When you are adding images, audio, video or other material that you did not create to a project, you must make sure you have permission to use that media and are not infringing on the copyright of the producer of the original material. One way to do this is to use resources that are in the public domain, are royalty-free, or have a Creative Commons license. The resources in this guide fall under one of these categories.
Remember, even though you don't need the permission of the creator to use these materials, you should always cite the source and give credit to the author.
In the U.S., there are three main ways to determine if you can use someone else's work without their explicit/written permission.*
In the U.S., works enter the Public Domain in a number of ways:
Copyright expirations are set in the U.S. by law. Currently, the copyright of anything published after 1977 will not expire until 70 years after the author's death. For works authored by multiple people, the copyright will not expire until 70 years after the last surviving author's death.
*Even if you may use a work without permission, you still must cite your sources and/or credit the author.
Fair use is a principle in U.S. copyright law that permits portions of copyrighted material to be re-used without permission from the author or creator of the material. Section 107 details the purposes under which fair use may apply:
To determine if the particular usage is fair, the law also details four factors to consider:
Creative Commons (CC) licenses provide a way for people to share their work and make it available for others to build on and reuse. There are a variety of different licenses that specify what restrictions or guidelines govern the use of the material. All but one licenses require giving credit (attribution) to the author or creator.
These are the available type of licenses listed in order of increasing restrictions:
These licenses have a set of icons to help label what the restrictions are. Look for the round "CC" icon to identify Creative Commons material.