Creative Commons is a collective that contains several different types of creators and technology experts. It helps people legally share knowledge and creativity more easily. In this video, author Richard Harrington explains what Creative Commons is, how the organization works, and how to use digital images that are part of Creative Commons.
- While copyright is widely used to protect images, it has grown somewhat complex over time. Additionally, laws vary greatly from country to country. In order to help combat this and to provide a simpler alternative, the Creative Commons was formed. It's a collective that has a governing body that contains several different types of creators, as well as technology experts, and they've put together a system to simplify things a bit. Creative Commons is a useful organization that many creative people participate in.
It is optional on the rights-holder's part. Creative Commons helps people legally share knowledge and creativity, and a Creative Commons license can be applied not just to digital images, but a wide range of content. Their goal is to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world by making it easier to exchange information and content. They offer easy-to-use copyright licenses that are designed to work globally.
Users can choose to participate and make their content available to others. Again, the rights-holder has to decide to participate with Creative Commons. You can't put someone else's work under a Creative Commons license, only the original creator or the rights-holder can do so. But Creative Commons offers many useful search tools to make it easy to discover work that you are legally allowed to use. Let's talk about the license types for a moment. There are four general restrictions that they'll place.
The first is requiring attribution. All of the Creative Common licenses require attribution, and this means that the work that you use must be credited. So if you use an image, you'll have to cite the author with a caption on the image and name them in a way that they specified in the Creative Commons license. The next type of restriction is ShareAlike. This is an option that can be applied. It means that others can copy, distribute, display, perform and modify a work, but they cannot then claim copyright on the material.
Anything that they use from Creative Commons must be shared freely with others and shared under the same license terms. Some folks'll specify NoDerivatieves, which means that the receiving party can copy the data, distribute it, display it, perform it, et cetera, but it must be the original copy. They cannot modify the content unless they get permission from the rights-holder. This means that you could insert an image in, but you could not adapt it or filter it or build it into a photo composition.
Lastly, and this one's very important for business users, is NonCommercial. This means that the content can be consumed, copied, displayed, performed, et cetera, but that the purpose of the work cannot be commercial use unless you reach out and get specific permission from the rights-holder. This doesn't mean that the person won't allow you to use it, but it does mean that you have to reach out and get explicit permission that you can do so. These are examples of how you'll typically see these licenses displayed.
They'll be available on the page or be search terms. For purposes of business, think about using the following licenses, the ones that simply require you to cite the source. You also want to consider if a ShareAlike license will work for your company. You'll need to distinctly avoid any of the options that say non-commercial use. Now, there are two search tools available. Search.creativecommons.org is a useful search tool that lets you browse multiple websites.
For example, Google does offer an image search that limits it to Creative Commons images only. You can also search places like Wikimedia Commons, which is where Wikipedia stores lots of images that have been shared, or other sites. However, I prefer their new search option, ccsearch.creativecommons.org. This makes it very easy to search through different content, and, for example, you'll notice that you can specify for commercial purposes, as well as search photography communities, like 500 Pixels and Flickr.
Let's do a search. Let's go ahead and do a search for shark. And I'll choose for commercial use and tell it to take a look here, using either the title of the image or any tags. We'll take a look at several images per page, and tell it to scan 500px and Flickr, which are two active photography communities, as well as other images that have been blessed. We can also look through several museum collections, but I'll uncheck this for now.
I'll click go, and it generates results. Let's go ahead and choose a photo. As I roll over here, I see information about the images. I like this one here, so I'll click, and I see more information about the image. This one appears to be more of an illustration. Now, if I want to use this, I'll copy the credit, and I'll need to paste this credit below the image on my slide or in my document.
You could also choose to download the image. Make sure that the license terms match up with your needs, then just click to visit the original image. From here, you can choose download, and you'll see different resolutions available, depending upon the image. Once you've downloaded the image, it'll save to your computer. Be sure that you include the proper attribution. When it says how to use this work, you must include this full text below the use of the image.
Now, Creative Commons is just one way to find free images. There are a few more sources I'd like you to be aware of. The United States, for example, has several federal agencies that document their work and make it available to the public. This work has been paid for with tax dollars, so the people of the United States technically own the work. Fortunately, through the internet, they make this available to share. Nearly every image on these sites is copyright free, but you might be required to cite the source.
It's just RichardHarrington.com/free-images. You can visit this very easily, and on this page, I've included lists to several different government agencies that have free images that are available for download. Feel free to explore these and you'll find a wide variety. I personally enjoy browsing the Library of Congress, which has a tremendous amount of resources, as well as different departments of the federal government, because they offer many compelling images that can be used.
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