Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons

Three terms you should know and understand:

1. Copyright – grants the creator of a work the exclusive rights to use or not use the work as he/she sees fit.

Copyright law protects Web pages, e-mails, bulletin boards, images, music lyrics, sound and video files,  and postings to discussion groups.

You should assume that anything you encounter on the Internet is copyrighted, unless it is expressly states otherwise.

For an animated, sing-along explanation of copyright, see this video from the Media Education Lab.

2. Fair Use – allows others to use part of a copyrighted work in certain situations like criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, and research.

Fair use is based on the idea that there is no original thought; every idea is influence by other ideas.

Fair use is designed to so that someone can use part of the original work. For example, a music reporter will want to quote the lyrics of a song.

In fair use cases, courts look at four factors:
1. The purpose and character of the use
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount of the portion used
4. The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

For an animated, sing-along explanation of user rights, watch this video from the Media Education Lab.

3. Creative Commons – allows creators to protect their work by choosing from a variety of types of licensing, rather than relying on copyright law. The licenses allow creators to maintain protection from unauthorized use, but still allow various forms of copying, sharing, and modifying.

See CreativeCommons.org for more info and to get a license for your work.

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About Nick DiUlio

My name is Nick DiUlio, a freelance writer and editor from New Jersey. I have been passionate about the craft of writing since I was old enough to spell, and this love has led to a successful career in journalism and creative nonfiction. As a freelancer, I have covered a wide range of topics and personalities, as my published work has focused on everything from profiles of artists and important political figures to hard-news stories with both national and local appeal; from restaurant and beverage reviews to tips on fashion and finance; from health and wellness pieces to celebrity Q&A’s. My work has appeared in several local, regional and national publications—both in print and online—including Philadelphia Magazine, Slate.com, Miller-McCune, New Jersey Monthly, Eating Well, and Delaware Today. Additionally, I am the South Jersey Bureau Chief for New Jersey Monthly and an adjunct journalism professor at Rowan University. To be sure, the broadness of my body of work seems only to be matched by my boundless interest in almost every subject imaginable (except Warren Zevon). Check out some of my most recently published work here.
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