Copyright, Fair Use, Creative Commons

Building Blocks for Domain of One’s Own: A series of adaptable modules


Understanding how to fairly and legally incorporate and create media for websites, including how to properly cite according to web standards.



Search Flickr for an image using the various filters according to copyright and CC-BY designations.


  • How does the search change?
  • Why do some photographers choose the various different copyright designations?
  • If you are putting original work on your site, how will they be designated? Why?
  • How would you feel if someone on the web used your work without giving you credit?

Instructor Guide

Students have grown up in what is known as a “remix culture” where “ripping” and remixing, particularly in music, has been acceptable. The notion, as well, that everything on the internet is available for free, with the reblog function on Tumblr, RT on Twitter, and Share on facebook, etc, ubiquitous. The purpose of this module is two-fold, to get the students to understand fair use of media on their sites, but also to think about how they themselves classify their own work on their sites.

We want students to understand the work that goes into creating various media on the web, as well as to start thinking about their own production as work that has value, but also that they are a part of a larger community looking to learn from each other and share with each other. In addition, we want to students to be able to remix and comment on work under Fair Use, but when sharing other people’s work online you need to credit the author, artist, developer, etc. One social media site, Tumblr, has removed the feature to edit other users’ captions or comments entirely when reblogging (reposting) content.

Customize It!

Have students search specifically for an image that represents a topic that you are talking about in class. Incorporate what they find into another assignment or activity.