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

PexelsFree videos that can be used and modified without attribution
PixabayFree videos that can be used and modified without attribution
Prelinger ArchivesFree public domain films that can be used and modified without attribution
NASAFree videos that can be used and modified, if compliant with NASA’s usage guidelines
WikimediaFree videos issued under various licenses; be sure to read the usage guidelines
VidevoFree videos issued under various licenses; be sure to read the usage guidelines

Images

PexelsFree photos that can be used and modified without attribution
PixabayFree photos that can be used and modified without attribution
Library of CongressFree photos to use and modify; each collection has its own rights statement on usage
Icons 8Designers, download the design stuff for free — icons, photos, UX illustrations, and music for your videos.
Biodiversity Heritage LibraryFree botanical and animal images from the largest open-access digital archive dedicated life on Earth
Burst (by Shopify)Free stock images that can be used and modified without attribution
FreerangeFree photos and illustrations that can be used and modified without attribution the under the Creative Commons Zero license
freestocks.orgFree stock photos that can be used and modified without attribution under the under the Creative Commons Zero license
Foodies FeedFree images of food that can be used and modified without attribution under the under the Creative Commons Zero license
GratisographyFree “whimsical” photos that can be used and modified without attribution (see usage guidelines)
ISO RepublicFree photos that can be used and modified without attribution the under the Creative Commons Zero license
Jay MantriFree photos that can be used and modified without attribution the under the Creative Commons Zero license
Kaboom PicsFree stock photography and color palettes that can be used and modified without attribution
Life of Pix
Little Visuals
MMT Stock
Morguefile
New Old StockVintage photos from the public archives
Picography
Picjumbo
Pikwizard
Rawpixel
Reshot
Skitterphoto
Stocksnap.io
Stockvault
Styled Stock
UnsplashFeminine stock photography
Vintage Stock Photos

Motion Graphics

Pond 5
VidevoFree motion graphics issued under various licenses; read the usage guidelines

Music

Muse Openclassical music
Free Music Archiveinteractive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America.
Free music public domain
Freesounda collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds.
Anthony KozarComposer and open-source programmer
AudionautixThe music on this site is the creation of Jason Shaw.
Bensound.comDownload royalty free stock music for YouTube and your multimedia projects.
Brett Van Donselprovides affordable music options for filmmakers, YouTubers, gamers, podcasters, advertisers and more. Most of the music is royalty free. 
Filmmusic.ioOver 600 tracks, free even for commercial use, primarily with cinematic music by Sascha Ende.
Gravity SoundFree Music and Sound Effects for Personal and Commercial Use
IncompetechRoyalty free music by Kevin MacLeod
Josh WoodwardAcoustic indie rock singer/songwriter. Creative Commons Music.
King JamesRoyalty free music
Kongano.comThis site contains royalty-free mp3s for you to listen, download and do whatever you want with.
Silverman Sound StudiosBackground music for YouTube, videos, games, films, adverts, podcasts, anything! All totally free to download!
TechnoAXERoyalty Free Music for your commercial/non-commercial videos or projects. This website has Techno, Dubstep, Metal, Rock or Soundtrack.
Tim BeekMusic for media
Twin MusicomInnovative audio production
VidevoFree music issued under various licenses; be sure to read the usage guidelines
WOWAFree music

Sound effects

Freesound
VidevoFree sound effects issued under various licenses; read the usage guidelines
ZapSplatDownload over 46,000 free professional sounds