21 Best Places To Get Free Public Domain Content

Photo from Pexels by Pixabay

Copyright can be very difficult to understand, and dangerous, agree? Luckily there are laws like ”fair use” and “public domain”. Even so, it's still something you don't want to burn your fingers on. To help you start the safe way, I want to give you a list of some of the best places to find public domain images and videos. You can then use them in your own projects, totally free, even commercially.

Want to make a YouTube video? But you need some more footage? Why not try searching for public domain content first before buying expensive videos or making videos yourself? Need images for your next digital art project or collage? There are thousands of images you can use for free.

But what is public domain? 

Well, although licensing and copyright is a little bit complex. Basically everything has a license, from photos taken with your phone, to a pencil, it could be the shape, the name, a logo. Etc etc. 

But because some things are so old, or because the creator of the content put his creations in the public domain, these items have no license, or at least they are not copyrighted or owned by anyone. Basically the public, we all, have the rights. Also if the creator died a certain amount of years ago, work that he created can go in the public domain. Art, books, videos, even flags, thousands of works are already in the public domain. 


Also read: 18 Legit Ways Of Earning Money On The Internet


Take Van Gogh for example. You, and I, can use images of his art and reproduce them, edit and modify them and even earn money from them. Without having to fear for any copyright issues. (Ever wondered why movies use art from Van Gogh so often?)

Still, you have to watch out, images can be public domain and still create copyright issues. Before you use any images, always check the license. If it's a CC0, you're mostly good to go. Creative things, like art from before 1926 for example, are mostly in the public domain. 

For example, in 2022, some of the works of Winnie the Pooh got into the public domain. Read more about public domain and Winnie the Pooh here.

To help you get started, below are some of the best places to look for free public domain images and videos.


21 Places to download Public domain content

Prelinger Archive

For about 20 years Rick Prelinger collected more than 60,000 films. These films were mainly educational, industrial, amateur and advertisement related. Mr. Prelinger started his collection in 1983 and in 2002 the collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

You can find a large part of the collection on archive.org, which aims to archive the whole internet. (A bold but useful and charitable project)

Go here to see the collection, click on “about” to read about the rights and public domain.

The Public Domain Review

Yet again a great project that aims to preserve historically important pieces of art. They focus on art, literature, and creative ideas that have all fallen in the public domain, and therefore hold no copyrights. 

You can help them as well by submitting artworks that you think should be preserved, go here to read how you can help. Or if you want to help by donating, go here. 


Pond5’s Public Domain Project

Pond5 is a stock website with the focus on video content, you can search their large marketplace and purchase licensed videos for your own projects. But the best part is that they dedicated a section of their website to free to use footage. Most of the footage is just a few seconds, but of very high quality! See for yourself.


The National Screening Room

Another project by the Library of Congress is The National Screening Room, its goal is to make its digital collection of historical and cultural documents widely available for the public. Not all of the images and videos are in the public domain, so before you use them check the license for each item.

If you are in need of some historical valuable videos that you might not find elsewhere, then this is a great place to go. You can easily download the footage from their website. The website is available worldwide, but you still have to check the license, as this might be different in your country.




PublicDomainFootage

This project focuses mainly on public domain footage, so everything on the website is in the public domain and freely available. They have a ton of historical footage, from war to fashion and much more. The catch though is that you have to pay for the content. But after you pay once you can use it as many times as you want.

Still, if you like to use Elvis Presley or other famous people, their faces might be copyrighted. So always make sure that the content is 100% free from copyright before you use it commercially. If you are not sure, you should contact them first, before you make any purchases. Or, make sure you are going to use it in a “Fair Use” way.


National Park Service B-Roll Archive

If you love the Grand Canyons, and are in need of free footage of the national park or canyons, then here you have a nice collection of video content to use. Sadly they are not all in high definition. But they are uploaded online so you can easily embed them in your own website or articles.

I believe this is a great project, more places should do this to spread more awareness for beautiful locations that need to be preserved. I’m sure if you have some video content that you would like to donate, you're welcome to share it with them.


Pexels

One of my favorite ways to find images that I can use in my articles comes from Pexels. Pexels is very similar to Unsplash and has a huge collection of high quality photos and videos. 

It's actually one of the few modern CC0 platforms that offers free video content. These videos are short but of high quality. You can use them in your video projects, or in your Pinterest profile or pins.

Like so many of these platforms, they have a social feature to help the creators gain more visibility.  

Pexels is also integrated in Canva.com, so you can easily search and use images right in Canva.


NASA’s Video Gallery

Many of the pictures that NASA releases are in the public domain. Still you have to double check and make sure they are. If copyrighted, you have to ask for permission first. Still, many images can be used freely. Go here and search for yourself.


Motion Elements

Motion Elements, which focuses on Asia inspired stock footage, is a marketplace to buy royalty free content. They also have a section where you can download content for free in high quality. I also like how they let you know if content has a Model Release or Property Release. 

They apparently already have 4000+ free stock videos and they are adding more every week. 


Pixabay

Pixabay is a great alternative to Pexels and Unsplash, although it lacks the professionalism that I'm used to seeing in photos. It has a large collection of free to use images. From what I know all images are CC0 and free to use. You can check the license easily for each image.

And although the quality of the photography might be a little bit more amateuristic, you can still get a ton of good images here that you can use in your projects.


Vimeo Public Domain Channel

If you remember a time before youtube, you know there are alternatives. One of them is Vimeo. Vimeo survived a world that is dominated by Youtube, and I guess one of the reasons is just the amazing high quality videos you can find on Vimeo. And although Vimeo videos are not free to use, there are some that try to create collections of videos that are. So if you search a little you might find videos that are, or simply try to contact the license holder and ask for permission. 

