First, A Note About Copyright and Fair Use

The information on these web pages and that received from the Copyright Resources Center at OSU Libraries is not legal advice, nor is the Copyright Resources Center at OSU Libraries legal counsel to the university or any members of the university community. Materials you find online (including images, text, video, music, and more) are most likely protected by copyright, regardless of whether any copyright statement is displayed because copyright protection applies instantly and automatically when a new work is created.

Copyright protects an author or creator’s right to:

  • Make copies of their work
  • Distribute copies of their work
  • Create derivative versions of their work (e.g. adapting a book into a movie)
  • Publicly display or perform their work

Your video will be openly available online, and using someone else’s photo, song, text, etc. in your story can infringe their copyright unless:

  • The copyright owner has given you permission directly
  • The copyright owner has invited others to use their work through an available license or terms of use
  • The work belongs to the public domain because copyright has expired or never existed in the first place

For this reason, we strongly recommend using public domain or openly licensed works or works that you own the copyright to (for example, you took or created the picture and it’s not a reproduction of someone else’s work). Otherwise, if you use a copyrighted work without permission, the copyright holder may feel that you are infringing their copyright and they can request to have your video taken down.

Ask yourself whether you only need SOME thing to use in your video or if you MUST use some SPECIFIC thing. If you do not have a specific need for a specific copyrighted work, it is safer in this situation to use a work that you know you can use (public domain, licensed, or you own the copyright).

However, if you just HAVE to use something that’s copyrighted and it’s not available to use under a license such as Creative Commons or other terms of use, you’ll need to do a Fair Use analysis (see following pages) for each piece to see if you can rely on the copyright exception known as “Fair Use” in order to use the material. However, fair use will not apply in all situations.

Some things that can help your fair use argument are:

  • Using only a small portion of the work
  • Using only the amount or part of the work that you actually need
  • Creating something transformative with the work (e.g. using materials for an entirely new purpose, such as creating a collage from images found in various magazines)

You can contact the OSU Libraries’ Copyright Resources Center at with any copyright questions, including assistance with a fair use analysis.

Paying attention to copyright is important: we would like to continue to showcase the great work you did and not be sent take-down notices for your video. Besides, finding the perfect media that is also freely available may enhance your work and ultimately be a little more rewarding!

Web Resources


Flickr: The Commons –
Flickr Creative Commons –
deviantART Creative Commons –
Public Health Image Library (PHIL) –
Getty Images (royalty-free collection) –


Soundcloud Creative Commons –
Jamendo (no login required – click past it) –
Incompetech – (sound effects) –
Public Domain Music –

Mixed Media (including video)

Smithsonian Archives (rights free) –
Columbia University list of Public Domain (and licensed) Resources –
Internet Archive –
Wikimedia Commons –
Vimeo Creative Commons –

Quick Tips

  • Sometimes when you do a search in Flickr or other websites, it will reset the Creative Commons filter. You’ll need to go back and search from the Creative Commons page.
  • On that note, make sure you see a Creative Commons symbol or logo on the individual page displaying the image (and that it clearly refers to that image) or something explicit that says the copyright owner will allow certain uses, or has released it into the Public Domain.
  • All Rights Reserved is a good indicator that you can’t use a work unless your use falls under an exception such as fair use.
  • If it doesn’t have any license information, you probably can’t use it.
  • You can always seek permission from the copyright holder to use a work, but this process usually takes time and you may not receive a response before the end of our workshop.

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