Okay, so I know that copy-wrong isn’t really a thing but there are definitely ways to misuse copyrighted material. I’ve been reading a lot about copyright laws lately and let me tell you, it is confusing at best. The three major ways something can be licensed are by copyright, public domain, or creative commons.

Now, before we get too far into copyright, please remember that I am not a lawyer and the following is my best understanding from reading copyright laws and information about creative commons and public domain.

The way I understand it is that the creator of a body of work holds copyright on their own work, regardless of if it was officially registered or not. There are many types of work that may be copyrighted including photographs, music, video, writing, and performances.



If you don’t know for certain that you have permission to use someone else’s work, don’t use it. If you do have permission, make sure to give credit where credit is due. However, please don’t be discouraged if you can’t use a particular picture or song that you want to because there are wonderful resources for high quality work in the public domain or with a creative commons license.

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is cre­ated in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who cre­ated the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.
— Copyright.gov


COPYRIGHT – The basic principle of copyright is that if you didn’t create it yourself, do not use it without written permission from the creator or copyright holder. (source) From reading information provided by Copyright.org, I learned that a creative work is copyrighted immediately upon completion.

A copyright symbol the letter 'c" in a circle.

A copyright symbol the letter 'c" in a circle.

The creative commons symbol is the letters "cc" inside of a circle.

The creative commons symbol is the letters "cc" inside of a circle.

CREATIVE COMMONS – When an artist chooses to allow others to use their original work, it falls under a creative commons license. There are many types of creative commons licenses so it is extremely important to pay attention to the type of license the work holds. They range from Attribution, which means you are free to use in commercial or non-commercial work with credit to the original artist, to Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs that allows use for non-commercial purposes only, without changing the original work, and with credit to the artist. The artist is able to tailor their creative commons copyright for each piece of work they produce. Creativecommons.org even has a great interactive web page that asks questions about how you want your work to be shared and generates the appropriate license for you.

PUBLIC DOMAIN – Bodies of work that are in the public domain are free to use and reuse as you wish. Public domain usually means that the original copyright has run out and it is now largely available to use. A great resource for public domain works is the Internet Archive. This archive has everything from movies and music to speeches and books.


For music, there is a difference between a song being in the public domain and being able to freely use a specific recording. Performances have their own copyrights and permission is needed for each performance. That means that if there is a song in the public domain, you can record your own version and use it freely but you may not use a recording you find online unless that recording is also in the public domain. (http://www.pdinfo.com)

I have bookmarked a few different websites that offer public domain and creative commons options for music, photos, textures, sound effects, fonts, and video. Some of these websites I use daily for music, photos, and textures for use in bulletin board messages videos on the station. If you've come across other resources that you would like to share with Norfolk, please e-mail me and I will add them to our list!

As always, I encourage everyone to utilize creative commons and public domain assets and to start creating! Contact us with any questions!

AuthorKaty Woodhams