How do I get permission to use a copyrighted work?
New: The Copyright Advisory Office is now providing a Copyright Clearance service where we will request and process permission for your classes. Use this service for any copyrighted material that you would like to digitize and post on your course webpage.
Is everything covered under Copyright?
Not everything. There are a wide variety of works that are in the Public Domain available freely on the Internet.
The Public Domain
Works that are not protected because their term of protection has expired (generally fifty years after the death of the author in Canada, no matter where they resided or published their work), or because they were published without intention of claiming copyright, are in the public domain.
Works in the public domain can be used by anyone without liability for infringement.
Finding out if a work is in the public domain
The following flowchart was prepared by Creative Commons Canada in 2008 to help in determining if a work is in the public domain.
Places to find Public Domain or Open/Creative Commons resources
The Creative Commons is a non-profit corporation that provides free licences for individuals who want to license their work in a way that allows for the work to be shared, remixed and/or used commercially.
Creative Commons Resources
- Creative Commons About Page
- Creative Commons FAQ
- Creative Commons: what every educator needs to know (presentation)
Creative Commons Licences are also often used to specify usage rights for works published in Open Access Journals. Open Access is a movement where scholarly journals are published free of charge on the internet. For more information related to Open Access at Queen's, visit the Open Access section of the Library Scholarly Communication page.
Resources for finding public domain and Creative Commons licensed works
- The US Creative Commons website includes a search engine that facilitates searching for works in a wide variety of formats.
- Project Gutenberg is the world's largest collection of copyright-free ebooks online.
- Most major search engines allow you to limit your search to Creative Commons-only content.
- Google advanced search allows you to specify usage rights in your search. To do this, expand the "Date, usage rights, numeric range and more" section and select "usage rights". This search option is also available in the advanced Google Images search.
- Flickr Images Search (Check the "Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content" box at the bottom of the page).
- The Research Resources page on the WikiProject Resource Exchange includes a thorough section related to finding both Resources and Images that are in the public domain.
The following links include videos, presentations and resources related to a variety of different formats like videos, images and music:
- An Educators Guide to the Creative Commons: This blog post includes videos, presentations and resources related to the Creative Commons and how to find and use Creative Commons licensed works.
- The Best Places to Get Free Music and Sound Effects
- Royalty Free Music and Images
- 26 Places to Find Free Multimedia for your Blog
- 30 + Places to find Creative Commons Media
- Copyright Friendly (and Copyleft) Images and Sound
Last Updated: 09 September 2015