It suddenly dawned on me that actually a lot of EFL and ESL teachers, materials authors, newsletter, journal, blog and freebie ELT magazine writers don't actually know about creative commons.
So what is creative commons?
Creative Commons is a type of license that is added to a piece of work (photo, music, video and more) and rather than assign copyright to it the author gives permission for this item to be used by whomever, as long as they appropriately attribute it (put the name of the author).
The simplest way to cross-check against the different sources of creative commons material is here:
You can also do an advanced search from google, yahoo or directly in flickr, blip.tv, spinXpress.
How can you use it in class?
The sky's the limit.
I use it to create interesting worksheets, make the cover pages for my commercial worksheets, make games to divide up my training groups, use photos in my blog entries to make them look interesting ;-) LOL, have even used a piece of music as backdrop to my video, etc.
The bottom line is that you can have as much fun and be as creative as you like.
For free! Of course, it's always a nice idea to give back too and these days I walk about with a camera and have been uploading my own stuff into flickr and of course, my blog entries are CC'd too and institutions or teaching associations are welcome to use them in their magazines.
Can you do anything at all with the stuff you take?
Well, actually there are six different types of creative commons licenses so I generally do an advanced search and specify how I'm going to use something and then go from there.
I also try to make sure that I respect the originality of the work and its creator by letting him/her know when and how I've used something. They always like this ;-).
Anyway, this might seem like a lot to take in so here's a great video explaining it all here:
A longer, more in-depth, video and explanation behind the philosophy and concepts of creative commons can be found here.
For a general reference on the types of licenses, I've cut and paste from Wikipedia as follows:
Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd) This license is the most restrictive of the six main licenses, allowing redistribution. This license is often called the “free advertising” license because it allows others to download your works and share them with others as long as they mention you and link back to you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work just like the by-nc-nd license, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.
Attribution Non-commercial (by-nc) This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
Attribution No Derivatives (by-nd) This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.
Attribution Share Alike (by-sa) This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.
Attribution (by) This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered, in terms of what others can do with your works licensed under Attribution.