Basic features of all Creative Commons licenses

On this page of the Citizen's Guide to Creative Commons, we'll go over the most basic features shared by all Creative Commons licenses, and cover the responsibilities and privileges given to those using CC licensed work.  To begin with, all Creative Commons licenses have some important features in common.

Every license will:

  • Help you retain your copyright, and;
  • Allow the public to use your work in some regard, provided they comply with the conditions of the license.

Every license Requires licensees:

  • to get your permission to do any of the things you choose to restrict — e.g., make a commercial use, create a derivative work;
  • to remove attribution at the original authors request; -  e.g., if someone makes a legally authorized derivative of your work that you don’t like, you can ask them to remove your name from the attribution,
  • to keep any copyright notices intact on all copies of your work;
  • to link to the license used for the work;
  • not to alter the terms of the license, and;
  • not to use technology to restrict others lawful uses of the work.

Every license Allows Licensees, (provided they live up to your conditions):

  • to copy the work
  • to distribute it
  • to display or perform it publicly
  • to make digital public performances of it (e.g., webcasting)
  • to shift the work into another format as a verbatim copy

Every license:

  • applies worldwide
  • lasts for the duration of the work’s copyright, and;
  • is not revocable.


Now that we've covered some of the most basic features of CC licenses, let's move into the meat and potatoes! Click through to continue on our Citizen's Guide to Creative Commons, where we'll go over the intricacies of each CC license, and walk you through what exactly you can require in your Creative Commons License!


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Choosing a Creative Commons License

Unless otherwise indicated, anything found on New Media Rights’ website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. At first glance, deciphering what that means may seem intimidating, but in fact, it all comes down to the simple question of how you’d you’re your work to be used. Remember, offering your work under a Creative Commons license does not mean giving up your copyright. It means offering some of your rights to any member of the public, but only on certain conditions. In this article we’ll break down the various conditions you can require in your CC license or need to understand when reusing CC works.

Conditions You May Require In Your CC License:


You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give proper attribution to you, the author, or the title of the original work. If you wish to remain anonymous you can, just use the word “anonymous” in place of your name.

Example: Christy publishes her photograph with an Attribution license, because she wants the world to use her photographs, as long as they give her credit. Ben finds her photograph online and wants to display it on the front page of his website. Ben puts Christy’s picture on his site, and clearly indicates Christy’s authorship.

What NMR says about it:

Note that ALL Creative Commons licenses require attribution, unless the creator has waived that requirement, not supplied a name, or asked that her name be removed. The license itself tells the user to include the name of the original author, the title of the work, and a link to the legal code in the license. CC licenses also require that users “keep intact all copyright notices,” so when publishing your work under a CC license, make sure to clearly indicate the name you’d like to be credited as. You can also add suggestions on how you would like to be attributed, but these suggestions are not enforceable parts of the license.

For example, here is what the creative commons license says about attribution when using our content.

“Attribution. Where you reuse our work YOU MUST, 1. Attribute the work to "New Media Rights" (but not in any way that suggests that New Media Rights endorses you or your use of the work), 2. State the original title of the work, and 3. link to the text of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License which can be found here.

  • We also request that you provide a direct link to the original content on (if appropriate in the medium you are using the work).

Note that the sub-point is just something we request but it isn’t mandatory.

We have more information about how to properly attribute someone’s CC licensed work later in our “Best Practices” section of the guide, if you’d like to jump ahead!


You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and make derivative works based upon it — but for noncommercial purposes only

Examples: Jamie publishes his photograph on his website with a Noncommercial license. Julie prints Jamie’s photograph. Julie is not allowed to sell the print photograph without Jamie’s permission.

What NMR says about it:

If you don't want people to be able to make money off of your work without your explicit permission, then you likely want to require uses to be noncommercial on your Creative Commons license.

