Royalty Free Media
The rights to use artistic works, including images and audio, come in four different flavours:
- Rights managed: This means to you license the work for a one time use in a specific publications. If you want to use the same work again, you need to buy another license.
- Royalty free: This means that you pay a one-time fee for the right to use the work as part of your own work. You can reuse the work as many times as you like without paying further royalties, but you are not allowed to sell or sublicense the work (only to use it as an illustration or sound-clip that accompany your own work).
- Free (with restrictions): Some sites let you dowenload and use works for free for non-commercial purposes, such as education. The restrictions that may apply may follow from legal concepts such as fair use (US), fair dealing (Commonwealth), or similar provisions in other jurisdictions. Thay may also be expressed through am explicit license, such as the six licenses that constitute the Creative Commons framework.
- Zero restrictions: Some works are in the public domain, or all copyrights and neighbouring rights has been waived by the original author. This means that you can use the work for all purposes, including commercial. Creative Commons has created an experimental protocol, called CCzero, to make such works easier to locate on the Internet.
Note that the four “flavours” outlined above only concerns copyright. If the image depicts an recognisable person, that person has a legal right to privacy, and the use of their likeness for advertising typically requires that a model release must be obtained before using the image.
For learning web design and multimedia presentations (e.g. Flash), rights managed sources are too expensive. Below is some pointers to royalty free, free (with restrictions) and zero restrictions sources:
Multimedia and mixed resources:
- Artistserver (artistserver.com), A “license filter” lets you search for images and music with a suitable license.
- DHD Multimedia Gallery (gallery.hd.org), has both images and sounds that are free for non-commercial use.
- Wikimedia Commons (commons.wikimedia.org) contains a lot of free media compiled for the Wikipedia project.
- Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain_image_resources), has a page with pointers to various archives with photos in the public domain.
- Flickr (flickr.com) is a major photo sharing site. Click on “Creative Commons” (at the bottom of the page) to search for images with a suitable CC-license.
- Gimp Savoy Photo Archive (gimp-savvy.com/PHOTO-ARCHIVE), has more than 27000 photos from US government institutions such as NASA that are in the public domain.
- Image After (imageafter.com), has a variety of free photos and textures available for commercial and non-commercial use.
- The Morgue File (morguefile.com), has a large free photo archive available for commercial and non-commercial use.
- Copyright Free Photos (copyrightfreephotos.com), offer free photos for commercial and non-commercial use.
- Open Clip Art Library (openclipart.org), has more than 13000 clip art images with zero restrictions.
- Big Foto (bigfoto.com), is an archive of free pictures from amateurs all over the world. They may used for commercial and non-commercial purposes, provided you credit the Big Foto website.
- Free Stock Photos (freestockphotos.com), has a selection of free photo for personal and commercial use, provided you credit the Free Stock Photos website. Also links to other free photo websites.
- Pics for Learning (pics4learning.com), has images in a variety of subject areas that can be used for free by students and teachers in an educational setting.
- The Smithsonian (smithsonianimages.si.edu/siphoto/siphoto.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=home), also has a large database of images that are free for personal and educational use.
- Free Foto (freefoto.com), has more than 100000 images, which are free for private and non-commercial use.
- Free Photographs (free-photographs.net), has a large selection of free photographs for non-commercial use.
- Acoustica (acoustica.com/sounds.htm), has sound effects at no cost for private and commercial use.
- Public Domain (publicdomain4u.com/), has a catalogue of audio recordings in the public domain.
- Absolute Sound Effects Library (grsites.com/sounds/), around 2000 sound effects that are available at no cost for personal and non-commercial use.
- Incompetech (incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/), offers music tracks for personal and commercial use. Available at no cost, but a US$ 5 donation is suggested.
- Flash Kit (flashkit.com/soundfx/Instruments/), is repository of flash loops and sound effects from various authors. Some have zero restrictions, some are restricted.
- A1 Sound Effects (a1freesoundeffects.com/noflash.htm), offers royalty free sound effects. Some samples available at no cost.
- Stonewashed (stonewashed.net/sfx.html), points to other sound effect repositories.
- AKM Music (akmmusic.co.uk/), has royalty free music tracks.
- Highland Musikarchiv (highland-musikarchiv.com), provides royalty free music at low cost that can be used for podcasts and synchronized with visual images. Different price plans for non-commercial and commercial use.
- PodSafeAudio (podsafeaudio.com), provides royalty free music at no cost that can be used for podcasts and synchronized with visual images.
- Partners in Rhyme (partnersinrhyme.com), has royalty free music for a fee. Also some no cost downloads.