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MHS Library | Free images, music and sound

Why is it important to consider copyright?

It's so easy to find images and music online but many are protected by copyright. Just because something is available, doesn't mean it is free for us to use or share. Creative Commons licenses allow authors and creators to retain the copyright in their works, while enabling us to copy, share and make other select uses of the material (Creative Commons). When you do find an openly licensed image, you must attribute it correctly. Creative Commons provides the attribution for you. Google image search has an usage rights filter:

Specialist search engines include Wikimedia Commons, the Creative Commons website which allows you to search for re-usable images across a number of different sites, and websites such as UnsplashPixabay or Pexels.

Free images

Unsplash - Free photos
Creativity103 - abstract backgrounds, textures and design ideas
Flickr Creative Commons - high resolution photos
Getty Images: Embed - photos and illustrations (filter by orientation, resolution, people (number/age/ethnicity) and more.
The Getty Search Gateway - filter by artefact type (sculpture, drawing, painting), topic, places (eg. country)

Gratisography - random, artistic photographs
Hubble Site - explore the universe with images from Hubble's eye
The Metropolitan Museum of Art -
a vast archive of 400,000 images from this New York museum
NASA  - NASA image galleries
CSIRO Science Image
Vintage Med Stock (antique medical stock images)
RIJKS Museum -  images of public domain artwork from this museum in Amsterdam
The State Library of Victoria - explore their digital image pool of over 170,000 historical images
Visible Earth - earth photographs from outer space
Pics 4 Learning is specifically designed for teachers and students, and has thousands of images that can be used freely.
Clip Art ETC (black and white illustrations)
Edupics (black and white illustrations, colouring images, etc.)
Free Historical Stock Photos 
Big Foto (photos from around the world)
Find icons on The Noun Project 
Find art and photography on Yale Digital Commons.
State Library Victoria's Digital Image Pool
Life of Pix (free high resolution photography)

Find the source of an image:
Google Reverse Image Searching

Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons are licence themes that are used to licence works (music, artistic, literary, and video works), under the terms of each license. Creative Commons works are free to use as long as the licence terms are followed.

Creative Commons offers the following licenses:

  • Attribution (BY) - this licence requires the work be attributed
  • Non-commercial (NC) - the work can only be used for non-commercial purposes
  • No-derivatives (ND) -  no adaptations, modifications, or alterations allowed, the work must be used as is.
  • ShareAlike (SA) - if you adapt or modify the work you must release the new work under a creative commons licence.

Each creative commons licence theme has a specific icon.

 BY - Attribution 

 ND - No Derivatives 

 NC - Non-commercial 

 SA - Share Alike 

Images source: Creative Commons Website

Attribution is a core condition in all six Creative Commons licences. 

Creative Commons Attribution Builder generates attribution automatically.

Attribution of Flickr images 

Creative Commons Attribution Tool generates attribution for Flickr images automatically. 

Best practice guide referencing creative commons

(Thank you to RMIT Library for permission to use/reuse their information.)

Free to use Music

Musopen - royalty free music
PublicDomain4U - great historical music recordings free to play and share legally
YouTube Audio Library - music you can download to use in projects online and offline
Flashkit - offers more than 7,000 royalty-free music loops 
Free-Loops - offers more than 7,000 musicians' loops, including many drum beats and various instruments
Purple Planet
The Free Music Archive currently has 5,000 free tracks available for download.
Classic Cat
Netlabels - This collection hosts complete, freely downloadable/streamable, often Creative Commons-licensed catalogs of 'virtual record labels'.
Free Music Archive
CC Mixter - Download, sample, cut up, share.

Free to use Sound

Sound Jay
Absolute Sound Effects Archive
Sound Bible 

Creative Commons: How to use and share content

Watch this video to help you understand how Creative Commons works, and how to correctly use/share content under Creative Commons licenses.
A Creative Commons image on Flickr must be used according to the terms of the Creative Commons licence. Before using a Creative Commons licensed image ensure you read and understand the licence terms.