This is an effective way for artists and creators (especially those that are new or emerging) to get their creative work to a larger audience, because the creative work can be redistributed non-commercially on noncommercial blogs, podcasts, social media websites, and elsewhere. Your photograph, song, story, or other creative work can gain the attention of the public, but it can't be used for an advertisement, sold by a record label, or turned into a television sitcom without your permission and compensation.

Of course, the question can and does come up of whether or not a use is commercial. Consider, for example, Shauna, who licenses her photographs under a CC-Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license. Francesca, an independent blogger, uses her photograph in an article on her personal blog (that is not ad supported), attributes Shauna correctly, and licenses that webpage under the same exact CC license. Unfortunately, Francesca also has a “tip jar”, a button which lets users “tip” her online to support the website. This injection of commercialism can complicate the question of whether she is violating the terms of Shauna’s CC Noncommercial license. To be safe, in these borderline cases best practices dictate that Francesca should try to get in touch with Shauna to see if her use would be permitted.

No Derivative Works

You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon your work.

Example: Lionel licenses a recording of his song with a No Derivative Works license. Wendy would like to cut Lionel’s track and mix it with her own to produce an entirely new song. Wendy cannot do this without Lionel’s permission (unless her song amounts to fair use).

What NMR says about it:

Derivative works are creative works that build upon previous works. If you do not allow derivative works, then, as stated above, the only thing that can be distributed, copied, displayed, or performed is your exact original work (except for users' fair use rights).

This is a condition to carefully consider. For instance, imagine that Gus, an independent musician hoping to have his work heard, licenses his songs under a CC Attribution Non-Derivative license. Jenny, a filmmaker, wants to include the song during an exciting car chase scene in her upcoming film, but doesn’t want to play the entire six minute song. Unfortunately, because Gus elected to not allow derivative works to be made from his work, Jenny would be unable to include the song in her film without Gus’s permission. Not that this is a necessarily a bad thing. Jenny could still contact Gus and negotiate their own license.

It’s important to keep in mind that allowing derivative works does not mean anyone can necessarily profit off the work without your explicit permission. Even if you allow others to create a derivative work, say recording and distributing their own version of your song, they cannot exploit the song commercially if you have chosen to require uses to be “noncommercial,” as discussed above.

On the other hand, allowing derivative works can often mean  helping to provide a great building block for grassroots culture. Projects like Wikimedia, Flickr, and even YouTube at least have options to use CC licenses for submitted works, and as a result, creators today have access to a wealth of freely available material to remix, reuse and build upon. With that in mind, unless you want to restrict any adaptations of the work and only allow distribution of identical copies, you might consider allowing derivative works in your CC license.

Share Alike

You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.  Note: A license cannot feature both the Share Alike and No Derivative Works options. The Share Alike requirement applies only to derivative works.

Example: Joe’s photo is online and licensed under the Noncommercial and Share Alike terms. Julie is an amateur collage artist, and she takes Gus’s photo and puts it into one of her collages. This Share Alike language requires Camille to make her collage available on a Noncommercial Share Alike license. It makes her offer her work back to the world on the same terms Gus gave her.

What NMR says about it:

This condition requires that any use of your creative work carry the same licensing terms as you chose for your work. This can ensure that others use your content with the same spirit of sharing that you embraced. The “share alike” requirement does, however, place some additional restrictions on the user of the content, because they have no choice in the licensing scheme for a work that incorporates your work.

For example, let's return to Gus, our struggling musician. Imagine Gus composes and records a song, then shares it under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. This license does not restrict commercial use of Gus’s song, so anyone can use his song commercially so long as they give him attribution. Now let's say Jenny is making a film, hears Gus’s song, and wants to include it in her film. To use the song, Jenny has no choice but to make her entire film available under the same CC Attribution-ShareAlike conditions, which allow anyone to commercially exploit her film so long as they give her attribution. Jenny, as a result, chooses a different song to include in her film.  If Gus did not choose the “sharealike” condition, Jenny could have used the song in her film, respect Gus’ wishes by attributing the work to him, and then offering the film under any conditions she chose, for instance a Creative Commons license requiring noncommercial use only.

