How to find Creative Commons licensed materials

How to find Creative Commons licensed materials

Updated 19 July 2022

Digital technologies have revolutionised the way in which content is created and shared in education. Teachers and students alike can communicate, share and modify all kinds of content, from video to images and music, in new and interesting ways. The use of digital forums like websites, wikis and blogs in the classroom is rapidly expanding. With these new opportunities, there come various copyright challenges.

Creative Commons presents a solution to this problem. This copyright licensing scheme opens up a whole swag of content that teachers and students can freely copy, communicate, remix and re-purpose. Permission from the copyright owner does not need to be sought as permission has already been granted.

This guide was created to help teachers and curriculum units find CC licensed material. It forms one part of an information pack on CC for the education sector. It is advised that you first read information guide ‘What is Creative Commons?’ for a simple and helpful introduction to CC.

Finding CC materials

Because the CC system includes metadata (machine readable code), CC content can be found a number of different ways. A good place to start is the search portal on the Creative Commons website.  The portal allows users to return very specific results from a number of websites which host CC material, based on the type of use you want to make of the material.

For information on how to find CC material using the CC search portal, see information guide ‘How to find Creative Commons Material using the Openverse Search Portal’.

You can also search for CC material using Google.  Google offers advanced search options which allow you to customise your search for CC material based on a search term and the type of CC licence the material is available under.  For information on how to use Google to find CC material, see the following information guide:  How to find Creative Commons Material using Google.  If you’re looking for YouTube clips, you can also search for videos on YouTube that are licensed under Creative Commons.  See How to find Creative Commons Material using YouTube.

Sources of CC licensed content

If you’re looking for specific types of content, it can sometimes be easier to go directly to a website which hosts the type of CC material you are looking for. The table below outlines some good sources of CC material. For a more detailed list see this wiki on Content Directories and Smartcopying’s list of OER.

Source Description Content Website
Europeana Digital resources of Europe’s museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections including paintings, drawings, maps, photos and pictures of museum objects. Not all the works are openly licensed so be sure to check for usage rights.


Flickr Online photo album with over 80 million CC licensed images. CC licensed material can be accessed via the main site or through a dedicated portal.


Images, video
Open Photo A moderated photo community with over 3000 CC licensed photos in various categories.




Trove Australian themed images hosted by the National Library of Australia. Some images are CC licensed.




ccMixter CC sound remix tool and archive. All the music on ccMixter can be remixed.


Freesound A good source of sound effects and background noises, all available for reuse.


Engagemedia An Australian-based site which distributes videos about social justice and environmental issues in the Asia Pacific. All videos are CC licensed. Video