Online places to find public-domain multimedia

If you're looking to add some flavor to your blog or any other online project, getting public-domain photos, audio, and video is a great way to do it.

If you're a blogger, you know that finding images, videos, and audio for your blog without worry of copyright issues can be difficult. Either the content is copyrighted, or you need to pay for it. In either case, it's not as tempting as freely available, copyright-free media.

Luckily, there are resources across the Web that allow you to use multimedia content for free with some simple attribution. It's a great way to add interesting flavor to your blog without worry of copyright issues.

Let's take a look:

Go public

Creative Commons A search for public-domain multimedia content usually starts with Creative Commons. The site is one of the best places to go, if you're looking for content to add to your blog.

When you get to Creative Commons, you'll find a search box where you can input a query. From there, a handy tabbed-browsing interface is shown, allowing you to send your query to Google search, Google Images, Flickr, and more.

Creative Commons' site is quick to point out that all the searches bring you to third-party sites, and there's no guarantee that the content is free to use, but you'll notice under the search box that the page automatically searches for content that's "free to use, share, or modify, even commercially."

I've used the search engine on numerous occasions and had some success using it. Try out Creative Commons, if you want to search several sites for some photos.

Creative Commons
Creative Commons' tabbed search feature. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

EveryStockPhoto EveryStockPhoto is a search engine for those who want free, public-domain photos to use on their site.

Overall, I was really impressed by EveryStockPhoto. When you get to the site, you have the option of viewing photos in popular categories or using the page's prominent search box to find photos. When you search the site, it finds images from several resources, including many of those mentioned in this roundup. Flickr is one of its most used sources.

When you click on an image in EveryStockPhoto, you can see who owns it, the licensing rights associated with it, and more. I really liked EveryStockPhoto. Check it out.

EveryStockPhoto
EveryStockPhoto helps you find public-domain images across the Web. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Flickr Flickr is home to millions of protected photos, but it also features a slew of Creative Commons content that you can use for free on your blog.

The first thing to do when you start using Flickr's search is to learn what each attribution category requires you to do. Some photo licenses require you to merely give credit and link back to the source, while others ask that no photos be used for commercial purposes. Depending on your needs, you can search Flickr for photos that fall within your requirements.

Overall, Flickr's catalog of photos is outstanding. There are more than 100 million photos for you to sift through. You can search the site or browse photos. In either case, you'll need to be sure what the owner of the content requires from you, if you place a photo on your site. I use Flickr's Creative Commons search service on an almost daily basis.

Flickr
Flickr features lots of open content on its site. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Internet Archive: Audio If you're looking for audio in the public domain, try out Internet Archive: Audio. The site features clips on a wide range of categories.

When you find an audio clip on the site, you have the option (in some cases) of streaming the content or downloading it to your computer. In either case, be sure to check out the attribution requirements. I've found that while some folks don't mind you taking their music and putting into a production of your own, others require some attribution.

Internet Archive
Internet Archive: Audio features several audio files. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Internet Archive: Movies Although it's the same site, I thought it was important to break out Internet Archive: Movies. With so much content available for the taking, it shouldn't be grouped with audio.

When you get to Internet Archive: Movies, you'll find short clips, all the way up to feature-length films. Whether you're looking to add some clips to your video podcast or you just want to check out some videos, this site is a great place to find content. When you find a clip that you want, you have the option of downloading it to your PC. Like the site's Audio page, you do need to remember to attribute the owner of the content, depending on what they ask for on a particular clip's listing page. Overall, I was impressed by the site's content.

Internet Archive
Find the right film for just about anything you need. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Wikimedia Wikimedia Commons has some of the best content of any site in this roundup.

When you first get to Wikimedia, you'll find more than 5 million files that are freely available for use across the Web. The content ranges from photos to audio clips to video. You can search the site to find what you want or sift through its many categories to browse its selection of files. When you click on a file, you'll see a description of associated attribution requirements. As long as you follow those requirements, you can use the file wherever you desire.

Wikimedia
Wikimedia Commons features several categories to choose from. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Yahoo Creative Commons Search One of Yahoo's most handy tools is the site's Creative Commons search page. The service, which is still in beta, allows you to find content for commercial purposes or that which you can modify.

Yahoo Creative Commons search works quite well. Simply input a query, check the appropriate boxes that match what you're looking for in a picture, and the service will return results that match it. Instead of listing photos, though, you'll see links to pages that Yahoo says contain photos matching your request. In my experience, there are quite a few results listed.

Yahoo
Yahoo Creative Commons features several results. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

My top 3

1. Wikimedia: More than photos, Wikimedia is a great tool for finding content in the public domain.

2. Creative Commons: Seems rather obvious, doesn't it? Creative Commons is a must-see.

3. Flickr: If you're just looking for photos, Flickr is probably the best way to find them.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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