Do you ever have a moment where you sit back and realize: “wow, I was being a huge jerk and I didn’t even realize it”?
I had one of those moments when we learned about Creative Commons licensing in class.
Creative Commons, or CC for short, is a type of copyright that changes “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved”. If something is licensed under CC, the creator is giving you permission to use it, but under certain conditions.
All this time I had been grabbing pictures from Google Images and just sticking the url under them, because as long as I show where I got it from, I can use it, right?
Everything licensed under Creative Commons can be used as long as proper credit is given, but not everything is licensed under CC, and just giving the url or even citing in MLA format doesn’t cut it. You have to check to see if the image is in fact licensed under CC, and you have to link to the exact license as well as the original creator and the website it is from.
There are several different licenses, each allowing you different kinds of freedoms in using the image (for example, whether or not you can adapt it or use it for commercial purposes). Check out this helpful infographic that outlines all of the different kinds of licenses, from least to most restrictive.
I know now that I can’t just use any image I find without permission, even if I cite my source. This is especially important in my discipline because as an English teacher, I’ll be using various graphics when making my own educational materials, and my students will be using graphics for assignments as well. I have a strict policy against plagiarism and theft, and I want to hold myself to these same standards.
Basically, it all comes down to getting permission before using an image, video, or other graphic on the web, and respecting the creator’s wishes as outlined in the license.
Otherwise, you are stealing.
Even if it’s not intentional, you can still get in trouble, and even if you don’t get caught, you’re still being a jerk.
Don’t be a jerk!
Still confused? Need help finding Creative Commons images? Check out this handy guide. It has details about the different licenses and lists places where you can find Creative Commons images, videos, and even audio!