Public Domain Material: Images, Audio, Scores & Books

Images & Film

Library of Congress Photos on Flickr:
About 3,000 photographs (in color and black and white) and posters from governmental sources such as the Library of Congress, the FBI, National Archives and Department of Defense. Includes portraits of politicians, celebrities, protests, demonstrations, and news shots from around the world. No known copyright exists for the photos included within the collection
Wellcome Images: Covers"2000 years of human culture". Images on this site are freely available for download for personal, academic teaching or study use, under one of two Creative Commons licences.
FedFlix: Over 3,000 public domain U.S. government films in their entirety.  Includes nuclear test footage, NASA films, public service announcements for health and hygiene, cold war films, etc. Films may downloaded free of charge.
Internet Archive Book Images: "An archive of 2.6 million public domain images, all extracted from books, magazines and newspapers published over a 500 year period."

Copyright Free Audio, Images, Scores and Text

Detail Pompeo Bartoni

Audio (Music & Sound Effects)

  • dig.ccmixter: Find theme music for your film or video, or to remix or reuse.
  • Freesound: The Freesound Project aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, ... released under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. The Freesound Project provides new and interesting ways of accessing these samples, allowing users to  browse the sounds in new ways using keywords, a "sounds-like" type of browsing and more , up and download sounds to and from the database, under the same creative commons license and interact with fellow sound-artists! We also aim to create an open database of sounds that can also be used for scientific research.
  • It is legal to download, sample and share all the music found on this website.
  • The sounds are licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. If you want to distribute the sounds yourself you must retain the readme in the zip files. If you use the sounds in a movie please credit FXhome and the sound effect author.
  • Incompetech: Royalty free music
  • Looperman: A free pro audio community for musicians, film and video producers, djs and multi media designers. Members can upload and download royalty free music loops, acapellas and vocals, beats and samples to use in any music software such as steinberg cubase, propellerheads reason, sony acid pro, fruity loops studio, Magix, ableton live, apple garageband etc or macromedia flash projects, video game design or movie soundtracks. All files have mp3 previews .
  • Public Domain 2ten:  Features a wide variety of music genres, mostly older, for users to download
  • Partners In Rhyme: Royalty Free Music & Sound Effects  This site enables the user to download public domain sound effects free of charge. The site has sound effects listed under categories such as animals, domestic, paper, doors etc
  • Freesounds: A website to help you choose and remix music/sound.  Free, but requires users to create an account.

Contact Us

picture of Jennifer Richards

Jennifer Richards

Fine Arts Librarian
(607) 274-1199

What is Public Domain?

Public Domain means that the material is no longer under copyright and can be used freely by the public.  Please note that many of the websites listed here make a distinction between public domain and flexible copyright.  Many newer websites are posting material under a Creative Commons License, and may carry restrictions such as non-commercial use only, or require a note of attribution.
For a guide about what constitutes public domain, see Cornell's Public Domain page

Who Owns What?

How do you find who owns the copyright to a work?  Here are a few websites to check.  Remember, researching copyright can be time consuming. And if you don't find the copyright owner there is no guarantee that the material is copyright-free.

Citng Images

Whether you're writing a paper, preparing a presentation, or creating a web page, you should cite image information to the best of your ability. Here are a few sample websites which show different styles for image citation:
Citing vs. Attribution (from University of California, Irvine)
    Attribution Best Practices
Citing Images:  (Cornell University Libraries)