Like most people, I appreciate free things when I can get them. (It’s one of the things I love about the library!) There are lots of places I turn to regularly for free things, from images to sewing patterns to audio books. In the spirit of free stuff for everyone, in my next few posts I’ll tell you all about those resources. Today…copyright-free things!
Copyright law is long and complicated, so much so that I can’t get too in-depth about it in a blog post. Suffice it to say that for the most part, when we copy a few pages from a book we really liked, or use an image that we found online in a presentation, we are probably falling within the realm of fair use, which allows us to use copyrighted materials for free, so long as they are for personal or educational purposes. If we decide to publish that presentation though, or even just use an image in a blog posting, we need to tread a little more carefully, because once you start publishing copyrighted things (images, or sounds, or videos, or text), it’s a whole different ballgame. To make things a little simpler, all of the sources below either have no copyright, or have very liberal use policies. Enjoy.
- The Open Photo Project: This is an online community that makes images available to the public. All images on the site fall under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license, which lets you not only use, but also alter the images or build upon them, so long as you credit the source and license the new creation under the same terms. Images on the site encompass a variety of categories, from animals to technology.
- Opsound: This is similar to the Open Photo Project, but for music and sounds. Recordings on the site also use the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license, so they can be used, dubbed, re-mixed and sampled to your heart’s content.
- The Prelinger Archives: This is an archival collection of “ephemeral” films (things like stock footage, ads, and educational or corporate films), that has fortunately digitized a great deal of the collection. Visitors to the site are “warmly encouraged to download, use and reproduce these films in whole or in part, in any medium or market throughout the world. You are also warmly encouraged to share, exchange, redistribute, transfer and copy these films, and especially encouraged to do so for free.” There are some great films in the collection, and those of you who appreciate “educational” movies about teenage popularity or 50′s-era anti-Communism cartoons (and who doesn’t?) will find this archive especially entertaining.
And this is just a sampling of resources! You might also look at the Free Use Photos Group on flickr, Public Domain Music, or The Public Domain Movie Database to find more copyright-free images, music, or movies.