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Creative Commons gives authors a way to share their work for free while retaining ownership. They offer six different licenses, and all a creator needs to do is attach one to his or her work. CC licensed materials are great for music, photos, sound effects, and more. Using them correctly (i.e. following the rules of the licenses), they also give a way to avoid most copyright problems.
Please give credit when using Creative Commons material. The creators are letting you use their material for free, so it's the least you could do.
You can find Creative Commons Licensed pictures on a number of sites.
The easiest is Wikimedia Commons. Everything there is licensed for others to use, but check to make sure you can alter it.
Flickr also lets you search by Creative Commons license. First do a search, then click on "Advanced Search." Scroll down to the bottom and you'll see options for searching only Creative Commons content.
If you're looking for some great art, the Getty Museum has made its images available.
Music and Sound
Creative Commons has an excellent list of places that offer music under their licenses. Here are some of our favorites:
Free Music Archive
Offers a wide selection of music curated by WFMU (a freeform radio station). Since it is curated, all of the music has been selected by someone familiar with the genre associated. Use the advanced search to filter by use.
A large database of music uploaded directly by the creators. Not everything is CC-licensed. Click "To share" in the left menu to get CC-BY materials.
Dedicated to making recordings of classical music available to the world because while the music is in the public domain, the recordings are not.. Everything is a CC0 (aka Public Domain).
A community of artists who put their work under a Creative Commons license. Everything is CC, but you should check which license they are using.
Royalty Free music (which is different from the Creative Commons, but is still free).
Carnegie Mellon's Auditory Lab
Features a wealth of sound effects, but they cannot be used for "Commercial Purposes" (Classwork is fine) and you must give credit to Laurie Heller Ph.D.
Creative Commons and Royalty Free sound effects.
Free sound effects offered with three different Creative Commons licenses (including Public Domain).
World Hip Hop Beats
Just need a beat? World Hip Hop Beats have an option to pay to support their artists, but the download is free.