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Digital Copyrights

by Janice Florent

Finding quality images, audio, video, etc. to use in your Blackboard course is one of the most important and potentially daunting aspects of developing your course. There are certain legal rights for digital content. You cannot, for example, just pull an image off of a Google image search and use it. There are some important things you should understand about digital copyrights before you use an image or other digital content that you did not create on your own.

copyright vs copyleft vs creative commons

Copyright is all about balancing the rights of authors with the rights of the public to use the work without seeking permission or paying royalties. Under copyright, authors have the right to control the use of their work subject to exceptions permitted under the law. If the use exceeds such exceptions, then infringing on someone's copyright can result in the infringer paying money damages (civil liability) and/or going to prison (criminal liability).

Copyleft (a play on the word copyright) is the practice of offering people the right to freely distribute copies and modified versions of a work with the stipulation that the same rights be preserved in derivative works down the line.

Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work.

Works in the public domain are those whose intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable.

A Creative Commons (CC) license is a public copyright license that enables the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work.

The image below describes how Creative Commons licenses relates to traditional copyright and the public domain.

copyright spectrum

Here are a few links to resources to help you better understand Creative Commons licenses and copyrights:

Image credits:
copyright, copyleft, and creative commons icons found in public domain
"the spectrum of rights" by Michelle Pacansky-Brock is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

1 thought on “Digital Copyrights

  1. Pingback: Finding Images to Use in Your Courses – CAT FooD

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