Resources - Copyright

Copyright is a very hot topic these days with pretty much everything coming under one or more copyrights or licences. It is extremely important that you check up on any asset you want to use and what copyright it falls under.

A good start guide by Bournemouth University

The rest of the series is here:

2. (Private Copying Exception)

3. (UK Copyright Law: Parody and Remix)

4. (Libraries, Archives and Orphan Works )

5. (DRM and Licence Agreements)

Public domain

There is a lot of assets out there that are public domain, a common example is that anything produced by the Federal Goverment of the United States of America is public domain. This includes pictures release by NASA of the moon or of Mars. This is not true of all goverments, for example the UK goverment releases all content under a Crown copyright and as such it can not be freely used.

It is important to note that if an asset does not have a (C) symbol or specific mention of copyright, it does not make it public domain.

Creative Commons and other Licences

Creative Commons

A number of sites and authers now-a-days release their works under various creative commons licences. You must read them carefully as all do not allow commercial use or allow you to modify or reuse them.

As a rule of thumb Attributation 3.0 Unported is a good to use, modify, distribute and use commercially. Other licences are restricted in various other ways, so read them carefully.

Fair use

Fair use is another tricky area. Generally it should be thought of as quotes or citation of others works where there is context to the use, for example a review of a bands latest single in with a few seconds of the song are featured has both context to its use and only uses the minimum of what is necessary for a review could be considered as fair use. Using a bands latest single as a background music track to your video would not be fair use.

UK Copyright guide lines on fair use

Stanford University guide to fair use

US Copyright guide on fair use


Copyright is a tricky thing. If you are unsure about the copyright status of an asset then write to the author or find another asset you know specifically what the copyright of it is. At the end of the day its far better to be safe than sorry!