This article will collect resources on copyright, Creative Commons, and media appropriation. Most of these resources concern the appropriation and republishing of original works.

When original work is appropriated (but not republished) for an academic purpose then Copyright and Creative Commons are much less applicable. In this case good academic principles (such as citing sources to avoid plagiarism) are in play.

The ideas discussed in this section are more applicable if you are:
  • Publishing student work (or your own work) on the internet
  • Creating wholly original work with your students (but may not be publishing it)
  • Interested in intellectual property in the internet age


When printing presses became common in the late 15th century it was not uncommon for printers to print the work of authors without their permission. [1] Copyright was implemented to allow authors exclusive rights to their creation for a limited time as an incentive but provided for this exclusive period to end. At the end of copyright is Public Domain when anyone is free to use the work.

Copyright law in the United States allows for the copyright holder to have exclusive rights over the following [2]
  • To produce copies of a work and to sell them
  • To import or export a work
  • To perform or display a work publicly
  • To sell or assign these works to others
  • To transmit or display a work by radio or video

In the United States you no longer have to 'register' a work for it to secure copyright protection. Rather copyright takes place the moment a work is fixed in a durable form (like on paper or in a file).

The purpose of copyright is set out in the United States Constitution, " the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."[3] .


Copyright in the United States generally lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years [4] .

Fair Use

In some limited situations there are exceptions to copyright law known as Fair Use[5] . This means you can appropriate, remix and republish work that is under copyright protection without permission of the creator depending on these four factors:
  • The purpose and character of the new work: is it a parody of an existing work? Is it transformative rather than derivative of an existing work? Is the new work educational? These types of re-use and republication are permitted under copyright law.
  • Amount of work copied: How much of the work in question was copied? A small amount is permitted under fair use.
  • Nature of the original work: Was the original work created for profit? For education? Using work created for educational purposes is permitted.
  • Effect on work's value: Does the copied work diminish in value of the original work? That's not permitted under copyright.

Copyright Resources

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization dedicated to making it easier to share and build upon the work of others.

CC is a series of licenses you can apply to your work which indicate: [6]
  • Attribution - do you want to be credited if others remix or republish your work?
  • Share Alike - do you want others to distribute derivative works under the same license as your work?
  • Non-Commercial - do you want others to make money from derivatives of your work?
  • No-Derivatives - do you not want folks to remix or make derivatives of your work?

How to license your work with CC

There are two ways to apply a CC license to your work
  • Apply a license using a software or internet setting (example: Flickr)
  • Attach a license on or near your work

Creative Commons Resources

What is Creative Commons?
Podcasting Legal Guide

Finding CC Content

Jamendo - CC licensed music
CCMixter - CC licensed music
Flickr - CC licensed photos
Google Advanced Search - Search for only CC licensed content
Wikipedia & Wikimedia - CC licensed text and photos
Archive.org - massive database of public domain text, video, audio and other content

Additional Resources & Links

  1. ^ http://www.arl.org/pp/ppcopyright/copyresources/copytimeline.shtml
  2. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright#Exclusive_rights
  3. ^ http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articlei.html
  4. ^ http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/302.html
  5. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use
  6. ^ http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses/