Copyright Free Media

paletteOne of the greatest challenges facing teachers of the digital palette and 21st century literacy is finding media that can be used freely or somewhat freely in compositions by both students and teachers. Though it is both possible and critically important for budding composers to include something of their own creation and recording in a composition, time and cost can make this a problem for finding sufficient material for the length of some compositions that are needed and used in most K-12 educational settings. These thoughts provide some major resources for each medium of the palette.

Cost can and does get in the way of some types of composition. One of the costs of media composition is the media recording equipment necessary which includes still image cameras, video cameras, microphones, and storage media. However, the vast quantity of material on the Web means that classes with no media equipment can mix together interesting and relevant compositions. It also means that a very small amount of equipment can be shared by a class of students to make their own personal media compositions quickly which can then be added to much larger works of others and mix it all together. The other major cost is a computer with the editing software and Net access to acquire different media and to send finished compositions back to free display in various places on the Web. Most schools have the computer and software resources already in place in most classrooms. An additional "no-cost" element of richer media composition is simply citing the sources used that are so freely given.

Free Media Sources The Creative Commons license is a wide-ranging legal means by which a composer can clearly state their intentions of how their work can legally be used by others mixing together their own compositions. The search tool at the Creative Commons Web site is increasingly able to find Creative Commons licensed work across the Web sites of the Net. More than 400 million works have used some version of this license. However, I do not find their search engine to be particular effective in March of 2012. Intead the search engines of sites that collect particular types of media and that encourage those posting to use the Creative Commons license for their uploads are far superior. At these sites it is important to learn how to search for just the Creative Commons licensed material. All work at many of these sites is not under a Creative Commons license but one can search for work that is.

Some Web sites have giant collections of many kinds of media including Wikimedia Commons , International Children's Digital Library (ree digital children's books) and Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums.


Creative Commons personnel are increasingly effective in getting other institutions to put the data they have collected into license arrangements that make this work freely accessible. As an example, GlaxoSmithKline has put all copyright to its malarial data set of more than 13,500 compounds known to be active against malaria in the public domain., the Web site of the President of the United States is also under a Creative Commons license, meaning that massive amounts of text and other media are freely available (Whitehouse case study). Under this license there are also many Journalism, Social Justice and Literature sites.


FreeSound (especially good for sound effects),

Free Music Archive ; other Music composers under the Creative Commons license.

Still Images , (Flickr case study) ; Pixabay; MorgueFiles (a free picture respository that has nothing to do with mortuaries) Wired ; More photography ; SpringerImages, a new way to access hard-to-find scientific images and related contentt (some of which can be used freely), free search app for iPhone and iPod Touch. One can also search for a topic in Wikipedia and use images on its pages by following whatever use restrictions are given (these are generally quite minimal).

Also note that any video played on a computer can be paused and the computer's screen capture commands can be used to capture and save the video frame being displayed. This opens the door for taking still frames from and

Video ; ; Selected Films

2D Animation

The search and collection resources here are poor to nonexistent for 2D animation work to freely use and mix in other projects. There is no Web site or sites that gather links to 2D animation, especially not Flash animation. At best, GIF animation can be found by searching Wikimedia Commons for "GIF animation" and some other search term, for example "GIF animation dogs". The best free tool for creating simple animations is Toontastic and unfortunately it only runs on Apple iPads. 2D animation composers will need to create their own but they can include in their animation media from all the other media elements of the digital palette.

3D Animation

Second Life has encouraged users of its site to make screen movies (machinimation) of its sites and characters. There are hundreds of other virtual reality sites that may be similiarly open to free use of the animation images in other media.

Sensors/Robotics/Physical Presence is the YouTube of sensor data sharing the raw data and graphs from tens of thousands of different types of sensors in science, technology, engineering and mathematical projects from all over the world to be freely used by anyone.

Textbooks and courses

Increasing faculty, colleges and universities are putting their textbooks online for free. Increasingly elements of these courses can be linked to from your own pages. More examples will be added.

Next Steps

This page is not a finished work and never can be. New resources will constantly come along. Please let me know of copyright free resources as you come across them.


[ Page Author -Houghton