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Ethical Use of Information: Multimedia Use


When searching for images or music for academic projects, you may need to pay or seek permission to use the file. Use the tips below to understand restrictions on files that you may find, and for recommendations of sites to search for multimedia.

Tips: Ethical Use of Multimedia in Academic Projects

Always consider the copyright holder's rights when choosing images, songs, and videos for academic projects including slide decks, class presentations, and materials displayed on the web. Using material for educational purposes is not a free pass and your use might not fall under "fair use." The best practice is to evaluate the intended use for each item and follow these tips:

  • Choose materials that are in the public domain or licensed for the intended use.
    • Fair use does not apply to use of images and music in video productions, as the new project is a derivative work (an express right of the copyright holder), with the exception of visual or song parodies.
  • Look for Creative Commons (CC) or similar usage licenses.
  • Look at the license attributes.
    • Look for licenses that allow derivative works. 
  • Verify and document the copyright status of each work used in the project, as well as the information necessary to provide an attribution for the sources.

Where to Find Multimedia for Use in Projects

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Creative Commons

Creative Commons is an organization that has developed a standard set of licenses to facilitate the legal sharing and use of creative works that are available digitally. 

The image below links to the Creative Commons About the Licenses page.

Infographic summarizing the types of cc licenses

Creative Commons by (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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