Finding Content for Reuse

A user may want to insert video, audio and/or images found on the Internet, however observing copyright restrictions is important if content from other sources is used.   Creative Commons is a good place to start, as license types are clearly defined.  The least restrictive licenses (i.e. a user is free to modify the content and may distribute it commercially) are Attribution CC BY and Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA.  Other license types may be appropriate for specific projects if the user intends to distribute the works non-commercially.

When using any of the sources below, copyright restrictions should be double-checked to ensure rights of usage and adherence to attribution rules.

Finding Royalty-Free Music

There are a number of good websites where users can download music without being required to pay royalty fees for redistribution.  Some of these websites include:

ccMixter:  The site dig ccMixter has many full songs available for download, which can be reused both commercially and non-commercially.  Generally a search of the “Instrumental” music section will pull up many relevant hits.  Music can be previewed on the site and downloaded.  A few things to note: Most of the music from this site requires attribution, i.e. the source of the music must be listed within the digital story. The attribution text commonly used with the music from this site is a Creative Commons 3.0 license and generally includes the name of the song, the artist name, a link to the file on ccMixter and information about the Creative Commons license type.  This text can be copied by clicking the “i” button next to the song title to be used and selecting “more” twice until the “Attribution” screen is shown (see below):

Musopen:  Musopen provides access to classical music in the public domain.  No attribution is necessary for public domain music.

ChoralWiki: This site provides access to choral music in the public domain.  No attribution is necessary for public domain music.

Freesound: The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sound.  This site includes only links to sounds, not songs.  Most of the sounds from this site require attribution, i.e. the source of the sound must be cited in the digital story. The specific Creative Commons licenses should be checked on the individual files to ensure that the sound can be reused for the purposes of the digital story.

Finding Royalty-Free Images

In cases where the storyteller does not have their own photographs or media to insert into a digital story with images, appropriate public domain pictures may be available.  Some sources for royalty-free images include:

Library of Congress, Print and Photographs Online Catalog:  The Library of Congress has a vast collection of public domain photographs available in their Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.  Each image will include copyright information under “Rights Advisory” and as public domain photographs do not require attribution, those in the public domain are the safest to use for digital story projects.

Flickr:  Content on Flickr can be searched via license type by selecting Advanced Search and selecting “Search the Commons” from the drop down box in the advanced search options.  Copyright and license restrictions of any image selected should be checked.  Images in the public domain are the safest to use for digital story projects.  Most images in Flickr are not in the public domain, so special attention will need to be paid to the copyright restrictions.

Public Domain Photos:  This site is maintained by a photographer who makes these images available for public use.  These items are in the public domain.

Wikimedia Commons:  Wikimedia Commons can be searched for images and includes a repository of free images, music, sound, video and other multimedia works.  Content is categorized by topic, medium, author, and copyright status (including public domain content) and source.  Copyright should be checked before using this content with public domain items taking preference.

Open Photo:  This is a photo community site created and run by photographer Michael Jastremski offering more than 3,000 photographs that are free to use.  The attribution “Photo courtesy of” should be used within the digital story.

Agricultural Research (ARS) Image Gallery:  This site includes high-resolution digital photographs of animals, crops, insects, plants, fruits and vegetables, and illustrations from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Staff.

NASA-GRIN:  This site includes many images of astronomy and science.  The images should be checked to ensure that they do not have copyright restrictions (most images are in the public domain) and NASA should be attributed as the source.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Photo Library:  This website is a source of images of weather among many other topics, some historical.  All photographs are in the public domain, however credit must be given to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.  Where a photographer is noted, the photographer and his or her affiliated organization should also be credited.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA):  The National Archives and Records Administration has a collection of images, documents and artifacts from American History.  The copyright restrictions on all images should be checked (most are in the public domain) and NARA should be attributed.

Image*After:  All photographs on this site can be used without payment of royalties and can be modified and redistributed both commercially and non-commercially.

Finding Royalty-Free Video  Many of the episodes on have flexible Creative Commons licenses and can be used in other projects.  The copyright restrictions on each of the videos used should be checked to ensure that the Creative Commons license suits the intention of the digital story being created.

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