Skip to main content
Know your rights and limitations.

The first rule of usage rights: there are few easy answers. 

Almost every situation needs to be assessed on its own merits. A black or white, yes or no answer may not be available.

It's about risk assessment. Try to minimize your risk by understanding the guidelines and playing it safe while still being creative.

Rights Checklist

To get started unravelling any rights usage problem or question, it's important to understand the situation fully. 

1. Who are you?

For the specific task at hand, are you a: 

  • creator?
  • student?
  • professional?

Sometimes the answer is more than one of these at the same time.

2. What are you trying to do?

Are you:

  • trying to protect your work?
  • learning by adapting the work of an experienced professional?
  • incorporating found elements into something that can be used in a commercial environment? 

3. What are you hoping to use?

  • Original work created by you?
  • works of unknown origin?
  • works with clear usage rights designation?
  • Old works?

4. Where are you going to use the new work you're creating?

  • Will you give a copy to your instructor and only the two of you will see it?
  • Will you publish it in print and distribute it widely?
  • Will you publish online in a portfolio or on a openly available website?
  • Will you or someone else sell the product?

Once you can describe your specific situation, you're better positioned to determine your rights and what steps you need to take to ensure either protection for your own work or legal use of others' work.