One important note for reusing and remixing “share alike” content: Remember, even if your website uses a creative license, when you reuse or remix other creative commons material that has the “share alike” requirement, you want to clearly label the Creative Commons licensed content you are using with exactly the same license that was specified by the copyright owner. This is because your site might not have the same license as the content you are using. For instance, you may allow people to use your content with attribution as the only condition, where as the content you are using may require attribution, noncommercial use, and have the “sharealike” requirement. In that case you should label the license terms for the content clearly.

Types of Creative Commons Licenses:

(The following list was originally published on About The Licenses by Creative Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License and has been edited for clarity by New Media Rights )


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. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.


This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. All new works based on the original will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.


This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along whole and unchanged, with credit to the original author. Any licensee using the work may not, however, alter, transform, or build upon the original.


This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge the original author and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.


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.


This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you. Licensees may not use the work for commercial purposes, and can not alter, transform or build upon the original.


Using the Creative Commons License Chooser:

As you can see, although CC licenses can seem intimidating at first, in reality it all comes down to what license works best for you. Hopefully the information above helped provide a clear answer, but if not, Creative Commons has created a simple web app that can be used to help walk you through choosing a creative commons license. Simply answer the questions by selecting the buttons that most accurately describe how you would like your work to be used, and the app does the rest, providing you with a proper license and HTML code that can be included wherever your content is published.


Public Domain Tools:

Creative Commons also offers two other creative licensing choices. Only CC0 is still an actively supported license but since The Public Domain Mark is very prevalent online we also cover it below. 


A universal tool for copyright holders to waive their interest in their own copyrighted work to the greatest extent allowed by law. This is a particularly good license to use if you would like to freely share your work without requiring attribution.

The Public Domain Mark-

The Public Domain Mark (PDM) is a mark used exclusively to identify, or label, a work that is completely free of known copyright restrictions around the world, and is already in the public domain (typically only very old works). Critically, the PDM should not be used as a license, or by a copyright owner or author seeking to change a work’s current status under copyright law. The PDM is not a legal instrument like CC0 or other CC licenses.

As such, if you, a creator, want to completely relinquish your copyright in your work, you would identify the work as CC0, not a Public Domain Mark. Also if you are using works that have been marked as public domain, you should do your own research to ensure those works are actually in the public domain. We have seen a large number of false positive public domain marks. The confusion surrounding the Public Domain Mark has led to it being retired in recent years, and in fact use of the PDM is no longer recommended. Creative Commons now encourages artists to use the CC0 license in its place.

Open Source Software specific licenses:

The Open Source movements have long embraced the spirit of sharing at the heart of Creative Commons, but as a rule of thumb, software should not be licensed under CC. There are a wide variety of open source software licenses which you can read more about in our guide here.


Now that we’ve gone through the different elements of CC licenses, and have walked you through selecting your own license, in the next section of our guide we’ll cover the best practices for using someone else’s CC licensed work!



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Fair Use Resources

Want to learn even more about fair use? Here are some great fair use resources for you to check out!

Is your favorite fair use resource missing? Please send it our way via our contact form and we may be able to include it on our page!

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Content Reuse Policy

Feel free to take our content and spread it to the world!
Seriously, we won't even ask for any of your money! But there is a catch...isn't there always?

Too often, copyright policies focus merely on what you can't do with content. Lucky for you, this isn't one of those policies. Because as a member of the public, and a visitor to our site, you have legal rights too. Here's what you CAN do with our content: you may copy, distribute, prepare derivative works, reproduce, introduce into an electronic retrieval system, perform, and transmit portions of this publication provided that such use constitutes "fair use" under copyright law, is permitted by our creative commons license below, or is otherwise permitted by applicable law.

Now for the fine print
Permission to use our copyrighted works beyond what we described above is a major no-no without our expressive permission. If you want that permission you have to ask...really emailing

Here's more fine print
We aren't claiming any copyright for content that isn't ours. So your use of any original work of another organization or creator that is displayed on this website under fair use, creative commons license, or otherwise is between you and those copyright holders. Leave us out of it. And no copyright is claimed on any part of any original work of the United States Government or its employees.

