It doesn’t take a lot of digging to find free media online, but more often than not, although these assets may be free to view and often download, copyright and licensing rules can put some pretty heavy restrictions on using them. This is where sites like the Public Domain Project can be of huge value, providing easy and searchable access to media files that are completely free of all known copyright restrictions. And that’s about as free as free gets on the modern web.
Access: No signup required
A Quick Look
1. Explore and integrate
In just a few clicks, it’s pretty easy to see how fascinating this Public Domain collection is. From fashions of the 1920’s to real footage of astronaut testing programs, the snapshots from history are as incredible as they are diverse. Try exploring the collection for media to integrate into your class material and resources. Or flip that idea and use the vast collection as a starting point to trigger further discussions and research with your class.
2. A resource for students
Introduce your class to the Public Domain Project as a unique tool to add to their digital toolbelt. Whether they want to search from the 9,770 video files, 2,757 audio files 64,639 images or even the collection of 121 3D models, there is an enormous catalogue available. Media could be used as part of research for a history project or could just as easily be used for adding imagery and interactivity to class productions, blogs and presentations.
3. Tell a story
With so much variety in media types, periods and styles, there is something to capture the imagination of every member of your class. Have your students collect and collate Public Domain files to piece together and build a story. They could choose to select a collection of images to portray a true story that they can trace and research, or get imaginative and take snaps from anywhere and everywhere to make up their own fictional tale.
4. Adapt, remix, transform, and build
The beauty of Public Domain files is that they are not only free to use, they are also free to adapt. This means your students can add color to old black and white pictures, add their own dialogue to silent films or even get really creative and use movie editing tools (such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker) to completely transform old film footage.
5. Learn about Creative Commons and the Public Domain
Before introducing your students to the Public Domain Project, take some time to discuss Creative Commons, copyright, and content licensing. It may not be the most spellbinding topic, but correct attribution and media usage is now an essential part of digital literacy.
Links and Next Steps
- Public Domain 101 – Video explanation (2 min) of Public Domain content
- 12 Must Have Resources for Free Public Domain Pictures to Use in Class
- Public Domain Monster Mash-Up Remix – Video (2 min)
- 5 Free Ways for Students to Find Royalty Free Audio
- The Commons – Flickr collection of Public Domain images
- Creative Commons – Information on Creative Commons
- Public Domain Tools – Useful tools from Creative Commons