Learning for Productivity

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Public Domain/Royalty Free materials

This page is devoted to listing sources of photos, sound recordings and videos that to the best of our knowledge may be reused without payment to a copyright holder. We do not guarantee this will be true of every individual item that you may find through the links below. In some cases a photo, audio clip or video will be available for non-commercial uses, but require payment or permission before it can be included in a product to be sold. Please make sure you check the terms of use section of the site you are visiting before using a given piece of content.

The two types of materials you will find on this page are public domain materials and royalty-free materials:

Public Domain - Public Domain materials have no copyright. They might be public domain because their copyright has expired (most pre-1923 materials) or because they are statutorily exempted from copyright, like most, but not all material produced by federal agencies. For more information on the status of state and federal government materials, please see http://freegovinfo.info/copyright.

Some post-1923 creators have explicitly dedicated their works to the public domain, waiving their rights under copyright law. An example of this can be found at http://www.archive.org/details/DeclanCory. You may do whatever you please with public domain materials and you do not have to pay for the usage of the work. Additional information about when an item becomes public domain can be found at http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/.

Royalty Free - Royalty Free materials are items where the creators have chosen to license a given photo, recording, or video, usually for either a one-time fee or free of charge. However, there are usually terms of use or license agreements that you must abide by for your use of the work to be legal. Please review the terms of use of such items before using.

One popular family of licenses for royalty free works is Creative Commons CC. There are several types of CC licenses – some allow you to use the work in any way as long as you give attribution to the creator. Others will only allow you to use the work “as is” with no alterations. Yet other licenses grant different rights depending on whether your work product is a commercial use (i.e. whether it is given away or sold). Please review a work’s CC license before using it. More information about Creative Commons licenses can be found at http://creativecommons.org/license/.

Questions about this page should be directed to Daniel Cornwall at


  • Alaska Images Library - Collection of various Alaska scenes and wildlife taken by federal Fish and Wildlife Service Photographers and which the agency states is public domain. Photographs may be searched by keyword or browsed by subject. Over 400 aerial photos.
  • Alaska Volcano Observatory - A searchable database of images, including some maps, relating to Alaska’s volcanoes. Most images are free for use. Check each image for any constraints on use and instructions for citing the photographer.
  • Canadian Space Agency Image Gallery - From the terms of use on the website: "Materials on this Web site were produced and/or compiled by the Canadian Space Agency for the purpose of providing Canadians with direct access to information about the programs and services offered by the Government of Canada…..Information on this site has been posted with the intent that it be readily available for personal and public non-commercial use and may be reproduced, in part or in whole and by any means, without charge or further permission from the Canadian Space Agency. We ask only that ….." Further information about proper use and references to the images is available here.
  • DefenseLink Images - Public domain military photos from the Department of Defense. Keyword searchable and browseable by many topics including: holidays, competitions, weapons systems, humanitarian aid, specialized vehicles and more.
  • Flickr's Creative Commons pool - Searchable and browseable database of licensed photos from this photo sharing service. Note: Most State of Alaska employees will require a WebSense waiver (DOC) to access this site.
  • NOAA Photo Gallery - Over 10,000 photos, mostly nature and weather related. Public domain, but credit must be given to photographers. Collections may be searched or browsed. High resolution versions are available.
  • Prints & Photographs Online Catalog Selection of the Library of Congress' photographic materials - Many, but not all are in the public domain. May be searched or browsed. Rights restrictions noted in photograph record.
  • OpenPhoto - Hundreds of stock photos licensed for free commercial and non-commercial use. Images include scenary, objects, wildlife and more.
  • U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library - Description and Terms of Use from website: "These images provide a visual history of the discovery, development, and sciences of the United States and its Geological Survey. Some photographs have been used in USGS publications, but most have never been published. Currently, this website represents less than 10 percent of the Library's images with approximately 30,000 photographs on-line. Please visit the "Latest Additions" menu at the top of this page for regular updates of photographs to the website. All photographs within this collection are public domain; therefore, signed releases, permissions, and payment for use or reproduction are not required." Credit to individual photographers is requested.
  • U.S. Government Photos and Graphics - U.S. Government Photos and Graphics from usa.gov - Links to federal photo libraries, mostly public domain. Usa.gov strongly recommends you thoroughly read the disclaimers on each site before use. Links include African American Activists, Astrogeology Research Program, Earth as Art, Indian Health Service and more. Keep in mind that official government graphic emblems and seals (POTUS, NASA, etc) may not be used to imply endorsement of your site or publication.
  • Wikimedia Commons - Browseable by drill-down subject menus or searchable by keyword, this site does an excellent job of explaining where images came from and why they have the subject terms they do.

Music/Sound Recordings

  • Download recordings from the US Army Band - From the web site, "All information on this site is considered public information and may be distributed or copied freely except where otherwise noted."
  • Navy Band Sounds Online - Patrotic and holiday music. Some vocal music.
  • US Marine Band Web Exclusives - Mostly marches.
  • US Air Force Recordings - From the web site, "These recordings are approved by the Department of the Air Force for use in public service broadcasting, recruiting, educational activities, troop morale and retention." Songs are categorized by: Patriotic, Ceremonial, Marches, Popular & Show Songs, Rock / Pop / Country / R&B, Holiday, Choral, Classical, Jazz, Traditional / Celtic / Folk


  • Internet Archive Moving Images - Mix of old and new films. From the web site, "By providing near-unrestricted access to these films, we hope to encourage widespread use of moving images in new contexts by people who might not have used them before." Check individual videos for reuse rights.
  • Videos from the US Government via usa.gov - From the web site, "Most of these videos are available for use in the public domain, and you may use and reproduce them without permission or fee. However, some videos may be protected by license. We strongly recommend you thoroughly read the disclaimers on each site before use." Videos include footage on space, aging, homeland security, food safety, public buildings and more.

Page last updated 11/28/2014

Division of Libraries, Archives & Museums
Department of Education & Early Development

Alaska State Library
& Historical Collections

Information Services: 907.465.2920
Historical Collections: 465-2925
Email: asl@alaska.gov
or asl.historical@alaska.gov

The Alaska State Library is open
10:00am - 4:30pm, M-F and
10:00am - 6:00pm on Thursdays.

Alaska State Library
& Talking Book Center

Phone: 907.269.6575
Email: aslanc@alaska.gov
or tbc@alaska.gov

The Talking Book Center is open
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