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Tutorials + Resources

Considering Copyright

Kristina Golubiewski-Davis | Last Updated: Winter 2021

The header image for this guide is a modified image from the following images:

Why should I care about Copyright?

When collecting images and other media for your Omeka site, we encourage you to use items that are clearly marked for re-use during your site creation.  While the Fair Use doctrine may, in some cases, apply to your project, using images that are clearly marked for re-use provides you with the confidence that you can use those images without the risk of the author coming after you and you having to justify your Fair Use evaluation.

What is Fair Use? 

In the US, Fair use is the doctrine that allows you to use copyrighted material without obtaining permission.  Our library Fair Use page provides information on how to consider if it applies to your project.  Typically, educational use falls under Fair Use when used for teaching, but not necessarily for student projects.   

How do I know if I can use an image?

Creative Commons licenses, described below, are frequently used in the academic and museum spheres to make it clear how an image can be re-used.  If you're looking an museum site, check to see if you can find any information about licensing.  For example, the Smithsonian Open Access page provides information about how their media can be used.  Many other cultural institutions do the same.  Take a look around the webpage you're looking at to see if there's a Frequently Asked Questions page or a page that shares information about media licensing.  Even our own library webpage has a Creative Commons license for the content we create (like this page) - check out the footer of the webpage to see the CC-BY statement or read more about our license!

Creative Commons - A great option!

Creative Commons licenses are a type of copyright license that encourages re-use of media.  There are many places around the web that host creative commons licensed media.  There are two major benefits to using material that has a creative commons license:

  1. The re-use of that media is clearly labeled as acceptable.
  2. Using creative commons media for your class gives puts you in the practice of using cc materials and determining what media can be used for what types of projects.  This is a skill you can use when creating content for the web elsewhere, or any time that you're creating content that re-uses existing media.

Creative Commons licenses will also indicate any restrictions media might have.  For example, CC-BY means that you can use the content as long as you attribute the creator.  CC-BY-NC means that you can use the media so long as you credit the creator and you're using it for non-commercial purposes.  The Creative Commons website has detailed information about each type of license.

Where to find Creative Commons media:

There are many sites online that host creative commons media, but here are a few to get you started.

Explain Creative Commons in a video please!

Sure thing!