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Copyright, Copyleft and the Creative Commons: Finding Media in the Commons

Auditory Elements in the Commons

 Absolute Sound Effects

A sound effects archive with some free content available.


ArtistServer is a social music site with a focus on independent artists and bands.


A community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music.


Musicians and sound artists are invited to add their work to the Opsound pool using a copyleft license developed by Creative Commons. Listeners are invited to download, share, remix, and reimagine.

  Free Music Archive

The Free Music Archive offers free downloads under Creative Commons and other licenses. Please visit the track page to discover what you can and cannot do with each track.


Provides free loops and audio clip downloads to the music production community.

 Free Sound Project

A huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, ... released under Creative Commons licenses that allow their reuse.

Includes only albums licensed under the Creative Commons.  Be sure you check the type of CC license to verify your rights to use.

Site lets you mix different tracks as you like, and offers a nice selection of various sound effects. All items are CC licensed, but license varies by track, so be sure to check the license.

 Partners in Rhyme 

 Soundzabound (via Badgerlink)

Not technically a commons site, the state of Wisconsin has purchased Wisconsin residents the rights to these royalty-free audio clips for use in your educational and other fair use projects.



Site allows you to use the music tracks on the site free of charge in your projects if you credit.

 Tribe of Noise

A social network of "creative spirits" who collaborate across the web and legally share their product with the public.

Graphic Elements in the Commons

Search bar makes it really easy to find the images with the share features you need.  Their "Image Stamper" will allow you to prove your right to use them.

 Compfight: A Flickr Search Tool 

Searches Flickr, locating images submitted to the creative commons. You can search by license type. 


More than 2500 files, including abstract digital photos, backgrounds and basic video clips. Free to use if properly credited.


Search Flickr, by license type (use advanced search). Particularly suited to searching for concepts.


Search Flickr by intended use. Good at finding concepts. Easy to copy attribution information.

 Idée Multicolr Search Labs 

Is color an important element in your composition? This unique engine finds images by color (or combinations of color). Draws images from Flickr.

 Open Clipart Library

Largest Collaboration Community that creates, shares and remixes clipart. All clipart is released to the public domain and may be used in any project for free and with no restrictions.


This tool not only searches the commons, but it provides you with the code that youuse on your website to generate attribution links.


Search an exclusive database that features member photos. Smaller versions of photos are free. This tool is great at finding "similar" photos for a more cohesive look.

 Tag Galaxy

This unique search Flickr interface, suggested by Kelsey Miller (2012) allows you to narrow your search through suggested keywords. 

Specialized Subject Matter

Access 1000's of free to use animals photos divided up in to easy to browse categories.

Access 1000s of images, divided by manufacturer so you can find exactly what you are looking for.

A database of images based in the British Isles, released entirely in the CC.  

Text in the Commons

Over 12 millions texts dating back as far as 900 B.C., and as recent as the 21st century, many of which are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Make sure to check each one individually before using it. 

Over 1 million travel guides and photos from all over the planet that are licensed under Creative Commons.

A collection of over 3,000 poems, fables, essays and more that you are free to use.

Video in the Commons 

Artists are allowed to assign multiple types of licenses to their content, including various Creative Commons styles. Be sure to check individual licenses.

Run by the Internet Archive, alot of the videos here carry the CC license.

This video sharing site automatically defaults all new videos to the Creative Commons license unless the artists specifies otherwise.  Be sure to check.

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