When you are adding images, videos and other content that you did not create to your presentation, it is important to make sure that you are not violating anyone's copyright. One way to do so is to find public domain images for your presentations. Copyright.gov explains the public domain as follows: "A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it 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." Because such works can be used without first seeking permission, they are ideal for many projects, particularly those that will extend beyond educational uses.
Note: Even if a work that you use is in the public domain, it is advisable to provide attribution for the work or, at a minimum, keep a record of the attribution of the work, so that you or other interested parties can find it later if necessary.
If you can't find Public Domain media that fit your needs, you can also use Creative Commons-licensed content as long as you ensure that you correctly attribute this content to its creator and otherwise meet the terms of the license under which the image is offered. You can find more information about this on the Creative Commons FAQ.
Note: Even if content is covered by a Creative Commons license, you must always make sure that your use does not violate that license and that you properly attribute the content.
This video from CreativeCommons.org offers an overview of Creative Commons.
Check out this infographic by adityadipankar for a quick intro to the various types of Creative Commons licenses. If you are interested in learning more about these licenses, CreativeCommons.org offers more information.
All Creative Commons licenses require attribution to the creator. If you are interested in more information about best practices for providing attribution, Creative Commons Australia has created a handout with detailed information about proper attribution 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.
The following resources allow users to find public domain images for use in their projects. While these are certainly not the only sources for public domain materials, they do make it particularly easy to find images and ensure that they are in the public domain.
Before using images, be sure to read any terms of service to understand requirements on crediting and using the images.
Please note that our listings here focus on cultural and government collections. We are no longer accepting resource suggestions for this page.
If you can't find Public Domain images that fit your needs, you can also use Creative Commons-licensed content and the sources below make finding these images, and properly attributing them, quick and easy.
The resources below offer access to music and other audio files in the public domain.
If you aren't able to find a public domain audio clip that suits your purposes, there are also many resources available to find music and other sounds that have been licensed under a Creative Commons license. Below are some of the best of these tools.
These tools will help you find public domain videos from a variety of sources. The videos are great for a wide range of multimedia projects and can be reused, modified, and otherwise incorporated into your own creative works.
These resources provide access to Creative Commons-licensed video content.
Call Reference & Research Services, 617-495-4516
Text Ask a Librarian, 617-702-2728
Contact Historical & Special Collections at email@example.com
Meet Consult a Librarian
Visit Us Library and Reference Hours