Public Domain Material: Images, Audio, Scores & Books

Copyright Free Audio, Images, Scores and Text

Detail Pompeo Bartoni

Images (Photos, Film & Video, Art, etc.)

  • British Library: 19th Century Digitized Book Images via Flickr Over 1 million images from public domain books in the British Library's collection.
  • Creative Commons: Images, sound and text database with "relaxed" copyright restrictions available in a searchable format.
  • FLICKR Creative Commons: Click on the Creative Commons link to retreive  images.
  • FLICKR (Library of Congress Project) Thousands of color or black and white photographs  are now available through a collaborative effort between the Library of Congress and Flickr.   These images have "no known restrictions on publication".
  • Google Images: Use an advanced search in Google Images and click on Usage Rights, then select the type you want.
  • Gratisography
    Free high-resolution pictures you can use on your personal and commercial projects. Coffee donations gratefully accepted.
  • Digital Comic Museum
    Contains downloadable public domain golden age comics
  • 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.
  • Life of Pix
    From the Leeroy Advertising Agency in Montreal. Free high-resolution photos, donated to public domain (no copyright restrictions).
  • NYPL Digital Library Over 500,000 images on wide variety of topics (includes photos, maps, paintings, posters, etc.) Images may be downloaded 'for a wide range of educational, creative, and research purposes'.  High resolution images may be obtained for personal or commercial if permission is obtained from the NYPL Photographic Services and Permissions division.
  • Open Clip Art Library  A collection of clip art which is either public domain or under Creative Commons license.  Users may register to submit their own work.
  • Picjumbo
    Totally free photos for your commercial & personal works
  • Prelinger Internet Archives  Over 1,000 public domain films, photographs, audio clips or text images that can be used in (or outside of) the classroom.
  • Internet Archive Book Images:   View digitized images from public domain books through a Flickr feed.
  • Public Domain Contains over 13,000 free photographs and clip art.
  • Smithsonian  Photography Initiative  This searchable database has flexible, noncommercial use of their photos.  For details, please read the restrictions at:   The database has "13 million images in some seven hundred collections throughout our museums and research centers. The collections are organized by museum and discipline—for instance, the National Museum of Natural History holds natural science images in its collections, the National Air and Space Museum houses images of flight in its archives, and the National Museum of African Art holds photographs of Africa in its collections.  "
  • Unsplash All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
  • Wellcome Images  Over 40,000 high quality images in both color & black and white covering "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.
  • Wikimedia Commons A database of  over 2 million  photographs, images,audio clips,  sound effects and video which are  freely usable, and  to which anyone can contribute. You may copy, use and modify any files here freely as long as the source and the authors are credited and as long as users release their copies/improvements under the same freedom to others.
  • World Images The internationally recognized WorldImages database provides access to the California State University IMAGE Project. It contains almost 75,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery. WorldImages is accessible anywhere and its images may be freely used for non-profit educational purposes. The images can be located using many search techniques, and for convenience they are organized into over 800 portfolios which are then organized into subject groupings.
  • Yale Digital Commons
    Over 250,000 open access high resolution images (artwork and texts).


Sheet Music

  • Free Sheet Music, Riffs, Lessons and Tools for musicians. Browsable by a variety of catagories such as genre, instrument, and instruction. Includes a category for Christmas music. May require subscription.
  • African American Sheet Music (Brown University Library Center for Digital Initiatives) The full collection consists of approximately 500,000 items, of which perhaps 250,000 are currently available for use. It is one of the largest collections of sheet music in any library in the United States. The sheet music, primarily vocal music of American imprint, dates from the 18th century to the present day, with the largest concentration of titles in the period 1840-1950.
  • Choral Public Domain Library: Begun in December 1998, CPDL is one of the world's largest free sheet music sites.You can use CPDL to find scores, texts, translations, and information about composers.
  • Danish National Digital Sheet Music Archive: Selected works from the Music and Theatre Collection are being re-published in digital form in order to provide internet access to the collections of the Royal Library. Both manuscripts and printed music have been included
    We are proud to participate to the transmission of free sheet music.
    Our project is to distribute for free the most important choice of free scores from public domain and from original composers with restricted licences. We feature 15955 piece of music to download in PDF format.
    You can't do what you want with all sheet music on this site, please read the licence page.
  • Fryderyk Chopin Digital Collection: The collection comprises various printed editions of Chopin’s pieces, and books on the composer’s life and his work.
  • Historic Sheet Music: From the University of Oregon
  • IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana: IN Harmony features Indiana-related sheet music - sheet music by Indiana composers, arrangers, lyricists or publishers as well as sheet music about the state. Includes downloadable pdfs.
  • Iowa Digital Library: Music: This collection includes popular sheet music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Ignaz Pleyel's early works, as well as recordings of musical performances and lectures from the University of Iowa's collection and the Chautauqua Circuit.
  • Kreusch Sheet Music: This site is based on the principle that all classical music is a public treasure which should be accessible for everyone. Therefore all services offered on this site are completely for free.
  •  Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music (American Memory Project)Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music contains more than 62,500 pieces of historical sheet music registered for copyright: more than 15,000 registered during the years 1820-1860 and more than 47,000 registered during the years 1870-1885. Included are popular songs, operatic arias, piano music, sacred and secular choral music, solo instrumental music, method books and instructional materials, and music for band and orchestra. The collection documents the attitudes and tastes of a bygone era with music of many varieties and sources, all of it published in the United States. Disclaimer: Although the Library is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection (see Title 17, U.S.C.) or any other restrictions in the Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music materials, there may be content protected by copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations. Images identified in the corresponding catalog record as "government" photos are not subject to copyright protection.
  • Musopen: an online music library of copyright free (public domain) music. We want to give the world access to music without the legal hassles so common today. There is a great deal of music that has expired copyrights, but almost no recordings of this music is in the public domain. We aim to record or obtain recordings that have no copyrights so that our visitors may listen, re-use, or in any way enjoy music. Put simply, our mission is to set music free."
  • Mutopia Project Public domain classical sheet music
  • The Planets by Gustav Holst
  • SLUB: Sächsische Landesbibliothek, Dresden (SLUB) – Instrumental music of the Dresden Hofkapelle: over one-thousand works from the early to mid 18th Century, including Telemann, Vivaldi, Graun, Albinoni, and J.S. Bach.

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
  • Freesounds: A website to help you choose and remix music/sound.  Free, but requires users to create an account.

Contact Us

Picture: Jennifer Strickland
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)