Critical Commons

Critical Commons is an online repository of user-generated media. The archive is a project of the Media Arts and Practice division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The project supports the fair use of copyrighted media by educators.

Critical Commons
Critical Commons logo.jpg
FounderSteve F. Anderson
Erik Loyer
Parent organization
USC School of Cinematic Arts


Critical Commons was established in 2008 by Steve F. Anderson and is an ongoing project of the Media Arts and Practice division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Critical Commons was designed by Erik Loyer and developed using the free software video sharing system Plumi by the Asia-Pacific based EngageMedia and the Greece based design collective[1] The site was launched with funding from the Macarthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Initiative[2][3] and is part of an ongoing debate within higher education about the need for limitations and exceptions to copyright.[4][5]

Project backgroundEdit

Critical Commons makes use of the exemptions[6] to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allow educators to circumvent the digital rights management of encrypted DVDs and downloads from online sources. Critical Commons utilizes the "safe harbor" provision of the DMCA granted to Internet service providers (ISPs) who have limited liability for potential copyright infringement by users.[7]

Media in Critical Commons is contributed by users who must add transformative commentaries to their uploads in order for them to be viewable. Once a piece of media is publicly available, registered users can post additional commentaries or create lecture-style playlists of media that are placed within a critical context.[8] The archive contains over 7500 media clips, still images and audio files accompanied by text commentaries. Media content posted on Critical Commons is widely embedded in electronic journals [9] and media supplements for scholarly publication and classroom use.[10]


  1. ^ "About — Critical Commons". Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  2. ^ Cory Doctorow at 2:18 am Fri, Jan 22, 2010 (2010-01-22). "Critical Commons vs. Hitler: resource for free/open media and fair use". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2013-10-17.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Critical Commons". HASTAC. 2009-06-20. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  4. ^ Guest, Charles; Guest, Joyce M.; Surry; Daniel W. ed.; and Robert M. Gray, ed. (2010). "Legal Issues in the Use of Technology in Higher Education: Copyright and Privacy in the Academy", Technology Integration in Higher Education: Social and Organizational Aspects, IGI Global.
  5. ^ "New Frontiers of Commons-based Innovation | David Bollier". 2010-01-28. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  6. ^ "2012 DMCA Rulemaking | Electronic Frontier Foundation". Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  7. ^ "Copyright: Digital Millennium Copyright Act; Electronic Frontier Foundation". Archived from the original on 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  8. ^ "Engaging Digital Scholarship: Thoughts on Evaluating Multimedia Scholarship". 2011. doi:10.1632/prof.2011.2011.1.136. Retrieved 2013-10-17. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "After the Document Model for Scholarly Communication: Some Considerations for Authoring with Rich Media | Sayers | Digital Studies / Le champ numérique". Archived from the original on 2013-10-06. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  10. ^ "The YouTube Gaze: Permission to Create? | Enculturation". Archived from the original on 2013-10-15. Retrieved 2013-10-17.

External linksEdit