Seven Great Sites for Legal, Free Content

If you’re looking for content for your site but don’t want to create it yourself or pay money for it, there are a lot of options available to you. Whether you are looking for images, articles or multimedia, there are many sites on the Web that make available a library of work available for you to use. If you know where to look for what you want and to make sure that your site complies with the licensing requirements put upon it, you’ll find that there are plenty of people eager have their work become a part of your blog. To help with that, I have compiled a list of seven of my favorite sites for obtaining free, high-quality content for your site without any worries of copyright issues down the road. newsroom-logo.jpg YouTube gets most of the glory when it comes to embedding video, but Voxant Newsroom has been steadily building a huge library of professional-quality videos, images and articles for easy embedding into other sites. You can find material from the Associated Press, Reuters, CBS, the BBC and many more. They also have content from dozens of local TV news programs making it a great choice for local bloggers. I will be covering this site in more detail on my site tomorrow. flickr-logo.jpg Though almost every blogger is aware of Flickr and its powerful photo management tools and most know of the wealth of Creative Commons-licensed images on the site, fewer are aware of the WordPress plugin PhotoDropper, which allows users to search for and embed Flickr images all from the post editing page. Best of all, PhotoDropper formats the photo and the attribution correctly, ensuring that the use meets the terms of both Flickr’s terms of use and the Creative Commons License. open-source-audio-logo.jpg The Web Archive, in addition to being a great resource to see what Google looked like in 1998, has one of the largest libraries of audio available for reuse. It’s Open Source Audio section has over 150,000 tracks of all varieties licensed under different Creative Commons Licenses. Finding what you want might be a bit tedious, but it can be a great way to find new intro music for your podcast, which is what I did, or perhaps some new music to embed. hulutm_130.jpg If you want to embed video from some of your favorite television shows, Hulu provides one of the easiest ways to do it. With over fifty content partners including NBC, Fox and MGM, you can find and embed clips from favorite shows, both current and past. You can even trim the clips to focus in on just the part that you want, ideal for making a point about a particular point or event. articlesbase-logo.jpg For text content, Articlesbase is usually the site to search first. In addition to having some 400,000 articles available for republishing, the site makes it very easy to search for and embed the content, even providing HTML versions of the text. As with most free article sites, the quality of the content varies wildly, but the site does have a reputation system to help you find good authors. Please be careful to obey the publisher terms of use when re-posting articles and, as always, double check to make sure that the content is original before posting it. sxc-logo.jpg If you need excellent-quality and high-resolution stock photography quickly, the stock.xchnge is easily one of the leaders. With over 350,000 images, many available for commercial use without attribution. The site itself is easily searched but one has to be careful both to obey the licenses for each image, which can vary from work to work, and to ensure that any work with a recognizable person has an appropriate model release before using it commercially. wikimedia-logo.jpg With over 2 million media files, including images, videos, audio and eBooks, all available under Creative Commons, open source or public domain licensing, Wikimedia commons is a great resource for anyone looking for media to use. Though commonly thought of as just another part of Wikipedia, files placed into the Wikimedia Commons are available for use by anyone and the site is easily searchable. Conclusions The bottom line is that, if you’re looking for free, legal content for your site, there are many sources available to you. Whether you are seeking to embed the content or host your own, there are resources available to help you get the content you need without worrying about either copyright or payment. The hope is that these sites will encourage legitimate and fair reuse of content so that fewer people will be tempted to plagiarize and outright rip off artists and authors. Though bad people will always do bad things, at least some can be dissuaded when presented a practical, legal alternative. In the end, these sites are great resources for all bloggers and I encourage bloggers to support these sites not just by contributing content to them as practical, but by correctly using the works found within.

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