Unless otherwise noted, New Media Rights original content that appears on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial United States 3.0 (by-nc) license.

Creative Commons License

This means that, subject to the conditions stated below, you are free:

  • to Share - to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to Remix - to adapt the work

Under the following conditions:

  • Attribution. Where you reuse our work YOU MUST, 1. attribute the work to "New Media Rights" (but not in any way that suggests that New Media Rights endorses you or your use of the work), 2. State the original title of the work, and 3. link to the text of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License which can be found here.
    • We also request  that you provide a direct link to the original content on (if appropriate in the medium you are using the work).
  • Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

Click here for further details

Terms of Use & Privacy Policy

Welcome to the New Media Rights (“NMR”) Website.  NMR is an independently funded non-profit program of California Western School of Law (a 501(c)(3)), that provides critical, preventative, one-to-one legal services to creators, entrepreneurs and internet Users. In addition to direct, one-to-one legal services, NMR provides hundreds of freely available video and written legal education guides.  NMR also turns what it learns into policy work before the Copyright Office and the FCC. Finally, through our partnership with California Western School of Law NMR trains the next generation of attorneys in cutting edge areas of the law though our Internet and Media Law Clinic.

The NMR Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (collectively “Terms”) govern the use of the NMR Website which includes all pages at the domain, including but not limited to the NMR Fair Use App (collectively “Website”). By accessing or using the Website, You (“You” or “User”) agree to abide by the Terms.  If You do not agree with these Terms do not use the NMR Website.

Information Provided on the Website is not Legal Advice.
The NMR Website is an information source ONLY to be used at the discretion of the User.  The NMR Website does not provide or replace individualized legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the User and NMR.  NMR does not make any guarantee that any part of the NMR Website is suitable for a particular purpose. NMR does not guarantee that any form or link included or referenced to on the site is accurate, reliable, complete, or timely.  The Website may include information which is jurisdiction specific or not applicable to Your situation.  If You are in need of legal advice seek advice from an attorney. NMR IS NOT YOUR LAWYER.

NMR Contact Form.
If you would like to seek out legal advice from NMR you must use the NMR Contact Form. All other emails, phone calls, direct messages or other attempts to contact NMR will be directed to the contact form.

Use of the NMR contact form is governed by our Supplemental Terms of Service. Before using the NMR contact form please read these Supplemental Terms of Service.

NMR Content.
Unless otherwise stated all content on the Website is licensed under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial 3.0 License. For more information on reusing NMR content, check out our copyright policy here.

Third Party Content.
Please note that the Website may contain links to other third party websites that are not owned or controlled by NMR.  NMR has no control over, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, privacy policies, or practices of any third party websites. In addition, NMR will not and cannot edit the content of any third-party site.  By using the NMR Website, You expressly relieve NMR from any and all liability arising from Your use of any third-party website.

Privacy Policy.
Your relationship with NMR is Your business only. We do not collect personally identifiable information on our web site or otherwise unless You affirmatively provide that information, such as through our Contact Form or Newsletter sign up. While we maintain some records of individuals who contact us to contact them later or provide further information to them in the future, we do not provide this information to anyone else unless they give us their permission.

We do not sell, rent, share, or otherwise disclose mailing lists or other personally identifiable information, except as described below:

  • when You give us Your consent to do so, for example, with the permission of donors at the Sustaining Donor level or above, we will post their name and website on our Sustaining Donors page.
  • when we tell You that the information You provide will be shared in some way and You provide us that information;
  • when we believe we are authorized or legally required to do so or that doing so is necessary or appropriate to comply with the law or legal processes or respond to lawful requests or legal authorities, including things like subpoenas, warrants or court orders;
  • in connection with any merger, transfer or sale of NMR assets or similar circumstance; or
  • to enforce or apply our Terms.

General Terms.

Limited Liability and Warranty Disclaimer.


