Reference Compendium

There are thousands of photos, videos, fonts, music, and other creative assets available for use on the internet. These resources are completely free and can be used for personal or commercial purposes. How is that possible, and where do we find all this free stuff? Well, dear reader, answering those questions is what this post is all about!

Public Domain and Creative Commons

The "free stuff" I'm talking about is anything that is part of the public domain or has been released under a Creative Commons license.

The public domain consists of all the creative work that has no exclusive intellectual property rights. In other words, no one owns it. The rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or are otherwise inapplicable. Anything that exists in the public domain can be used in whatever way you want and no one can say otherwise.

Creative Commons is an American non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to legally use and share. There are six standard CC licenses.

Creators releasing CC content grant permission for others to use their work, sometimes under certain conditions (depending on the license they chose). The CC0 license means "no rights reserved"; any work released under CC0 is in the public domain. Conditions on other licenses include things like attribution (meaning you have to give credit to the original creator) and non-commercial only (meaning you can't profit monetarily from use of the original work.) Check the license of any CC asset to make sure you understand its use conditions.

The websites listed below have content from the public domain, Creative Commons, or is otherwise free to use.

Free Stuff

The following list I originally found on Reddit and Meks. I've since curated it a bit more, adding additional websites and removing a few that were defunct.