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Using Public Domain and Creative Commons Media

Page history last edited by Mallory Burton 13 years, 1 month ago

Although you can easily search for and download images from the web, many of these images will be copyrighted.  As teachers, we should model correct copyright practices, and it's essential to use non-copyrighted materials for the lessons you are contributing to the BC UDL LOR.  Why not use public domain and/or creative commons (CC) materials right from the start? 


Public Domain Materials 

Public domain materials have no copyright restrictions, but sometimes the owner asks for a credit as a courtesy.


Many of the photos on Wikipedia are in the public domain and Wikipedia Commons is a repository of free images either in the public domain or with Creative Commons (CC) licensing which is explained below. 

On US government sites, which are excellent sources for Science and Social Studies photos, most images are in the public domain and can be used in educational materials.  These include sites such as NASA Images and NOAA which are great for teaching about space and weather.  The National Digitial Library System is a searchable database of images on government Fish and Wildlife sites.  See the "terms" section of these websites for information on how they would like their photo credits to read.


Photo of Astronaut from NASA/courtesy of nasaimages.org.


Flickr's Commons, a collection of historical public photos which invites tagging by viewers, is an excellent resource for Social Studies and History.  Only photos with no known copyright restrictions are included in this particular Flickr collection. 


Public Domain Photo of orphans from the Titanic from the Library of Congress Collection.


Creative Commons Materials

Creative Commons materials have different types of licensing restrictions but the overall intent is to share these materials freely.  A set of symbols is used to indicate the type of permission the author is granting.  These symbols will be displayed on the web page which contains the item, e.g. on Flickr pages these symbols are usually found on the right-hand side of the page opposite the photograph.      


At Creative Commons, you can learn more about Creative Commons licensing and search sites including Google, Yahoo, and Flickr for just the creative commons photos. 
A photographer simply wants to be credited for the photo.
The photo cannot be used for commercial gain.
Photographer does not want the picture changed.
If you use the material you must license it the same way.     



To restrict your Google Image searches to CC and/or public domain images, click the Advanced Link to the right of the Search button and choose labeled for reuse in the Usage Rights drop down menu.


The photo sharing site Flickr has a whole section dedicated to Flickr creative commons photos with various levels of permissions granted in advance.  Just be aware that while this section contains CC photos, on the rest of the Flickr site the photos may be under copyright.  After finding a photo, check the right-hand side of the page for the CC symbols indicating the level of permissions granted by the author.


Paul Hamilton (SET-BC) has created a section on Creative Commons copyright information and links to CC graphics and audio resources on his UDL4All wiki.


Related pages:

Working with Clip Art and Images

Working with Music and Sounds

Working with Video

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