Skip to Main Content

Copyright guide

This is a companion guide to the RMIT Copyright webpages for staff and students.

Creative Commons - using and sharing content

A must watch for understanding Creative Commons and using content under Creative Commons licenses.

Creative Commons licences

Creative Commons gives authors or creators the ability to release their work under an open license for others to use. Once released under a Creative Commons Licence, the works exist as open educational resources (OER). 
A Creative Commons (CC) licence gives you certain degrees of use such as making a copy, adapting and sharing without getting permission from the creator. Most of the CC license types, shown with the icons below will allow you to reuse material for educational purposes at no cost.

You can identify Creative Commons works by looking out for the icons below.

CC BY Attribution: CC BY 

CC BY-SA Attribution-ShareAlike: CC BY-SA 

CC-BY-ND Attribution-NoDerivs: CC BY-ND 

CC BY-NC Attribution-NonCommercial: CC BY-NC 

CC BY-NC-SA Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA 

CC BY-NC-ND Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs: CC BY-NC-ND

Further to the Creative Commons open licences, they also provide tools that work in the “all rights granted” space of the public domain. The CC0 tool allows licensors to waive all rights and place a work in the public domain.

Public DomainNo Rights Reserved: CC0 

Images: "Icons" by Font AwesomeCreative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0 
Adapted from “About the licenses” by Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Learn more

Understanding Creative Commons Licenses (chapter 7) In The OER Capability Toolkit  by RMIT University Library is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Need assistance

If you require any assistance with Creative Commons licenses contact

Search for Creative Commons works

Searching for Creative Commons works on Flickr and YouTube

A few things you need to consider when selecting Creative Commons images on Flickr.

There are a large range of Creative Commons images on Flickr licensed under Creative Commons licenses with differing terms of use. Each image on Flickr must be used according to the terms of the Creative Commons licence. Make sure you read and understand the Creative Commons licence terms before using a licensed image from Flickr.

Be careful as some images on Flickr could be considered a breach of copyright. Ensure each image you wish to use is a legitimate copy.

What you need to consider before using Flickr images

If the image is of a copyrighted work such as a famous painting or artistic work make sure the photographer has obtained permission from the copyright owner of the original work [painting etc.] to photograph the work and to distribute the photograph to others. 
Galleries and museums sometimes allow photography of the works within the gallery for personal purposes. This means for your own home library of photographs. Galleries and museums don't usually hold copyright on works they exhibit. 
You may need to contact the rights holder to gain permission to use the work.

Using Creative Commons to find images on Google Image (4:15 mins) by WhatcomElearning (YouTube)

Creative Commons attribution

All six Creative Commons licences include the BY or attribution condition. This is a requirement of reuse. The original creator has explicitly informed the user of this requirement through the use of the BY condition. Providing attribution is the legal requirement of the open licence. 
While some tools, like Creative Commons Search, include the attribution in the resource, there are other tools available to help users easily create attribution statements for work they reuse, remix, or modify.