Creative Commons


Creative Commons is a copyright tool that allows content creators (artists, educators, writers, you, me, etc) to signal that they are ok with certain types of use of their work.
If you had a copyright spectrum with "all rights reserved" on one end, and public domain on the other, Creative Commons licensed items would be all over the middle, depending on which of the many types of Creative Commons licenses is used.


For many of us regarding our more casual works, "All rights reserved" is a teensy bit overkill. For example: If I take a picture of campus and post it to Flickr, there is really no reason for me to reserve all rights. I'm not going to get rich off that picture. Someone taking it and putting it in their PowerPoint is not exploiting me. In fact, it makes me happy that I helped someone out. And when I need a photo to jazz up my next slideset, I'm going to be super glad that someone else felt the same way about their picture. Pay it forward, right?
Creative Commons is another tool in the same toolbox as open education, participatory culture, open source, and open access. Which is my favorite toolbox!

How to Use Creative Commons Stuff 

This is where you will fall in love with Creative Commons! Search around and you will see there is tons of music and photos and images that you can use for your educational purposes with no hassle whatsoever.
Below is a very informative video made by my lovely classmate Chandra, a teacher in Nebraska, that will show you how to find Creative Commons images easy as pie. I thought I would give you a break this month from my usual video craziness!

For other non-image Creative Commons Stuff, like music or video, try starting at the CC Search page. 

How to CC License YOUR Stuff

All of us are free to select to Creative Commons license (some/most/perhaps all of) our stuff. Yay! We can do this by visiting and selecting a license image to embed along side or on our work. 

As you'll hear in this month's Quick Bytes podcast, Alison and I are hilariously confused on whether we hold our own copyright, or whether the University of Minnesota holds it. (We are planning a part 2 of that podcast with an interview with Nancy Sims, the University's copyright librarian, which should be super great). But in the meantime, Nancy clarified for us with this excellent emailed explanation:

"Whether something is owned by the Regents or owned by the individual UMN author is basically determined by whether it is an academic work (as opposed to an administrative work), and whether it's produced by someone who is a faculty member or is "faculty-like" in the relevant parts of their job duties. Faculty, and faculty-like individuals, own their own academic works. ("

(I imagine other Universities may be different, this policy and quote only apply to our readers from UMN.)

Nancy also says it is not contradictory to have the Regents copyright and a CC license on the same page, like we do here on Quick Bytes. We'll have to ask her about that in the interview, I am still confused how that works! ;)

Try it!

Share it!

  • In the comments below, post a link to the image you found.
  • Include the license icon code or info that you generated for a real/pretend item of yours.
  • Also leave any thoughts you have about Creative Commons!


  1. Funny, I use Flickr's advanced search to find CC-licensed images all the time. But today, by coincidence...

  2. Thank you very much, this was helpful, as it introduced me to a tool that will be useful in the near future.


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