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No Permission Needed
This section covers works that can be used without requesting permission or relying on a fair use analysis.
These works include:
- Works in the public domain
- Creative Commons licensed content
- Open Education and Open Access Resources
Works in the Public Domain?
Not all creative works are protected by copyright. There are large bodies of works that fall within the public domain. The public domain is defined as the state of belonging to the public as a whole, and therefore, it is not subject to copyright law. Works in the public domain have no restrictions, so anyone can freely use them without requesting permission. In general, works fall within the public domain if the copyright has expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, is inapplicable, or the work was published by the U.S. federal government.
For help determining when works are likely to enter the public domain please see the Cornell Copyright Term & Public Domain chart.
Public Domain Resources
- Project GutenbergProject Gutenberg offers over 50,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online.
- Library of Congress -Free to Use and Reuse SetsThis page features items from the Library's digital collections that are free to use and reuse. The Library believes that this content is either in the public domain, has no known copyright, or has been cleared by the copyright owner for public use.
- Duration of CopyrightCircular 15a from the U.S. Copyright Office
- How Can I Use Copyright-Free Works (in the Public Domain)A useful guide on how to determine whether a work is the public domain.
- The Copyright GenieA tool that assists with determining copyright protection for unpublished works, and for works first published in the U.S. or simultaneously in the U.S. and abroad.
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that distributes free, standardized licenses that enables authors to give others permission to share and use their creative work. All Creative Commons licenses require some form of attribution, which requires users to give authors credit for their original work.
There are six Creative Commons licenses available for use from least to most restrictive:
Attribution license or "CC BY" allows others to use the work for any purpose, even commercially, as longs as they provide attribution to the author.
Attribution-ShareAlike license or "CC-BY-SA" allows others to use the work for any purpose including commercial use and adaptations as long as attribution is provided and any adaptations shared are distributed under the same or a compatible license.
Attribution-NonCommercial license or "CC-BY-NC" allows others to only use the work for non-commercial purposes. Attribution to the author is required.
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike or "CC-BY-NC-SA" allows others to only use the work for non-commercial purposes, as long as attribution is provided to the author and any adaptations are shared under the same or compatible license.
Attribution-NoDerivatives license or "CC-BY-ND" allows others to reuse the unadapted work for any purposes, including commercially. Any adaptations created from this work cannot be shared with others.
|Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license or "CC-BY-NC-ND" is the most restrictive license. It allows others to only use the unadapted work for non-commercial purposes with proper attribution to the author. Any adaptations created from this work cannot be shared with others.|
Creative Commons Resources
- CC SearchA tool that allows openly licensed and public domain works to be discovered and used by everyone.
- Google ImagesUsing Google's Advanced Image Search, you can filter by various license types under usage rights. Search for "usage rights: not filtered by license" or "usage rights: free to use or share" to find free-to-use images.
- Flick Creative CommonsExplore a variety of images available on Flickr by various creative commons license types.
- Creative Commons License ChooserA resource to assist users with selecting the appropriate Creative Commons license.
- Best practices for attributionA wiki that provides examples of the best forms of attribution.
Open Educational Resources (OER)
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Informational Purposes Only
The materials and information on this guide are intended for informational purposes only. CSU Libraries make every effort to assure the accuracy of this information but do not offer it as counsel or legal advice. Please consult the University's Office of the General Counsel or your own attorney for advice concerning your specific situation.