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How to find Creative Commons materials using the Creative Commons Search Portal

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Creative Commons Information Pack

for Teachers and Students

This information guide was jointly developed by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation through Creative Commons Australia and the National Copyright Unit of the COAG Education Council.

For further information contact Creative Commons Australia at info@creativecommons.org.au

To make finding Creative Commons material as easy as possible, Creative Commons hosts a CC Search Portal on its website (www.creativecommons.org). Using the metadata that is part of all CC licences, the search portal can return results based on search terms and the type of use you want to make from a number of websites.

This guide was created to help teachers, students and curriculum units find CC licensed material using the CC Search Portal. It forms one part of an information pack on CC for the education sector. It is advised that you first read information guide ‘What is Creative Commons?’ for a simple and helpful introduction to CC.

Finding CC materials using the Creative Commons Search Portal

Below is a step-by-step guide to using the search tools in CC Search Portal to find content released under Creative Commons licences. The CC Search Portal allows users to return very specific results from a number of sources. By reading the metadata embedded in the digital files of content licensed under Creative Commons, the search portal can find content that is available for certain kinds of uses, including works that are available for commercial reuse and works that are available for remixing. By limiting the search to specific sites that only include one type of content (eg videos, photos or music), the CC Search portal also lets you search for specific types of material. This can give it an advantage over the CC search tools provided by Google.

Step 1.  Start a CC Search

There are two ways to get to the Creative Commons Search Portal. You can access it directly by typing http://search.creativecommons.org into the address bar on your web browser. Alternatively, you can get to it by clicking on "Search the Commons"  at the top of the page. 


Step 2.  Choose the right licence for what you want to do

To filter material based on the type of use you want to make, go to the box at the top right hand side of the search query field. This gives you two options ‘I want something that I can use for commercial purposes’ and ‘I want something that I can modify, adapt or build upon’.

Both options are automatically selected, however you should adjust these selections to reflect the option(s) appropriate for your use. You can select one, both or none of the boxes.

For example, if you select ‘use for commercial purposes', the search engine will exclude content under a licence which prohibits commercial use (ie that includes the Non-commercial term). Similarly, selecting ‘modify, adapt, or build upon' will exclude results that you cannot change (ie under a No Derivative Works licence).

If you select both options, only results under the broadest CC licences, Attribution and the Attribution-Share Alike, will be returned. If you don't select either of the boxes you will get material under all of the CC licences.

The table below shows how each option will filter the material by licence.

Step 3.  
Choosing the right type of material

Next you need to choose the type of content you are looking for. The Creative Commons Search Portal gives you access to a number of different search engines that let you search for different types of material. Each engine has its own tab on the search engine page.


Step 4.  Running the search

Now that you’ve chosen the type of licence and material you want to search for, you can enter keywords for your refined search in the search query field at the top of the page.

To run your search, you simply click on the tab you would like to search.