Welcome to the largest compilation of creative commons, public domain, and open access media websites on the planet. I've annotated descriptions to make it easy to learn exactly what you can and cannot do with the works.
I've included many smaller, hard-to-find, and lesser-known sites that offer high-quality or unique images. I do not include sites that aggregate Creative Commons content but are not diligent about explaining the license types and thus create more confusion than provide a service. I also do not list sites that include offensive content.
Creative Commons (CC
) license. You keep the copyrights you want, but allow others to use your work provided they meet the stipulations you set, such as providing attribution or not using the work commercially. Read about license
specifics or watch a great overview video
. Work that is no longer protected by intellectual property law. Use public domain works however you want, unless you want to use the works commercially and they contain a recognizable face, particularly a famous face (and possible a famous building or sculpture).
What you need to know before using a public domain image commercially:
The work may still contain trademarked content. Odd, but true. For example, the Internet Archive (great resource) contains vintage TV commercials that are in the public domain. While the commercial is PD, the brand that it advertises probably still has trademark protection. As a general rule, avoid showing the product.
- A copyright existed at one time, but has expired, was never renewed, or the owner may have intentionally placed the content into the public domain.
- The content was never eligible for copyright protection because it was created by an employee of the United States as part of his or her official duties.
- There are no copyright markings or other indications on the content to indicate that it was copyrighted or otherwise restricted.
- The institution's records do not indicate any evidence of copyright restrictions.
- This absolutely does NOT necessarily mean that the content is in the public domain, but rather indicates that no evidence has been found to show that copyright restrictions apply.
- Personal, editorial, and educational uses are probably fine. If your final use is commercial, however, invest the time to contact the institution and get additional information.
. Photos of recognizable people that will be used commercially must include a model release granting permission to publish their image. For children, a parent or legal guardian must sign a release. If you need an image or video with people, take this very seriously. This includes any
Creative Commons-licensed and public domain works! There is significant and unforgiving civil liability attached.
I find it eerily comforting that
author/editor ergonomics have
not changed in 100 years.
Know of a site I should include?
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