Where do I find videos for my projects?

Answered by Helena Tilley

The web has a vast array of resources we can use in our projects but it is important to understand that even if it is for a classroom purpose, we can’t just download and republish any image, video, or audio recording found online. 

This information below will give some guidelines and resources to find content that is able to be used.


Use Your Own Media

The best way to avoid any kind of copyright infringement concerns is to use media that you have created yourself. For many topics that isn’t possible so look for media that is in the public domain. If you can’t find a suitable image, video, or audio recording in the public domain then it’s time to look for media that has a Creative Commons license. Only after failing to find media that is either self-made, in the public domain, or Creative Commons licensed should you turn to making a Fair Use claim to use a copyrighted work.

Using pictures that you took, videos you recorded, or spoken words that you recorded is an almost foolproof way to avoid any copyright concerns.


What is Public Domain Media?

Public Domain media is comprised of pictures, videos, and audio that was either never covered by copyright, had the copyright expire, or was otherwise released into the public domain by the creator. Media created by an employee of a government agency as a part of that person’s job is an example of media that is immediately in the public domain. Detailed examples of how works get into the public domain can be found in Stanford University Libraries’ Copyright & Fair Use guide.


What is Creative Commons Media?

Creative Commons is voluntary licensing that artists, musicians, photographers, videographers, and writers can apply to their works. There are four conditions that can be applied to Creative Commons licenses so read the attribution requirements carefully before using a Creative Commons-licensed work. Read about the conditions of Creative Commons here on the Creative Commons website.


What is Fair Use?

Fair Use is a murky area when it comes to media use. Contrary to popular belief there are not hard and fast rules about how much of a work you can use without violating copyright. Even for academic use there are certain standards that must be met in order to make a legitimate Fair Use claim. Stanford University Libraries’ Copyright & Fair Use guide provides an excellent overview of the conditions that must be met for Fair Use.



The National Screening Room currently offers about 300 videos. The videos are digital copies of films made in the 19th and 20th centuries. You can browse the collection by date, location of the filming, and subject. You can also search for videos that are parts of other LOC collections. All of the videos in the National Screening Room can be viewed online and or downloaded as MP4 files. 


Flickr is known for hosting millions of images, but it also hosts lots of videos. The advanced search tools within Flickr make it easy to find videos that have Creative Commons licenses or have a public domain designation. With just one click those videos can be downloaded to your computer.


The Public Domain Review is a website that features collections of images, books, essays, audio recordings, and films that are in the public domain. Choose any of the collections to search for materials according to date, style, genre, and rights. Directions for downloading and saving media is included along with each collection of media.


Pixabay is one of my go-to sites for public domain images. Pixabay also offers public domain video clips that you can download for free. To find video clips on Pixabay simply choose “video” from the drop-down menu that appears in the right edge of Pixabay’s search box. 


Stockio, like Pixabay, offers a mix of public domain pictures and videos to download for free. To download a video from Stockio simply click the “download” button that appears to the right of all videos. Registration is not required in order to download videos from Stockio.


Pexels Videos offers hundreds of short videos that you can download for free and re-use in your own video productions. You can browse the collection or search according to keyword. The videos are stock footage and very few have any spoken words in them. To download a video from Pexels you just have to click the green download button next to the video you want to use. You don’t have register on the site in order to download Pexels Videos. Attribution is not required for most videos, but double-check before using a video that you’ve downloaded from Pexels Videos.


The Internet Archive hosts The Moving Image Archive which contains more than than 1.7 million video clips. Most of what you will find in the Moving Image Archive can be downloaded in a variety of file formats. You can search the archive by keyword or browse through the many categories and thematic collections in the archive. One important thing to note about the Internet Archive is that you probably don’t want students to search it without supervision. In fact, I’d probably just create a folder of footage from archive that I share with my students.