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Copyright & Fair Use

This guide provides a general overview of copyright issues.

What is Creative Commons?

CC logo for creative commons

Creative Commons is an American non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright-licenses, known as Creative Commons licenses, free of charge to the public. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators.

Licenses can be applied to allow reuse, redistribution, derivative works, and commercial use. 

Creative Commons is the most frequently used and accessible free licensing scheme, but there are others that are used by certain communities. Licenses can also be applied by commercial entities that own copyright to an item such as a journal article. These licenses generally spell out limited usage for users and are available for a fee.