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Media and Academic Technology Services: Digital Storytelling Resources

Media Services at Wardman Library.


Fair Use

United States copyright law allows you to use copyrighted works for educational purposes, without securing permission from the original creator, in very limited ways. Guidance on using Fair Use and best practices include:


Creative Commons and Public Domain

Instead of relying on fair use, you can also search for images or videos that have Creative Commons licenses. The creators of these materials have decided to allow others to share, remix, or otherwise use their content, under certain conditions that are described in their CC license. Always check the license to understand what those conditions are.

Some materials are in the public domain, which means they are owned by the public, so their use is unrestricted by intellectual property laws. You can always use public domain resources without obtaining permission from the original creator. Works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain, as are most U.S. governmental publications. For other published and unpublished works, public domain status can be a little more complicated.


Where to Search for Images

  • Flickr - Lots of amazing photos. You can limit your search to Creative Commons-licensed images by going to "Advanced Search," scroll all the way to the bottom, and select "Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content"
  • Google Advanced Image Search - Like Flickr, you can limit your search to Creative Commons-licensed images. Click on the gear icon to find "Advanced Search." Then look under "Usage Rights" and select "free to use or share."
  • Creativity103 has CC-licensed abstract backgrounds and video footage
  • Open Clip Art Library is a collection of public domain clip art, freely contributed by users
  • - another collection of public domain clip art, contributed by users
  • The Digital Comic Museum contains some beautiful and unique Golden Age comics, the copyright status of which has all been researched and confirmed to be public domain. They're free, but you do have to set up an account in order to download.
  • Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online
  • New York Public Library Digital Gallery
  • World Images - from the University of California, this collection of images is CC-licensed.


Where to Search for Music and Video

  • YouTube - after running a search, you can click "Filter" and then "Creative Commons" to limit to CC-licensed videos.
  • dig.CCMixter - a site specifically designed to provide CC-licensed music to be used in podcasts or video recordings
  • Internet Archive - a nonprofit site that preserves images, documents, and film. Most of the videos on the site are either public domain or Creative Commons-licensed (check the license to be sure!).
  • SoundCloud - searchable by genre, duration, tempo - and you can limit to CC-licensed works.
  • MusicShake - make your own music.


Other Useful Tools



No matter what the copyright status of the materials you use in your digital storytelling, always be sure to credit your source. The Purdue Online Writing Lab is an excellent resource for help citing electronic resources in APA format.


The Colgate Visual Resources Library has suggested this format for citing Flickr photos in APA style:


The University of Illinois Library has some good advice on citing YouTube videos:

"With YouTube videos, it is important to distinguish between the creator of the content and the person who posted the content. If the creator of the video is credited, put their name in the author position (Creator). Next include the name or screen name of the person who posted the video (Poster), followed by the date posted, the title, and the URL. If no creator is listed, put the poster in the first spot."


The APA manual says that unpublished interviews (e.g., you conduct your own interview with someone and don't publish it anywhere) only need to be cited "in text" rather than in a final reference list. But your digital story doesn't really have "in text" citations. You may include your interview citation as part of rolling credits or on a slide at the end of your digital story. Here's the format (with Y. Martel being the person you're interviewing):

  • (Y. Martel, personal communication, April 15, 2005)

*Special thanks to librarian Kristen Yarmey at the University of Scranton Library for organizing this list of resources.