The increasing shift of education and research to online environments affords us access to a wealth of new information and learning objects. Unfortunately, the online environment is also rife with restrictive, vague, and often confusing copyright barriers.
In the classroom, section 110(1) of US Copyright law give us very broad rights to perform display--but not necessarily copy-- most types of copyright-protected works without worrying about licensing or permissions. However, while we can still rely on fair use, we cannot rely on the sweeping exceptions of section 110 in the online environment. In addition to fair use, there are a number of works that can be found online that are either in the public domain, or have been published under creative commons licenses. This guide identifies a number of those resources and teaches the skills you need to find additional usable materials.
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that produces free and easy to use copyright licenses. These licenses are both human and machine readable which ensure that when you post materials online others are aware of the ways in which you allow them to use your materials. For example, by attaching a Creative Commons by attribution, noncommercial license to an image you post online, you are telling others that they have permission to use your images as long as they attribute you as the creator and use the images in noncommercial ways.
Perhaps more importantly, this information is also conveyed to search engine and other crawlers. This allows you to filter search results such that you are only presented with materials that you have permission to use in your presentations or teaching.