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Multimedia production: Freeware, royalty-free and Creative Commons media tools

Creative Commons Swag Contest 2007.

Creative Commons Swag Contest 2007. /pablokdc on Flickr

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From The Rapidian staff

Each week, a Rapidian staffer will publish a piece related to goings-on at The Rapidian, developments in the world of citizen journalism and tips for making the most of the site. Click here for past editorials.

From Rapidian staff: You've just written a story about some virus originating from Grand Rapids affecting giraffes in Africa. You need a picture to go with your piece but don't exactly have an image of a giraffe on hand. A quick search on Google Images will bring up hundreds of pages. Giraffes galore, you think! I'll just take one of these photos and give the site credit...

Stop right there. Even if you give photographers credit for their work, lifting photos off sites other than your own can still be copyright infringement. As intellectual property, use of photos without the creator's explicit permission puts users in a legally unsavory situation. This is especially difficult because technically, everything is copyrighted once it's published anywhere.

Of course, this doesn't solve your problem. You still need a photo of a giraffe, and you're not likely to fly to Africa to get it. You've got options in the form of different licenses, the best-known being Creative Commons licensing. CC is an alternative to copyright. Creators who use a CC license give varying levels of permission for others to use their work including displaying it, using it for commercial purposes or allowing others to doctor their original piece. All they ask for in return is attribution.

You can always do a Creative Commons search, but additional sites to find Creative Commons or royalty-free media are:

  • Freeware for media production include:
    • Jing (screencasting, screenshots)
    • Audacity (audio editing)
    • GIMP (photo editing)

What other copysafe media tools do you use? Lay down your media cards via the comments section!

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