One place you can start looking is here.


Videezy

Videezy, which is part of a large network of free content marketplaces, like Brusheezy, Vecteezy and Themezy, offers a ton of free video content. Not all are free though and you have to give appropriate attribution to Videezy or the creators. Still they have a large collection of free videos to use, all in HD or 4K.


Pxhere

Pxhere can be put together with platforms like Pexels and Pixabay, it's a free micro stock website that offers a ton of public domain images. You have to login first though, but that is just a small price to pay for the quality and quantity of free to use images they have.

They also provide you with embedding codes, so you can easily embed the images in your articles. 


Unsplash

Unsplash offers many high quality and professional photos for free. It's very similar to pexels but in my, and probably most people's opinions, the quality of the content is of a far higher level. Sometimes I wonder if people that upload images know they are putting their works in the public domain... just because how stunning some of these images are.

I guess, same as most of these sites, it's the social aspect, and getting exposure that attracts these creators. And they really deserve it.

If you are a writer on Medium, you probably know that they have the option to easily search images from Unsplash to use in your stories.


Free-images.com

Although the website layout seems a little outdated, Free-Images.com gives you access to millions of free to use images. They do this by searching the web for free images and adding them to their database. Many of the images can be described as amateur / holiday style photography. 

Still, with such a large database, there might just be something that you need for your project. After all, if you are a designer, you might just need raw unedited images for your projects.


www.publicdomainpictures.net

This website has 391,484 free pictures at the moment, creators can upload their work, get more exposure and people can tip them. Which I think is a nice way to reward creators.

Although you can use the images for free, if you want to download the highest resolution, you have to pay, but this seems to be only 5 or 10 cents. Which is just a small price to pay for high quality images.

The website hosts a variety of different kinds of images, from vintage & retro illustrations to clip-art and modern photography. So it's definitely worth looking if you can't find what you are looking for elsewhere.


Pixnio

Basically all images uploaded to Pixnio are free to use. They also have a social feature that tries to give endorsement for the content creators. Which is something all websites need in my opinion.

A cool feature they have is that you can download custom sized images. Which eliminates the hassle of having to down-scale large images if you want to use them for your articles.


kaboompics

Kaboompics has a very simplistic and stylish layout, which I like very much. And after reading their license statement, all images are free to use. But please read and respect the usage of these images, so go here and read the rules.

Kaboompics seems to be a one woman project, all done by Karolina herself. From what I understand, she has uploaded more than 23,000 photos by herself! Which is just insane. She really deserves respect for that.

See makes incredible high quality and professional photos, so you really should check out her website


Wikipedia / Wikimedia

Wikipedia is using a lot of images on their website, and many of them are not licensed, meaning they are in the public domain. And for every image they use they state what the license is. 

So before you use anything from there, check the license first. You simply click on the image and scroll down to the licensing part. They clearly explain the license. If you're not sure, contact the creator or just try to find another image.

Wikimedia is part of the Wiki family, which is a non-profit organization that provides free knowledge and content.


Met Museum Collection

The Met Museum website has a huge collection of art, it's a treasury when it comes to preserving art and historically important artifacts. You can easily search their collection and they write down if the image is public domain or not. If yes you can download the image, often in high resolution.


Flickr

Flickr is probably one of the last places I would go to find free images, you can easily burn your fingers here. Why? Because I often found images that clearly are not public domain, yet the uploader claims they are. The uploader might not understand what the license means, still this creates a problem for others that are looking for free content. 

So please double check anything that is marked as public domain on Flickr. Still, I found some good stuff, mostly from amateur photographers, that made it very clear that it was public domain.

To get started you can go to this group to get a collection of public domain images on Flickr. 


Can you make money with public domain content?

This might be a question that you ask yourself. And while the simple answer would be yes, you can. You have to take some important facts into consideration. 

First, even though public domain images are free to use, there still can be copyrighted material inside the picture, like logos, or recognizable objects and locations. And if the image contains recognizable people, you might need a model release. 

So, If you want to make sure you don't get into any copyright issues, always double check the license and copyrighted content in the creatives themselves. 

Second, it totally depends on how you intend to use public domain images, see below some ways you could make money.


Also Read: How To Create a Email List From Nothing (Beginner's Guide)


How to make money with public domain images

1. You can mix different photos together and create something new, for example you can create art or collages in photoshop. Then you could sell these creations, on products like T-shirts, mugs, pillows, Wall-art, etc.

2. Use parts of the free videos in your YouTube videos and earn ad revenue. If you create cool videos using public domain images and videos, you can start your own YouTube channel and earn money this way.

3. Use the images in your advertising campaigns, there are a ton of high quality videos and images available for you to use in your ad campaign, thus helping you earn money.

4. You can create public domain / free content yourself and offer a small fee or hope people will donate to you.

5. You can create your own public domain website, just like Karolina from Kaboompics did and earn money from ad revenue or donations.


Conclusion.

Search and you shall find. Fact is there is a ton of free to use material out there. But you should always double or triple check before you publish or use any creatives that are not 100% created by yourself. 

But if you stay inside what is legally allowed, you can even make money with public domain content. Just don't do anything shady with it, like reselling free images without credit or without any alterations. 

If you like my content, please consider subscribing. 

Thank you!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

*we do not share your personal details with anyone
____________

Ron Hoekstra is the founder of The Liberty OnDemand. With his many years of experience in the field of graphic design and self taught knowledge about business, digital marketing and leveraging wealth. He can give you valuable insights and content to help you grow and become more successful!


MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS: