Copyright and Educational Fair Use- Part 4

Still confused about copyright? Three more terms, open content, public domain, and creative commons, need to be explained. Copyrighted materials can be found in multiple locations. These specific terms help since educators frequently create content and might want to protect their own work.

With the changes in technology, the term open content has been added to our discussion. Open content refers to content that is free for the public without any exclusive or copyright owners rights. Open content is a concept, not a license. Just like open source software, open content is designed as a community resource for the masses. The two most common open content license types are public domain and creative commons.

Public domain works are works that have an expired copyright or no copyright restrictions. When a copyright expires, the work moves into the public domain area. At this point, copyright law no longer protects the original work. You should assume that a work is copyrighted unless you have evidence that it is not.

The following websites have public domain images, maps, charts, graphs, and similar material. Wikimedia Commons and Google Advanced Search allow you to limit your search to websites, images, videos, and the like with free-to-use usage rights. Internet Archive and the Public Library of Science websites help locate public domain resources as well.

The second term, creative commons, was developed by two professors who encouraged creators to make their original works accessible and affordable to users online. Creative commons allows creators to license their material in a variety of ways. Check out their website!

Dr. Kelly Campbell, Associate Dean of Information Services at Columbia Theological Seminary

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