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Creative Commons and Public Domain: Creative Commons

This guide explains how to find free images, videos, and sound files for your class projects and how to give proper attribution to the creator.

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons is a collection of free content with its own licenses that define what users are allowed and not allowed to do with the original creator's work(s). Use of Creative Commons licensing is free and intended to promote creativity among content creators. Before using any images, videos, or sound files in the Creative Commons, be sure to consult the Licensing information to see what is allowed.

According to the Creative Commons guidelines, the following items must be included when giving attribution to an image, video, or sound file:

  • title
  • author/creator
  • source
  • license



"Coffee" by AussieRalph is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This example meets all of the Creative Commons' requirements for attribution. It has the title of the image ("Coffee"), a link to the original image on Flickr, the creator's name, and the license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Clicking on the license link leads to the webpage that explains what is allowed:

  • users may share and adapt the image as long as proper attribution to the original creator is given
  • the shared or adapted work may not be used for commercial purposes
  • the same permissions must be applied to the shared or adapted work

For more examples on giving attribution, see the Creative Commons webpage on Best Practices for Attribution.

Using Creative Commons Content


"Using Creative Commons Content." YouTube, uploaded by, 30 October 2018,

Image Databases Similar to Creative Commons

Several other image databases either use Creative Commons licenses or created their own licensing that is similar to the Creative Commons. Wikimedia Commons is one that uses Creative Commons for its images, while Pixabay and Unsplash have their own licenses. Both Pixabay and Unsplash do not require attribution to use images found in their databases, but it is preferred that content creators are acknowledged.

As responsible consumers of technology, we should always given attribution to the original creator whether or not it is explicitly required in the license. 

See the individual licenses to learn more:


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