Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University

Copyright, Fair Use, and More

An introduction to copyright and fair use.

Subject Guide

Rebel Cummings-Sauls

Research Toolbox

Need help with your project? Follow the links below!

Research: How-To A guide on writing a research paper.

Citation: How-To A guide covering several citation formats.

Database Searching Several video tutorials on using databases.

Licensed Content

Using a copyrighted work in your own work typically requires obtaining permission from the copyright holder orutilizing Fair Use. What if the copyright holder could grant that permission up front, giving permission to anyone who wanted to use the work? That's the basic idea behind Creative Commons, which enables authors to establish a set of licences or permissions that determine how others can use their work. Creative Commons doesn't replace copyright, but it does make it easier to determine if you can use a particular work.

Like the traditional copyright symbol, ©, Creative Commons provides symbols that you can paste into your documents and other work to indicate that it's licensed under Creative Commons. Creative Commons provides six different levels of licensing. Here are a few examples:




What the License Allows



Attribution logo

Others may distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the work, even commercially, as long as they credit the author for the original creation.

Attribution – No Derivatives


Attribution – No Derivatives logo Allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the author.
Attribution – NonCommercial - ShareAlike


Attribution – NonCommercial - ShareAlike logo

Others may remix, tweak, and build upon the work work non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Finding Licensed Content

Search Creative Commons

The Creative Commons' search page provides convenient access to search services that offer a way to limit a search to CC licensed works. Sites include, Google, Flickr, Jamendo, YouTube, and several others. Since there is no central registration of Creative Commons licenses, you always need to determine if the work is actually under a Creative Commons license. Do this by following the link and looking for the CC symbol. If in doubt, contact the copyright holder or the site where you found the work.