Images, 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.
Copyright.gov 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.
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 CreativeCommons.org offers an overview of Creative Commons.
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, CreativeCommons.org offers more information.
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.
The 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.
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.
The resources below offer access to music and other audio files in the public domain.
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.
The 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.
These resources provide access to Creative Commons-licensed video content.
Chat with us! Chat with a librarian.
Contact Historical & Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet with Us Schedule an online consult with a Librarian
Hours Library Hours
Text Ask a Librarian, 617-702-2728
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.