Creative Commons for Music Educators

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a short guide to creative commons for creative music educators

Contents The aim of this booklet is to equip music educators with the information and tools they need to lawfully integrate audio and visual media into their teaching and to contribute freely to the wider academic community with confidence in this digital age. The structure of this booklet is built around four questions; 1. What is Creative Commons? 2. What do all the symbols mean? 3. Where can I find media I can use? ➡ image files ➡ sound effects files ➡ stems ➡ What about Youtube? ➡ Royalty Free Loops & Sounds ➡ A quick note on Fair Dealing. 4. How can I license my own work?

final3 on Flickr by TilarX

DISCLAIMER: We are not lawyers and as such do we assume to give legal advice. All information in this booklet has been gleaned from the websites referenced and is an ordinary teachers interpretation of that information for the purposes of professional peer support.

What is Creative Commons? Creative Commons is an international non-profit organization that provides free licenses and tools that copyright owners can utilise to allow others to share, reuse and remix their original work - legally. Creative Commons for the user: Did you know that everything on the internet comes under an automatic copyright protection? That picture from Flickr, that podcast from iTunes and that video from Youtube: all copyright protected! To use, share or build upon anything you need to ask permission from the author/creator. What a hassle! Is there no easier way? There is and it is called Creative Commons. Works made available under these licenses allow you to share, use and sometimes even modify/remix original works in the creation of you own (to understand license variations see page 4 and to know where to find such works see pages 5 onwards). Creative Commons for the author/creator: Did you know that every time you take a photo, write a blog post, make a podcast or compose a song it is considered to be an original work and therefore automatically comes under the protection of copyright! Copyright protection is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author/creator of an original work. What happens if you want to give people the right to share, use, and even build upon a work you have created? Use a Creative Commons license! It will qualify the automatic copyright (see page 11 for more details).

What do all the symbols mean? Creative Commons licenses are composed of one, two or three of the following four symbols:



All CC licenses require that others who use your work in any way must give you credit the way you request, but not in a way that suggests you endorse them or their use. If they want to use your work without giving you credit or for endorsement purposes, they must get your permission first.

You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and (unless you have chosen NoDerivatives) modify and use your work for any purpose other than commercially unless they get your permission first.


You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and modify your work, as long as they distribute any modified work on the same terms. If they want to distribute modified works under other terms, they must get your permission first.


You let others copy, distribute, display and perform only original copies of your work. If they want to modify your work, they must get your permission first.

Footnote Reference: information and symbols from the “Creative Commons Informational Flyer� found here: What is Creative Commons?

Where can I find media I can use? You now understand the basics of Creative Commons licenses. Next we show you where to get images, audio files and videos from and how to legally use them in your lessons.

Find Images:

Fotopedia A truly beautiful collection of photographs comprising of; historic landmarks, portraits of people of all nationalities, and the wonderful diversity and beauty of nature. Many photographs are available under different variations of the Creative Commons licenses so take particular attention of the symbols under each image.

Flickr - advanced image search This is THE photo sharing site on the internet. The total number of images available under a creative commons license is almost 190 million!!! Even though this is only a small percentage of photos on Flickr it is still very impressive. Also have a look at Flickr’s “The Commons” search engine: an archive of the world’s publicly owned photographic collections (all with CC licensing). Still can’t find what you are looking for and don’t mind paying for it? Flickr has now partnered with Getty Images making the work of professional and amateur photographers available for purchase.

Find Sound Effects:

Sound Library

Royalty Free Music (sound effects)


Purple Planet


Sound Effects Archive


Sound Jay


Find STEMS: For those teachers not in the music technology department, stems are recordings of individual instruments (such as vocals, synth or drums) that can be used for remixes or live performance. Many sites like Indaba, have remixing competitions where you can download stems and ‘re-arrange’ the music from such artists as Alicia Keys & film composers like Hans Zimmer - using high quality .wav files!





Free Loops

One Laptop Per Child

Philharmonia Orchestra



University of Iowa

Red Lodge

What about Youtube? Videos are available for download all over the internet but what can be used and how? There seems to be much confusion out there about the use of Youtube videos on websites and in the classroom. As professional educators we need to know the laws within which we function. Here are two areas of misunderstanding and the truth behind them.

