5 Lesser-Known Sources for Free, Legal Content

The desire for free content is an understandable one. Sometimes bloggers don’t want to or don’t have the time to hammer out a post or need images to go along with one already written.

Though most bloggers are aware of Creative Commons Licenses and know they can search for CC images on Flickr. Others are well aware of the StockXchng as a good free stock photo library as well as sites like Articlesbase for free posts for your site. But these are far from the only means of finding free content for your blog.

There are many different sources for Creative Commons, public domain and appropriately-licensed material if you know where to look. With that in mind, here are five examples of sites you can find free stuff for your blog that are a bit off the beaten path.

1. Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons hosts many of the image, audio and movie files that are found in Wikipedia and related projects. All of the content in Wikimedia Commons is available under either a CC-BY-SA license, the GNU Free Documentation License or is in the public domain.
What makes this site so useful is how easy it is to search for relevant media types and the very wide breadth of content that is available.
If you’re looking for a photo or audio file that is more “news” than it is “stock” you’ll likely find what you need in this library, especially if you are covering something that isn’t extremely recent.

2. Google

Though we are almost all familiar with Google, what is less know is that it can also be a great tool for finding free, legal content for your site.
By using the advanced search feature, linked above, you can easily filter your search by content types available for certain kinds of reuse.

Google Image Search has a similar feature, though it doesn’t seem to work as well.

3. The U.S. Federal Government

Works created by the U.S. Government are automatically placed into the public domain. This means images from NASA, reports from various agencies and even whole publications are available for you to use freely.
However, with U.S. Federal works you have to be careful. For one, works created by state governments are still copyright protected. Second, some of the works posted on official sites are actually created and owned by others.
In short, be sure that the work was created by the Federal government before using it.

4. The Internet Archive

Though the Internet Archive is well-known for its Wayback Machine that lets you see how pages were at various points in their history, it also has an extremely large library of content available for reuse including video, audio and texts.
All of the content in The Internet Archive’s library has either been uploaded by creators and licensed for reuse or is in the public domain. However, you do need to be careful to read the licensing terms for each work carefully.
Textually, the group focuses heavily on digitized copies of old books, which may limit its usefulness for this purpose, but the range of audio is surprising.

5. Blip.Tv

If you are just looking for video to embed into a blog post, virtually any video site can help. The vast majority of videos available on such sites can be embedded elsewhere.
However, if you’re looking for video content to remix and integrate into your own work, can help. The site has a very robust Creative Commons search and lets you download the raw video of relevant files.
In short, it is trivial to find the content you want, download the original and start editing.
Bottom Line
In all of the cases above, as with whenever you use someone else’s work, you should be very careful to follow the licenses to the letter and ensure that you complete the terms put before you. It only takes a few minutes and can prevent some serious headaches.
With that in mind though, these sites can be great resources for finding free, legal content for your site that aren’t from the same sources everyone else is using. This will help make your content a bit more unique and the end product a bit more your own.
Though original content is always best, you never want to simply rehash what others have done before you. So sometimes it pays to stray a bit into unfamiliar territory and see what you can find.

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