LEO Guides

How to source Creative Commons content

Creative Commons licenses are easy to understand, in that they lay out, in simple terms, just how content is allowed to be used. Additionally, Creative Commons content is embedded with metadata. Metadata is additional information which is attached to the content, and can include information such as the title of the work, the author or creator, and which license the work is being made available under. Attaching this information in the form of metadata allows different search engines and portals to differentiate between content which has been made available under a Creative Commons license, and content which is the default of "All Rights Reserved".

Many search portals and websites allow you to delimit your search results based on a particular Creative Commons license. Depending on the format of content you are trying to source (for example an image, or an audio file), you may like to search websites specific to that format of content. Some of these are explored in more details in the dropdowns below.

A good starting point for all of your Creative Commons searches is the dedicated Creative Commons Search Portal 'CC Search' which can be found at: search.creativecommons.org. CC Search is not a search engine as such, rather it is a portal which you can use to search a variety of content hosting websites including YouTube for video content, ccMixter for music, and Pixabay for images.

CC Search has an easy to understand interface. To search for content via the CC Search Portal you:

  1. Enter your search query into the open field (for example "black cat")
  2. Select the check boxes if you want content you are able to  'use for commercial purposes' and/or 'modify, adapt, or build upon'
  3. Select which content host or website you want to search. To select a website click on it, it will be highlighted in blue. You can only search one content host or website at a time using the CC Search Portal.
  4. Tap the 'Enter' key when you are done. Alternatively you can click on the big green 'CC Search' button at the top of the page.

a screenshot of the Creative Commons Search portal

Click on each of the headings below to learn specific strategies on sourcing Images, video, audio files, and 3D printer files. Clicking on the links in the 'Website' column will open the Website in a new window or page.

NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list, but will provide a useful starting point to explore the vast world of Creative Commons content.

A number of image hosting websites have the functionality of adding a Creative Commons license to your work, or searching for content which has been made available under a particular Creative Commons license. Some of these are outlined below.

WebsiteWhat is it?Tips and Tricks
FlickrFlickr is an image and video hosting website. It is popular with photographers for hosting and sharing their photographs. It is a good source for finding original photographs.If you are sourcing an image for use in LEO, or any other space that uses HTML, rather than upload it you can use the 'embed' code. The embed code can be found by clicking on the arrow icon on the right hand side of the page, then selecting 'embed'. screenshot of the 'share' button in flickr
PixabayPixabay is a stock image library. All of the images which are available in Pixabay are in the 'Public Domain', meaning that they are free for you to use, even commercially, without attribution.

To learn more about Public Domain content, please read our Guide 'Public Domain'.
You aren't able to embed the images you find through Pixabay, but you can download them in a variety of sizes. If you wish to download the image in a variety of sizes. If you wish to download the image in the biggest size available you will need to sign up for an account.
Trove: Australia in PicturesTrove: Australia in Pictures is a group of Australian themed images, hosted on Flickr, and made available by the National Library of Australia. Some images available in this repository are available under a Creative Commons license, or are in the Public Domain. Double check the licenses of images which are uploaded to the 'Trove' group. Just because an image has been uploaded to this group doesn't mean it has been made available under a Creative Commons license!
Wikimedia CommonsWikimedia Commons is a repository of free content images, sound and other multimedia formats. Wikimedia Commons is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.You can search for key words (for example "3D printer") and you can select any of the images which are presented. Clicking on the image will give you multiple options for its use, including downloading the image, and/or embedding it into a webpage.

NOTE: Make sure you click on 'File Usage' to double check the terms of the Creative Commons license the image has been shared under. Not all images on Wikimedia Commons use the same licenses!
WebsiteWhat is it?Tips and Tricks
YouTubeYouTube is a a video hosting service, which is a part of Google. You are able to filter the results of a search on YouTube by a number of parameters, including video length, date of upload, and Creative Commons. Simply click on 'Filters' from underneath the search box to see all the search filter available to you.

Videos which have been made available under a Creative Commons license can be used in your own YouTube videos. You can upload and edit videos in YouTube (if you have a Google account) at https://www.youtube.com/editor. Clicking on the Creative Commons logo in the video editor will allow you to search YouTube for Creative Commons videos which you can reuse and edit into your own creations!
VimeoVimeo is a video hosting website, and the best known alternative to YouTube. You can browse the Creative Commons content page on Vimeo to find appropriately licensed videos you can reuse in your own websites or LEO units. screenshot of the 'more' button Vimeo filter)Alternatively, you can search for your topic from the main page of Vimeo, and then add additional 'Filters' to limit your search results. Click on 'More Filters' on the left hand side of the page to make the Creative Commons licensing filter available.
WebsiteWhat is it?Tips and Tricks
ccMixterccMixter is a music community that engages in remix culture. Users on cc Mixter make samples, remixes, and acappella tracks which are made available under Creative Commons licenses.On ccMixter you can find music which has been licensed under Creative Commons, including royalty-free music you can use for commercial projects. All you need to do is search for your music by genre or keywords, and then add appropriate filters to your search results.

All content sourced on ccMixter has to be attributed at minimum.
FreesoundFreesound is a collaborative library of audio samples with more than 230,000 sounds. The audio samples stored in Freesound have been made available under a Creative Commons license. Freesound is easy to use. All you need to do is search for your audio sample (for example "scream") and then further limit your search results by the Creative Commons license, file type, and other parameters.
WebsiteWhat is it?Tips and Tricks
ThingiverseThingiverse is a website dedicated to the sharing of 3D printable files, created by members of the Thingiverse community. Thingiverse plays host to open source hardware designs licensed under the GNU General Public License or Creative Commons licenses.The advanced search option allows you to further limit your search criteria by description content, tags, and Creative Commons license.
The ForgeThe Forge is a repository of free, 3D models created by Zheng3. All 3D models have been made available under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license, so you are free to use and remix them. Click here to check out a sampling of the 3D models on offer. There is no 'Advanced' search option available, but there are plenty of files which are useful for beginners.