You agree to indemnify and hold NMR harmless from and against any and all costs, damages, liabilities, and expenses (including attorneys' fees) we incur in relation to, arising from, or for the purpose of avoiding, any claim or demand from a third party relating to (1) Your use or misuse of, or access to the Website (2) a violation of the Terms of this agreement, any applicable law or regulation. NMR retains the right to employ NMR’s own counsel. You remain solely responsible for NMR’s defense and must obtain NMR’s written consent to a settlement.

NMR may change the Terms from time to time, at NMR's sole discretion. Your continued use of this Website following the posting of such changes will constitute Your assent to all such changes. Please periodically visit this section of the Website to review the current version of the Terms.

Dispute Resolution and Governing Law.
These Terms are governed by the laws of the State of California, without regard to any conflict of laws, rules, or principles. For any dispute arisin, 2015g under these Terms, You agree to contact NMR and attempt to resolve disputes informally first.  You agree to negotiate with NMR for no less than 30 days prior to seeking an alternative method of dispute resolution.  If settlement cannot be reached within the 30 day period, parties agree to try in good faith to settle the dispute by mediation.  The mediator shall be mutually agreed upon by the parties or their officers.  Parties agree not to file a complaint with any court until the above methods of dispute resolution have been exhausted.  If settlement cannot be reached through either negotiation or mediation, any unsettled dispute shall be resolved by a court located in San Diego, California.

No Waiver of Terms.
NMR’s failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Terms shall not be deemed a waiver of such right or provision in that or any other instance

Entire Agreement.
The Terms and The Supplemental Terms constitute the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the use of the Website and supersedes and replaces all prior or contemporaneous agreements. If for any reason a court of competent jurisdiction finds any provision or portion of these Terms to be unenforceable, the remainder of the Terms will continue in full force and effect.

Updated July 9, 2015

NMR to speak on Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Fair Use in Media at the 2015 Alliance for Community Media Conference

We're excited to announce that New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neill will be speaking on a panel at the Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference on August 13, in Pasadena, CA from 3:30-5:00pm.

The topic of the panel will be "Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Fair Use in Media."

The panel will be an opportunity to help community media learn about copyright and fair use, and the many ways the law can actually empower their creativity. The panel will also cover how to avoid legal disputes in the first place, and how to move forward if you do face legal threats.

The conference takes place from August 12-14 at the Hilton Pasadena.

Here's a description of the panel:


Art Neill - New Media Rights

Maira Sutton - Electronic Frontier Foundation

James Horwoord - Spiegel & McDiarmid LLP

"Technology has made it increasingly challenging to navigate the world of intellectual property, particularly in media and arts.  What kind of rights do you need to secure? What is Fair Use and can anyone explain when it applies?  How do you navigate the legal issues in platforms like YouTube?  Where can rights be obtained if needed? What are a producer’s liabilities? Can local bands play cover tunes? Can you fight a take-down notice? How much trouble can your organization be in?  "

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Ways you can support New Media Rights!

When you make a donation to New Media Rights, you're providing legal services for creative projects, free speech, nonprofit services, and job-creating business ideas that may die on the vine or be the victim of improper censorship without these services. 

The best way to show your support is to become a New Media Rights Supporter. You can learn about about our different giving levels and Supporter benefits (including priortized response times and receiving our newsletter) on our Supporter page.

Click here to become a Supporter or make a Donation now!

There are also many other ways you can help get involved.

Ways individuals can support us

Ways grantors and foundations can support us



For Grantors and Foundations - why you should support New Media Rights

Why support New Media Rights?

New Media Rights is one of the largest providers of free and nominal fee legal services to internet users, creators, and entrepreneurs in the nation. As a non-profit organization we rely on the community to support our work. Only 5% of our income is earned and the remainder comes from donations. We are grateful to the donors who partner with us to ensure critical free and affordable legal services for creators and consumers exist.

