For filmmakers, graphic designers, digital artists, photographers, and just about any other type of creative, assets in the public domain are an invaluable resource full of copyright-free materials that can be used and edited. However, the legalities of copyright and works in the public domain can be overwhelming. Typically, finding specific footage from organizations like the US National Archive is a laborious and tiresome task. Earlier this year, royalty-free video marketplace Pond5 launched the Public Domain Project containing 80,000 copyright-free video clips, audio files, photos, and 3D models in order to help solve this issue.
“The project includes digital models of NASA tools and satellites, Georges Méliès’ 1902 film, “A Trip To The Moon,” speeches by political figures like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr., recordings of performances from composers like Beethoven, and a laid-back picture of President Obama playing pool (shown above). Since they existed solely in physical form within the National Archives, about 5,000 of the film clips had been nearly impossible to access for most filmmakers.
The Public Domain Project directly digitized the footage themselves and combined it with 5,000 more copyright-free clips, making an easy-to-use marketplace that unifies a huge portion of the country’s historical resources. Artists can pick and choose from the helpfully labeled and tagged files to find just the right picture or clip to give their work some historical context, or to create a whole new artwork with its own unique meaning,” says Beckett Mufson of The Creators Project.
Introducing The Pond5 Public Domain Project
In addition to the massive pile of free accessible content, Pond5 produced an extremely helpful explanation of the public domain to help creatives use this content correctly. Using the free picture of President Obama is fine for an editorial about presidents or what they do for fun, for example, but it would not be legal to turn that same photo into an advertisement selling billboard related products. “If the content depicts the image, voice, or other recognizable features of a person, you need to be aware of publicity and privacy rights,” says Pond5. If you plan on using any of these clips or photos, we highly recommend spending two minutes to learn a little more about these laws by watching the video below.
Public Domain 101
Below, check out some great images, courtesy of the Public Domain Project:
Barack Obama casually playing pool. Download this photo.
Apollo 11 Bootprint. Download this photo.
The Orion Nebula. Download this photo.
Be sure to visit the Public Domain Project to search the database yourself!
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