Copyright Law and Public Domain

‘New’ ideas are built on top of what already exists. 

Artists, authors, designers, and engineers may look like they are alone when they are working, but every creative knows that the things they produce are aggregates— with their own personal flair mixed in.

Like the famous Sagrada Familia it has taken five generations of builders to bring Antoni Gaudi’s grand vision to light. 

In the internet age, creatives turn to the worldwide web for inspiration— be it for photography, soundtracks or clip art.

Too many people believe that everything online is free. It’s not.

If you use media without proper licensing or permission, you could face a copyright infringement lawsuit, or get flagged on YouTube for improper use.

As a creative, it is important to understand how copyright works, what is protected, and when something is available for free use.

Copyright laws, in general, protect a creation from being copied for the life of the artist, plus 70 years.  After that, the piece enters the Public Domain. (SBTEA)

Public Domain works are 100% free for private and commercial use and do not require attribution.

Lawrence Lessig’s lectures and books help artists safely navigate the muddy waters of fair use. He is largely responsible for establishing an ever-growing community of photographers, artists, illustrators, videographers and musicians who support creativity by contributing current work to the Public Domain.

Copyright Law recommended reading.

Click here for Lisa’s extensive collection of public domain images, music, sound,  and video clips.

Creative Commons – Open Source & Freebies

I wanted to find music that was REALLY OK to use- legally – when I started making web videos for my small business customers. Coming from an industry where copyright infringement is about as common as eating, it makes one ultra sensitive to NOT perpetuating that behavior on others.

While on my musical quest, I discovered the Creative Commons movement. Open sourcing, in the technology sector, also got me to thinking…. Both of these groups are organizations and individuals that donate time, talents, knowledge and resources to further enhance the creative community and future generations of thinkers, artists and inventors. Creative Commons makes the legal jargon of licensing understandable (and easy to use) and open sourcing is design specifications, for physical things, that is freely available for others to modify or use to invent new things.

The geek in me so admires the technology folks…

Massimo Banzi & Arduino – 0pen source microconroller

I finally hit musical ‘pay dirt’ when I found At first it was almost impossible to believe that Dan O’Connor would allow people to use his music – for commercial use – royalty free. I was so grateful and thankful for his generosity. (Once I had produced the first few test videos and decided to ‘have a go’ at that business model, I went back to his website and sent him a donation.)

*also check out

I’ve begun making my own contributions to the Creative Commons movement – and will continue to do so.

Graphics & Imagery – Royalty free and OK for commercial uses

Sound Clips – Public Domain

The energy that we absorb from others when we work together cooperatively leads us to build, invent and discover new things that would have been unimaginable to our great-great grandparents. I’d like to see this spirit of sharing continue to expand!