Making Sense of Creative Commons – A Collection of Resources


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

In a previous post, I discussed the idea of Creative Commons and the importance of sharing. Although many give lip service to it all, one of the challenges is where to find appropriate content. The Creative Commons site provides a range of recommendations for finding appropriate content. I have unpacked these and more:

Images

Google Images: This is often the first place that anyone goes to. There are so many options available to find the right image, such as colour, size and type. Problem is, not many people realise that most of the images that come up are copyrighted and should not be used so freely, especially in public and online. In ‘Search Tools’ you can adjust the ‘Usage Rights’. However, as Alan Levine warns, Google assumes that if a page has a Creative Commons license attached to it that all the media within is included, which is not always the case.

Flickr: An alternative to Google Images, Flickr is an image repository. Designed with two aims in mind – to make images easily available and provide a means for organising them – Creative Commons is very much at the heart of Flickr. Like Google Images, you can adjust searches in ‘Advanced’ to look for different licenses. In addition to this, there are a range of site that you can use that help find the right image. Compfight and PhotoPin are popular ones, while Photos for Class not only filters out inappropriate content (a big problem at times with Flickr), but also applies a citation to the image.

Pixabay: Unlike Flickr which collects both copyrighted and Creative Commons images, all the images at Pixabay are not only free, but do not require attribution, even for commercial applications. Frustrated with finding images, the creators made a site to collect together a wide range of images published under Creative Commons Public Domain deed CC0. The aim is to provide images that are ready to use for any project, either amateur or professional.

Unsplash – A useful repository of images that are licensed under Upsplash’s own license, which is a derivative of Creative Commons Zero, meaning that they are free to use as you like. Originally it was somewhat random. However, more recently, a search option has been added to help find what you might be looking for.

Open Clip Art Library: Like Pixabay, Open Clip Art provides a wide range of images that have been published under Public Domain. The belief is that by removing as many restrictions as possible, the clip art is able to be shared as freely and openly as possible.

Pics 4 Learning: A repository of copyright-free images for school. Although you can search, images are also organised into different collections. Only issue seems to be quality and variety.

The Noun Project: A great place for icons, the Noun Project provides a mixture of options and licenses. Sites like Credly intergrate with The Noun Project to provide a library of open images to use when creating badges.

Pic4Carto: For something different, this site allows you to search based on location. It uses the geo location information provided by various sites to bring together recent photos taken in the area.

MediaChain: An open library, which connects media to its creator and subsequent information about it. Alan Levine has elaborated on it in a bit more detail here.

For some more ideas, I recommend John Spencer’s post for a collection of sites that do not need any attribution. However, the catch is that many of these collections are not curated.

Video

Vimeo: A little bit like Pixabay, Vimeo offers a range of quality videos. In addition to this, there is a wide range of content you can search and download based on licensing.

Youtube: It is often an overlooked feature, but you can find videos on Youtube which you are able to modify and remix. This material is accessed and edited via Youtube Video Editor. The only catch is that Creative Commons CC BY license is the only option, which has its limitations.

Sounds

Soundcloud: Arguably the world’s leading social sound platform where anyone can create sounds and share them everywhere. In some respect, Soundcloud is to sound what Flickr is to images. Created by the community, you can find anything and everything from podcasts to samples. Like Flickr, you can easily search through content based on licenses. There are some interesting collections here, such as a whole lot of tracks posted by Moby for the soundtracks of non-commerical films.

Jamendo: Whereas Soundcloud is simply about sharing sounds, Jamendo is about providing music for free. Organised around genres, instruments and moods, it provides an easy way to find the right sound for the situation. One of the catches to the site is that it can be difficult to sort through tracks based on licenses, therefore you are often left checking the bottom of the page.

ccMixter: This is a community music remixing site designed to foster sharing with Creative Commons. Not only does it provide a wide array of music, samples and sound effects, but many of the tracks come split up into parts, designed to be reused.

YouTube: Like video, you can find a collection of Creative Common sounds in Youtube via Youtube Audio Library. Similar to Jamendo, you can search by genre, mood, instruments and duration. In addition to pulling pieces into your own Youtube creations, there is also the option to download them and use them elsewhere.

Freesound: A collaborative database of various Creative Commons licensed sounds, Freesound allows you to browse through sounds via tags and track names. Although you can easily listen, the only catch is that you need to create an account to download tracks.

Sound Bible: SoundBible.com offers thousands of free sound effects, sound clips, and straight up sounds. There are a number of licenses used, including copyright free material.

General

Wikimedia Commons: A part of the Wikimedia family, its purpose is to make available public domain and freely-licensed media content to everyone.  All the content is either in the public domain or meets the definition of a free cultural work. Although the search options are not as easily definable as other sites, the wealth of content makes Wikimedia a gold mine.

Europeana: A collection of cultural artefacts from all over Europe. Sourced from different galleries, libraries, archives and museums, items range from books and manuscripts, photos and paintings, television and film, sculpture and crafts, diaries and maps, sheet music and recordings. What is good is that you can easily refine searches to only include certain licenses and types of media.

Internet Archive: A non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software and music. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. As its purpose is not primarily for feeding the remix culture, if you find Creative Commons material declared you may use the content according to the terms and conditions of the applicable license. However, it can be a little finicky trying to find applicable content.


In addition to a range of websites, there is a growing trend of applications which help sources appropriate Creative Commons images for you. Some examples are Haiku Deck, Adobe Voice and Adobe Slate (all of which are also available on the iPad).

I think that Alan Levine summed up this challenge in a recent post:

How do we expect people new to coming to an understanding to make sense of all the flavors of licenses? We want school kids to make these choices? And there are people out there who want even more kinds of licenses. CC-BY-MC-GD-ER-TZ-XD?

I am not trying to tell anyone else what to do here.

But I am going back to the simplest, and frankly, I’d rather focus my energy on the sharing rather than the licensing of the sharing.

If there are sites or steps you use to help focus on sharing and less on licensing, I would love to know. As always, comments welcome.


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Aaron Davis

I am an Australian educator supporting schools with the integration of technology and pedagogical innovation. I have an interest in how together we can work to make a better world.

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Making Sense of Creative Commons – A Collection of Resources by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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