Copyright & Teaching Resources

Getting copyright permission

How do I get permission to use a copyrighted work?

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. 

The public domain and the Creative Commons

The public domain

Works that are not protected because their term of protection has expired (generally seventy 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.

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. 

Creative Commons

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 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 our Open Access at Queen's page.

Resources for finding public domain and Creative Commons licensed works

  • Creative Commons search 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.

Ask Us

Ask Us

For help locating resources, using the library, or to request a research consultation, try our Ask Us service.

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