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When searching for images or music for academic projects, you may need to pay or seek permission to use the file. Use the tips below to understand restrictions on files that you may find, and for recommendations of sites to search for multimedia.
Tips: Ethical Use of Multimedia in Academic Projects
Always consider the copyright holder's rights when choosing images, songs, and videos for academic projects including slide decks, class presentations, and materials displayed on the web. Using material for educational purposes is not a free pass and your use might not fall under "fair use." The best practice is to evaluate the intended use for each item and follow these tips:
- Choose materials that are in the public domain or licensed for the intended use.
- Fair use does not apply to use of images and music in video productions, as the new project is a derivative work (an express right of the copyright holder), with the exception of visual or song parodies.
- Look for Creative Commons (CC) or similar usage licenses.
- Look at the license attributes.
- Look for licenses that allow derivative works.
- Verify and document the copyright status of each work used in the project, as well as the information necessary to provide an attribution for the sources.
Where to Find Multimedia for Use in Projects
Every Stock Photo
Search engine for free stock photos licensed under Creative Commons, public domain, or special licenses.
Find free-to-use Google Images:
Follow these steps from the Google support pages.
Link goes to Advanced Search screen where you can limit to photos licensed under Creative Commons.
Allows use of images as embeds in web pages, or shared on social media, if you use Getty’s embed code. The code will create an advertising caption below the image and gather data on visitors to your page. Note: these images are not licensed for use in videos.
While popular for finding images, be aware that you never know 100% if the images belong to the person who posted them. There are ways to protect yourself from copyright infringement.
Google Image Search and the Usage Rights Filter Tutorial
Youtube video from the LDSBC Library on how to find images you can legally use in Google.
How to find copyright free images on Google Image Search:
This Search Engine Watch article goes into more detail about using images, and explains some ways to avoid copyrighted images.
Image * After
An online free photo collection: images may be used on personal or commercial websites.
Free high resolution images for personal or commercial use.
Open access biomedical images. Limit by License Type, and also check usage rights under each image in the full view.
Public Domain Sherpa
Portal to collections of pictures in the public domain – collections annotated with copyright guidance.
Search by image
From Google Inside Search, learn how to search Google using an image.
Contains Creative Commons licensed material as well as public domain material.
An individual artist, Jason Shaw, has released tracks on this site under a CC 3.0 license (attribution only). Browse by: Genre, Tempo, Mood.
Licenses immediately visible on page. Take a look at the Instrumental Music
with a Creative Commons Attribution license. Browse by:
Genre, Instrument, Style.
Free Music Archive
“To see what license is being used for a specific song, select the track title. Then, on the song page, look at the right hand column. There you should see what license the artist has selected for their work.” Browse by: Genre.
Free Sound Project
Need some sound effects? You may be able to download and use some from this site. Please be sure to carefully read the CC license accompanying each file to see what uses are permitted.
Music by composer Kevin MacLeod. Music on the site is free to use for video soundtracks, as long as attribution is provided within the video. Browse by: Genre, Feel.
Singer-songwriter Moby provides over 150 works for free download and use in noncommercial or non-profit videos, via online application system with average 24-hour response time. Browse by: Genre, Instrument, Tempo, Mood, Type.
Classical music recordings with a Creative Commons license. Browse by: Composer, Performer, Instrument, Period, Form.
All sounds in the Opsound pool are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license or are placed in the public domain. If you don’t want to share your project under “ShareAlike,” contact the artists directly and make arrangements. Browse by: Genre.
Music tracks and sound effects for use in “video, film, audio, and multimedia productions,” free of charge with attribution.
Music uploaded by artists, some of it available for download. Link goes to search page limited to “modify commercially” allowance in hope of avoiding restriction on derivative works. Browse by: Genre.
Videvo Royalty Free Music
Free music. Requires individuals to create a free account.
YouTube Audio Library
Audio and sound effects tracks. Browse by: Genre, Mood, Instrument, and Duration.
This archive, hosted on the Internet Archive, offers thousands of public domain films for free downloading and reuse.
Free HD stock footage and motion graphics. Requires individuals to create a free account.
Wikimedia Commons: Video
Offers access to videos that are either in the public domain or available under a Creative Commons license.
Free, public domain videos that may be used for noncommercial and commercial purposes.
Information from YouTube on how to protect yourself from copyright infringement and how to respect the rights of others
Creative Commons is an organization that has developed a standard set of licenses to facilitate the legal sharing and use of creative works that are available digitally.
Text description of Creative Commons Licenses for web accessibility
Creative Commons by Foter.com (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Films on Demand: Intellectual Property and the Internet
Intellectual Property and the Internet
This 25 minute video examines intellectual property issues related to trademarks and domain names. It discusses copyrights, derivative works, fair use, and the public domain.
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