The Internet is a treasure trove of multimedia but it’s important to make sure that what you find is really OK to use for free. Copyright laws do apply to online material, and saying you found it online won’t get you off the hook if someone decides to take legal action. It doesn’t matter if you’re not making money from the content. As Mark Luckie warns, “If you copy and use something created by another person you may be violating their rights to their work.”
So what can you do? Look for material that’s in the public domain or under a Creative Commons license. Serena Carpenter at Arizona State University has compiled an excellent list of sites to search for images. Among them:
- Creative Commons search, a one-stop site for scanning Flickr, Google, Blip.tv and Jamendo (for music).
- EveryStockPhoto, which claims to have 7 million free photos in its database.
- Wylio, which calls itself “the fastest image-finder for bloggers.”
- Wikipedia public domain resources, a meta-list of searchable sites.
Once you’ve found what you need, be sure to double check the license. It’s always a good idea to say where you got it and link to the original source, if possible.
Do you have other favorite sites for finding material that’s free to use online? Share the wealth!