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Public Domain/Royalty Free Multimedia  

This page is devoted to listing sources of photos, sound recordings and videos that to the best of our knowledge may be reused without payment to a copyright holder.
Last Updated: Apr 8, 2014 URL: http://lam.alaska.gov/freemultimedia Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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What is Public Domain and Royalty Free?

This page is devoted to listing sources of photos, sound recordings and videos that to the best of our knowledge may be reused without payment to a copyright holder. We do not guarantee this will be true of every individual item that you may find through the links below. In some cases a photo, audio clip or video will be available for non-commercial uses, but require payment or permission before it can be included in a product to be sold. Please make sure you check the terms of use section of the site you are visiting before using a given piece of content.

The two types of materials you will find on this page are public domain materials and royalty-free materials:

Public Domain - Public Domain materials have no copyright. They might be public domain because their copyright has expired (most pre-1923 materials) or because they are statutorily exempted from copyright, like most, but not all material produced by federal agencies. For more information on the status of state and federal government materials, please see http://freegovinfo.info/copyright.

Some post-1923 creators have explicitly dedicated their works to the public domain, waiving their rights under copyright law. An example of this can be found at http://www.archive.org/details/DeclanCory. You may do whatever you please with public domain materials and you do not have to pay for the usage of the work. Additional information about when an item becomes public domain can be found at http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/.

Royalty Free - Royalty Free materials are items where the creators have chosen to license a given photo, recording, or video, usually for either a one-time fee or free of charge. However, there are usually terms of use or license agreements that you must abide by for your use of the work to be legal. Please review the terms of use of such items before using.

One popular family of licenses for royalty free works is Creative Commons CC. There are several types of CC licenses – some allow you to use the work in any way as long as you give attribution to the creator. Others will only allow you to use the work “as is” with no alterations. Yet other licenses grant different rights depending on whether your work product is a commercial use (i.e. whether it is given away or sold). Please review a work’s CC license before using it. More information about Creative Commons licenses can be found at http://creativecommons.org/license/.

