Content ToolboxNeed images and other media for assignments, teaching materials, and websites? See below for ways to find content you can share, use, and perhaps modify without worrying about copyright infringement. But remember, scholarly practice requires attribution to the original creator no matter whether the item is in the public domain or under copyright protection.
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that created free, easy-to-use copyright licenses offering a less restrictive copyright practice than the “All Rights Reserved” default. The six Creative Commons license options give you, as a creator, simple, standardized language that permits users to share, re-use, and even build upon a work you’ve created. Creative Commons encourages openness and sharing of knowledge while also protecting your rights as a creator.
To learn more about Creative Commons, click here or watch this short video for a quick and easy introduction:
Copyright protection starts the moment a copyrightable work is fixed, but it doesn’t last forever. After the copyright term of a work expires, the work enters the public domain, where it is freely available for anyone to use without having to obtain a license or pay a fee. Some works are automatically in the public domain, such as items created by federal government employees, or a creator may choose to make his/her work available in the public domain and by-pass copyright completely.
The websites below offer a selection of books, images, illustrations, audio, and films in the public domain. Moreover, most federal agency websites (see A to Z Index) also contain public domain material you are free to use, with proper attribution.
- Smithsonian Institution Public Domain Images (public domain images)
- New York Times Public Domain Archives (public domain images from the New York Times)
- Project Gutenberg (public domain electronic books)
- Librivox (public domain audio books)
- Prelinger Archives (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur films)
The Public Domain Slider will also give you an idea as to whether a work you want to use may be in the public domain.
Proprietary content available to the George Mason community