Creative Commons:
Sources of licences content


What's the point?

How to licence your content

How to use Creative Commons content

What determines 'commercial use'?

What does 'sharealike' mean?

What kind of content is available?

Why worry about copyright in the first palce?

Sources of Creative Commons-licenced content

The final word


The OpenPhoto.Net photo archive has been set up specifically to provide photographic content free of charge for both commercial and non-commercial use. All that's required is proper attribution of the copyright holder or, if that's not practical in your project, a donation of $20 per image. The 23,000+ images on the site are all the work of Michael Jastremski, and represent over six years' worth of digital photography. The quality level is variable but generally fairly good, certainly after a few simple adjustments in Photoshop, and there are many gems in here. Some images are offered in RAW as well as JPEG format, full EXIF metadata is provided for most images, and many are in resolutions suitable for moderate sizes in print work.

EveryStockPhoto ( has a growing section of Creative Commons-licenced images. Search for 'Creative Commons' in the site to see what's available.

What's interesting to see in these search results is the large number of Flickr-sourced images. This is possibly the richest source of images made available under the Creative Commons licences, so go to to find out more and start searching Flickr itself.

The Common Content index at is a huge searchable reference listing a growing number of Creative Commons-licensed work. Its images section currently stands at over 400 links, many of which point at sites with dozens or even hundreds of images covering clip art (ranging from the predictably bad to surprisingly useful), the slightly confusingly named digital art and pyisical art categories, photographs and, for some reason, font-related content as well.

The Open Photo site is a surprisingly comprehensive collection of photos, all licensed under the Creative Commons banner. Full details of images, including EXIF data, can be found for each item.


Copyright exists in text work as well as the visual arts. If you want to reproduce a document, or even take quotes from something for certain uses, you need to ensure you don't fall foul of the law.

The Edritch Press ( is home for a large collection of public domain books in text format. On the more educational front, course materials from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rice University, and Berklee College are noted. (The Berklee site includes MP3s and QuickTime movies as well as its downloadable music lessons.)

The text section of the Common Content index weighs in at around 750 separate sites. It is split into fiction (works with a created plot), non-fiction (created with a basis in fact), poetry (structured or free-form verse), and reference (created for the purpose of providing facts). A large proportion of these items are suited more for general reading than for direct reference, but among the odder entries there are some excellent reference and discussion works available, from a thesis on intellectual property on the Internet (a rather topical item) and articles analysing the politics of central and eastern Europe to an electronic version of a book on alternative tunings for bass guitars.

Established authors such as Cory Doctorow have placed some of their work online, with the blessing of their publishers, using Creative Commons licenses.

The Text section of the Common Content site covers a wide variety of text content, from factual reference works to fiction and poetry.

Audio and video

A growing amount of film and video footage for use as-is or for recombination in your own work is available under the Creative Commons licenses. The Common Content index was a useful source once more, but the Prelinger Archives, host to over 1000 public domain films from government and advertising sources, is also listed at

The audio section of the Get Content page was actually the largest of all the media types. As well as the try-before-you-buy initiatives such as Magnatune ( and the open-source angle of OpSound (, the Oyez site ( holds years worth of US Supreme Court proceedings in MP3 format. Each recording is given a clear description, and items include numerous Civil Rights cases from the 1960s, the first use of blood testing for drunk driving, and much more.

The Common Content site's audio area covers a lot of ground, and most would agree that there's a definite measure of dross in there. Some, however, are fascinating, and could even be useful on occasion. The more intriguing offerings include mash-up tracks of soundbites from Hendrix, Elvis, John Lennon and Jim Morrison, and audio stories from various international Fray Day events.

Even video content has been published using reuse licenses. The Internet Archive's movie archive pages list a huge range of content, from the Prelinger Archives to Net Café and World at War.

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