If you are interested in supporting New Media Rights, please contact Executive Director Art Neill at 619-591-8870 or email

New Media Rights Provides Programs in Three Major Areas

  1. Providing Legal Services to Underserved Internet users, Creators, and Entrepreneurs.  

New Media Rights offers free and nominal fee one-to-one legal services to internet users, creators, and entrepreneurs all over the United States. This in-depth assistance focuses on internet, intellectual property, privacy, and media law inquires.

New Media Rights has provided direct legal services to over 1000 clients. We offer one-on-one legal services daily to those for whom the market offers no assistance.

For more on our direct legal services, visit our Services page

For more stories and details on our work to help internet users, creators, and entrepreneurs visit our Stories page.

  1. Empowering Internet users, Creators, and Entrepreneurs Through Education

Our direct legal services help us better understand trending issues regionally and nationally.  This informs our highly useful and relevant guides.  Our online educational resources are visited over 300,000 times a year. We publish freely accessible and openly licensed written and video legal guides on our website.  For more on our guides, visit our guides page.  We also provide dozens of in-person educational workshops to hundreds of artists, creators, and innovators every year.

  1. Improving the law for Internet Users, Creators, and Entrepreneurs Through Policy Work

Our direct legal services also inform our comments, testimony, and participation in proceedings at national and statewide regulatory agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and Copyright Office.  This policy work improves the law for internet users, creators, and entrepreneurs who often lack a seat at the table in such proceedings. For more on our policy work, visit our policy page

The power to create and share instantly and online is limited by a seemingly insurmountable responsibility: individuals must somehow find a way to navigate the same complicated maze of laws that the traditional, corporate media companies spend millions of dollars to comply with. By providing free and nominal fee legal services, empowerment through educational resources, and public interest participation at the FCC and Copyright Office, NMR provides a unique set of critical services on a variety of topics including: copyright, freedom of speech, privacy, contracts, and online consumer disputes.  

Acknowledging Key Supporters

We are proud to acknowledge the foundations and government entities that help us achieve our mission. Here we highlight the support of two important groups:

  • California Consumer Protection Foundation

Partnering with New Media Rights to provide copyright, privacy, and freedom of speech related direct legal services, educational resources, and policy advocacy.

  • City of San Diego, Office of Small Business

Partnering to provide direct legal services, and educational workshops to technology and media startups within the City of San Diego.

Responsible Fund Management

New Media Rights is dedicated to ensuring that the millions of people creating and sharing online have quality legal assistance, and are empowered to understand and exercise their rights online.  We have built a unique, beneficial, and efficient organization with a small staff and modest budget. We have successfully fulfilled the requirements of all the grants we have received in the past.  We have sophisticated data management systems to track and report our progress toward requirements under grants, and we partner with our fiscal sponsor, California Western School of Law’s Business Office, to ensure detailed and substantial financial oversight.  

Each year we provide the equivalent of over $500,000 in legal services to clients who would otherwise be unable to afford legal representation. Our dedicated team is lean, providing legal services on over 400 legal matters a year, and reaching over 300,000 individuals through education, on a modest budget.  We have received grants and operating funds from a variety of foundations and government entities, ranging from $18,200 to $250,000.  Many of these are repeat grants and operating funds from grantors.

New Media Rights is an independently funded program of California Western School of Law, a nonprofit 501(c)3. Both organizations are located in San Diego, California.

Many questions you have may be answered by our frequently asked questions page.


About Us

New Media Rights is an independently funded non-profit program of California Western School of Law (a 501c3 non-profit) that provides one-to-one legal services to creators, entrepreneurs and internet users whose projects require specialized internet, intellectual property, privacy, media, and communications law expertise.  New Media Rights is known for our work providing preventative and transactional services on hundreds of matters every year.  We also are known for our work against content bullying.  In addition to direct, one-to-one legal services, New Media Rights turns what we learn into hundreds of freely available video and written legal education guides for creators and consumers.  New Media Rights also participates in regulatory proceedings at the Copyright Office, the FCC, and the California Public Utilities Commission, including DMCA Anti-circumvention proceedings, Copyright Reform, and the Copyright small claims court proceedings.

