Lunch & Learn: Creative Commons: Guilt-Free Reuse of Others’ Work with Keith Gresham and David Hollander

Modern copyright law guarantees authors full rights over their work even without the inclusion of the © copyright notice. “All rights reserved” gives authors (for the length of their lives plus 70 years) the sole right to copy their works, to prepare derivatives or revisions of their works, to distribute or publish, or to perform or display their works in public.
Such unrestricted rights can create problems and generate fair-use confusion for members of the academic community who want to incorporate photographs, illustrations, music, video, and other forms of creative content into their own publications, lectures, presentations, and projects. Fair use may not infringe on copyright, and the factors used to determine what is and is not fair use include the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount of the work used, and the effect of such use upon the value of the copyrighted work.

At the March 25 Lunch ‘n Learn, Keith Gresham and David Hollander discussed Creative Commons, an organization and framework that provides an easy-to-understand alternative to traditional copyright, particularly as it relates to finding and using web content. Creative Commons is designed to encourage people to share and build upon the work of others. Creators of web content can use Creative Commons licenses to invite others to reuse, transform, and republish their intellectual property, all without cost to either party and without having to obtain time-consuming permissions.
Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Law professor, a founding board member of Creative Commons, was an early proponent of reducing legal restrictions on copyright, particularly in technological applications. His ideas on shared culture evolved from the free or open source software movement that advocated a less restrictive climate for software development and distribution.

The speakers showed how to locate Creative Commons-licensed content. So long as you abide by the Creative Commons license, you no longer need to worry about whether your uses comply with fair use. Within Google’s Advanced Search window, you can specify that you are looking for items that are free to use or share even for commercial purposes. Clip art is available at Sharable courseware is available at MIT’s Open Courseware Initiative, free textbooks are available at, provides free sketches, while provides video. You can even obtain access to free audio clips at
To incorporate Creative Commons licenses within your own work, visit Creative Commons makes use of four different license conditions–attribution, share-alike, noncommercial, and no derivative works–in varying combinations to create six distinct, and free, usage licenses. Several million pages of web content are currently governed by Creative Commons licenses.
The attribution tag permits others to copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and the derivative works based upon it — but only if they provide you with the credit you request. “Share-alike” permits others to distribute derivative works but only under a license identical to the license that governs your work. The non-commercial tag lets others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for noncommercial purposes only. And “no derivitive works” lets others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.
Keith Gresham began serving as Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Princeton this past fall and is providing leadership within the organization for reference services; research, instruction, and outreach programs; and document delivery/interlibrary loan and microform operations. Keith’s areas of scholarly investigation include information literacy programs and initiatives in higher education, uses of technology in the provision of library services, and pedagogical models of library instruction for undergraduates. Most recently he has been examining how the growing use of social software among undergraduates may necessitate changes to our current understanding of teaching and learning processes. Prior to joining Princeton, Keith worked in similar positions at the University of Vermont Libraries and at the University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries. He holds a graduate degree in library science from the University of Washington and an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.
David Hollander is the Law and Legal Studies Librarian and the U.S. Government Documents coordinator at the Princeton University Library. His scholarly interests include studying the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of legal scholarship and education, and the response to this change by law librarians in the legal academy. His recent work explores the history of interdisciplinary legal scholarship at Princeton University and legal reference at the Princeton University Library. Before coming to Princeton in 2006, David was the Reference and Instructional Services Librarian at the University of Miami Law Library and an attorney at the New York office of Jones Day.
A podcast and the presentation are available.
Lawrence Lessig’s 2003 talk here at Princeton may be found on the Web Media lectures page.

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