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Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media

This guide will help you find and correctly attribute public domain and Creative Commons media for your project or presentation.

What do Public Domain & Creative Commons mean?

Public Domain versus Creative Commons

Public Domain

Public Domain SymbolImages, videos and other content that you did not create may enhance your presentations. Yet, it is important to make sure that you are not violating anyone's copyright. One strategy is to find public domain content to use. defines public domain as a work:

". . .no longer under copyright protection or [one that] failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner."

Such works can be used without first seeking permission. This makes them ideal for many projects, particularly those extending beyond educational use.

Note: Even if a work is in the public domain, it is advisable to provide attribution. At a minimum, record the author for your records. This will allow you, and others, to find the original later if necessary.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons Logo

There may not always be something in the public domain that fits your needs. Creative Commons-licensed content can be a good alternative. When using CC-content, ensure that you correctly attribute it to the creator. There may be additional terms of the license the content is offered under, so double-check. You can find more information about this on the Creative Commons FAQ.

Note: A Creative Commons license, does not provide blanket permission to use the content without restraint. Remember, you must provide proper attribution and ensure your use does not violate the license.

This video from offers an overview of Creative Commons.

How do the licenses work?

This infographic by adityadipankar provides quick intro to the various types of Creative Commons licenses. If you are interested in learning more about these licenses, offers more information.

Infographic: What is Creative Commons?  creative commons CC A Quick Intro Creative Commons is a non-profit that helps sharing + reuse of creativity & knowledge via free legal and technological tools. These tools are not alternatives to copyright laws, rather they work alongside them.   Traditional Copyright System:  All rights reserved Versus  Creative Commons: Allows you to easily give people the right to share or even build upon your work. Allows you to reserve only those rights that you want.   License Types:  Attribution (Copyright Symbol CC, Person Symbol By) Attribution Non-Commercial (Copyright Symbol CC, Person Symbol By, Crossed-Out Dollar Sign NC) Attribution Sharealike (Copyright Symbol CC, Person Symbol By, Circle with Arrow Head Symbol SA) Attribution Non-Commercial Sharealike (Copyright Symbol CC, Person Symbol By, Crossed-Out Dollar Sign NC, Circle with Arrow Head Symbol SA) Attribution No Derivatives (Copyright Symbol CC, Person Symbol By, Equal Sign ND) Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (Copyright Symbol CC, Person Symbol By, Crossed-Out Dollar Sign NC, Equal Sign ND) Public Domain (Zero). This is not a 'licence', but a 'public domain declation', in which you give up all copyright (but retain 'moral rights' if you can't give them up in your legal jurisdiction), and allow people to make any kind of use of the work without conditions.   The Symbols: Attribution - Person Symbol - Requires acknowledgement of the author / source (this is a necessary part of all the six licences) Sharealike - Circle with Arrow Head Symbol - Usage is allowed only if the work for which it is used is licensed under the same 'open' license Non-Commercial - Crossed-Out Dollar Sign - Usage is allowed only for non-commercial purposes. No Derivative – Equal Sign - Creating 'derivatives' is not allowed.  All information present here is sourced from the creative commons website, with help from Pranesh Prakash, Centre for Internet and Society - India

All Creative Commons licenses require attribution to the creator. Creative Commons Australia created a handout on best practices for providing attribution. It offers detailed information about proper attribution best practices.


While the resources on this guide all aim to provide access to Creative Commons and public domain resources. Please note that we cannot guarantee that all of the resources found on these sites will not violate copyright.


Public Domain

Public Domain LogoThe following resources allow users to find public domain images for use in their projects. These are certainly not the only sources for public domain materials. They make it particularly easy, however, to find public domain images. Before using, read any terms of service to understand requirements on crediting and using images.

Please note that our listings here focus on cultural and government collections. We are no longer accepting resource suggestions for this page and cannot reply to requests to include unsolicited links.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons Logo

If you can't find Public Domain images, you can also use Creative Commons-licensed content. The sources below make finding these images, and properly attributing them, quick and easy.


Public Domain Audio Content

Public Domain LogoThe resources below offer access to music and other audio files in the public domain.

Creative Commons Audio Content

Creative Commons Logo

If you can’t find a public domain audio clip, there are many resources available. Some of the best tools to find Creative Commons audio clips are below.


Public Domain Video Content

Public Domain LogoThe following will help you find public domain videos from a variety of sources. These videos are great for a wide range of multimedia projects. They can be reused, modified, and otherwise incorporated into your own creative works.

Creative Commons Video Content

These resources provide access to Creative Commons-licensed video content. Creative Commons Logo

Other Video Content

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CC License

CC License

Creative Commons License

This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

You may reproduce any part of it for noncommercial purposes as long as credit is included and it is shared in the same manner.