My Top Six Sources of Public Domain Media

One of the questions that readers ask me on regular basis is, “where can I find images that my students can use in their projects?” Less frequently, but still fairly often I’m asked the same question about audio and video clips. In fact, I just answered those questions again on Friday. Therefore, I’ve made an updated list of my top sources of public domain media.

Public Domain Images
For years Pixabay has been my go-to source of public domain images. But lately I’ve started to shift toward Unsplash as my first place to search for public domain images. Unsplash offers a huge library of images that are either in the public domain or have a Creative Common license. Unsplash’s layout is a little less confusing for new users than Pixabay’s layout is. That combined with Unsplash’s Google Slides Add-on is why I’ve been using it more than Pixabay lately.

Pixabay is still a great place to find and download quality public domain images. You can search on Pixabay by using keywords or you can simply browse through the library of images. When you find an image you can download it in the size that suits your needs. Registered users do not have to enter a captcha code to download images. Users who do not register can download images, but they do have to enter a captcha code before downloading each picture. There is a safe search mode in Pixabay that you should use in classroom settings.

Public Domain Videos
The Internet Archive is the first place that comes to mind when I am asked for a source of Public Domain media. The Moving Image Archive within the Internet Archive is an index of more than 1.7 million video clips. Most of what you will find in the Moving Image Archive can be downloaded in a variety of file formats. You can search the archive by keyword or browse through the many categories and thematic collections in the archive. One important thing to note about the Internet Archive is that you probably don’t want students to search it without supervision. In fact, I’d probably just create a folder of footage from archive that I share with my students.

The Public Domain Review is a website that features collections of images, books, essays, audio recordings, and films that are in the public domain. Choose any of the collections to search for materials according to date, style, genre, and rights. Directions for downloading and saving media is included along with each collection of media.

Public Domain Audio
The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses and some public domain licensing. FMA seeks to maintain a high-quality resource through the use of selected curators who approve or deny all submissions to the collection. Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. The music collections can be searched by genre or by curator.

Sound Bible is a resource for finding and downloading free sound clips, sound effects, and sound bites. All of the sounds on Sound Bible are either public domain or labeled with a Creative Commons license. You can find sounds for use in podcasts, videos, slideshows, or other multimedia creations.


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