1. It is okay to download a Youtube video and then upload it to a school server/website.

2. Its okay to “deep link” a Youtube video on to your site, where the content is infringing on copyright.

NEVER download a Youtube video by any means, and then upload it to another site - including those of an educational nature.

This is where things get interesting: It seems that watching a video on Youtube that infringes copyright is okay - it is the user that uploaded the content who is responsible. BUT if you publish a “deep link” on a website - including those of a educational nature - you partake in the infringement and are thus breaking the law.

Here is a quote from the Youtube: Terms of Service website that addresses this myth: You agree not to distribute in any medium any part of the Service or the Content without YouTube's prior written authorization, unless YouTube makes available the means for such distribution through functionality offered by the Service (such as the Embeddable Player). Taken from Youtube Terms of Service.

NOTE: a “deep link” refers to a URL specific link (linking to a particular video as apposed to Youtube in general) and embedding the content using the Embeddable Player. Taken from Youtube in Music Education by Thomas Rudolph & James Frankel.

REMEMBER: Any audio or visual content that has not been uploaded lawfully constitutes a copyright infringement. A few examples of infringement; a Youtube video of students performing an original work without asking permission to record and distribute (a musical, a play or piece of music), an audio/visual montage of images collected online which is then posted on Youtube (the distribution of illegally obtained images and music constitute separate infringements), or a 30 second clip of film (extracted from a legally purchased DVD) with student written score replacing the original is then uploaded to Youtube (it is the distribution on Youtube, not the project, that constitutes an infringement). For more information see Copyright Australia and click the links under “Educational Institutions”.

Royalty Free Loops & Sounds Whether your raising money for the school or helping a student launch themselves into a career in music, creating music for a commercial purpose slightly changes the rules. The following websites have loops and samples that are royalty free. This means that you can mix them into your tracks and then use them as you would if you had used CC but also you can sell your music without worrying about sample clearance, licenses or additional costs.



Prime Loops




Brainy Betty

Internet Archive





Partners in Rhyme

Music Loops




A quick note about

Fair Dealing Australian Copyright Law includes the term, “Fair Dealing”. These are exemptions to the copyright protection laws. They include reasons of “research & study”. The “Fair Dealing” law exceptions in Australia, like similar exemptions in other countries such as “Fair Use” in the United States, are perplexingly vague. They claim to be a set of reasons and circumstances where the laws of copyright are relaxed. The exception we as teachers should be aware of are those of “research and study”. After much reading I think I can summarize these exemptions in one statement:

It is okay to use copyright protected images, music, sounds and legally obtained video content in school projects BUT these projects cannot be shown outside of the classroom or distributed further. In some ways this statement creates more questions than it answers: What about e-portfolios or class websites? Does it matter if the project is stored on an on-site server? Does it matter if the site/content is password protected? What about teacher created material? The legislation is about 10 years behind what is happening in the classroom. All we can do is recommend that if you have lingering concerns you should read the material yourself. If you find anything different to what is written above, send us an email, and we will amend the above statement. Click here to download the Australian Copyright Fair Dealing Information sheet.

How do I CC license my own work? Have you used a Creative Commons licensed work recently and benefited from the generosity of others? Inspired to share your own work? Visit the Creative Commons website...

1. Before Licensing Click here for a quick checklist of basic things you should think about before you apply a Creative Commons license to your work. 2. License Your Work Finding out which license fulfills your needs is really simple. Just go to this site, answer two questions and then enter a few details about the work. 3. Here is the license you’ve chosen There are a number of ways you can apply the license to your work; I. For online work it is best to use the HTML code generated II. For print work you can either insert the generated text or image containing the symbols indicative of your choice (the link to both of these resources, including high quality and vector images are found in the right column under “Offline Work?”) III. For an advanced tutorial on marking your work click on “Learn how to mark video and other formats.”

For more information about Creative Commons go to their website at:

For more information about the authors find Samuel here & Laura here. All information in this flyer has been gleaned from the Creative Commons website: and it’s Australian branch The license symbols have also come from these two sites. The purpose of this booklet is not to say anything new but to present the material in a concise manner, to a specific audience (music teachers) and to additionally supplement it with practical online tools.

A Short Guide to Creative Commons for Creative Music Educators by Samuel and Laura Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.