When we're not helping individual internet users, we focus on assisting organizations that provide better access to public information, more business and government accountability, or new perspectives to the cultural landscape through the use of new technologies.

People contact us when they need direct assistance in areas like copyright, trademark, internet and media law. Many of the questions people have about who were are, how we operate, and why we do what we do are answered on our frequently asked questions page. If you're a grantor or foundation interested in supporting our work, we invite you to take a  look at a list of our past accomplishments.

A Brief History of New Media Rights’ Accomplishments


Read our 2014 accomplishments blog post for more on 2014 at NMR.


  • In November 2013, we provided services to our 860th tech & media law inquiry since June 2010. We continue to provide free or nominal fee legal services to hundreds of clients consisting of copyright, free speech, media, and internet law matters with annual budget of less than $150,000.
  • For example, we provided legal services to a variety of preventive and transactional projects that launched to substantial accolades, including a film that might be on its way to an Oscar nod and a seriously amazing open source independent video game
  • We continued our efforts to fight content bullying. In Januarys, we helped remix artist Jonathan McIntosh get his amazing 'Buffy Versus Edward' remix back up after it was repeatedly taken down. In September, we helped the Media Literacy Project stand up to a bogus copyright claim from a third party. In October, we also helped the Lansdowne Library Teen Advisory Board get their video unmuted after it was disabled for the second time through YouTube’s Content ID system.
  • We held our first 3D printing advice night in conjunction with FAB LAB SD and provided valuable intellectual property guidance to a half dozen innovators whose work truly inspired us.
  • We participated in hearings that helped mold legislation for a new copyright small claims court and wrote comments to try to reform copyright law for the digital age.
  • We continued to add to our library of video legal guides, including our LAGD series for indie game developers, and our Copyright FAQ series.  We also produced a timely video this past Spring to explain the new Copyright Alert System monitoring internet subscribers' internet connections.  In jsut the last year we've had nearly 120,000 views of our 150+ video library, and we now have over 2300 subscribers! 
  • We launched our guide to Free Speech and Censorship for Students
  • We provided more than 10 workshops in California to independent creators and Internet users.
  • We educated 5-6 law students each trimester [Spring, Fall, and Summer] in public interest internet law issues.

Read our 2013 accomplishments blog post for more on 2013 at NMR.


  • We continued our growth from 2011 by assisting 400 tech & media law inquiries (copyright, free speech, media, and internet law matters) with free or reduced cost legal services while utilizing an annual budget of less than $150,000.
  • For example, New Media Rights helped reinstate the popular Buffy vs. Edward video after it was improperly monetized by YouTube’s Content ID system and then improperly taken down by the Lionsgate movie company.
  • We released over 13 hours of educational video that has been cumulatively viewed more than 100,000 times including a series of videos explaining copyright law and LAGD, a series that features advice from established developers on how to avoid legal problems in the industry.
  • LAGD got #1 spot on Reddit games. We put together a fundraiser to support this work and these videos where we raised more than $4,000.
  • We continued to support net neutrality through our work with coalitions such as the coalition of more than 70 organizations that sent a letter to Congress regarding SOPA and PIPA’s impact on internet freedom.
  • We worked with the EFF in the recent DMCA “anti-circumvention” proceeding and provided the direct evidence needed to secure important exemptions for smartphone users and independent creators.
  • We provided more than 15 workshops in California to independent creators and Internet users.
  • We educated 6-8 law student law clerks per semester in public interest internet law issues
  • By providing specific stories to the Copyright Office, we helped protect users’ rights to jailbreak or root their mobile phones and the rights of video creators on YouTube. We partnered with other organizations like EFF to ensure these rights were protected for another 3 years.

Read our 2012 accomplishments blog post for more on 2012 at NMR.



