You’re a creator—that’s awesome; the world needs more people like you. Content shared can change minds and change hearts in positive, inspirational, and sometimes humorous ways. As you imagine, create, and share your work, it’s important to know your rights, the rights of others, and your reach.
Whether online or not, almost all content today—once it is in tangible form—is protected under copyright law, regardless of whether or not the copyright symbol is on the page or someone says “all rights reserved.”
Sometimes, however, you have the right to reuse existing material. Words like “fair use,” “public domain,” and Creative Commons come up often when repurposing existing content into something new. They help you and other content creators have more access to work without impairing copyright owners’ rights—yours or others’.
Claiming fair use allows you to use copyrighted work when you are adding value to the original—using it for a transformative purpose and using the amount appropriate for that new purpose. Such purposes can include commentary, criticism, illustration, reporting, collage, and parody, among others.
The public domain consists of material that has never been or is no longer protected by copyright, usually because of its age.
Finally, more and more material is available under Creative Commons licenses that allow you to use it under certain conditions.
Repurposing and reusing existing work is a fundamental part of making new culture. Your content can also be a boon when others remix, share, or comment on your art. Although giving credit is not usually required under copyright law, it is basic etiquette and always a good idea—online or offline. Other creators really appreciate your recognition of their work.
Commit to creating responsibly: Know your rights, the rights of others, and how your content will be distributed.
I commit to creating responsibly in the spirit of the Center for Media and Social Impact’s mission:
I pledge to: