Thing 17: Creative Commons and Copyright

thing 17
[Photo credit: Martin Fisch: CC BY-SA 2.0]
If you are thinking of using externally sourced material (see Thing 6) in any of your online presentations, it’s important to understand the basics of what you can and can’t use. This post won’t/can’t cover it all (governments are grappling with the complexities of online copyright as we speak!), but we’ll look at Creative Commons (CC ) and how it frees us to share and reuse online.

CC is a non-profit organisation that offers a simple, standardised way to give public permission to share and/or use your creative work. CC licenses offer various levels of permissions, from ‘all rights reserved’ to ‘some rights reserved’. CC licenses are now commonly found on photos, blogs (including this blog), published material, teaching resources, music and more.

Let’s take a moment to understand the CC license that this blog has.

Look down in the bottom right hand corner of the page. You will see an area in the sidebar with the CC logo and some text describing the nature of the licence.

Use the CC license page to understand the different elements of this licence, and think about whether any of these might be appropriate for any of your work.

In Thing 6, we looked at images in Flickr that were either openly available or available with some rights reserved. If you’re interested in looking beyond Flickr, try the Creative Commons Search Page, which allows you to search for CC-licensed content on Wikimedia, Google Images, Europeana, YouTube, SoundCloud and more.


  1. If you’ve uploaded images on Flickr, go through the steps of adding a CC license (you don’t have to retain it or go to the final step if you don’t want to).
  2. Consider adding a CC license to your blog or another piece of online work by using the ‘Choose a license’ page.

Exploring further

  1. For general copyright information, you may wish to look at Surrey’s pages on Copyright and if you have questions contact the advisors mentioned on the right hand side.
  2. You might also explore issues related to open access, particularly in scholarly communication. For some interesting places to start, take a look at Surrey Research Insight’s blog
  3. If you’re interested in copyright online beyond the basic CC licenses, you can explore endlessly. You might be interested in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US, which helps control access to online works. The UK Government recently commissioned the Hargreaves Report, which looks at streamlining copyright in the digital age.
  4. Explore Open Spires to see types of Open Educational Resources (OERs) that are available online.


Week 8 Blog post

We’ve covered a lot of Things this week, and we hope you can see that far from being more red-tape and hoops for you to jump through, this week’s Things are more about making sure you get proper credit for the work that you do and maximising your impact.

If you’d like to talk about all three Things together in this blog post, feel free. Perhaps you still have concerns about sharing your research online at all? Or feel that one of the sharing routes is more appropriate than the other for research?

Alternatively, you could talk about just one Thing. Perhaps you found one of the tasks quite challenging, or have been particularly moved by one of the Things that we’ve talked about. If you’ve read around the Things this week, you should have found that some people are extraordinarily passionate about these issues.

As we’ve talked about CC licenses, we’d like you to find an appropriately licensed image from Flickr (or another media site) that you can include in your post. Make sure it allows sharing! If you’re logged into Flickr, you can use the ‘Share’ button to grab the photo for your blog directly. Otherwise, you can either download and then upload to your blog, or grab the HTML or link for embedding.

Don’t forget to tag your post Thing 14, Thing 15, Thing 16 and Thing 17.


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