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Free Media for Education

At our last FUSS meeting, I provided an overview of basic Copyright/Intellectual Property law as it pertains to education (i.e. what you can use and what you can’t use).  During this overview, I talked a lot about alternative sites and techniques to find free or inexpensive copyright-free media to use in your own classes, presentations, and other content-creation endeavors.  I’ve compiled a list of websites below that provide some great media (images, video, audio, and text) that you may want to check out for yourself.  While all of these sites are great, I’ve denoted some particular gems with the “*” symbol.  Enjoy!

Public Domain

Public domain media means that you are free to use the media however you wish, in any project you desire without any limitations.  Media in this category typically include media produced before 1923 (before copyright laws went into effect), and any media produced by the Federal government (because government employees who produce the media are paid with taxpayer dollars – note that this does not necessarily extend to State government-produced media).  Here are some great places to find public domain media:

Creative Commons

Remember, Creative Commons media is actually copyrighted material (rather than an “all rights reserved” model it’s a “some rights reserved” model), but the authors license the material for free use in one of six ways (check out the six licenses here).  As long as you follow the instructions laid out in the license (which typically involves proper attribution), you are able to use this material gratis.  The following places are great creative commons repositories:

Microstock Collections

While generally not free, microstock sites provide a wide variety of media (generally around themes) for your unlimited use in projects for a fee.  Depending on the quality of the media, this cost can be quite high.  However, there are a few companies out there that have significantly lowered the entry point for microstock collections, and with a little funding (and despite what I said earlier, some sites are, in fact, free) can be excellent places for low-cost media.  Check out the sites below:

Shields Library

As a final stop, don’t forget about our campus library.  It pays for annual licenses to a whole host of fantastic online materials, such as journal articles, that as a UC Davis faculty member you are allowed to use to help educate your students without worrying about copyright.  While you can’t necessarily create new materials with this material, you can certainly link to the material from within SmartSite and in many cases provide printouts for your students when necessary.

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