Media Making

This guide is aimed at helping you learn more about media sources

Want more info?

Learn more about Creative Commons

The link below takes you to a short workshop and information about how to use creative commons sources

Finding and Using Content on the Web

Understanding Fair Use

Fair Use Law permits the use of others' copyrighted work for academic purposes - within reason- and with proper attribution.

The Web, however, is also a great source of work that is in the Public Domain either because its copyright expired or because it was designated to be shared with others. Work in the public domain needs to be attributed to its creator, but you do not need permission to use it. 

The Creative Commons is a non-profit organization for works designated to be shared with others. The exact terms of use are determined by the creator. 

You can also register your own original work with Creative Commons. 

Creative Commons Permissions: 


creative commons logo

Attribution means: you let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work -and derivative works based upon it - but only for noncommercial purposes only


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Noncommercial means: you let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work -and derivative works based upon it - but only for noncommercial purposes only


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No derivative works means: you let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based on it. 


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Share alike means: you allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work

Note: The CC icons/logos above are one good example of Creative Commons images. Image source: "Icons" by The Noun Project. is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Finding images

Searching for Images Online

Use the links in the tabs of this box to find images online in the sources listed below.

  • Limiting in Google Images
  • Flickr Creative Commons
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Creative Commons Search
Need more info on when and how to cite?

Open the guides below to learn more about finding and using images, as well as more specifics on how to cite them.

 Screenshots of Google Images' logoGoogle Images is a great tool to see the work of many photographers. For your presentations, however, the images may not be high enough resolution to project well. It's possible to find useful images with introductory information, and you can even use the advanced settings to limit to works that are in the public domain

Limiting by Usage

The image below shows how you can use the built in Tools option in Google Images to limit to Creative Commons images. 

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Limit to Creative Commons images in Google using the Tools option

Flickr's The Commons

"The key goals of The Commons on Flickr are to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world's public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer."

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Flickr Creative Commons homepage

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Wikimedia Commons contains, according to the site, "a collection of 58,396,226 freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute."Files include images, audio, video, animations, maps, and other multimedia. Users can choose from multiple images sizes when downloading, and each image is often accompanied by information about the work depicted as well as copyright information.

Image Source: "PNG logo with text" by Wikimedia Foundation is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Searching Creative Commons Images

Creative commons logo

If you're searching for an image to republish (on a poster or in a paper, for example), you'll need to make sure you have the right to do so. Copyright holders can use a Creative Commons license to assign usage rules and let users like you know what can and can't be done with images. Use the Creative Commons CC Search page to find licensed images that you can use for scholarly purposes.

  • As shown in the image below, there are easy to use filters that allow you more control over what you are searching, as well as options to search for audio and video

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Creative Commons website search page, featuring the built in filters to the left to help choose attribution.

Image source: Creative Commons Belgium logo - white on green.PNG" by Creative Commons Belgium is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Websites for locating some subject-specific images

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog 

  • The Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) contains catalog records and digital images representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held by the Prints & Photographs Division and, in some cases, other units of the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress offers broad public access to these materials as a contribution to education and scholarship.
  • The collections of the Prints & Photographs Division include photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people.
Rights Information 
  • Rights assessment is your responsibility.
  • As a publicly supported institution, the Library generally does not own rights to material in its collections. Therefore, it does not charge permission fees for use of such material and cannot give or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute material in its collections. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the Library's collections.
  • The nature of historical archival collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Whenever possible, the Library provides information about copyright owners and other restrictions in the catalog records or other texts that accompany collections. The Library provides such information as a service to aid patrons in determining the appropriate use of an item, but that determination ultimately rests with the patron. The Library of Congress is eager to hear from any copyright owners who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided in the future.

For further information, see the Prints & Photographs Division "Rights and Restrictions Information" link at the bottom of this page.

The information in this box is used with the permission of the Student Media Center at North Seattle Community College. For the complete Student Media Center Guide, go to:

Reverse Image Search

Relocating an image online

Track down the original of an image you find to give credit where it's due. Try the two tools below.

Images, Sounds, Music and more on the Web

Images, sounds, music, and more

These sites offer music or video published under Creative Commons’ flexible copyright licenses.   Although this content may be accessed (downloaded) online for free, it is owned by the individual creators unless stated otherwise. Be sure to carefully read the directions for using content first, ask the content creator for  permission, and always give credit to the people who created the content and use proper citations if the content is used in a research paper. 

"The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads.  The Free Music Archive is directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America.  Radio has always offered the public free access to new music. The Free Music Archive is a continuation of that purpose, designed for the age of the internet.

The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds. Freesound focuses only on sound, not songs. The Freesound Project aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, ... released under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. is an international website for sharing high quality public domain photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and film footage. All images and videos on Pixabay are released under the Creative Commons CC0. Thus, they may be used freely for almost any purpose - even commercially and in printed format

SoundCloud is an online audio distribution platform and music sharing website based in Berlin, Germany, that enables its users to upload, promote, and share audio. SoundCloud supports Creative Commons licenses.