commons” when you get your search results.

Vimeo

Vimeo is another platform that allows users to watch videos that have been uploaded and shared by others. Vimeo has a page where you can browse all of their Creative Commons licensed videos.

  

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed media content. Wikimedia Commons has a page where you can browse all of their Creative Commons licensed videos.

Moving Image Archive

This library contains digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts. Many of these videos are available for free download. 

 Warning!

Make sure that you understand the basics of Copyright and Fair Use before you consider using third-party multimedia content for your multimedia projects. You can find this information by clicking on the tabs to the left (What is Copyright, What Can I Use, Can I Claim Fair Use). Below, we have listed several sites with videos that you may be able to use in your projects without getting permission from the copyright holder. Be sure to check the copyright/license status and be sure it matches with your use - it is your responsibility to determine that your use of 3rd party materials is legal!

 

Follow Gelardin New Media Center's board Music & Audio Resources on Pinterest.

 

Free Music Archive

The Free Music Archive offers free downloads under Creative Commons and other licenses. License terms are shown on the download pages.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed media content. Wikimedia Commons has a page where you can browse all of their Creative Commons licensed audio files, including music, spoken word, and other sounds. The Legal Music for Videos page at Creative Commons has links to additional sites for CC-licensed audio files.

ccMixter

This is a community music remixing site featuring remixes and samples licensed under Creative Commons licenses.

Audio Library

This site, from YouTube, has free and uncopyrighted music for commercial and nonprofit use.

Audio Archive

This library contains recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by users. Many are available for free download. 

 Warning!

Make sure that you understand the basics of Copyright and Fair Use before you consider using third-party multimedia content for your multimedia projects. You can find this information by clicking on the tabs to the left (What is Copyright, What Can I Use, Can I Claim Fair Use). Below, we have listed several sites with videos that you may be able to use in your projects without getting permission from the copyright holder. Be sure to check the copyright/license status and be sure it matches with your use - it is your responsibility to determine that your use of 3rd party materials is legal!

flickr

Using the Advanced Search feature on flickr, you can choose to “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content.” Images from the U.S. National Archives Photostream on flickr are marked "no known copyright restrictions" and may be freely used.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed media content. Wikimedia Commons has a page where you can browse all of their Creative Commons licensed images.

Library of Congress - Prints and Photographs

This collection has over 1,000,000 images from the Library's collections. Rights information is available for each image - look for the field marked "Rights Advisory." Many collections have no known restrictions on use. For further information about using the collection, read the Copyright and Other Restrictions That Apply to Publication/Distribution of Images. Information on restrictions on use by collection is also available.

Europeana

Europeana provides access to millions of digitized items from European museums, libraries, and archives. After getting your search results, use the "Can I use it" or "By copyright" options to limit your results to public domain or open access images.

Art Images

British Library

The British Library’s collection on flickr allows access to over 1 million public domain images from the Library's collections.

Getty Images

This site has open content from the Getty Museum's collections. More information about the content of the collections and how they can be used is available on their Open Content Program page.

National Gallery of Art

NGA Images is a repository of images presumed to be in the public domain from the collections of the National Gallery of Art. 

Victoria & Albert Museum

These images of art from the collections of the V&A are available for certain non-commercial uses, including some academic publishing. Read the full Terms of Use to see if your use qualifies.

Artstor

Artstor's collections can be used by the Georgetown community for noncommercial educational and scholarly uses. Please note that our license allows images from Artstor to be posted only on websites that are restricted to Georgetown users. Some images in Artsor are licensed for academic publishing under the Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) program. You can limit your search to IAP images by adding "IAP" to your search query. An icon reading "IAP" appears under the thumbnail image in your search results.

Access to Artstor is available on-campus or off-campus with a Georgetown NetID and password.

There are other museums, libraries, and archives that have large collections of images for academic and scholarly use. To locate these, use the College Art Association's list of Image Sources and Rights Clearance Agencies.