Whether you’re a student, a content creator, or both, Creative Commons is a key resource to use in your digital endeavors. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers alternatives to traditional copyright. Through Creative Commons you can obtain various kinds of media or content to legally, fairly and affordably use in your own academic, digital or personal projects. By using Creative Commons content, you are provided the reassurance that you are not accidentally violating copyright rules when you use that perfect background song in your YouTube video or that picturesque photo for your website header.
The Creative Commons website currently allows you to search over a billion different licensed works. These range anywhere “from literary works, to videos, photos, audio, open education, scientific research and more” (https://creativecommons.org/use-remix/).
There are two main functions of Creative Commons: You can use and remix the content hosted on the website or share your creations for others to use and remix, according to your conditions. “Creative Commons provides free, easy-to-use copyright licenses” and makes “a simple and standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work” (https://creativecommons.org/about).
You can use CC-licensed materials as long as you follow the license conditions and properly attribute your work to the creator. Creative Commons provides some specific instructions for best attribution practices. (https://creativecommons.org/use-remix/). Whether you are looking to use Creative Commons licensed content or to license some of your own, this chart describes the four types of licenses you will find.
|Attribution(BY)||Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works and remixes based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits (attribution) in the manner specified by these.|
|Share-alike(SA)||Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical (“not more restrictive”) to the license that governs the original work. (See also copyleft.) Without share-alike, derivative works might be sublicensed with compatible but more restrictive license clauses, e.g. CC BY to CC BY-NC.)|
|Non-commercial (NC)||Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works and remixes based on it only for noncommercial purposes.|
|No Derivative Works (ND)||Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works and remixes based on it.|
This chart shows different ways you can use Creative Commons licenses to your advantage. For instance, using certain licenses enable your content to be more widely used for multiple purposes. Or, you can implement more restrictive measures that allow users to still share your content, but not alter, remix, or generate revenue from it.
Using the Creative Commons search tool on their website should lead to the content you need, but there is also a list of 30+ other great websites that host Creative Commons media. The audio websites Dig CCMixter and Free-Loops were of particular interest to me, as they can provide free instrumentals, songs and sound effects that will give enhance the quality of my future video projects without the risk of copyright violation. Additionally, the backgrounds found on Creativity103 have many potential uses, and IntraText and WisdomCommons could provide resources for many different types of academic projects.
Following my exploration of Creative Commons, I look forward to continuously making an impact through work that I am proud of, but more importantly, that is reputable and done properly and mindfully. In my opinion, the most awesome aspect of Creative Commons is the deeper meaning it gives to the creative process, and the opportunities for content creators to “pay it forward” by submitting their work for continued fair use. You can use and remix Creative Commons content to create a brand new piece of media, but the process continues on when you choose to upload your creation for continue remixing and using. Our works can live and breath and continue and make an impact on the Web for as long as we like … It’s really all in our hands.