  • We received a grant from the California Consumer Protection Foundation, which allowed us to continue our work in supporting consumers and creators with free or low cost one-to-one legal assistance.
  • We assisted more than 260 individuals from July to December.
  • We were one of the first groups to request that the California Public Utilities Commission review the AT&T – T-mobile merger. After the CPUC opened an investigation we submitted comments to the proceeding. You can read our CPUC comments and our additional comments, and our petition to the FCC to deny the merger.
  • We used the stories of the individuals we assist to illustrate how this merger would have serious effects on innovation in the wireless and mobile application space, mobile broadband access, network discrimination, telecom jobs, and consumer protection including prices and choice of wireless carriers.
  • We created 3 long-form guides and 72 shorter-form 1-3 page guides geared toward highly specific questions about copyright law that we regularly receive. We also created a guide for defendants in mass copyright lawsuits (Bit Torrent cases) for the thousands of internet users who were implicated in these cases who could not afford even basic information about these cases.
  • After planning Drumbeat in 2010, 2011 was the year our Mozilla-sponsored even Drumbeat San Diego actually happened.

Read more about New Media Rights’ 2011 accomplishments.


  • We've helped hundreds of creators with one-to-one assistance with legal issues including copyright and online publishing questions.
  • We created legal guides including:
  • We joined the Coalition for the Competition in Media to advocate for consumers and independent creators by opposing the Comcast-NBC merger.
  • We also joined a coalition of groups led by the Government Accountability Project calling for increased Whistleblower protections through the Whistleblower Protection Act.
  • We were among the most active partners in the Online Media Legal Network at Harvard Berkman Center.
  • We became a cooperating attorney with Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and helped many targets in predatory filesharing cases understand their digital rights.  We also helped many others who were referred for assistance with their digital rights.
  • We hosted a free film screening of 10 Tactics, a movie about how to use new media to enable global activism in October of 2010.
  • Art Neill, NMR’s Executive Director, published "Social Media and the Law: Here Comes Everybody!" in the California Business Law Practitioner.
  • We filed comments in the FCC Future of Media proceeding. Some of the topics our comments to the FCC discussed included: (A) how to rebuild of the local and national media landscape to encourage participatory, citizen involved media that helps local communities identify and meet local challenges; (B) government data availability and usage of public media; and (C) the role of public vs. commercial media
  • NMR also filed comments with the FCC regarding the Broadband Legal Framework and the "Third Way." Our comments discussed the Commission's decision to reclassify broadband internet under Title II, and the implications that reclassification would have on consumer protection and the future of the internet.
  • We worked with Mozilla to united diverse individuals locally to work on creative new media projects and organized Drumbeat San Diego.



The Fair Use App - an educational tool for filmmakers & video creators

"The Fair Use App" image above, by New Media Rights, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

We spend alot of time at New Media Rights advising filmmakers, creators, and technology startups about copyright, fair use, and when they can and can't reuse content. We find that education about fair use prevents unnecessary legal disputes, helping creative projects and new businesses flourish. But what if there were an interactive way to teach even more filmmakers, creators, and technology startups about fair use?

Enter The Fair Use App.  New Media Rights has filtered down many years of experience to bring you an app that can help you better understand:

  1. when you can reuse content;
  2. how your choices affect a fair use argument, and;
  3. when its time to talk to a lawyer.

While the app isn't intended to provide automated answers on specific fair use questions, it is helpful as a tool to help you make better decisions about when and how to reuse content.

You can check out the new app at

The Fair Use App is years in the making, and is the result of the work of dozens of individuals.  Executive Director Art Neill led the project which involved many team members, working directly with local San Diego design firm FYC Labs to develop the app.  The team also included Staff Attorney Teri Karobonik; Advisory Board members and former legal interns Shaun Spalding ’11, Lauren Brady ‘14, Kyle Welch ’14;  Advisory Board members  Hani Anani, Jonathan McIntosh, Phelan Riessen and Cy Kuckenbaker; alumni Alex Johnson and Ashley Gray as well as current California Western School of Law student Erika Lee.  

Check out the press release below for more about the Fair Use App and New Media Rights


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