Copyright grants a set of exclusive rights to creators, which means that no one else can copy, distribute, perform, adapt or otherwise use the work in violation of those exclusive rights. This gives creators the means to control the use of their works by others, thereby incentivizing them to create new works in the first place.
The person who controls the rights, however, may not always be the author. It is important to understand who controls the exclusive rights granted by copyright in order to understand who has authority to grant permissions to others to reuse the work.
Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law. From the reuser’s perspective, the presence of a Creative Commons license on a copyrighted work answers the question, “What can I do with this work?”
The Creative Commons License Options
There are six different license types, listed from most to least permissive here:
You may find some of these resources helpful in answering your copyright questions.
Download the fillable Fair Use Checklist
The University System of Georgia’s Fair Use Checklist was developed by our colleagues at Georgia State University.
The Fair Use Checklist does not constitute legal advice, and it does not create any attorney-client relationship.
Works which are not owned by someone, and therefore not protected by copyright.
A work may be in the public domain because:
In addition, the following items are never covered by copyright:
|Initial US Copyright
|Current Copyright Status
|Still protected by copyright law if the copyright was renewed; check for renewal at Stanford Copyright Renewal Database and the Library of Congress Copyright Database to cover the entire date range.
|Still protected by copyright law. Protected 28+67=95 years from initial copyright date.
|Still protected by copyright law; however, these rules are very complex. Generally speaking copyright protection ends 70 years after death of author.
Just because an item is old doesn't guarantee that it is part of the public domain. If you're at all uncertain, get permission from the creator or owner to use or copy the work.
For a detailed table about the different terms for copyright versus public domain.
CC0 (aka CC Zero) is a public dedication tool, which allows creators to give up their copyright and put their works into the worldwide public domain. CC0 allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, with no conditions.