Images

  • Alaska Volcano Observatory Image Search
    A searchable database of images, including some maps, relating to Alaska’s volcanoes. Most images are free for use. Check each image for any constraints on use and instructions for citing the photographer.
  • Canadian Space Agency Image Gallery
    From the "non-commercial reproduction" section of the website, "Information on this Web site has been posted with the intent that it be readily available for personal or public non-commercial use and may be reproduced, in part or in whole, and by any means, without charge or further permission, unless otherwise specified." Further conditions available at http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/notices.asp#auteur.
  • Flickr Creative Commons Pool
    Searchable and browseable database of Creative Commons licensed photos from this photo sharing service. Note: Most State of Alaska employees will require a waiver.
  • J. Paul Getty Open Content Images
    From the main Open Content Program page, "The Getty makes available, without charge, all available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose. No permission is required. " Images may be filtered by format, topics and names.
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art Images
    Instructions and link to searching for nearly 20,000 high quality art images.
  • National Gallery of Art (NGA) Images
    From the website, "NGA Images is a repository of digital images of the collections of the National Gallery of Art. On this website you can search, browse, share, and download images. A standards-based reproduction guide and a help section provide advice for both novices and experts. More than 25,000 open access digital images up to 3000 pixels each are available free of charge for download and use. NGA Images is designed to facilitate learning, enrichment, enjoyment, and exploration."
  • NOAA Photo Library
    Over 10,000 photos, mostly nature and weather related. Public domain, but credit must be given to photographers. Collections may be searched or browsed. High resolution versions are available.
  • OpenPhoto
    Hundreds of stock photos licensed for free commercial and non-commercial use. Images include scenary, objects, wildlife and more. See About section for general terms.
  • Prints & Photographs Online Catalog Selection of the Library of Congress' photographic materials
    Many, but not all are in the public domain. May be searched or browsed. Rights restrictions noted in photograph record. Focus is on historical photos.
  • Smithsonian Collections Search
    From the website, "The Smithsonian Collections Search Center is an online catalog containing most of Smithsonian major collections from our museums, archives, libraries, and research units. There are 8.1 million catalog records relating to areas for Art & Design, History & Culture, and Science & Technology with 860,477 images, videos, audio files, podcasts, blog posts and electronic journals." Visit catalog page for largest possible image. See Terms of Use for possible uses.
  • U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library
    Description and Terms of Use from website: "These images provide a visual history of the discovery, development, and sciences of the United States and its Geological Survey. Some photographs have been used in USGS publications, but most have never been published. Currently, this website represents less than 10 percent of the Library's images with approximately 30,000 photographs on-line. Please visit the "Latest Additions" menu at the top of this page for regular updates of photographs to the website. All photographs within this collection are public domain; therefore, signed releases, permissions, and payment for use or reproduction are not required." Credit to individual photographers is requested.
  • U.S. Government Photos and Graphics
    U.S. Government Photos and Graphics from usa.gov - Links to federal photo libraries, mostly public domain. Usa.gov strongly recommends you thoroughly read the disclaimers on each site before use. Links include African American Activists, Astrogeology Research Program, Earth as Art, Indian Health Service and more. Keep in mind that official government graphic emblems and seals (POTUS, NASA, etc) may not be used to imply endorsement of your site or publication.
  • US Fish and Wildlife National Digital Library - Images
    From the website, "The Images collection is a selection of digital still images which are the very best visual representation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mission - "working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people". Not all images are in public domain.
  • Wellcome Images
    This collection focuses on historical medicine and anatomy images, but includes extensive images on broad topics like culture, nature, and war. High resolution graphics are available for any reuse, stipulating through a Creative Commons license only that they be credited. Low resolution images have more restrictions.
  • Wikimedia Commons
    Browseable by drill-down subject menus or searchable by keyword, this site does an excellent job of explaining where images came from and why they have the subject terms they do.

Videos

  • FedFlix
    Subset of Internet Archive. From the website, Here we feature the best movies of the United States Government, from training films to history, from our national parks to the U.S. Fire Academy and the Postal Inspectors, all of these fine flix are available for reuse without any restrictions whatsoever.
  • Internet Archive Moving Images
    Mix of old and new films. From the web site, "By providing near-unrestricted access to these films, we hope to encourage widespread use of moving images in new contexts by people who might not have used them before." Check individual videos for reuse rights.
  • US Fish and Wildlife National Digital Library - Videos
    From the website, "The Videos collection depicts the outstanding work of our FWS videographers who have produced outreach and instructional tools available for public access and depicts the outstanding work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its conservation partners." - Not all videos are public domain.

Audio files

  • Freesound
    Browseable and searchable database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds. Focus is on sounds and sound effects rather than music.
  • Sampleswap Creative Commons Licensed Electronic Music
    Browsable list. From the website, "These pre-cleared songs were uploaded by artists at sampleswap.org under a variety of Creative Commons licenses. Please be sure to read the licensing information for each track carefully before using any of this music. (Click the license 'badge' next to a track for details.) While all of this music can be downloaded, transmitted and shared for personal use, only some of this music can be used for free as background / mood music in films, TV commercials, video games, etc."
  • US Marine Band
    Mix of copyrighted (don't use) and public domain music. Copyrighted material is labeled. Focus on traditional tunes.
  • US Navy Band
    From the disclaimer, "All information on this site is public domain and may be distributed or copied unless otherwise specified. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested." Focus on traditional melodies.
  • YouTube Audio Library
    Library of downloadable files that may be freely used in videos and other projects not limited to YouTube. Browsable by genre, mood, instrument and duration. See http://youtubecreator.blogspot.com/2013/09/free-music-for-your-youtube-videos.html for permission statement.

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Daniel Cornwall
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