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Find Media: Module 10 of 10

Whether you’re working on an assignment or a personal project, there are images, audio, video, and tools that you can use for free as long as you attribute the source in your work. There are also legal ways that you can use some copyright-protected media under the right circumstances. Explore the boxes below to find out more about how to use the media.

Make sure you also look at the tabs on Attributing (for open media) and Citing for information on how to properly credit the sources of the media you use.

Using Free Media (Creative Commons Licenses)

You don't need to be a photographer or a graphic designer to embed beautiful visuals in your schoolwork or personal projects. Use the resources below to find that perfect picture without the worry of infringing on copyright.

Some of these websites have only free images, while others have a mix of free and traditional copyright works. Make sure you filter your search to free images (such as Creative Commons licensed images) and you read what you are allowed to do with the image. 
 

Photographs

Icons & Cliparts

There is a lot of audio available online, but it’s not all available for use. The resources below contain royalty-free audio and can be used for background music or sound effects in presentations and videos. Make sure you attribute the creators correctly. 

Use the resources below to find free stock videos that can be downloaded and used for your projects.

You can use the free tools below to edit and work with your media files.

Image Editors

Graphic Design Tools

Online Conversion Tools

What is Creative Commons?

In Canada, all creative works, including graphics and music, are protected by copyright law. Copyright determines how a creator’s work can be used, and copyright protection is automatic, even if you don’t see a copyright symbol or notice.

Creative Commons licenses are an easy way for creators to share their work while retaining copyright over it. These licenses may allow for the sharing or modification of original works without the need to contact copyright owners, and are intended to give creators more freedom over how their work is used.

There are six main Creative Commons licenses as well as the Creative Cloud Public Domain Dedication. Each license grants users permission to use works in specific ways.

When choosing media, you will need to decide what you want to do with it so that you can find resources under the appropriate licences. You will also need to decide on the best licence for you if you decide to publish your own work; think about why you want to share your work, and how you hope others will use that work.

  • CC BY: allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.

  • CC BY-SA: allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.

  • CC BY-NC: allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.

  • CC BY-NC: allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.

  • CC BY-NC-SA: allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.

  • CC BY-ND: allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.

  • CC BY-ND-NC: This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.

The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication

CC0(aka CC Zero) is a public dedication tool, which allows creators to give up their copyright and put their works into the worldwide public domain. CC0 allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, with no conditions.

The short answer is yes.

You may see Creative Commons works marked as being in the public domain or stating that they are no rights reserved (CC0). It is still recommended that you credit these creators. If you use these resources in an academic assignment, presenting the work of others as if it is your own may be considered plagiarism. Crediting all works you use, including Creative Commons licensed works, clearly shows which parts of a project are your own original content and what came from other sources.

Explore the tabs in the Using Free Media box. Most of the media found on the websites in these lists is available under CC licenses.

A good attribution for a CC-licensed work will include the author, the title of the work, the source, and the license type, along with links. For examples please see CC Wiki’s Best Practices for Attribution.

Citing Sources in Digital Assignments

If you use media in digital assignments for college, you may need to cite your media instead of merely attributing it. Digital assignments can be any assignment that you create that is not a research paper. Examples of digital assignments are websites, infographics, videos, and PowerPoint presentations.

Do I have to use APA and MLA to cite my sources in digital assignments?

The APA and MLA publication manuals contain guidelines for citing your sources in research essays, not digital assignments. Digital assignments don't require the use of standard APA and MLA format.

Unless your instructor specifically tells you that you must use formal APA or MLA citation style when citing sources in your digital assignments, then you may choose to attribute your sources by following the recommendations in the Attributing tab. Always confirm assignment expectations with your instructor first.

If you need further guidance, check out the citation guide from your college.

What am I legally required to cite in my digital assignment? (Copyright Law)

According to the Copyright Act (section 29.21(1)(b)), you must cite the sources that you used in your digital assignment by citing two things:

  1. the creator (if available),
  2. and where you found the item (e.g., the hyperlink to the source)

What kinds of media am I legally allowed to use in my digital assignment?

According to section 29.21 of the Copyright Act, you must make sure that any media you use in your assignments are allowed to be used.

Using Copyright-Protected Media

What is Copyright?

All created works automatically fall under copyright, but some creators choose to make their works available to the public to use for free. This section covers how to legally use media the HAS NOT been made available for free.

This short video gives a quick copyright overview in Canada, including what it is and how it affects you as a student.

For more copyright support, visit your college library website. You can find the list of college copyright pages on our copyright module

The information on this page is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice.

Using Copyright Material – Fair Dealing

Fair Dealing is the user's right to use material under copyright protection without permission or payment if use meets the criteria described in the Copyright Act and provided the "dealing" is "fair".

For use to be considered fair, you must:

  • Provide attribution or citation to the work
  • Be using the work for one of the following purposes: research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review or news reporting
  • Determine the use meets the six factors: purpose, character, amount, alternative, nature, effect.

Read more about Fair Dealing in our Copyright module.

Using Copyright Material in Mashups

One of the legitimate ways you can fairly use copyright material is by creating something known as a “mashup.” A mashup refers to the use of a combination of media (images, music, etc.) used to create something new (e.g. a video or presentation).

This video offers some guidance on what can and can't be used. :

Exercise: The Do’s and Don'ts of a Copyright Mashup

Complete the activity below to see how well you understand what you can and can’t do when creating a mashup.

Instructions: Drag the activities on the left into the appropriate category, "Do" or "Don't", on the right.

Citing Digital Media

You always need to cite your sources in digital projects, but you don't always need to use specific citation styles such as MLA or APA. Always confirm citation expectations with your instructor if your project is a class assignment. If you have been asked to use MLA or APA for things like images, consult the module How to Cite.

Legal Requirements (Copyright Law)

According to the Copyright Act you must cite the sources that you used in your digital project by citing two things:

  1. The creator (if available), and
  2. Where you found the item (e.g., the hyperlink to the source)

You must also make sure the use of any multimedia files in your project fall within Fair Dealing, or that you are using Creative Commons or public domain materials (section 29.21).