When I teach about copyrights, I always introduce the Creative Commons website to my students as a potential resource for stock content such as photography, video and audio. If you're unfamiliar with Creative Commons, it's a non-profit organization that encourages the sharing and use of works through easy-to-use copyright licenses. The site enables copyright owners to give the public permission to share their creative work under certain specified conditions. That's why it is such a wonderful resource.
HOW TO SEARCH ON THE CREATIVE COMMONS WEBSITE
I want to show you how easy it is to find stock content on the Creative Commons website. Let's say you're writing a blog post about San Francisco and you want to find a few images to include in your post.
After logging into the Creative Commons website, you'll find the search box to the middle left of the page [see section highlighted in yellow] that says "Find CC material". There, you'll enter the search terms for what you are looking for - for example, "Picture of san Francisco."
When you hit enter, you'll be taken to a second page, where you'll be given the option of selecting the search engine. Underneath the search terms you're also given the option of searching for things you can "use for commercial purposes" and/or "modify, adapt or build upon." In this example, we've selected both options and have decided to search using Google Images.
Once you hit enter, you'll be directed to a variety of search options. Let's say you want to use the picture of the Golden Gate Bridge highlighted in the upper left corner in the image below.
Once you click on the image you want, you will be taken to a page where you can learn more about the author of ht work and the licensing rights associated with the use of this picture. Here, we see that the copyright owner (Paul H.) has released this image into the public domain. When a work is in the public domain, it means that it can be utilized without getting permission from the copyright owner. It further states that the author "grants anyone the right to sue this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law."
So there you have it. One easy way to find free content for you to use. Just make sure that if you do use the work, that you also comply with any and all licensing requirements as provided.
TELL ME: Do you have any cost-effective (and legal) resources for finding content to use for your business? Leave your tips in the comments below.