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Copyright & Fair Use

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Borrowed from our friends at RETN.

WHY IS COPYRIGHT IMPORTANT?

Creativity is essential for civilizations to thrive, and protecting the rights of creators provides a safer environment for developing and expressing new ideas. Copyright laws allow you to create freely and know that your work is automatically protected, from the moment it is created, against unauthorized use. [Learn more at the Library of Congress or download and read the Copyright Basics PDF link below.]

WHAT ABOUT FAIR USE?

The simplest way to know it is okay to use someone's work is to ask them for permission. However, there are times when you may use someone else's work without seeking their permission. Items you find on government Web sites and that are in the public domain are two common examples. In some circumstances you may also be able to legally use copyrighted material without the copyright holder's permission, as long as the way you use it meets fair use guidelines. However, many people misunderstand what constitutes fair use, so be careful. [See the links below for documents on best practices in fair use and to access an American Library Association online tool that helps you determine if a work is protected by copyright.]

HOW CAN CREATIVE COMMONS HELP YOU?

Sometimes creators want to allow other creative people like you to use their work without having to seek their permission. Creative Commons provides an easy way for creators to let others know how their work can be used. Learn more about how Creative Commons licenses work, read FAQs about Creative Commons, or search for images, music and videos with Creative Commons licenses by visiting its Web site and by watching the linked videos in the sidebar. Be sure to follow the permitted uses as indicated by the Creative Commons license.

I NEED MUSIC, WHERE CAN I FIND SOME?

There are a number of places on the web to find royalty free music. Try starting with Jamendo or Free Music Archive. Or, if you use SoundCloud, try doing a search for creative commons identified tracks.

Need more tips and information? Visit the RETN copyright and fair use full resource page.