Public Domain & Creative Commons Resources

The Internet is a wonderful place for finding videos, images, motion graphics, clip art, music, and sound effects that can be used in your films. Below is a list of resources to help with finding stuff that’s either in the Public Domain (belongs to all of us) or Creative Commons (licensed by the author for others to use).

Beware, however, that the Internet is also a terribly unreliable place and the burden of proof will fall on you to document that you actually have the rights to use any of the stuff you dig up, so that you have a clear chain of title on your film.

For works in the Public Domain, this can sometimes take a fair amount of research, as there is often unclear and unreliable information circulating about works that are supposedly in the public domain. Any works published in 1924 or earlier are now in the public domain. Any works published after 1924 should be assumed to be under copyright, unless otherwise confirmed. Also be aware that new versions of works public domain — e.g., the New York Symphony Orchestra’s recent recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony are copyrighted. In other words, you could perform the composition yourself and be okay, but you couldn’t use the New York Symphony Orchestra’s recording without clearing it first.

For Creative Commons work, some license types (such as “NoDerivs” and “ShareAlike”) are not compatible with the work we do, so you would not be able to use that work in your film. Generally speaking, you’ll need to look for works that are licensed either as “Attribution” or “Attribution-NonCommercial”. (Note, however, that many authors who’ve opted for a NoDerivs or ShareAlike license may be open to giving you permission to use their work if you contact them directly. If they are willing, you’ll need to follow the usual process of acquiring a licensing agreement for a copyrighted work.)

Videos

Images

Motion Graphics

Clip art

Music

  • Muse Open – classical music
  • Free Music Archive – interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America.
  • Free music public domain
  • Freesound – a collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds.
  • Anthony Kozar – Composer and open-source programmer
  • Audionautix – The music on this site is the creation of Jason Shaw.
  • Bensound.com – Download royalty free stock music for YouTube and your multimedia projects.
  • Brett Van Donsel provides affordable music options for filmmakers, YouTubers, gamers, podcasters, advertisers and more. Most of the music is royalty free. 
  • Filmmusic.io – Over 600 tracks, free even for commercial use, primarily with cinematic music by Sascha Ende.
  • Gravity Sound – Free Music and Sound Effects for Personal and Commercial Use
  • Incompetech – Royalty free music by Kevin MacLeod
  • Josh Woodward – Acoustic indie rock singer/songwriter. Creative Commons Music.
  • King James – Royalty free music
  • Kongano.com – This site contains royalty-free mp3s for you to listen, download and do whatever you want with.
  • Natentine – Download the right royalty free music for YouTube videos, film, corporate videos, games and more.
  • Silverman Sound Studios – Background music for YouTube, videos, games, films, adverts, podcasts, anything! All totally free to download!
  • TechnoAXE – Royalty Free Music for your commercial/non-commercial videos or projects. This website has Techno, Dubstep, Metal, Rock or Soundtrack.
  • Tim Beek – Music for media
  • Twin Musicom – Innovative audio production
  • WOWA – Free music

Sound effects