Where to find Creative Commons Licensed materials

23 September

As many schools and teachers regularly use Creative Commons licensed materials in their learning process, this information has been duplicated here from the National Copyright Unit to provide a refresher on where to find Creative Commons materials, and how to attribute these materials.

Creative Commons licensed materials are free to use, share and modify and are a great option for schools that promotes collaboration, equitability of resources and reduces copyright costs.


What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a set of free licences for creators to use when making their work available to the public. It is the most common way that copyright owners release their materials under an open licence.

All Creative Commons licences permit educational uses of a work, and teachers and students can freely copy, share and sometimes modify and remix a Creative Commons work without having to seek the permission of the creator.


Where can I find Creative Commons licensed materials?

There are over 2 billion Creative Commons licensed works across millions of websites and databases. Here is a list of some sources below, sorted by type of material, where you can make a start.


  • Openverse is an open-source search engine for open content. It searches Creative Commons licensed and public domain content from dozens of different sources. Openverse was previously the CC Search function on the Creative Commons website.
  • Europeana contains digital resources of Europe’s museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections including paintings, drawings, maps, photos and pictures of museum objects.
  • Bugwood Image Database System has collections of openly licensed images relating to ecosystem health including forestry, invasive species, insects and weeds.
  • Cleveland Museum of Art has images of artwork from their collection available under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0), equivalent to materials in the public domain (out of copyright).
  • OpenMoji is a library of openly licensed emoji icons licensed under a Creative Commons BY Share Alike Licence (CC BY SA).
  • Flickr has over 300 million Creative Commons licensed high quality images.


Sound clips or recordings

  • Jamendo is an active community offering more than 350,000 free music tracks that are Creative Commons licensed.
  • Freesound is a good source of sound effects and background noises, all available for reuse.
  • Art Song Central is an archive and directory of public domain sheet music for singers and voice teachers.
  • The Mutopia Project provides sheet music in the Public Domain or licensed under Creative Commons.
  • International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) provides public domain music scores, and some music scores of contemporary composers made available under a CC BY SA licence. 



  • Librivox provides access to audiobooks in the public domain.
  • Public domain files is a repository of various types of images and videos that are in the public domain.
  • Engineering Technology provides engineering simulations for learning that are available under a CC BY Licence.
  • YouTube clips try searching for Creative Commons licensed videos by using the ‘Filters’ option on the results page after you do a search on YouTube.

For more places to search for Creative Commons licensed materials, see ‘Where to find CC Licensed material’ on the Smartcopying website.


Attributing CC licensed materials

When using Creative Commons licensed materials in your resources, remember to attribute the copyright owner as this is a requirement of every Creative Commons licence.

If you are using Creative Commons licensed material in your resources, best practice attribution is TASL:

  • title
  • author/copyright owner
  • source
  • licence



If you find a great Creative Commons or openly licensed resource that isn’t on this list, feel free to email Smartcopying to let us know and we can add it to our website.

If you find a resource or website that isn’t licensed under Creative Commons, but you think it should be, feel free to contact the National Copyright Unit and we may be able to contact the copyright owner to discuss licensing their materials under a Creative Commons Licence.


National Copyright Webinar Series

The NCU are offering a series of free webinars, including our new The Copyright Hour series, to help teachers and educators navigate copyright while teaching.

You can find out more here.

To register for these webinars throughout the year, see the link on the Smartcopying website.


Additional information

The purpose of this update is to provide a summary and general overview of selected copyright issues. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. If you need to know how the law applies in a particular situation, please get advice from the NCU. For information about the National Copyright Webinar Series and Copyright for Educators (C4E) course, please visit the Smartcopying website.


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